bits from bob....

Eschatology: Learning How to Live

by Bob Young
© 2010
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

"Each day is a gift from God--that's why they call it the present." These words from a child profoundly express the challenge of life. How can I live in the present? How can I avoid the temptation to live in the past? How can I overcome the temptation to live in the future? The Bible answers these questions in what theologians call eschatology. Biblical eschatology provides an understanding of God's timeless activities which allows us to live life fully in the present.

Eschatology has gotten a bad name with the tendencies of some to set dates, foresee the future, and forecast catastrophic events. Eschatology is literally the study of “last things.” In reality, the study and understanding of the future is helpful for life.

In the Bible, the church, the kingdom, and the future are intricately interconnected. Paul, especially in the Thessalonian and Corinthian correspondence, suggests we are even now in the process of ending. We live between the "already" and the "not yet." We live in a world where the end has already begun. The end (ultimate reality) penetrated our world in the person of Jesus Christ. He can return at any time.

This understanding suggests that "last things" refers not only those things that are going to happen, but includes things already happening. Because the "last" has entered our world (think about some passages from Hebrews), the "at hand" is always before us and immediate, regardless of how we humans may measure time. Therefore the future and the present are expressions of the same reality. The future determines the present as much as the present determines the future.

The coming of Jesus Christ began in his first coming. The kingdom has new expression, the end has begun, and therefore the end is certain. We can be sure of the future as we live in the present. Because we live between the past and the future, we can see God's hand in our world. Because we live between the past work of God and the culmination of that work, we can be confident God is at work in our lives, even when we cannot clearly see. The "last" has implications for present living in the moral, ethical realm. Most important to the people of God is that the "last" has implications for life in this world. We may suffer, but we will not quit, for the Lord is at hand.

We continue the struggle for understanding so we can boldly, mightily live for the Savior. It is God's way. Will you join me today in praying for understanding, faith, and the victory which is certain in Christ?

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Last updated February 27, 2010.