By Peter Coker
In my previous article ‘End Times, Last Days, Worldwide Tribulation,’ (or, Are We Facing the End-Times…Again) I noted that within the theory of dispensational eschatology, the ‘nation of Israel’ is the foundational key to God’s timeline in history and the return of Jesus Christ. Yet, their timeline, timeframes, and past predictions have imploded since 1988. Their popular theory is not only a pessimistic outlook for the gospel of Jesus Christ, it ignores a more active and effective outlook about Christ’s death, resurrection, and the power of the Holy Spirit working through the church from generation to generation. In my second ‘end times’ article, ‘Another Friendly Challenge to Pop-Eschatology,’ I noted a couple of interpretation tricks (or fallacies) used by dispensationalists. With this article, I would like to explore the Biblical outlook, or worldview, from the view of a victorious gospel kingdom.
For historians and philosophers, the history of the world has revealed different ‘eras’ of human thought. For example, Auguste Comte in The Positive Philosophy described what he called “the law of three stages.” Comte had a completely materialistic mindset that denied God as mythological; his worldview therefore was humanistic. Comte labeled the law of three stages as: The Theological (or fictitious); the Metaphysical (or abstract); and the Scientific (or positive). The labels – fictitious, abstract, and positive — reveal Comte’s obvious anti-theistic humanistic worldview.
Contrary to this philosophical view is the view postulated by Rev. Rousas John Rushdoony — from a Biblical worldview. Rushdoony notes that the development of human thought from a Judeo-Christian Biblical perspective is divided quite differently from Comte’s humanistic view. As Rushdoony described it, the first stage of human thought reflected is, a ‘politico-magical’ worldview. According to Rushdoony, this perspective, apart from the Hebrews, governed all of ‘antiquity.’ Furthermore, it also governed the Roman Empire in the Christian era and the non-Christian world thereafter.
The second stage of human thought, according to Rushdoony, has been the Religious or Christian one. The religious stage was first realized, in part, by the Hebrews before Christ. It was then more fully realized with the coming of Jesus Christ, which dramatically began to transform human thought. Although the Roman Empire tried very savagely to eliminate the spread of Christianity, it ultimately failed. The result was the spread of Christianity as it moved out to change the world via the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Christian worldview has continued to spread, having a profound effect on developing western civilization and moving away from the humanistic ‘politico-magical’ worldview. Christianity’s struggles throughout its history have been against this ancient worldview in various forms and manifestations. Much of today’s supposed enlightened views come from an ancient pagan-thought paradigm. As G.K. Chesterton has observed; “A new philosophy generally means in practice the praise of some old vice.”
Jesus, in His parables, left a very different paradigm than the one expressed by dispensational ‘end-times,’ last days’ prophecy theorists of today. Jesus parables of The Sower (Matthew 13: 3-8; Mark 4: 4-8; Luke 8: 5-8), The Mustard Seed (Matthew 13: 31-32; Mark 4: 3-32; Luke 13: 18-19), The Parable of the Leaven (Matthew 13: 33; Luke 13: 20-21), and The Parable of the Tares (Matthew 13: 36-43), all depict the nature, development, and impact of God’s growing kingdom on earth. The worldview of the victorious Christ in these parables appears to be a continuously growing gospel kingdom that surpasses and outgrows the ungodly! This is truly a ‘victorious gospel,’ that eventually spreads throughout the world and sustains it as well. Far from describing a failing church that cannot overcome ‘the world’ (…be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!) Jesus described a Spirit-empowered Church that overcomes evil, and presses on to fulfill the great commission.
The first century church faced the great tribulation and the last days just prior to the judgment on Jerusalem and the destruction of the Jewish Temple. 1 John 2: 18 warned fellow believers; “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. In 2 John 2: 7, John said; “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” Regarding the first century ‘great tribulation’ and destruction of the Jewish Temple, Jesus said, “…there will be a great tribulation such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matt. 24: 21). The first century church faced the greatest tribulation in history and nothing like it will be repeated again. They faced it and they overcame it, empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Believers in Jesus Christ are empowered by the Holy Spirit to overcome evil as well as their own sinful behaviors. The believer’s victory over the world is also expressed in 1 John 5: 4; “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – your faith.” And, just as the prophet Isaiah (42: 1-4) prophesied; Jesus would come and declare justice to the Gentiles and send forth ‘justice to victory.’
In the Parable of the Mustard Seed, Jesus indicates a kingdom that grows to be greater than all previous ‘earthly’ kingdoms. The kingdom that Jesus describes is one that grows not only in size, but also in stature, disposition, knowledge, strength, and faith. A kingdom that sustains the lives of believers and unbelievers alike. This kingdom is a co-mingled culture (wheat and tares) which grows together until Christ returns at His final return to earth. Until then, the ungodly, either knowingly or unknowingly live and thrive on the strength, growth, and security of a growing gospel culture.
Jesus said, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let Him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3: 21)
“And they overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Revelation 12: 11)
“And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” (Romans 16: 20)
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12: 21)
May the Church, God’s people, press on from victory to victory — continue to grow God’s kingdom – and teach all nations!
View also at ipatriot.com, http://ipatriot.com/tribulation-justice-victory/