Christian eschatology is a study that forms a significant part of Christianity and deals with what will happen at the end of times (Wilkinson, 2010). Eschatology comes from the two Greek words (ἔσχατος) and (-λογία), which mean ‘last’ and ‘study,’ respectively; hence, it is the study of end-things, whether the end of the world, age, or nature of the God’s Kingdom on earth. In broader terms, the study deals with an individual’s soul’s ultimate destiny and the whole order of creation based on the New and Old Testament texts. Further, the study discusses matters such as the second coming of Jesus Christ, millennialism, tribulation, rapture, resurrection of the dead, Heaven, hell, afterlife, and death (Wilkinson, 2010). Several Bible passages point to eschatology; these will be used in this paper to discuss eschatology in reference to the second advent of Jesus Christ.
The Kingdom of God is Present Yet Not Fully Consummated
In the original creation by God, mankind did not know any evil. However, with the fall of Adam and Eve, God said that man had gained knowledge of what was good and evil (Genesis 3:7). The teaching ministry of Jesus aimed at defeating this knowledge and restoring instead the knowledge of God to man. Redemption became inevitable because of the evil that man had when he accessed knowledge over and started practicing the same. Jesus Christ came as the atonement price for man and to restore him to God. When Christ arose from the dead, He conclusively defeated the devil and purified man from sin, reconciled man to God, and gave man the power to overcome sin and the devil.
Paul states that the resurrection of Christ is the first victory for a man who gained eternal life; “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57). The first Adam’s disobedience separated man from God and brought death. The last Adam who is Jesus, restored the Kingdom of God when he obeyed God even unto death; “[He] became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). Through Christ, Redemption was made possible both for man and the earth as well.
The presence on earth of the Kingdom of God occurred when Jesus came to earth. This is supported by the statement that Jesus made in Mathew 12:28 when the Pharisees accused Him of casting out the demons using satanic powers. In verse 28 of the text, Jesus told the Pharisees, ‘If it is by the power of the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.’ Jesus proceeded to battle with the devil through the Spirit of God and plundered the strongman’s house (verse 29), freeing those who were in bondage, thus demonstrating that the Kingdom of God is at work and that it is in the present. Further, in Luke 17:20-21Jesus indicated that His coming on earth was the coming of the Kingdom of God ‘Being asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom was coming, He answered them, ”The Kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Lo, here it is!’ or ‘There! For behold, the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”’
The Old Testament paints the eschaton as when the Messiah will end the age of death and sin, and He will reign in David’s throne forever in Jerusalem. His reign will last forever, ensure righteousness and perfect justice, secure world peace, and renew creation(Otto, 2009). The New Testament identifies Jesus as the Messiah; however, it states that the greatest blessing of the eschatology prophesied by the Old Testament will only be fulfilled at the Kingdom of God’s consummation. These include the creation of a new earth and Heaven, the destruction of the creation, the last judgment, and the dead being resurrected. The new creation will live forever, and suffering and death will end (1 Corinthians 15:52-54 and 2 Peter 3:10, 13). Peter adds that the current creation will be purged of sin by fire to make way for a new earth and Heaven. In the writings of Revelations, John describes God’s eschatological Kingdom of a new Heaven and earth, with the capital city being the New Jerusalem (Revelations 21:1-4). In conclusion, though man continues to suffer from the consequences of sin, he can be confident of a new earth and new Heaven at the consummation of God’s Kingdom.
How the Final Restoration Shapes the Present Kingdom-Work of Christians
The Bible’s recording of man’s life can be categorized into four main stages: The Creation of the World, the Fall of Man, the Redemption of man through the death of Jesus, and the Restoration of Man. These summarize the redemption story which the church has truncated to the Fall of man and Redemption of Man (Robins, 2011). Consequently, man does not know his purpose on earth and where he will go when the redemptive story ends.
Man currently lives and works within the Redemption stage while looking forward to and also working to reach the fourth stage of Restoration. This perception allows man to understand that his time on earth is not a simple waiting period; instead, man lives in a Kingdom that is already here but one that has not yet reached its conclusion. God loves His creation and His purpose is to restore it to a new earth and a new Heaven. The point of Christianity is not going to Heaven but instead through the third stage of Redemption, to work in favour of the Lord and give others a glimpse of how things ought to be (Bright, 2010). Christians foreshadow the ultimate restoration work of God when all things will be made better and new by Him.
Christians can impact the world before the second coming of Jesus Christ but without being impacted in return by it (Webber, 2009). Christians are not called to be cultural isolationists or political islands, nor are they called to be ingrained in the world in which they live. Christians can accomplish this successfully by being spiritually set apart through submission and allegiance to God’s word. By being anchored to the Word of God, there is no room for fear of manipulation by cultural influences or political power (Webber, 2009). Christianity has, over the decades (and can continue to do the same in the decades to come), contributed to intellectual freedom and physical environment control. It can also continue to allay the ills of famine and disease and emancipate people from addictions to vice and from chattel slavery. It has lessened the horrific impact of war and increased relations between nations and men based on peace and justice (Kim, 2017). Through such actions that impact the world, humankind can see through the works of the church the redemptive nature of Christ’s compassion and mercy and steer mankind’s focus on a new future hope.
In conclusion, Christians’ current state on earth is that of a redemptive nature that is yet to be completed in the final restoration of a new earth and new Heaven. Christians need to bring the world to the knowledge of Christ’s redemptive work and to a greater hope. The current life of suffering as a consequence of sin and the finality of physical death should not be viewed as a reason to grieve but instead as a propulsion for Christians to propagate the message of the gift of salvation, that is, the Gospel.
Bright, J. (2010). The kingdom of God. Abingdon Press.
Kim, D. H. (2017). Training Churches in Faith and Work Discipleship. Training.
Otto, R. (2009). The Kingdom of God and the Son of Man: a Study in the History of Religion. Wipf and Stock Publishers.
Robinson, J. A. (2011). In the End, God…: A Study of the Christian Doctrine of the Last Things. Wipf and Stock Publishers.
Webber, R. E. (2009). Who Gets to Narrate the World?: Contending for the Christian Story in an Age of Rivals. InterVarsity Press.
Wilkinson, D. (2010). Christian Eschatology and the physical universe. Bloomsbury Publishing.
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In 1,000-1,200 words, explain the nature of Christian hope as based on Christ’s establishment of the kingdom of heaven on earth and oriented toward the coming of heaven to earth in the eschaton. Include the following:
Explain the way in which the kingdom of God is present and yet not fully consummated. Include the ways in which the final state is a restoration of creation.
Analyze how the final restoration shapes the present kingdom-work of Christians. Include the implication of how Christians can impact the world before Christ’s second advent.
Use three to five academic resources (preferably from the GCU Library) including the Bible and course material to support your explanations.
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