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Wesleyan Theology II - Lesson 19

Wesley on Eschatology (Part 2)

The second coming of Christ will take some people by surprise, but the faithful will be prepared. It will be visible and obvious to everyone. Believers will be raised from the dead to be with Christ. Postmillennialism teaches that things keep getting better and the second coming of Christ will come after the millennium. Premillennialism teaches that things get worse and Christ comes before the millennium. Amillennialism sees the thousand-year reign as a symbol and not a reality. There will be a final judgment that will display the attributes of God, where Jesus will be seen as the king of kings. The final judgment will bring justice and reveal the character of each person. Heaven is where the glory of God is expressed. There will be a new heaven and a new earth.

Kenneth J. Collins
Wesleyan Theology II
Lesson 19
Watching Now
Wesley on Eschatology (Part 2)

I. SIGNS OF THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST

II. MILLENIUM

A. Postmillennialism

B. Premillennialism

C. Amillennialism

III. A FINAL REBELLION

IV. GENERAL RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD

V. THE FINAL OR LAST JUDGMENT

VI. HEAVEN

A. Glorification of Believers

B. New Creation


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  • John Wesley did theology in service to the church in mission. Brunner and Tillich are theologians that lived recently that developed a systematic approach. Wesley refers to his study of theology as practical divinity. He views it as participatory so that the truths of Scripture are actualized in practice and in community, not just an individual intellectual exercise. Wesley emphasized the doctrines of sin and salvation in his study and preaching by addressing how you become a Christian and how you remain a Christian. Wesley is described as being a, “conjunctive” theologian, which means he has a, “both-and” approach  as compared to an, “either-or” approach to theological ideas. He is looking for balance. Free grace is the work of God alone. Wesley describes cooperant grace as, “God works, therefore you can work; God works, therefore you must work.” Grace is the normative context of the moral law of God. Wesley teaches that we relate to God by both free grace and cooperant grace.

  • Repentance before justification. Because of who God is, he wills the salvation of all humanity. Grace is free for all. In his sermon, “Free Grace,” Wesley argues against limited atonement but affirms election and God’s foreknowledge. To Wesley, “Awakening” refers to a person receiving grace so they begin to discern the things of God. This is the transition from the natural state where people where a person is dead to things of God, to being awakened to God and fearing him. Moving from a state of “sleep” to being “awakened” to an awareness of God. Wesley makes a distinction between the, “natural person,” a “person under the law,” and a “person under grace.” Wesley describes conviction the holy spirit and the moral law working together, resulting in convincing grace. Sovereignty is a relational attribute because it’s how he relates to nature. Love is an essential attribute of God. Humans still have freedom as part of the way they are created in the image of God. Wesley teaches that all the elect are born of God but not all who are born of God are elect. Some who are born of God, fall away. If we live a life of Christian discipleship, it will change us.

  • The Holy Spirit begins to give the awakened conscience an inward “check” using the moral law. God uses the word and the Spirit to shed increasing light on the conscience to reveal shafts of the righteousness and justice of God. Repentance means a change of mind or change of direction. Wesley described repentance as the “porch” of religion. Wesley said that the only requirement to be part of a Methodist society was a desire to flee the wrath to come. He would then encourage you to leave off evil, do good and use the means of grace, which he equated with repentance. The three principal aspects of repentance are conviction, poverty of spirit and rejection of self-righteousness and self-justification. Repentance occurs prior to justification. Repentance will result in outward expressions of inward contrition and grace. The general means of grace are prayer, searching the Scripture, communicating, the Lord’s Supper and fasting. Prudential means of grace are practices that foster the love of God. They may differ from one person to another. It requires reason, reflection and honesty.

