Jan 5, 2009

Q&A on the end times - Part 1 of 2

I recently asked my pastor what would be 10 short, but critical things to understand about the end times. What Pastor Chuck Johnson gave me was 11 questions that, as he puts it, "need to be answered to identify where one is eschatologically" speaking. Our intent is not to give exhaustive answers, but to provide short, abridged responses to basic eschatological questions. To keep the posts a reasonable length, I’m going to publish his Q&A in two installments. Here are questions 1-5.

Question 1: Does God have a plan for Israel?

Answer: This is the question that determines if you are Covenant in your theology or Dispensational, though some people today want to have a gray area. My view is that God's unfulfilled promises to Israel in the Old Testament will not be fulfilled spiritually in the church today, but will be fulfilled literally in Israel in the future. So passages like Romans 9:25-29 do, in fact, reveal God has a future plan for national or ethnic Israel.

Question 2: What is the timing of the church being caught up (the Rapture)?

Answer: Normally Christians who in any sense take passages such as I Thess. 4:13-18 as literal, believe that the Rapture of the Church takes place either before the seven year tribulation or about mid tribulation (Pre-Wrath), or at the end of the tribulation just a few minutes before the second coming of Christ to earth. I believe the Rapture is pre-tribulational for a number of reasons including that the 70th week of Daniel 9, 7 years, is for the completion of Jewish history having nothing to do with the church, and Rev. 4-19 which describes the tribulation period never once mentions the church.

Question 3: What is the "blessed hope", Titus 2:13?

Answer: How can the second coming of Christ be a blessed hope if the church is going to go through the awfulness of the tribulation? It is more logical that the blessed hope is referring to the imminent, any time rapture of the church.

Question 4: Is the Messianic Kingdom figurative or literal?

Answer: The Amillenialist believes the Messianic Kingdom is figurative, and we are in it today where Jesus is ruling from His throne in heaven. I believe it is not figurative, but is literal and is still future because, why would the promises of Messiah's first advent be literally fulfilled, and yet the promises of the second advent and the millennial kingdom be figuratively fulfilled in a spiritual sense. Also in Matt. 23:34-39, it is clear that kingdom that Messiah has been offering Israel is being taken away from that generation, and will be offered again in the future. Matt. 25 also makes it clear it will come after the second coming of Christ.

Question 5: Is the Kingdom offered by Jesus totally future?

Answer: God has always ruled the earth in a Theocratic Kingdom. Yet Jesus was offering a Messianic Kingdom to Israel. That Messianic Kingdom offer as we have said in Matt. 23 was taken away, and would come in the future. So, though God still Sovereignly rules the universe, the Messianic Kingdom aspect of that rule is totally future.

Pastor Johnson earned his Masters of Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary and is the pastor at Kearney Bible Church in Kearney, Mo.

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