Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Is The End Near? (Part 1)

I. Introduction

In case you haven’t heard, the end of the world is coming Saturday, May 21. You may want to pencil it in your calendar. I say “pencil it in” because I don’t think it’s going to happen. Harold Camping, President of Family Radio, is making this prediction. He has even put up billboards around the country announcing his prediction, at considerable cost, I would imagine. If you’re interested, his justification for this prediction is displayed on the Family Radio website.

I’m no expert in the End Times, but I do know that a lot of things have to happen before Christ returns and the final judgment takes place. Some have made End of the World predictions, and they’ve all been wrong. William Miller predicted October 22, 1844, and we’re still here. That non-event came to be called “The Great Disappointment” by his followers, the Millerites, which eventually became the 7th Day Adventists.

Despite crackpot predictions, be assured the End Times will occur, and my guess is fairly soon, but I don’t think it will be this Saturday. How can I be so sure about the End Times happening? Because of the many End Times prophecies that are in both the Old and New Testaments, plus Jesus himself talked about it in a number of places. I’d like to give a brief overview of the End Times events and what the Bible has to say about them so we can understand them and not be deceived.

II. Church Doctrine

There is a wide variety of opinions concerning the order of End Times events and how much of what is written is symbolic vs. literal. There are still many questions and opinions about the subject, so I’m going to outline the most commonly believed scenario, using biblical passages. Let me reiterate how important the Second Coming and the End Times are to Christian belief, even if we aren’t sure about certain details.

1. Communion Liturgy

For example, the United Methodist communion liturgy (and I’m sure many others) references the End times:

We affirm: Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.
We pray: By your Spirit, make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory, and we feast at his heavenly banquet.”

This “heavenly banquet” refers to Revelation 19:9:

And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” NRSV

You and I are invited because we are followers of Jesus, and it will be the best wedding reception you’ve ever attended!

2. The Nicene Creed

The words of the Nicene Creed are clear about the End Times:

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end… We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

3. The Apostles’ Creed

Lastly, the Apostles’ Creed says about Jesus: “[He] is seated at the right hand of the Father and will come again to judge the living and the dead.”

More on the End Times in a future post.

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