  • Focus on the insights of John Wesley on practical theology. Wesley teaches that people are justified by faith alone and that conviction of sin and repentance comes before justification. Conviction and repentance are important in the salvation process but not in the same sense or the same degree as faith. Wesley refers to the grace from which salvation comes as being, “free in all,” meaning that it does not depend on human power or merit. A person can be redeemed if he will, but not when he will. Wesley views the process of salvation as the conjunction of cooperant and free grace. The faith that justifies goes beyond believing that God exists and the knowledge of God’s character. It is also more than the faith of a devil. It is more than the faith of the apostles while Jesus was on earth. The nature of faith is a spiritual sense by which we understand spiritual things. Faith requires both, “belief that” and “belief in”

  • Justification is the work God does for us, sanctification is the work God does in us. Justification makes us children of God, and sanctification is the process of becoming saints. Justification is based on the atoning work of Christ and entails the forgiveness of sin and freedom from guilt. Wesley teaches that when you are justified, you are forgiven of past sins. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers because of what Jesus did. He applied imputation to justification only, not sanctification because he was concerned about people taking this as a license to sin. Sola Fide is the teaching that faith is not only the necessary condition of justification, but it is also a sufficient condition. Wesley teaches that justification and regeneration occur simultaneously, never one without the other. Wesley held not one but two aspects of his doctrine of salvation in tension: both process and instantaneousness, divine and human cooperation as well as the work of God alone.

  • Wesley teaches that justifying grace is imputed by God and regenerating grace is imparted by God. When Wesley refers to, “divine empowerment,” he means that the Holy Spirit gives believers the power to live in obedience to God. Wesley describes regeneration as the great work which God does in us, in renewing our fallen nature and the beginning of sanctification. Regeneration itself is a result of free grace. Only God can make a soul holy and fill it with the Holy Spirit. He also emphasizes the importance of holy living. “Faith alone, working by love, aimed at holy living.” Wesley linked regeneration with the doctrine of original sin. Since we were born in sin, we must be born again. Wesley describes the new birth as a vast change from darkness to light. Orthodoxy is important, but it’s crucial that regeneration also leads to life transformation.

  • Regeneration is an instantaneous supernatural change that begins the process of sanctification. It is God alone who forgives sin and makes a person holy. The first “liberty” of the gospel is freedom from the guilt of sin. The second “liberty” of the gospel is the deliverance from the power and dominion of sin. The marks of the new birth are faith, hope and love. Wesley defines sin as a willful transgression of a known law of God. Wesley is not saying that one who is regenerated will never sin again, but open, willful sin and rejecting God should be the exception rather than the rule. Obedience of faith refers to the power of someone who is regenerated to obey the commandments of God. The greatest freedom of all is the freedom to love God and love our neighbor.

  • Assurance is an essential part of the conversion experience. Our sins are forgiven and we are children of God. Biblical texts that teach assurance are Romans 8:15-16, Galatians 4:5-8 and 1 John 2:12-14. According to Roman Catholic theology articulated at the council of Trent, assurance is not a normative component of God’s promise of salvation. The Roman Catholic church teaches that assurance is corporate and focuses on apostolic succession and the sacraments. Wesley describes the direct witness of assurance as an inward impression on the soul of believers by the Holy Spirit, who testifies to the spirit of the person that they are a child of God. The realization of the direct witness of the spirit will be different for each individual and will be memorable but may not be dramatic. Wesley considers conscience as a supernatural faculty that God has restored.

  • Indirect witnesses to our new birth are the keeping of the commandments of God and fruit of the Spirit. The gifts of the Spirit are diverse but they are all given by the Holy Spirit. Wesley emphasizes the importance of both direct and indirect witness.

  • Wesley describes salvation and sanctification by writing, “God worketh in you; therefore you can work…God worketh in you, therefore you must work.” In the process of sanctification, we are becoming increasingly holy. The process of sanctification involves changes in degree. The process begins when we are justified. The believer is gradually dying to the carnal nature. The Christian life is a journey of holiness. The goal is holy love. As believers experience the love of God, they will love God and show love to their neighbor. Wesley teaches that when you believe in God, you have a disposition toward God, which is a sure trust and confidence in God which causes changes in your life. Dispositions are more consistent than emotions. Practicing sin makes you less free. Holiness leads to freedom and happiness.

  • Self-denial involves being willing to follow grace, to follow God’s will rather than yours, recognizing that your nature is corrupt and to deny ourselves is to deny our will where it contradicts God’s will. Taking up your cross includes being willing to endure suffering. Wesley teaches that repentance is important in terms of individual sins at salvation and also of the sin nature. Evangelical repentance is repentance of the sin nature. Wesley urged people to minister to both peoples’ bodies and souls.

