Monday, October 8, 2007

Jesus' Return a Waste of Time?

Jesus' Return a Waste of Time?
Source: Jan Markell – recently asked readers to respond to the question, "Are we living in the end-times?" Of the hundreds surveyed, 75% responded positively. One said, "Everything Jesus spoke about in regards to the signs of the times at His return is happening right before our eyes." Many of the respondents agreed that what is happening in the world today is fulfilling Bible prophecies regarding the last days.

Some also stated that Christians should not be fearful of this time but rather be rejoicing. One said these days are as they were in the days of Noah (Matthew 24). Another believer exclaimed, "You can see it, taste it, smell it, hear it, and feel that Jesus is coming soon."

Yet one of the most frequent comments I get is that when those who want to pass on this good news to friends or family, they are met with criticism, apathy, or scorn. And while Peter tells us there will be a generation of scoffers (II Peter 3:4), clearly not everyone has caved to this attitude.

So if there is a strong remnant believing in His soon return and who even suggest we can almost hear the hoof beats of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, why aren't more pulpits teaching this? Why aren't more publishing houses printing such books, more TV preachers explaining it, and more seminaries helping future pastors prepare to teach it?

Why can't some in all of the above categories step up to the plate and endure some criticism which they will surely get? The Lord's soon return is a message that helps us live holy lives in an unholy age. It encourages us to evangelize if we believe the hour is late. It takes our eyes off of daily struggles and helps us focus on eternity. And a special crown awaits all who long for His appearing (II Tim. 4:8).

But many church leaders will tell you the issue is "divisive," it will "impede church growth," and the church must address "cultural issues" facing families. Pastors don't want "pie-in-the-sky-by-and-by." They want to address issues that their congregation may be struggling with. But if the congregation was focusing on the "blessed hope" of Jesus' return, a lot of other anxieties and "cultural issues" would diminish! This is the best news in the Bible, and it occupies about three-fourths of the Bible. Do you think God wants us to know about these things? Don't you think He believes this message is the antidote for a lot of social, personal, and family issues?

Roger Oakland writes in his new book, Faith Undone, a critique of the Emergent Church, "Many who were once looking for the return of Jesus have fallen asleep. We now live in a period of time where numerous prominent Christian leaders are telling the Christian masses that paying attention to the signs of the times in light of the Bible is a waste of time. And many of them take it a step further and accuse those who believe what Bible prophecy says about the end of the age of being negative and self-centered."
Oakland quotes Rick Warren in "Purpose Driven Life" as saying, "The details of my return are none of your business. What is your business is the mission I have given you. Focus on that."

But Jesus never said that! Rather, He chastised the Pharisees of His day for knowing the signs of the weather but not the signs of the times (His first coming). And our "mission" should be winning souls while there is still time. Again, this blends in perfectly with a "lateness of the hour" theme. The words of Jesus and exhortations about His return in the Bible are legion!

The poll results encourage me greatly. There are those in the church today who do anticipate a soon-returning King.

We just don't know how soon.

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