ESCATOLOGY (2nd part)

Part 2

The study of end times/the LAST DAYS. I am thrilled to write the journal for the 1st session of the much awaited session of Eschatology.

Greek word ‘Escatos’ -Last days/end age begins with Jesus. Bro Jeremiah started the session from the book of Hebrew 1:1 & 2, Acts 2:14-17 and 1 Peter 1: 19-21.

Hebrew 1:1,2 : In the last days God has spoken to us through His Son Jesus Christ, so we are living in last days.

Acts 2:14-17 : What was spoken (though Prophet Joel in OT period) to be happen in last days is happening NOW-today in our midst (in last days)

1 Peter 1:19-21 : The last days began with time of Jesus.

Timeline from Genesis to Jesus

Gen 1: Creator God/ God created

Gen 3: The Fall – then began the process of reconciliation

Gen 12: God calling out Abraham/ through him came Isaac, Jacob and Israel as Nation. And God interacted with Israel to redeem whole world.

Judges, Kings, prophets – Good and bad leaders

From Tribe of Israel/Judah came Jesus. And so God’s promise with Abraham/God’s intention to reconcile the world came into fulfillment with Jesus’ life and death on the cross. Through resurrection God’s plan came to fulfillment. Israel was to be blessing to all nations, so through Jesus Christ all the nations (tribes and people) were to come in and become the members of His kingdom.

N.T. – Christ worked to fulfill this plan/god’s intended purpose to bring human being back to garden/to reorder creation story.

How God’s plan through Jesus unfolds and understood by 3 schools:

How 1000 years of reign is understood by different schools.

  1. Pre Millennialism: This school believes that second coming of Christ will occur before 1000 years of reign. Within this there are two strands,
    1. Historic Pre Millennialism (HP)
    2. Dispensational Pre Millennialism (DP)
  1. Post Millennialism: This school believes that second coming of Christ will be after the millennium (1000 years of reign).
  2. A millennialism: This school believes in the figurative millennium. ‘a’ means absence of- There is no millennium. There is no literal 1000 years but it is just a long period of time. All a-millenialists are post-millenialists.

All the schools commonly believes in these things:

I) The 2nd coming will be in future. Jesus Christ will come back to earth physically. Rev 22:20 says that Jesus said that ‘I am coming soon’ as it is mentioned in Rev 1:1 that it is the ‘Revelation of Jesus Christ’. Verses Acts 1:11 and 1 Cor. 16:22 also affirms about Jesus’ coming.

II) The Creed
All three schools believes what is mentioned in the ‘Apostles’ creed’ and the ‘Nicaea’s creed‘ that Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead.

How different schools read/understand the Book of Revelation:
1. Pretorist School: this schools says that what is written in the book is largely have been fulfilled in the 1st century itself.
2. Historist School: This school says what Revelation says is unfolding in our history.
3. Futurist School: This school says that what Revelation says is largely unfulfilled yet.
4. Idealist School: This school says that what is written in Revelation is a timeless truth. Scripture is teaching us about the fight between good and evil and it keeps on repeating. These timeless lessons every generations can apply.

We land up in different school depending upon how one reads the book of Revelation.

Stylistic nature of Revelation

A short demonstration of some of the scenes from the book of Revelation was performed by few selected participants to get the better understanding of the stylistic nature of the book.

Scene 1 from Rev 4:8-9, the hymn “holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty…”
Scene 2 from Rev 6: The human world being judged…people being slaughtered…3/4th of the population being judged…
Scene 3 from Rev 7: Crying out with the loud voice “Salvation belong to our God…”
Scene 4 from Rev 11: 2 witnesses who will prophesies…
Scene 5 from Rev 15: Singing “Great and marvelous are your deeds…”

According to the book, these scenes are being shifted from heaven to earth and heaven again…but it is not sure that all the events happens in a sequential order. Different reading gives different understanding. Apart from the sequence what is evident and clear according to the book and the author is that ‘Tribulation is happening yet God is in power, He is sovereign, God’s plan is unfolding in human history and yet Jesus Christ is going to return, God will create the Garden here and we will be a part of it.’ Though other details are not clear we are to continue God’s work until He returns.