  • In this lesson, John Wesley's theology on entire sanctification emphasizes the distinction between gradual sanctification as a process and instantaneous entire sanctification, with a focus on the idea that entire sanctification is an utter gift of God received by faith alone, demonstrating a balanced view of cooperative and free grace.
  • In this lesson, Dr. Collins reviews John Wesley's doctrine on entire sanctification. He explains that it is not sinless perfection but a state of love where believers are free from the power and being of sin, emphasizing the need for continual growth in grace.
  • Wesley wanted to reform the church of England, not begin a new denomination. The fundamental nature of the Church is a community of people-centered on Christ. The Greek word in the New Testament that refers to the Church is ekklesia. The Church was born at Pentecost. The relation of the church to Israel and the inclusion of Gentiles in the church were two foundational questions in the early Church. The Church is composed of all believers throughout the world as well as believers meeting in local communities. There is one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and Father of all. The importance of unity in the Church is stressed in the Gospel of John and in other writings in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit animates individuals and also the body of Christ corporately.

  • It’s not possible to for people to be holy without the Holy Spirit. The Church should live in an attitude of humility and be open to repentance and reform when there is sin and evil discovered. There institutional church should have disciplinary mechanisms to deal with sin and evil. Ecclesiastical synonyms for catholic are universal, global, ecumenical and extensive. The apostolic testimony is passed down through the centuries. Apostolic succession divides the Church because of the view of the sacraments, especially the Lord’s Supper. The creeds in the reformation era articulated Protestant theology. The church is where the pure Word of God is preached and the sacraments are duly administered. Methodism is a reforming movement with the theme of real Christianity vs. people who lived by displaying the form of Christianity but lacked the power. Methodist bands and select societies were modeled after Moravian small groups. The soul and the body make a man, the spirit and discipline make a Christian. The general rules of the United Societies were agree to avoid evil, do good to your neighbor and employ the means of grace. The goal was to foster a spirit of repentance. They emphasized Scriptural Christianity. Wesley’s purpose was that Methodism become a reforming order within the church, not a separate denomination.

  • Worship is a response to God because God has already acted. Gathering together is important for the faith community to fellowship together. The minister welcomes everyone to invite them to worship God. In worship, we encounter the Word of God as it is read and declared, by response in prayer and in the creeds and confessions. In communion, we are responding to the gift that God has given us. When we go out from a worship service, we are salt and light to the world. Worship is essentially responding in acknowledgment of what God has done. A sacrament is an outward expression of an inward grace that is received by faith. Luther described a sacrament as containing the three elements of a sign, signification, and promise. For baptism, the sign is the water, the signification is dying and rising with Christ and the promise is forgiveness of sin and renewal of your nature. Wesley considered baptism to be associated but distinct from the new birth. Baptism is an outward sign of the inward work of the new birth.

  • Wesley’s view of baptism is both sacramental and “evangelical.” Wesley considers the Lord’s Supper as a means of grace because it is, “food for the journey. In the early church, believers were required to be baptized before they could receive the Lord’s Supper. The sign is the bread and wine, the signification is the body and blood of Jesus and the promise is the forgiveness of sins and renewal of our nature. Luther describe’s the Lord’s Supper as a testament. Wesley says that there is a spiritual presence of Jesus in the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is not a sacrifice, but it does bring the meanings of the death of Jesus into the community of faith in a tangible way. Wesley thought that each person should receive the Lord’s Supper as often as possible.

  • Eschatology comes from a Greek word meaning, “last things.” Aristotle describes physical death is when the body is separated from the soul. Spiritual death is when the soul is separated from the sanctifying presence of God. Eternal death is the eternal separation of the soul from God. Some people teach that the term “sleep” in Scripture to describe death, means cessation of consciousness and is not used metaphorically of the dead body. A belief in the unending existence of the soul raises the question of its habitat and activities in the state between death and the resurrection, generally referred to as the intermediate state. It seems then that there is a particular judgment at death that will be consummated later on in a general judgment. Jesus promised that he would come again to earth and it will be personal, visible, physical and literal.

