Sunday, April 05, 2009

Realized eschatology

The problem is realized eschatology. When I was a callow youth I rudely asked my landlord, a Church of England vicar, "Are you saved?" He replied, in words not his own and too deep for me at the time, "I have been saved, I am being saved, I will be saved."

In the first chapter of 1 Peter these words are played out. We have been saved. Verse 3 "In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."

We are being saved. Verse 6-7 "Though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine."

We will be saved. Verses 7-9: "When Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls."

Some Christians insist that since we have been saved we should enjoy the benefits of heaven now. We should never get ill, we should never have our children go off the rails, our parents should never become demented, we should have a nice house a nice job and live in a nice part of town. Unemployment, bankruptcy, sickness, divorce, cancer and paralysis are not for the Christian, or if they are then they are easily prayed away. Sorry folks, but life ain't like that, and if you think they are you are heading for disappointment. Sure, there are answers to prayer, but often the answer is no, my grace is sufficient for you.

Jesus' promise was that in this world you will have tribulation. Suffering is part of being a christian. In Romans 8:17 Paul writes "Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."

We are tempted when we are hurt to think we have been abandoned by God, or that there is no God, or that we cannot be a real Christian, or that we are not one of the elect. On the contrary, when we suffer it is sure evidence that we are co-heirs with Christ. (Suffering because you have robbed a bank doesn't count - that is called punishment.)

But still we have the promise of glory, where he will wipe all tears from our eyes.

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

You expressed so well something I've often felt more than thought. When trying to comfort a friend who's struggling with adversity, some are wont to almost prophetically promise them healing, a promise only God could bring to pass. At other times, when prayed for blessings do come, then the phrase, "God is good", is joyfully uttered. God is indeed good, but His goodness is not dependent upon or even necessarily shown by the recovery of the sick. Prayed for patients die everyday, and yet He is still good.
(written by a Mom who lost her son to rhabdomyosarcoma 11 months ago)