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How the Future Shapes the Present

June 9, 2016

Christians are an eschatological people. The hope of every child of God is a future hope. Those believers whose hope is in the present do not understand the nature of the gospel or the promises of God. The daily life of the Christian must shaped by this future hope.

The Biblical truths about Jesus’ return are not a guide to understanding the politics of today. The New Testament never presents the second coming as if it is the key to explaining current events. The study of signs and seasons is not a New Testament application of Bible prophecies of the end times. Eschatology is always applied in a much more significant fashion. Eschatology is applied to the Christian with exhortations to watchfulness in daily living to be ready for the return of Jesus, to perseverance in troubles because Jesus is returning, to continuance in prayer until the return of Christ and to generousness toward other believers because His return is imminent.

Two passages make a surprising connection between daily living and the Christians hope of the future. In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul applies the future state of Christians to how they handle disagreements between believers. The Corinthian Christians were taking one another to court to settle civil disputes between them. Paul rebukes them for their shortsightedness and selfishness. Part of Paul’s rebuke hinges upon eschatology. Because Christians will be judges in the kingdom of God (cf. Revelation 20:4; Daniel 7:22) they are more than capabale of judging the far less important issues of this life. Paul obviously views the present through the lens of the future. The believer’s future position in the kingdom of Jesus has a direct impact on how he is to deal with civil disagreements today.

The parable of the unjust judge has a surprising eschatological application. In this parable Jesus teaches “that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” The parable is familiar to many. A wronged widow sought justice at the hands of an unjust judge. Despite his unconcern for the righteous application of the law the judge gives her justice because she refuses to leave him alone. She pesters him into addressing her problem. The application of the parable is also familiar to many. If an unjust judge will answer the repeated cries of the troublesome widow will not the just God hear the repeated cries of His children? Christ’s specific application of this passage is eschatological, “And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge speedily.” (Luke 18:7-8) Because Jesus is returning in judgment the believer can pray with persistence and confidence.

What you will be must shape what you are. Eschatology affects how the Christian lives his life, how he resolves disputes with other Christians and how he views tenacity in prayer. These applications of the truths of what God is doing in the world have much greater significance than providing the Christian with clues to reading the morning newspaper. The promises of the end times must stir Christians to persevere for Christ. The promises of God’s plan for the world must shape the way God’s people think about everything. How sad it is that so many today view the future through the lens of the present. Let your position in Christ and the promises of what is to come direct how you live today. Let your future change your present.

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