  • The second coming of Christ will take some people by surprise, but the faithful will be prepared. It will be visible and obvious to everyone. Believers will be raised from the dead to be with Christ. Postmillennialism teaches that things keep getting better and the second coming of Christ will come after the millennium. Premillennialism teaches that things get worse and Christ comes before the millennium. Amillennialism sees the thousand-year reign as a symbol and not a reality. There will be a final judgment that will display the attributes of God, where Jesus will be seen as the king of kings. The final judgment will bring justice and reveal the character of each person. Heaven is where the glory of God is expressed. There will be a new heaven and a new earth.

Holy Love is an overarching theme of John Wesley's preaching and theology. Join Dr. Kenneth Collins as he explores topics ranging from grace, repentance, justification, regeneration, assurance, sanctification, the church and sacraments, and eschatology, by using Scripture, historical context, and the writings and the sermons of John Wesley. 

Wesleyan Theology II
Dr. Ken Collins
th511-19
Wesley on Eschatology (Part 2)
Lesson Transcript

 

We've been talking most recently about the second coming of Christ. And it's interesting how Scripture refers to that second coming and some of the images when held together with others. They, at first glance might appear to be contradictory, but they actually all fit very, very nicely together because on the one hand we hear about the coming that Christ will come as a thief in the night. But then on the other hand, there is in Matthew four as lightning comes from the east and even is visible in the West, So will be the coming of the son of man. And so we have here verses that seem to suggest this coming will be secretive, if you will. It will catch some people off their guard, so to speak. But that in terms of others, those who are well prepared, those who look for the Lord in his coming, they shall not be taken by surprise. For example, in First Thessalonians chapter five, verses four through six, it states. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness, so that that day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the dead. We do not belong to the night or to or to darkness. So then let us not be like others who are asleep. But let us be awake and be sober. Okay. And so we see here this important verse. Then also in Matthew 2437 through 41, there is this reference to the days of Noah. And so it will be like with the coming of the Son of Man four In the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up until the day Noah entered the ark and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.

 

This is how it will be with the coming of this son of man. Well, if you hold these two verses together, you see that the coming of this son of man will take some people by surprise. But it will not take the faithful. They will not take the faithful by surprise because they will know, having been forewarned, they will know the signs of his coming and they will they will be prepared. They will be prepared. And so it's interesting, even in the counsel that Jesus gave to his disciples, he underscored the importance of being prepared. And that's something that Paul lifted up as well in terms of the coming of Christ in first Thessalonians chapter three, verse 13. And this is what he writes, quote, May he strengthen your heart so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and fathers when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all his holy ones. Okay. And then again, in first national audience, chapter five, verse 23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, souls and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Okay. And then in first John, chapter two, verse 23. And now dear children continue in him so that when he appears, we may be confident and unashamed to be for him at his coming. Okay. And so we see that the coming of Christ is going to be received differently depending upon one's relation to Christ. Unbelievers are going to be caught unaware, but believers will be waiting and expecting the Lord who is to come. Now, I should add on this particular topic, because there has been the influence of what is called Darby ism on a.

 

American evangelical theology. And so some have argued for what is called a secret rapture. You know, that there is a rapture is to be sure. I mean, it's a biblical doctrine. Paul talks about it, but that there is a secret rapture, in other words, that Christ comes secretly and takes the church away and then the rest suffer. You know, the great tribulation, etc., etc., all I don't find the biblical evidence for that. And as a matter of fact, after reading George Elden Lad's book, very helpful book, The Blessed Hope, I was convinced that this Darby, this Darby reading was very wrong because the coming of the son of man will not be doubted because it will be like lightning striking from the East and the West. No one would possibly doubt did Jesus Christ come or know. The whole world will know. The Saints will know to their glory. Those who have rejected Christ to their sadness. To their sadness. But this idea of a secret rapture, I don't see the biblical evidence for it. The coming of Christ, in a real sense, is the climax of history. It's the climax of history like lightning striking from the east to the West. So will be the coming of the son of man. So, writes Matthew in his 24th chapter of his gospel, verse 27. Okay. Now, this is such a pivotal event, the second coming of Christ, that while it is happening, we have the resurrection occurring at that time as well. According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord. So Paul writes, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. Okay. And so here Paul is talking about the resurrection, those being caught up with Christ who is coming.