We read from Rev 1:1-3(Which is the context to the following verse), 20:1-15 and Daniel 9. After the reading the question ‘When is the event happening?’ was open to have our own answers based on Rev 20:1-15. Let’s assume that it was happening in the 1st century, when John was writing.  Now let’s understand how different schools take this event.

1. Pre Millennialism: They think that the event in chapter 20 will happen in future, not sure when or where. At one point of time Christ will come and when he will come the Angels will bind Satan. He will be bound for 1000 years and Christ will reign literally with the believers (including the dead who were faithful to Christ will be brought back to life) and also those who are not killed/dead yet (as mentioned in chap 7). After 1000 years of reign Satan will be released there will be a battle once again in which Christ will destroy Satan and evil forever and ever. (The rough timeline of the events is given below in the diagram)

                         2017-08-15
But the pre-millennialists have difference of opinion when they understand Rev 20 in the light of Daniel 9.

  • Dispensational Pre Millennialism (DP): They say that rapture will occur before seven years of tribulation. Those who are faithful to Christ will be taken up to be with him in the air for 7 years. And after that Christ will come down to reign for 1000 years.2017-08-15 (2)

Thus, it is a challenge for DPs to explain their belief.

  • Historic Pre Millennialism (HP): They say that the rapture occur at the time of second coming of Jesus. The church/those who are faithful to Christ will face seven years of tribulation. A-millennialist and post-millennialists also believes the same.2017-08-15 (1)
 Rapture:  the word comes from 1 Thess 4:17 ‘caught up’. Not only the Christians but also the Greeks use this same term. It is understood as, when the king returns victorious after the battle to his city. Citizens comes out of the city to welcome/to receive the victorious emperor and go back to the city with him.

To be taken away/caught up in the clouds is the wrong understanding/interpretation of the term Rapture. Rather it means to receive the victorious Lord and to reign with him.

There are many difference of opinions within these schools regarding the occurrence of event as well as to take them as literal or figurative.

The school which believes in the occurrence of second coming after tribulation are called Post-tribulationists. i.e. Historic Pre Millennialists. Whereas Dispensational Pre Millennialists are Pre-tribulationalists.

Daniel 9:20-27

Daniel was in exile living then under the Persian king (as Babylonian Empire was won over by the Persian Empire). Prophet Jeremiah had prophesied that the Israel will be under captivity for 70 years. So Daniel was confessing for the sins of his people and Gabriel appears before him saying, “….I have come to tell it to you….70 weeks are decreed about your people…to finish the transgression…know therefore…build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one…there shall be 7 weeks. Then for 62 weeks it shall be built again…and after 62 weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off…”

The numbers of the weeks are to be understood as,

Total 70×7=490 years

The decree was issued to build and restore Jerusalem was 7×7 + 62×7 = 483 years. After these (483 years) the anointed one will come.

DPs believes that, till Christ it is 483 years. But Daniel chap 7 did not mention of the years after that till 7 years of tribulation so there is a gap. After 484th year for 3.5 years evil will try to establish its kingdom, he will deceive people and will try to establish a covenant with Israel. After these 3.5 years there will be an abomination which will cause desolation. The ethnic Israel will come to realization (because of the sacrilege in the temple) and will know their Lord. Temple will be rebuilt and they will come back as a nation. And so they will have a special place during Christ 1000 years of reign. Contrary to this HPs believes that the ethnic Israel will be saved but not all Israelites. Israel as a nation will not be restored.

DPs believes that the Israel will be saved as a nation. When Israel received freedom in 1948, it is seen as the fulfilment of God’s promise. As Israelites are specially chosen people, the people will come back to the land of Israel one day. Temple will be rebuilt.

2017-08-15 (3)

HPs and DPs differs in their understanding of the rapture, occurrence of tribulation and about Israel and its people. Zionists are supporters of Israel as a nation. All the schools have their own challenges to reconcile with the ideas/concepts they believe in.

