Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Viewing the Present in Light of the Future

By Jeff Bruce

Indeed, the church is an eschatological community not only because it witnesses to God's future victory but because its mission is to display the life of the eschatological Kingdom in the present evil age. The very existence of the church is designed to be a witness to the world of the triumph of God's kingdom accomplished in Jesus.

- George E. Ladd, The Presence of the Future: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974); 337-338.

I am easily intimidated by the world. As I look around my city, I see bureaucratic corruption, rampant crime, and a host of other societal ills. I observe problems with the infrastructure. Receptivity to the gospel seems non-existent. All these problems stoke my emotions. If I ponder them too long, I can become despondent. It seems incredibly naive to think that people will confess Jesus as Lord, or that justice will prevail.


focusing on sin and evil is a dead-end street. Until Christ returns, the present evil age will always appear...well...present and evil. Which is precisely why a good dose of inaugurated eschatology is necessary to cure spiritual depression.

Optimism is not foolishness for the believer, because hope has invaded history. The future has apocalyptically erupted in the present in the death and resurrection of the Messiah. The new creation has been propelled forward, as a man has been raised from the dead. Furthermore, a community of people have been incorporated into this risen man, and share in his future-present life. The church is thus the signpost of new creation; the gathering of people whose existence points to the way things will be.

And this city, corrupt and broken, is not as it one day will be. God will make all things new, including the created order. Justice will prevail, Jesus will be king, and all will kneel to him as Lord. Reconciliation will be universal and eternal.

The future will not be an endless repetition of the present. The future has already arrived in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and in the constitution of his church. And these events remind us that all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.

I want to view the present through the grid of God's future. If I know that God's righteousness will ultimately and inevitably be demonstrated, then despair is needless and foolish.

And therefore...

...my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
(1 Cor 15:58)

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