 

And then in first Thessalonians chapter four versus 16 through 17. Paul writes for the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command and say nothing. Nothing secret about this. A loud command with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Well, they're in First Thessalonians chapter four, verses 16 through 17. Paul is describing the rapture, you know, being caught up with Jesus Christ. And notice what's happening at this point that the dead in Christ are rising, the dead in Christ are rising. They are being caught up with Christ as Christ is coming. And then we who are still alive, we're being caught up with with them also with the dead who have been already caught up with Christ. And so this is a great event, a climactic event. The language here is very powerful, a loud command. There's nothing secret about this rapture being described here. Indeed, Christ is coming in glory and this time to judge, to bring judgment to the earth. And when Christ comes, we have the promise. Those who are walking faithfully in Jesus Christ that we shall be like him. That's what the first letter of John says in chapter three, verses two through three. Listen to his words, dear friends. Now we are the children of God. And what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is all who have this hope in him, purify themselves just as he is pure and see there is a precious promise.

 

The precious promise that not only in terms of the coming of Christ, but that when Christ appears, we shall. Like him. We shall be like him, for we will see him as he is. Okay. Now, with the coming of Christ, for those who are charting out, you know, a kind of larger eschatological timeline in many such timelines, there is the beginning of the millennium with the millennium. And so there are various views of the millennium. This thousand year period, this rule of Christ, which is established, which is talked about affirmed in Revelation chapter 20, verse four through six. Let me just read that verse, because then I want to talk about a number of different options here in terms of how the church has understood the millennial reign of Christ. So here's Revelation chapter 20 versus four through six. I saw a thrones on which were seeded those who had been given glory to judge, and I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the Word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their four heads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. So we have here very clearly the Book of Revelation describing the millennial reign of Christ. And notice what's happening here. Those who have been faithful to Jesus Christ are reigning with him.

 

They are reigning with him. They have come to power. They are now rulers together with Christ. Now, this millennial reign has been understood, at least, at least in three main ways. At least in three main ways. The first, actually, I'm going to start out with Postcolonialism first, and this is the idea of that. The second coming of Christ, which we have been describing, will take place after the millennium. Another and that's why it's called post Millennial Millennials. In other words, you have the millennial usually identified with the reign of the church. And then after this period, this reign of the church, a period of peace, then comes Christ. And that's why it's referred to as post millennial ism. And so in this view, this first year we're looking at the second coming will take place after this thousand year period. And so in this view, things will get better and better, such that the coming of Christ will be the capstone of the work of the church throughout history. Interestingly enough, John Wesley was a post millennials. Yes, he believed that the revival that had started in the 18th century and that was, you know, making its presence known in the British and in the revival in England, Scotland, Wales and elsewhere and even across the Atlantic, that that would continue to spread. And so Wesley was quite optimistic. He was quite positive when he thought about the work of God in the world. And he believed that there would be this ongoing millennial reign and Christ would come at its capstone. There's another view here, and it's known as pre millennial ism, pre millennial ism. And this will argue that the second coming of Christ takes place before before the millennial, right before that thousand year period we talked about.

 

And so that's obviously why it's called pre. Now in this view things get worse and worse things go from bad to worse, such that if Christ does not come, no human life would. Be saved. And so the pre millennial view is not very optimistic in terms of the ongoing course of human history. Indeed, things are going to go so awry that if Christ does not come to put a stop to it, no human life would be saved. And so pre millennials will quote Matthew 24, verse 22 If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be shortened. Now, it's very interesting, you know, as a historian to note that many of Christian leaders and theologians, especially prior to the 20th century, many of them were post millennials. And so, you know, John Wesley was not a typical of many of his own age. They were they had a confidence in the gospel being spread around the world. However, the 20th century really changed things for lots of people. We had, of course, the rise of World War One and World War Two. And then we had the rise of the Holocaust, that kind of grand evil, great evil. And so some theologians began to back away from post millennial ism and began to move more and more in a direction of a pre millennial assessment. Now, there's another view here, which I haven't mentioned, which is simply known as our millennial ism and all millennial ism. It denies the reality of a thousand year reign. It's basically this thousand year reign described in Revelation 20 is simply a symbol. It's just a symbolic interpretation and therefore is not to be seen literally, literally.

