Sunday, January 17, 2010

Is There a New World Coming?

One's view of the future usually determines one's daily actions. If we have hope, and the future looks promising, then we probably have hope for the future. If, on the other hand, we despair, and the future looks bleak, then we will probably have a very low opinion of the future.

As a Christian, I have a particular view of the future; and it's not bleak. That's not to say other Christian's views of the future are as promising; many Christian's believe the world is getting worse and that the end is near. Chaos and confusion, war and pestilence are our only "hopes" for the future. These Christians believe that we are living in the Last Days and that Christ is soon to return to rescue them. To these people, every war—especially a war involving Israel—is simply another "sign" that we are truly living during the end times.

I think we should be hopeful concerning the future. I don't think we are living in the last days, and I don't think the world is getting worse. In fact, I think it's getting better. Rather than believing that God is done with planet earth, I rather think he's just beginning. Humanity has such a long, long way to go—hell, I have such a long, long way to go—I simply cannot believe that God, having only recently (from his perspective) raised Christ from the dead, is now ready to close up shop. It's only been 2,000 years since Christ was raised….what would be the hurry? After all, there's still a lot of work to do.

Many Christians seem to forget that the eternal destiny of the redeemed is not Heaven, but Earth: A New World. As Jesus explained it, "Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many that are first will be last, and the last first." Christ is not going to return until he is ready to judge the world, which doesn't occur until the Last Day (Judgment Day), and when he returns he will reward those who have been obedient to him with everlasting life in a new world.

This "new world" is a foreign concept to many Christians, even though it's right there in the Bible. But hey, lots of Christians also seem to forget Christ's resurrection too. At least they don't seem to emphasize it nearly as much as they do the crucifixion of Christ. Yet everything about Christ and Christianity hinges upon the resurrection. If Christ is not raised from the dead, then we are still in our sins (see: First Corinthians, Chapter 15). The resurrection of Christ offers us the promise of a new (future) body; one like Christ's own resurrected body (again, see: 1 Cor. 15).

This concept, of the resurrection, may seem ridiculous, just as it did to the (intellectual) Athenians when Saint Paul preached the doctrine of the resurrection to them there (see: Acts 17:32), but it's fundamental to the Christian Faith. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead offers us hope: the hope of both spiritual and physical salvation; both for ourselves and for the world.

I would like to recommend a free e-book (written by Gary North), which I read years ago, that deals with this subject: Is the World Running Down? In describing his book, North says: "What modern man needs is a message of hope. Hope must be cosmic if it is to be personal hope. This is why modern humanistic science offers no hope to man, and neither does modern philosophy. Christianity offers hope because it rejects Darwinism and modern humanistic science. In order to offer true hope, Christians must break with any view of the universe that say that the second law of thermodynamics is a constant. The resurrection of Jesus Christ testifies that death is not inescapable. It testifies that entropy is not inevitable. It testifies that man can be transformed, and that transformed man can then transform his world. Through covenantal faithfulness, the world can begin to escape the cursed aspects of entropy (Deut. 28:1-14).

I like Gary North; and I think he's a pretty smart guy too. And his books are enjoyable reading. He was the first person I know of, back in 1999, to put all of his books up on the web for free downloading. He wants his ideas out there. And he's the person who inspired me to do the same with my own book, which is also available online for free downloading.

I will be writing more on this topic in the future, because it's an important, yet often neglected, theological concept.

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