Concerning “End Times,” I have to ask myself this question, “What difference does it make in my daily obedience if I know the particulars of Christ’s return or not?”
I have come to a conclusion that we will not know the details of Christ’s Return until we see Him actually return. I believe that He has left the matter intentionally vague. When we postulate about HOW He will come, we tend to become divisive and argumentative when we are warned that those kinds of arguments are not beneficial:
3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 1 Timothy 1:3-5
I’m sure that Paul was referring to something particular, but it can certainly be applied to the “End Times” argument. Whether a person believes that:
- Times will grow darker and darker until Christ removes His church from the earth (the Pre-Millennial viewpoint),
- Times will grow darker even as the light grows brighter until Christ’s once and final return (the Amillennial viewpoint),
- Times will grow brighter as the Gospel spreads over all the earth and eventually overcomes evil, at which point Christ returns (the Post-Millennial viewpoint),
we ALL believe that Christ will come, that the Gospel is going forth, and that we have a job to do. To go beyond these truths ventures into subjecture.
If I were a bolt in the side of a ship, I would not care what kind of ship it was, nor where it was going–I just know that I’m on the Right Ship. My job is to hold the ship together at my little point, along with all the other bolts around me. Regardless of the weather, I am going to hold to the best of my ability, and I have it on good authority from the Builder that we will make it to harbor.
This illustration is how I see the End Times. God has kept the future vague on purpose, therefore let us not worry about the details, but remain focused on the task at hand, which is to be obedient to the Spirit in making disciples.
There is one other warning I would like to give, and that is concerning expectations. To settle on one of the above-mentioned viewpoints gives expectations that God doesn’t have to meet. These expectations can get in the way of us seeing what God is doing. They can also cause us to second-guess what God wants us to do or to interpret His commands wrong. Peter wove his way through the expectation-minefield in Acts 10 in the salvation of Cornelius:
- Peter had never eaten anything considered unclean (v.14), but God told him not to call anything (anyone) unclean that HE considers clean (non-Jews; v.15).
- He entered the house of Cornelius, who was a non-Jew (an Italian Roman), which was forbidden by Jewish law (v.25-28).
- The Holy Spirit fell on that household even as it did at Pentecost (v.44-46).
- Peter, who had no expectations at this point, took the next step and had them baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (v.47-48).
Our attitude should be the same as Peter’s when it comes to ministry. Let’s just do the next thing that we are asked by the Spirit to do. We can let God take care of how He will save His own and judge evildoers, thus we avoid polarizing controversies among Christ’s family members. We can take Paul’s own opinion on such matters:
15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things [reaching for the prize He has for each of us]. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you [on an as-needed basis]. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Philippians 3:15-16
And, what is it that we have already attained? A pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Let’s get on with the business at hand of making disciples!
By the way, there is a fourth viewpoint and that is the “Pro-millennial” view, which is:
Whatever Jesus wants to do I’m for it!
In the words of an old professor, “If Jesus chooses to do things differently than I believe, I still want to go, don’t you?” [not an exact quote, but close]