 

And so all millennial ism in this case, meaning there is no literal millennial reign, a thousand year reign of Christ, it's just simply a symbol. It's a figure that is used in the Book of Revelation, and that would be the extent of it. Now, when I read the Book of Revelation, and I, interestingly enough, read this book in a devotional way, because for me, I read it not as a prophetic calendar, but I read it as the glorification of Christ that what does it look like for Christ to be affirmed as king, that the lamb of God is on the throne, that Christ is utterly glorified. So I read it in a very devotional way, in a celebratory way of the triumph of Christ in his beauty and his goodness in His Holiness, and then revealed, of course, in his glory. And so I've always found the Book of Revelation as it continues and talks about a final rebellion that even after Christ has come and there is this reign, there is yet a rebellion. There is yet a rebellion, a final rebellion that is described in Revelation chapter one of Revelation excuse me, Chapter 20, verses one through 15. And so let me read some of this material here. And I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the keys to the abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He sees the dragon, the ancient serpent who is the devil or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. So some have interpreted this, okay, Satan is bound for a thousand years. There's there's a reign there of peace. He threw him into the abyss and locked and seal dead over him to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended.

 

After that, he must be set free for a short time. And then we find in Revelation chapter 20, verses seven through ten, when the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the Earth, Gog and Magog, and to gather them for battle in number. They are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and saw. Founded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. And there they will be tormented day and night, forever and ever. And so here we see a kind of, you know, final rebellion, but also a judgment. And then we have the general resurrection of the dead. And I like what the late Tom Oden had to write about, the general resurrection of the dead. The key text is from John. He writes. Do not be amazed that this for the time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out. Those who have done good will rise to live and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. Okay. When this call comes, all will hear though dead. Some passages of Scripture appear to speak only of the resurrection of the jug of the just yet. Daniel expected the multitudes now dead to awaken some to everlasting life, others to shame. And so theologians have written about the final or the last judgment or what sometimes can be referred to as the great white throne judgment.

 

And once again, this comes out of material from the Book of Revelation. And here I'm reading from chapter 20 verse 11 through 15. Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it, the earth and the heavens fled from his presence and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead great and small standing before the throne. And the books were opened. Another book was opened, which was the book of Life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up, the dead that were in it, and death in Hades gave up the dead that were in them. And each person was judged according to what he had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found in the Book of Life was thrown into the Lake of fire. Okay. And so we see here we see here a great white throne judgment. This is happening at the very end of things at the Eschaton. This is one of the very last things. And there is a judgment here and a condemnation because some are thrown in the lake of fire, which is the second death of now by the final judgment. We understand a general judgment of all the righteous and all the wicked in one vast great assembly. So H. Auden wisely has reminded us and this general judgment, interestingly enough, has been denied by some who think that the judgment of each person occurs at death. Although we've treated that issue already and by others who think that only the wicked will be judged at the last day. However, as a short while, he reminds us the biblical evidence suggests otherwise, because the Scriptures clearly teach that there is a judgment day or a period which is associated closely with the conflagration at the end of the world, the heavens and the earth, which are now by the same word, are kept in store, are reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and the perdition of ungodly men.

 

And so is expressly stated that he, meaning God, hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness. It's also referred to sometimes as the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. We see that in Romans chapter two, verse five. For example, the day when God shall judge the sea. Groups of men by Jesus Christ. We see that in Romans 216, The Day of Judgment. Second, Peter two nine The Great Day Jude, Chapter six and the Great Day of His Wrath. Revelation 617 All of these Scriptures clearly highlight three things, according to Wiley. First, that there is a general judgment. Second, that it is to take place at a fixed period of time. And then thirdly, this great and terrible day is in the future. Now, in order to understand the purpose of the general judgment, it must be considered in relation to God, in relation to Jesus Christ, and also in relation to humanity. First, this judgment will furnish a worthy arena for the display of all of God's attributes. That is, at the general judgment will clearly be displayed the attributes of God in terms of His justice, his faithfulness, his wisdom, his omnipotence, and all the other attributes that we have described. They will be witness to and and demonstrated in the midst of myriads of angels and of people. Again, the glory of Christ's work will then appear and Christ will appear not only as a judge, but as Lord and as King, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. His dominion will now be seen to be universal. And as King, who has reigned in the hearts of his people, he will now welcome his people to enjoy, to embrace his glory, to enter into his joy, and to invite them to eternal life forever.

