This morning we are in Mark 13. For the next couple of weeks we will be talking about the last days according to Jesus. Are you ready?
Human society as a whole has always been curious about the future destiny of our world. There is a sense that things are headed towards crisis. One famous website displays a Doomsday Clock – marking a countdown towards the destruction of the world. We are currently 90 seconds to midnight. Giant asteroids, global pandemics, AI and killer robots, nuclear holocausts, global warming – there are endless threats to speculate in our social imagination.
The Christian view of the world requires no speculation. We know how it all ends.
This is the Christian understanding of the end . . .
- A fixed date when Jesus returns
- God will judge the living and the dead. Resurrection and Judgment.
- A new heaven and a new earth.
- Eternal life w/out death, sorrow, mourning or pain.
- Forever in God’s glorious presence.
- Preceded by “tribulation” and counterfeit Messiahs, anti-Christ
“The world won’t end in a climate change apocalypse. The world won’t end in world war. The world ends in worship, neither a bang nor a whimper but a shout and song of praise.” -Peter Leithart
Christian eschatology, or doctrine of the last days, is informed by texts throughout the Bible.
Here are a few of the key passages:
- Echoes from the future in the Old Testament prophets, ex. Isaiah
- Jesus’ teaching. Lengthy talk referred to as the Olivet Discourse.
- Matthew 24:1 – 25:46. Mark 13:1-37 and Luke 21:5-36.
- Paul’s letters
- 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians 4, 2 Thessalonians 2
- Apocalyptic literature
- Daniel and Revelation
Christianity only makes sense in light of the revelation of the last days and the eternal kingdom of God.
Christianity is a message about Salvation. Salvation is not complete until everything is restored to fullness. It is far more than forgiveness of sins. It is an invitation, a partnership in the ultimate renewal of life as it should be. This life, as full as it seems, is the opening chapter of a much larger story – a story far grander than anything we can imagine.
This understanding transforms our experience of this life.
- Our experience of suffering is transformed. Romans 8:18.
- The ethics of sex and marriage, money and politics take on a new light.
- The definition of good becomes very different. What is good for me? What’s a good life?
- What God thinks of us is far more important than what we think of him.
Jesus’ teaching on the last days begins with an observation about the temple by one of the disciples. Jesus responds with a prediction about the imminent destruction of the temple. Taking that to be a reference to the last days, 4 of the disciples come to Jesus with the natural human response – “When?!”
The following teaching shows us that a much more important question is “What?” What should we do in light of the revelation of the last days?
We should be prepared to recognize and resist false teachers and teachings. (verses 5-6)
We should not be disturbed by troubling circumstances and upheaval. (7-8)
We should be ready to endure opposition and persecution as we partner in the global proclamation of the gospel. (9-13)
In the last days it’s going to get worse before it gets better. But we know how it ends.
All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.
-Julian of Norwich
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown