In this month’s devotional I want to focus on the intersection between the resurrection of Jesus and eschatology. The subject of eschatology has been a contentious topic especially in the modern and contemporary period of church history.
Some have advocated a very pessimistic view about the end times and others have taken a more optimistic view. Those who lean toward the pessimistic have, in many cases, become isolationists in their thinking and practice. Those who are more optimistic have perhaps gone too far in their zeal to conquer the world for Christ. Do Christians simply adopt a “hands off” approach to this present world or do we try to transform the world? One’s view of eschatology certainly has significant ramifications in the way we live and engage in the world. There is no doubt however, that whatever side one takes we are called to a “radical commitment” to Jesus and His kingdom in this present age. God is interested and involved in this world which He created as “good.”
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He indicated they should petition God “that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). It is because of the victory of the resurrection that Jesus was given a new name–the name that is above every name, to whom all creation must bow (Phil. 2:9-11). And as Lord, Jesus was given all authority which He passed on to us so as to disciple all nations (Matt. 28: 19).
It is through the resurrection of Jesus that we have power to transform the present world and anticipate a future resurrected physical earth and material human bodies–the culmination of redemptive history. In first Corinthians, Paul speaks about the essential fact that Jesus’ resurrection was the guarantee for the future resurrection of all believers (15:20-23). The physical resurrection of redeemed humanity is dependent upon His bodily resurrection. Because of the resurrection of Jesus and then our subsequent resurrection, the end will come when Jesus delivers the kingdom to the Father (15:24-25).
The resurrection is our hope of eternal life and that death is forever conquered (15:26). I find it very comforting that our eternal destiny is not just the existence of the soul in an immaterial place. Rather the eternal state is a redeemed new heavens and earth where we will exist bodily in a physical material realm.
The resurrection is the central doctrine for both our theological belief and practice. The fact of the resurrection should give us not only hope for ourselves but boldness in proclaiming the Gospel to others. In our own personal relationship with God, our evangelism and our apologetic encounters, we should certainly stay focused on the resurrection.
The resurrection indeed should make and keep us optimistic that God has won the victory and His church will be triumphant.