Session by Jeremiah

Steffie Chauhan

HISTORICAL REFLECTION ON HOW EARLY CHRISTIANS RESPONSED TO PLAGUES.

What should be our response to COVID-19
There have been a lot of discussions on how we as Christians should response to COVID-19. As often quoted “learn from history”, it is apt for twenty-first-century followers of Jesus to look back and learn from our own Christian history and navigate this looming crisis. I feel fortunate to have
read various books including the „The Rise of Christianity‟ by Rodney Stark, which address similar questions on a crisis like COVID-19.
COVID-19 is spreading across the globe. As I write these words, the total numbers of positive cases in India has crossed 32,700 with Maharashtra being the most affected state. The focus of these efforts, naturally, is to protection ourselves and others from contracting the virus and prevent its further spread. But in the midst of all this worry, I do want to highlight some of the historical accounts from Rodney Stark‟s book on how Christians dealt with plagues in the past. Perhaps we
can draw some insights, from this historical reflection as we weigh whether to hide out in our houses
or wisely and carefully venture out to care for the weak and suffering.
Sociologist and historian Rodney Stark mounted a powerful argument that one of the principal
reasons Christianity grew while Roman paganism waned in the 1st to 4th century was because of the
mercy Christians displayed toward people who physically suffered, and in particular, how Christians
showed mercy during the time when two plagues ravaged the Roman Empire.
The Christian response to plagues begin with some of Jesus most famous teachings: “Do unto others
as you would have them do unto you”; “Love your neighbor as yourself”; “Greater love has no man
than this, that he should lay down his life for his friends.” To put it plainly, the Christian ethic in
time of plague considers that the life of our neighbors are not less important than our own life.
Stark gives the account of the terrible Antonine Plague of the 2nd century, which might have killed a
quarter of the Roman Empire, led to the spread of Christianity, as Christians cared for the sick and
offered a spiritual model. These plagues were not the work of angry and capricious deities but the
product of a broken Creation in revolt against a loving God.
But the more famous epidemic which Stark mention is the Plague of Cyprian, named after bishop
who gave account of this disease in his famous sermons. Cyprian in his sermons asked Christians not
to grieve for plague victims (who live in heaven), but to redouble efforts to care for the living. As a result, in contrast to paganism and of Hellenic philosophies, Christianity offered a much more satisfactory account of why these terrible times had fallen upon humanity, and it projected a hopeful, even enthusiastic portrait of the future. His fellow bishop Dionysius described the event saying “At the first onset of the disease, they [pagans] pushed the sufferers away and fled from their dearest, throwing them into the roads before they were dead and treated unburied corpses as dirt, hoping thereby to avert the spread and contagion of the fatal disease; but do what they might, they found it
difficult to escape.” As for action, Christians met the obligation to care for the sick rather than desert
them, and thereby saved enormous numbers of lives.