 

And so lastly, as it concerns judgment, judgment is necessary. It's necessary for a number of reasons. We had a conversation in between a couple of lectures ago among us, and we were discussing about how difficult it is and how rarely we hear the language of judgment in the church, language such as judgment or wrath or of hell and this sort of thing. But when we get to this topic in eschatology, when we're talking about the final judgment, when we're lifting up important passages, of course, from Scripture, especially from the Book of Revelation, these things are honest, capable, they're inescapable, and they are affirmed. They are clearly affirmed. They are a part of the revelation that has been given to us, been given to us as a sacred deposit to be held by the church. And so, yes, judgment is real. What's more, judgment is coming and judgment is significant for three key reasons. First of all, it has to do with the condition of the righteous in this world. The condition of the righteous in this world is frequently such that without the awards of the future, the justice and equity of God cannot be vindicated. How do we put that, in other words? Well, quite simply, that those who are faithful to Jesus Christ in this world suffer. They have suffered some of them greatly. There will come a balancing of the ledger, if you will. There will be the righteous judgment of God when their grievances will be addressed. Okay. We see images of that are also, of course, in the Book of Revelation with the with those who are given the white robe, who are given the white robe, and are encouraged to be patient. Second, only in the judgment, in a judgment of God, can the total influence of a person's life be summed up either for good or evil.

 

In other words, there's a sense where are who we are, what we have been? Will finally. Be evident even to us at this last day, at this day of judgment, either for good or for evil. And so men and women are social creatures and they are responsible for their influence on others. A Jordan widely reminds us this influence goes on in an ever widening circle, even after the person's death. And then thirdly, or widely reminds us that judgment is necessary. It's necessary in order that a person's true character may be manifest, that we must all appear or be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ. All who believe in Jesus Christ will be before the judgment seat of Christ. Yes, that's what Scripture says. We sometimes forget that in the church. I suppose we forget that from time to time. But we need to be mindful that each one of us in the church, as we walk in grace and faith, we will appear one day before Christ, before the judgment seat of Christ. And in this judgment, God will discriminate between the righteous and the unrighteous. And when you think about that, that's actually a very good thing, because the righteous have been suffering patiently in this life. And some have even been put to death for their witness to Jesus Christ. And there finally comes a point and and there finally comes a point when God's mercy now issues in the justice, the justice of separation, of separating the wicked from the faithful, that God discriminates between the righteous and the unrighteous, precisely for the sake of the righteous, who no longer have to suffer at the hands of the unrighteous. And so when you think about these things and these, of course, are very serious matters, these are serious matters indeed, not easily discussed.

 

They're painful at times to consider. I grant all of that. I grant all of that. But beyond that, of these things, such considerations should have the effect in our own lives of the importance of maintaining a faithful walk in Jesus Christ, using the graces that God so lavishly gives us while it is still cold today, so that we might improve the grace of God over time, and that we might, in the culmination of our lives, give God the Father the glory in Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Now, we've been, of course, talking about the importance of being prepared. And that's a serious consideration given the kinds of things we've been discussing, discussing judgment and this sort of thing. But on a happier note, there are there is heaven. There is the prospect of heaven. And the term heaven is used differently in the Bible and in Christian theology. In the Bible, it has two main reference the sky above the earth and the place where God dwells. In other words, wherever God is. And this makes perfect sense. Wherever God is, there is heaven to be in the presence of God. That is heaven. That makes perfect sense. But in theology, heaven usually refers to the eternal destiny of Christians, especially when it is juxtaposed with hell. Now, I have read the writings of many right on this topic, and he has cautioned us, especially Christian theologians, those in the Christian community, who talk about heaven in unbiblical ways. But I think in the ways we have shared so far. In other words, heaven as referring to the atmosphere that surrounds the earth. Scripture does talk about having that way. It denotes the celestial heavens and also the place where.

