PAPER NO. 49
Summary and Response to FAQs
- The SABBATH: the first, most basic and lasting eschatological declaration: as God completed his work of creation and rested, man, the image of God, will complete his work of dominion and rest. As creation is revelation, so dominion brings knowledge of this revelation: the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9).
- The PROMISE of redemption: the curse as call back, given with the promise, assumes creation and fall, and restoration to and through a deepened revelation. Through a spiritual war which is age long and agonizing, good will overcome evil: Christ (the seed of the woman in the place of Adam) will undo, as the lamb of God, what Adam did, and do what Adam failed to do—through his body, the Church, Christ will crush the head of the serpent in subduing all things to himself (Genesis 3:15).
- NOAH: he gives rest as he preserves the pre-flood work of dominion, through universal apostasy and universal judgment, with God’s promise after the flood of “never again.”
- ABRAHAM: the promise is renewed and deepened: through Abraham’s seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed; seen in the offering up of Isaac (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 22:1-14; John 8:56).
- MOSES: the theology of the law—moral, civil and ceremonial; through the law the kingdom grows; through the priesthood the people are sanctified: daily—by Word, worship and witness; by learning to distinguish clean and unclean we learn the blessings and curses of our response to the precepts of holiness; through the holy days we learn God’s plan of redemption.
- The PSALMS: in the theology of the psalms, at every level of the spiritual war which is age-long and agonizing, good overcomes evil: in the believer, in the Church and in the world—in every nation, kindred, tribe and tongue.
- The PROPHETS: in each prophet, there is a call to repentance of sin, both root sin of not seeking and understanding what is clear about God and all fruit sin; and with each judgment of the curse, the promise of redemption through Christ is reaffirmed and further clarified.
- CHRIST: the king comes, in fulfillment of the promises given in Scripture, to inaugurate the kingdom, teaching through miracles, parables, prayer, sacraments and the Great Commission that he will rule by his Spirit, through his people, until he returns to consummate the kingdom.
- PAUL: in the theology of the hope of the resurrection: there is only one general resurrection of the dead; this resurrection comes only after Christ completes his rule of subduing all things; only after this resurrection comes the rapture (John 5:28-29; 1 Corinthians 15:25; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).
- JOHN: the eschatology of The Book of Revelation is given in seven visions of Christ now ruling, from heaven, through the spiritual war, by the curse and the promise (given by proclamation of the gospel), to subdue all things unto himself, after which he returns to consummate the kingdom.
RESPONSE TO FAQS
FAQs arise from the deficiencies of a literalist hermeneutic; response is based on a contextual hermeneutic: the less basic understood in light of the more basic.
- Antichrist: there are many, not one, antichrist; anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ (the Son of God incarnate) is antichrist (1 John 4:4; 2 John 7). Antichrist is not the man of sin who exalts himself as god in the Temple of God in Jerusalem, still standing in 70 A.D. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
- The Mark of the Beast—666: used in imitation of God’s law, which was to be placed as a reminder on the forehead and on the hand of believers; man’s law, apart from and against God’s law, is put where God’s law is meant to be (Deuteronomy 6:1-9).
- The Harlot: represents the values of the economic system based on the corrupt desires of this world/kingdom of darkness, put in place of what is of lasting value in the kingdom of God.
- The False Prophet: all non-Christian teaching in education and in its outworking in every form of propaganda, through all of media, journalism and the arts; based on a worldview without God and denial of reason as the Word of God, the light of nature in all men.
- Armageddon: a spiritual war, fought throughout this age with the Word of God (the sword coming out of the mouth) by Christ and the Church (his army) against the world of unbelievers, small and great, ending in victory of belief/truth over unbelief (Revelation 19:11-21).
- The Millennium: the period of the rule of Christ from his first to his second coming; all who take part in the first (spiritual) resurrection by being born again, the second (spiritual) death has no power over them; this is true of all believers throughout this age. After this millennial age, the devil is cast out, to be tormented forever (Revelation 20).
- The Tribulation and the Coming of Christ: tribulation arises as the curse increases with sin. The greatest tribulation came on the generation that rejected Christ, in the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. and the second diaspora (Matthew 24:21, 34). Christ warned of that judgment, coming in season, yet suddenly. No one knew the day or the hour, as travail comes on a woman in childbirth. Those who took heed escaped; those left behind suffered much.
- The Rapture: refers only to the change in believers remaining alive on earth at the time of Christ’s return. Immediately after the resurrection of all the dead (John 5:28-29), the bodies of believers will be changed in a moment, from mortal to immortal, and they will be caught up to meet Christ in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).
- The Second Coming: As the old self is renewed by rebirth, and as our present bodies are renewed by resurrection, so the present heaven and earth is renewed by the removal of all evil (2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 21:1-5). After the resurrection at the return of Christ, all are judged in the Last Judgment. Believers then inherit the kingdom of God, in which unbelievers have no part, but continue in spiritual death: meaninglessness, boredom and guilt, without end.
- The Historic Christian Faith: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever (Shorter Catechism Question 1). We are to glorify God in all that by which he makes himself known (SCQ 101). God makes himself known in all his works of creation and providence (Westminster Confession of Faith 4.1 and 5.1). Implicitly, the outcome is the earth filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9).