Nor was it just Christians who noted this reaction of Christians to the plague. A century later, the
actively pagan Emperor Julian would complain bitterly of how “the Galileans” would care for even
non-Christian sick people, while the church historian Pontianus recounts how Christians ensured that
“good was done to all men, not merely to the household of faith.” Indeed, the impact of Christian
mercy was so evident that in the fourth century when the emperor Julian attempted to restore
paganism, he exhorted the pagan priesthood to compete with the Christian charities. In a letter to the
high priest of Galatia, Julian urged the distribution of grains and wines to the poor, noting that “the
impious Galileans [Christians], in addition to their own, support ours and it is shameful that our poor
should be wanting our aid.”
Stark also mentioned the famous classical physician Galen who lived through the first epidemic
during the reign of Marcus Aurelius. He fled Rome for his country estate where he stayed until the
danger subsided. But for those who could not flee, the typical response was to try to avoid any
contact with the afflicted, since it was understood that the disease was contagious.
Christian values of love and charity had, from the beginning, been translated into norms of social
service and community solidarity. When disasters struck, the Christians were able to cope better, and
this resulted in substantially higher rates of survival. Rodney Stark claims that death rates in cities
with Christian communities may have been just half that of other cities.
It was not that Romans knew nothing of charity; it was because it was not based on service to the
gods. Pagan gods did not punish ethical violations because they imposed no ethical demands￾humans offended the gods only through neglect or by violation of ritual standards. And since pagan
gods required only propitiation and beyond that the human affairs are left in human hands, a pagan
priest could not preach that those lacking in the spirit of charity risked their salvation. The other
difference is the pagan gods offered no salvation. They can be bribed to perform various services,
but the gods did not provide an escape from mortality. And also, unlike the Christian who believed
in life everlasting, pagan like Galen lacked belief in life beyond death. For Galen to have remained
in Rome to treat the afflicted would have required bravery far beyond that needed by Christians to
do likewise.
This habit of sacrificial care has reappeared throughout history. In 1527, when the bubonic plague
hit Wittenberg, Martin Luther refused calls to flee the city and protect himself. Rather, he stayed and
ministered to the sick.
So, what can we draw from these reflections about the practices of early Christians during the
plagues?
By all means, practice scrupulous hygiene, both for your own sake and for the sake of others. Wear a
mask, wash your hands, cough into your arm, avoid shaking hands, and maintain social distancing.
Stay away from public meetings that your local health authorities recommended you to avoid. But if the health system get overwhelmed and need some extra volunteers, or if there is a need for volunteers to serve foods and other necessities in affected areas where nobody would like to go consider serving simply because you are a Christian.

Let me reiterate, by all means, take into account every precaution laid out by the Ministry of Health
and Family Welfare, the World Health Organization (WHO), and other local authorities—but by all
means, also continue to show mercy and serve others as Christ taught us to do. This is what Christians have done throughout the centuries in the midst of suffering and death. According to Stark, it is also one of the main reasons Christianity flourished during the first four centuries of its existence. Let us not be driven by fear, no matter what transpires in the days and weeks ahead. Rather, let us be guided by the One who declared a blessing upon those who show mercy.

Lamminlun Kipgen
lamminlunk@gmail.com/9582713818

ESCATOLOGY (1st part)

Escatology part 1

There are three different views of school in Christian Eschatology. Namely
1) Pre-millennialism
2) Postmillennialism and
3) Amillennialism

I’ll be discussing Amillennialism mainly.

The term “millennium” is of Latin origin meaning “thousand years”.  Amillennialism in Christian eschatology therefore, is the teaching about the thousand year period of Revelation 20. However, “thousand years” mentioned in Rev 20 is taken as symbolical and figurative description of the entire period from Christ’s exaltation until shortly before his second coming.

Amillennialists hold that the millennium has already begun and is identical with the current Church Age. It stands in contrast to premillennialism which states that Christ will return prior to a literal 1000 years earthly reign.  As far as the thousand years in Rev 20 is concerned, we are in the millennium now. We are already in the kingdom and yet we look forward to the full manifestation of that kingdom, we already shared its blessings and yet we await its total victory.

The amillennial position on the thousand years implies that Christians who are now living are enjoying the benefits of this millennium since Satan has been bound from deceiving the nations until the thousand years end. We may conclude that this thousand year period extends from the Christ’s first coming to just before his second coming.

John also assured us that during the gospel era which has now been ushered in, Satan will not be able to continue deceiving the way he did in the past. The binding of Satan during the gospel age means that, first, he cannot prevent the spread of the gospel, and second he cannot gather all the enemies of Christ together to attack the church. During this entire period, therefore, we Christ disciples will be able to preach the gospel and make disciples of all the Nations.

Since, Christ has won the decisive victory over sin, death and Satan by living a sinless life and dying on the cross as the sacrificial atonement. He’s now the new Israel and the new living temple.  Everyone who believes in Christ is a new creation.

