By Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Before one actually begins considering eschatology per se, he must understand its significance for the Christian worldview. Though there are many things that could be said (and have been!), I believe we should at least reflect on three important observations regarding Christ’s second coming (which ends temporal history).
FIRST, THE SECOND COMING EXALTS CHRIST’S VICTORY IN REDEMPTION
When the Lord came to earth in the first-century, he came in a state of humility in order to suffer and die. Paul expresses this as follows: “being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8; cp. Matt 1:21; Luke 19:10).
But Scripture does not leave him suffering on the cross or lying in the tomb. Rather, it presents his ultimate glorification in heaven through three steps: resurrection, ascension, and session (being seated at the right hand of God). Ultimately his mediatorial rule over temporal history will end at his return, when he will resurrect and judge all men and establish the final order. As Paul puts it: “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:9–11).
Yet as Hebrews points out: “at present we do not yet see everything in subjection to him” (Heb 2:8b). So then, Christ’s second coming is necessary for concluding his redemptive victory.
The Truth about Postmillennialism
By Ken Gentry
A group Bible study guide for explaining the optimistic prophetic hope for this world to be accomplished before Christ’s Second Coming. Establishes the postmillennial system in both the Old and New Testaments. Touches on key eschatological issues, such as creation, covenant, interpretive methodolgy, the great tribulation, the Book of Revelation, the Jewish Temple, and more. It presents and answers the leading objections to postmillennialism.Twelve chapters are ideal for one quarter of Sunday School.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
SECOND, THE SECOND COMING COMPLETES GOD’S PLAN FOR HISTORY
In his first-century work, Christ conquers sin (Heb 10:11–14), death (2 Tim 1:10), and the devil (Heb 2:14). Yet all three evils remain with us today (Rom 7:18–25; 1 Pet 5:8–9), though as defeated foes. Consequently, Christ has won the victory, yet is in process of finalizing the victory.
This is much like our having been legally sanctified in the past by Christ’s death for us (Heb 10:14), continuing to be sanctified in the present as we grow in grace (Rom 6:19–22), and finally being wholly sanctified at the resurrection when we enter our final estate (1Thess 5:23). Likewise, Scripture presents Christ’s victory in three phases: He vanquishes these enemies legally before God’s throne in his first-century redemptive work (Col 1:13–14; 2:13–15). He continues vanquishing them historically through the gospel’s progress (Acts 26:18; 1 Cor 15:20–23). He will ultimately vanquish them eternally at his second advent, when he concludes history (Rom 8:18–25; Rev 20:10–15).
Thus, we see that Christ’s return in great glory to effect the final judgment is necessary for completing God’s redemptive plan. Otherwise sin would never finally be banished from the universe, and God would have to deal with it forever and ever, with no final concluding of the matter.
THIRD, THE SECOND COMING BALANCES REVEALED THEOLOGY IN SCRIPTURE
This glorious doctrine not only finalizes Christ’s redemptive victory and completes God’s historical plan. But it also provides us with a full-orbed doctrinal system balancing out majestic biblical truths.
Were it not for the second advent we would:
• have a creation (Gen 1:1; Heb 11:3) without a consummation (Acts 3:20–21; Rev 20:11), resulting in an open-ended Universe (1 Cor 15:23–24; 2 Pet 3:3–4);
• have a world eternally groaning (Rom 8:22; 2 Cor 5:1–4), without any ultimate glorious perfection (Rom 8:21; 2 Pet 3:12–13);
• have a Savior quietly departing before a few of his followers (Luke 24:50–52; 1 Cor 15:5–8), without ever exhibiting his victory before all of his creatures (Rom 14:11; Phil 2:10–11);
• have a redemption spiritually focused (Rom 8:10; Eph1:3), without a physical dimension (Rom 8:11; 1 Thess 4:13–18);
• have a Redeemer bodily ascended into heaven (Acts 1:8–11; Col 2:9), without any physical (resurrected) family joining with him (1 Cor 15:20 –28; Phil 3:20–21);
• have a gospel continually necessary (Matt 28:19; Acts 1:8), without any final victory (Matt 28:20; 1 Cor 15:24) — the number of the elect would never be filled.
Truly, the second coming is a “blessed hope” upon which we must carefully focus (Tit 2:13).
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Great post Dr Gentry thank you. Our understanding of eschatology is really closely tied to how we as christians are called to live our lives in the here and now and the extent to which we engage in kingdom building work. By contrast a well known pastor and church leader who broadcasts daily on public radio all over the world is known to have said “why polish the brass on a sinking ship”
Good morning Dr. Gentry. Question, there are countless maps drawn out with timelines for the future dispensational chain of events in Revelation.
Is there an illustration of a Orthodox Preterist timeline of the events in Revelation?
My students have asked me for one and while I saw a few online, they seem to be a bit lacking.
Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for this monumental work you are doing.
There probably is, but I don’t know who has done that. John follows a cyclical, stair-step pattern which makes it tough to discern the historical flow of events.
Agreed. I guess it would be difficult to nail down. Thanks for always answering my questions. I am 65 lessons into Revelation and only in chapter 13! I am the only one I know in my circle that believes in and teaches our shared view. Thank you. I could not do it without you and a select few others!
Thanks for the kind note. I am sure your folks’ heads are spinning around! I am teaching this currently at the church that we attend and people are quite surprised at such a view. But they seem excited and are learning.