Google “end times” and you’ll find all kinds of Christians pedalling images and charts detailing the sequence and chronology of events that surround the apocalyptic conclusion of history. Quite frankly, most of what you find are nothing more than meaningless discussions that overstep the boundaries of Scripture and divert one’s attention from the intent of those very Scriptures — living in the present under the influence of the future.
The fact of the matter that the beginning of the end took place 2,000 years ago with the first coming of Christ.. He proclaimed the coming of God’s “on-earth-as-it-is-in-heaven” Kingdom through his life and introduced that Kingdom through his death and resurrection. In so doing, he began the end, so, we currently live in those “end times.” The conclusion of these “end times” is the preoccupation — dare I say obsession — of too many people who neglect to implement the fullness of the “end times” truths into their everyday living.
In our current sermon series on 1 Corinthians 15, we recently looked at the place of our resurrection at the conclusion of these “end times”…
1 Corinthians 15:22-26 (NIV)
22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
From this passage we can assume the following sequence of these concluding events:
- Jesus Christ returns
- We are resurrected
- Jesus will destroy all dominion, authority, power, and death
- Jesus will hand over the kingdom to God the Father
- The conclusion of the end times
In light of these truths — we didn’t map out this sequence on Sunday — we considered the following “on-earth-as-it-is-in-heaven” implications:
- God cares for the whole person…including our bodies
- Jesus Christ enables us with power to overcome
- We live a transformed life to transform our world
Go ahead…if you want…and jump into the discussion about the “end times.” But be careful! Don’t get deceived by all the garbage that proclaims to be biblical truth. Don’t get distracted by endless speculation. Instead, give yourself to living the truth of the resurrected life that is yours now and in the future through Jesus Christ.
On a number of occasions, I’ve quoted “The Cross is Not Enough” (Clifford & Johnson). I can’t think of a recent read that has had a more profound personal effect on me. I reveiwed the book last June by saying:
“For me, this book sets right the biblical focus on a life-affirming, world-engaging, cross-incorporating, resurrection-empowered discipleship that has too often been eclipsed by a narrow focus on cross-centered propositionalism.”
[If you haven’t already seen it, click here to read the entire review.]
Their first resurrection theses — “The resurrection is the lynchpin of Christianity.” — is a summary of Paul’s argument in this past Sunday’s sermon text, 1 Corinthians 15:12-20. [See Sunday’s sermon slides here.] The resurrection, as Paul argues and Clifford & Johnson acknowledge, is essential to every dimension of our faith and living. For example:
- The resurrection brings divine meaning to the total agony and suffering of Christ on the cross.
- Jesus’s resurrection is God’s divine yes: I am forgiven.
- Without the resurrection of Christ there can be no future resurrection of the dead.
- Christian hope without the resurrection of the dead is an everlasting pie-in-the-sky existence.
- To deny the resurrection of Jesus is to deny the resurrection of the dead and to deny hope.
- The resurrection is true and it works!
It’s time that we recover the God-intended understanding of the cross and resurrection that holds both of these Christ-events together. Doing so will require a greater focus on the resurrection to set right the current imbalance. Doing so will enable us to experience the fullness of life made possible because the resurrected and living Christ is alive in us.
Have you attended our “Grow in Maturity” class? If not, join us 20. April. If so, then sign your covenant commitment to practicing the disciple-habits of a daily time alone with God, a weekly small group team, and a monthly tithe to the church.
Thanks, Ruth, for shooting and producing this video!