Amillennialists do not believe that the kingdom of God is primarily a Jewish kingdom (special place for Israel) which involves literal restoration of the Israel nation. Nor do they believe that because of the unbelief of the Jews of his day Christ postponed the establishment of the kingdom to the time of his future earthly millennium reign. Neither do they believe that Israel as a chosen people has been replaced by the church. Replacement Theology teaches that the church is the replacement for Israel and that the many promises made to Israel in the Bible are fulfilled in the Christian Church not in Israel. For Dispensationalism, Church is completely different and distinct from Israel. However amillennialism believes that, the church is an expansion of Israel. “The Chosen people” have been expanded by the work of Christ, that is, the blessing promised to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through the Messiah Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the spirit. Galatians 3: 14. By expansionism it means that, God has joined Gentiles to the faith of Israel — He has expanded the nation spiritually.

Amillennialism believe in Inaugurated Eschatology which is the belief that the end times were inaugurated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It means that, Christ being the first fruit has inaugurated in this present age of the ‘not yet’ aspects to the kingdom of God. When we speak of Inaugurated Eschatology, we are saying that, the significant eschatological events have already begun to happen while other eschatological occurrences still lie in the future and the final consummation of eschatology in the future to happen.

John also witness that throughout this same age, the martyrs those who died on account of the witness of Jesus, are now living and reigning with Christ in heaven while they await the resurrection of the body.  The vision of the thrones in Rev 20: 4-6; refers to what theology calls “the intermediate state” that is, the life and glory of elect saints at death and until the second coming of Jesus.

But how could there be reigning without the resurrection as argued by the postmillennialism because the life of the soul at death is not resurrection.  The saint goes to heaven by resurrection and only by resurrection. The taking up to heaven of the soul of the believer at death is, indeed, resurrection. There are two stages. The first is the resurrection of the soul. This is the resurrection of Rev 20:5. The second is the resurrection of the body. The first resurrection doesn’t refer to the physical resurrection of the saints (as premillennialism teaches), but to the spiritual resurrection or when the holy spirit become available to dwell in the hearts of the believers. The kingdom then is a kingdom in spirit only and lasts until Jesus second coming. Amillennialists believe that the kingdom of God was founded by Christ at the time of his sojourn on earth, it is operative in history now, and is destined to be revealed in its fullness in the life to come.

At the end of the thousand years, Satan will be released for a short time vs 3 to deceive the nations and makes war against the saints. This enables Satan to establish his world kingdom under Antichrist. Amillennialists believe that the return of Christ will be preceded by certain signs, for example, the preaching of gospel to all the Nations, the great tribulation, and the coming of the Antichrist. These signs, however, must not be thought of as referring exclusively to the time just preceding Christ’s return. They have been present in some sense from the very beginning of the Christian era and are present now. Rev 1:9. John himself is experiencing the tribulation at the present age.

The ungodly always dominate. The wicked always oppress the saints. The only hope of the Church in the world, and their full deliverance, is the second coming of Christ and the final judgment.

At the time of Christ’s return, there will be a general resurrection, both of believers and unbelievers. The “rapture” of all believers now takes place. Believers who have just been raised from the dead, together with living believers who have just been transformed, are now caught up in the cloud to meet the Lord in the air. 1 Thessalonians 4:17;   The word ”rapture” in Amillennial Eschatological discourse doesn’t mean the same thing as Dispensationalist would define it. Dispensationalists teach that after rapture the entire Church will be taken to heaven for a period of seven years while those still on earth are undergoing the great tribulation.

The word translated “to meet” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17; is a technical term used in the days of the NT to describe a public welcome, that is, the citizens of the city would generally come out to meet the victorious general arrival from the war and would then accompany  back to the city. Paul is conveying by using this analogy that raised and transformed believers are caught up in the clouds to meet the descending Lord, and then they will go back with him to the earth.

Then the final judgment will follow. It will reveal the glorification of God in the final destiny assigned to each person.

After the judgment the final state is ushered in. Believers will enter into everlasting glory on the new earth. The book of Revelation tells us that the holy city, the New Jerusalem will come down from heaven to the new Earth. 21:2. It is only our hope that when Christ come; that is, in the life to come, heaven and earth will no longer be separated but will have merged. In the final state, therefore, glorified believers will be both in new heaven and on the new earth, since the two shall then be one.

By Joyson Inka

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus your own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.