 

God's throne is, or where the presence of God is. And so all of those would be good ways of talking about heaven. Now, the word heaven in the Bible comes from the Hebrew word shaman in the Old Testament and the Greek word, or Arnaud's in the New Testament. And when we look at its use in the New Testament, we're thinking of the dwelling place of God, the dwelling place of God, and to put that in other language. Heaven is where the glory of God is expressed. The glory of God is expressed in pristine clarity. Now, for someone like Charles Carter earlier on, he argued in his own theology that God and heaven are inseparable. The relation is indissoluble, and that heaven is where God is because the very character of God constitutes heaven. And so if we think of believers being united with Christ in his second coming and coming with him in a sense, because they are in the presence of God and in proper right relation to God, we can rightly say that they are in heaven because they are in right relationship with God and they shall be with Christ forever more. Now, Scripture also talks about the glorification of believers. That the faithful are glorified means as a number of things. And Odin, in his own work, classic Christianity, has pointed this out very carefully, that the glorification of believers entails, first of all, a full and accomplished sanctification, meaning that the body of sin and death have now been laid aside because we're now talking about someone who will see God face to face and be united with God forever. And then secondly, the faithful are glorified in death. That means that suddenly they are there's a transportation by the angels to be with God forever.

 

So Oden writes. And then thirdly, the glorification of believers entails immunity from the miseries of this life. There'll be an end to that in the world to come to fruition of heavenly joy and glory will be a fourth benefit. Odin less. And then fifth there will be the praising and the lauding of God and of Christ by the Saints. They will sing the praises of the divine. And then six Odin lists the longing for and the expectation of full glorification. Full glorification which will take place at the end of the age, the end of history, when there is a new creation, a new heavens, and a new earth. And so is there something ecologically dangerous in this idea that our world is transitory? Odin asked. That's a good question to ask, because when Christians talk about at the end of times when there will be a new heaven and a new Earth, when this earth shall be burnt up and there will be a new heaven and a new earth. Could that lead to mistaken attitudes in the present whereby we don't exercise a proper stewardship of creation? In other words, ecological responsibility? Yes, that is a danger and that is a risk and we must be aware of it. And so Odin rightly raises the question here, though. We have this precious promise that at some point and only God knows when there will be a new heaven and a new earth. That doesn't mean we shouldn't take this present earth and present heaven seriously and act in a responsible way in accordance with good stewardship. Okay. And so, yes, there is a coming destruction of the old era. And it's talked about in Scripture in terms of fire. The heavens will disappear with the roar.

 

The elements will be destroyed by fire and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. So says Second Peter, Chapter three, verse 11. And so as the first destruction and renovation of the world came by, flood came by water, the final purification of the world will occur by fire. It will occur by fire. Now, if these things are so, if there will be a new heaven and a new earth, and that the old will be burnt out, the question has to be posed to us in the church. How then, shall we live? What kind of people will we be today knowing that these things will be so? And then hopefully this promise of a new heaven and a new earth, which is clearly in Scripture, that maybe that would be a goad, a lure and enticement to our own further growth and grace so that in our present journey as we live out our lives in grace through faith, that we can be a genuine blessing to others and glorify Christ in doing so to the glory of the Father. And of course, always in all that we do in the power of the Holy Spirit. Okay. Take some questions. It seems like I always thought about Revelation as things will get bad. Jesus will come live faithfully so that you're ready. But I guess that pegs me as. Pre millennial est. But it seems like it would be hard to be a post millennial post, seeing, like you said, what's happened in the 20th century with technology. The World War One, World War two. What's happened? The Holocaust. Um, what's happened in the Soviet Union? What's happened in Communist China? Yes. 100 million people killed by the Communists in the 20th century.

 

Yes. Yes. Place it's been. It was a century of blood. A century of blood. We had better and greater ways to kill each other. Yeah, even in Rwanda. And, yes, you know, genocide and. And, you know the Armenians, you know. Yes. The Armenia at the turn of the 20th century. Yes. Yeah. So, um. So I guess it's hard for me to see how we could think that it's going to get better. Yeah, I share your same difficulty. I mean, in my heart, I would love to be a post millennials. I mean, that's where that's where my inclinations are. But when I look out at the world that I see in front of us, I invariably move in the direction of pre millennial ism that, you know, things are not good and that we need Christ to come and Christ to reign and Christ to be king and governor and Lord because things are so bad. It's really the day of humanity, if you will, where everyone is doing what's right in their own eyes. And we're creating chaos and confusion and we're walking over one another and we're doing harm to one another. And it's painful to watch. Yeah. I mean, I share your your your perspective there. Yeah.