Here at the End of All Things (BFM #16)
Text: 1st Peter 4:7
By: Ken McKinley
We have reached article 10 of our study of the BFM, and it is one of those articles in our confessional statement that a lot of people are interested in. Now I confess that I myself did not study much eschatology until a few years ago, when I was writing my book, and since then I dove back into studying eschatology (ie. end times) since we’ve began our study of the Book of Revelation in discipleship class. Now article 10 of the BFM says this, “God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.”
Now Christians in general are pretty interested in this stuff, the end times, the last days, the Book of Revelation. It’s obvious that we are interested in it because if you look at the top selling religious books, those on eschatology are always right near the top of the list. But the problem I see is that Christians are more concerned with the “when” of the end, rather than simply having the assurance of Christ’s promises at the end. In-other-words, we want to look for the signs so that we will know when we need to start living right. We are watching for and waiting for the signs so that we will know when we need to get serious about our faith. The problem with this kind of mind set is that Jesus told us in Matthew 24:36 that no one knows when the 2nd Coming will be… no one other than God Himself. So as Christians, instead of looking at the “when” of the end, we should instead be focusing on the fact that Jesus IS coming again, and that we should be living daily as if today were the day. In 1st Peter 4:7 Peter wrote, “The end of all things is at hand, therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.”
Now the BFM is vague in dealing with things like millennial views, the time of the rapture in relation to the tribulation, and I think that’s unfortunate. I don’t think that the authors of the BFM were trying to intentionally cop out of these important issues, I think they were trying to be tolerant of the different views of those held within our denomination, but in their efforts to be tolerant, I think they copped out. And that happens any time we withhold the teachings of the Word of God in order to be more tolerant and more acceptable. Tolerance is a good thing, but not at the cost of other good things, like the truth.
And so, article 10 begins by saying, “God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end.” – God in His own time and own way… so what is God’s time and God’s way? Well we already saw in Matthew 24:36 that no one knows the day or the hour except for the Father Himself, but what about God’s way? Well, I think unintentionally the BFM tells us the way, “Jesus returns personally and visibly in glory – to the earth!” And the return of the Lord is a certainty, because it is in God’s time, in God’s way, and it’s according to His promise. So; when the end of all things does come, it will be God who makes it happen. Now what this knowledge does is either make you feel really, really comfortable, or really, really uncomfortable. Depending on how you view the sovereignty of God, and how you view God Himself. Do you trust Him completely? Do you believe that He always has your best interest at heart?
A good indication of how much you trust the Lord is how much you fret about the 2nd Coming of Christ.
God is sovereign, and God brings about the end of all things, so the last day, the end, will only come when, and how He chooses to make it happen. 1st John 2:17 tells us that the world and its desires are passing away. In-other-words, every new day is one day closer to the Lords return. That’s not rocket science, it’s just common sense. But it doesn’t mean that we can live however we like, and act like that day isn’t coming. Jesus taught that we should not lay up for ourselves treasures here on earth, that can be corrupted by age and time, and that can be stolen by thieves, but rather, we should be laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven.
And so the 2nd Coming is in God’s time, and this should bring us a great deal of comfort and hope. Comfort because of God’s love for us, and hope because we know that it is a promise from the Lord Himself. But for some it doesn’t bring comfort and hope. For some that day will be a day that takes them completely by surprise and it is a day that fills them with dread.
Now the next part of the BFM says, the dead will be raised and Christ will judge all men.
What this means is that there will be a bodily resurrection. Part of the redemption story is that Jesus, through His redemptive work on the cross, redeemed all of creation back to Himself. The world is corrupt with sin, and even our physical bodies are corrupted with sin. This is why Scripture tells us that no flesh shall glory in the presence of the Lord.
Turn with me to 1st Corinthians 15:35-58 (Read).
1st Thessalonians 4:13 tells us that dead in Christ will rise first and then those who are alive and remain will be caught up to meet Him in the air – we call this the rapture, and we’ll talk more about that next Sunday. The point I want you to see today is that just as Jesus rose from the grave in a glorified physical body, we too shall be given glorified physical bodies. We know His body was physical because Thomas touched the wounds from the crucifixion, and Jesus ate with His disciples, but we also know that the Lord’s resurrected physical body was able to do miraculous things, like disappear from the road to Emmaus, and also to appear in the upper room, even though the doors were locked. It’s going to be pretty amazing actually, to have a body that never grows old, never suffers sickness or pain. And again this is something that we as Christians look forward to, but the next sentence in article 10 of the BFM is something that non-Christians don’t care to hear about.
All of mankind will be judged. Matthew 25:31 gives us some insight as to how this happens (Read Matt. 25:31). There is a day coming when all of mankind will be judged, a day when all the wrongs of this world will be made right, and when everyone will give an account for his or her actions on this earth. And because we know this, Christians are able to endure the injustices on this earth, because we know that the tests and trials of this present life are nothing compared to what awaits us in glory!
See, when we go to be with the Lord in eternity, we will be reunited with our loved ones who have gone on before us. We will have everlasting rest, we will no longer have to struggle against sin, or pain, or sickness, or sadness…
The Bible tells us that heaven is a place where the radiance of God’s glory will shine so brightly that we won’t need any other light source. It’s going to be a glorious place of wonder and amazement, and worship.
But we can’t talk about the end times and heaven without talking about Hell. Now literally the word “Hell” means the grave, or the abode of the dead. What we think of as Hell is actually the Lake of Fire, mentioned in Revelation chapter 20. And that is a place of eternal punishment and torment. And that’s why so many people don’t like this teaching, because they don’t want to admit that they will be eventually held accountable for their sins. But we can’t just ignore the teaching on Hell and the Lake of Fire.
God’s judgment and wrath are a part of His righteous nature. If there was no punishment for sin, then God would not be just, and we would have no need for a Savior. And if we don’t need a Savior, then Jesus died in vain.
All Christian doctrines, the doctrine of sin “Harmatology,” the doctrine of man “Anthropology,” the doctrine of salvation “Soteriology,” the doctrine of God “Theology,” the doctrine of Christ “Christology,” the doctrine of the Church “Ecclesiology” and the doctrine of the end times “Eschatology” all hinge on the fact that there is a hell to avoid and a heaven to gain.
So what does all of this mean to us? How should this affect the way we live our lives? Well; Scripture is full of exhortations about how we should live our lives until Jesus returns. As Christians we should live with eternity in view. 1st Thessalonians 5:8 tells us to be self-controlled and alert, knowing that the Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. If there is no difference between the way we live and the way our lost neighbors live then something is wrong. 2nd Peter 3:14 says, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless…”
Secondly; we should make the most of our time while we are still on earth. Ephesians 5:15 tells us that we should do just that, walking in wisdom, because the days we live in are evil. Jesus said it this way in John chapter 9:4, “We must do the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work.” You see there is a day coming when we won’t be able to tell anyone about Gods grace and mercy… it will be too late. We won’t be able to hand out one more Bible tract, or preach one more sermon in my case. The day is coming when the last chance to be saved will have come and gone so we must work now.
Lastly; we should live in anticipation of the Lords return. We are warned in Scripture that before the Lord returns the love of many will grow cold. Some people who profess Christ are like a reptile, they are only hot when they are around others who are hot, otherwise they are cold or lukewarm.
So what about you today? Are you ready for Jesus to return? Do you know where you will spend eternity. When He returns there are no second chances. Are we living our lives with eternity in view? Are we redeeming the time because the days are evil? And are we anticipating the Lords return, and living accordingly?
I can’t answer that for you, I wish I could, but I can’t, and so this morning you have a decision to make.