Summary: A study of the time statemenst on the Second Coming of Christ
"Inspiration and the Second Coming of Christ"
Have you ever wondered why it is that two men can read the same passage of scripture and come up with two totally different interpretations? Or why two men can read the same Bible and yet see things so differently? Two men who love God and yet see the same scripture in two different ways. Is it that one of them is stubborn or unreasonable? No, it is because each of us has within us paradigms of what life is really all about. The word paradigm means a model or a map. We look at life through our paradigms. Inside each of us is a map or model of what life ought to be like. Our paradigms are representations of life. We all have them, and we all have paradigms of eschatology. Eschatology is a word that frightens people, they don’t understand it so they are afraid of it. When I talk about eschatology, I am not talking about the end of time, but the time of the end. There is a very large difference between those two ideas. Eschatology is the doctrine of last things but it is the last things of God’s plan to redeem us, not the last things of planet earth.
We all interpret life through our paradigms. We look at life and compare it to our model to decide if life is good, bad, right or wrong. We interpret life through the model that we have developed within us. Most people don’t question the models that they have developed, we all assume that we have the right model. Our paradigms are developed over a period of time and we see life through them. Our eschatological paradigms have been developed throughout our church life by what we have heard. The predominant eschatological paradigm of the church today is the late great planet earth exploding in a cataclysmic destruction of fire.
There is a thing called a paradigm shift which is when you view things one way and then you shift and view them another way. For example at one time most all men held the paradigm that the earth was flat. Then at a point in time men made a paradigm shift and began to believe that the earth was round. As another example: A man was on a subway in Long Island New York. As he was riding the subway, a gentleman got on the subway with three small children. The three children were about as rowdy as kids could get, they were bothering all the other passengers on the subway. The longer the man sat there and watched this the more irritated he got with the father of the children. Finally he couldn’t take it any longer. He was so angry with the irresponsibility of the man that he couldn’t contain it any longer. He said, "mister don’t you think you should get a handle on your kids they’re bothering everyone in the subway car." The man looked up and said, "I’m sorry, you’re right, we just came from the hospital where their mother died and I don’t know how to handle it and I guess they don’t either. I’m sorry." The man’s feelings were pulled inside out because what he thought was one way was in fact not that way at all. He experienced a paradigm shift. Paradigm shifts are in Scripture and they are part of your life and my life. Paul had a paradigm shift on the road to Damascus. He thought that Jesus Christ was a heretic and he was preaching against him. Then Paul met Jesus on that road and everything he believed about him was turned inside out. The person he preached against now became his life. That is a paradigm shift.
In the beginning weeks of 1997 I had a paradigm shift, my views on the second coming of Christ began to change. I have believed in a future second coming since I became a Christian in 1976. But in light of some very compelling Scriptural evidence I no longer believe that the second coming is future. Now listen carefully, I am not saying I don’t believe in the second coming of Christ, I strongly believe in the second coming, but I believe it is past not future. To deny the fact of the second coming is to deny the inspiration of scripture. Do you agree? Well, I believe that the time of the second coming is just as clear as the fact of the second coming. I believe that to deny the time statements that the Bible gives of the second coming is also to deny inspiration. Do you still agree?
Let me remind you of an Educational Study that I have shared with you several times.
In an educational study people were given a new concept (such as the earth is round, or the second coming has already happened) and asked to believe it, which resulted in them setting aside some things they already believe. It required a paradigm shift. This is very applicable to our study.