Dating the End Times

In Revelation chapter 6, John describes the vision he sees after the 5th seal is opened, the souls of those who had been killed because of their testimony to Christ. They cry out, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth?” In Acts chapter 1, Jesus’ disciples ask him, “Lord, at this time are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” These examples from the New Testament demonstrate that Christians have been asking this question for a long time. When will the end of time occur? On what date will God end the world as we know it?

When events in the world seem to follow the pattern of events that Jesus outlined, then preachers and Bible students become more insistent that the End is near. So what does the Bible say about the date of the End Times?

In Mark chapter 13, Jesus answers a question from His disciples and uses that as an opportunity to talk about the future leading up to the End. But at the end of His teaching He says, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” In other words, even Jesus Himself did not know when the End would come! If Jesus would not set a date, we should not either.

In the passage from Acts chapter 1 that I already mentioned, notice how Jesus responded to the disciples’ question. They asked if Jesus was going to restore the kingdom at that time. Jesus replies, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…” It seems to me Jesus was telling them that the date of the End was none of their business. As Jesus’ disciples, we need to be busy bearing witness to Him. We need to follow our calling and trust God however He sees fit to work.

Throughout the New Testament, the repeated message is clear. Our concern is not to figure out “when” the End will come, but to live in faithfulness until that time and live with an attitude of anticipation of God’s coming. Not just His coming at the End, but His coming every day into lives to make us whole and new. In 1 Thessalonians, Paul writes, “Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” But then he commends them because they are living with a readiness and anticipation every day.

To study what the Bible says about God’s final judgment is meaningful and can be a blessing. But the New Testament is clear that obsessions about when it will happen are a distraction from what God really wants us to do. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus directs us to pray that the kingdom will come, but also that God’s will is being done on earth right now, as it is in heaven.

Love in Christ,

Greg Burriss, Pastor

Rocky River Baptist Church

Siler City, NC

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Life is Messy

Messy. I can only imagine how messy it must have been in ancient Israel when the priests were called upon to sacrifice animals to atone for the sins of the people. The priest had to dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle it on the altar. He had to pull out different organs and place them in their ceremonial place. Can you imagine the sight? And the smell?

Messy. It certainly would have been messy to be an onlooker as Jesus was being beaten with a whip, to watch the flesh tear away from the muscle and the blood splatter. Jesus’ crucifixion was bloody and horrible.

Messy. Real life is messy. Some people think that we have become too sophisticated to believe that Jesus’ death 2000 years ago could have anything to do with God and our relationship to him. Many think that we would be better off if we sanitized our faith. They think we should do away with the messy.

But real life is messy. The crucifixion of Jesus does many things. One thing it does is show us that God is willing to enter the mess to be with us and give us the help we need.

God is not afraid of the messy things. God steps right in to love us, be with us and rescue us in the middle of the messy things in this life. You don’t have to hide them, or pretend that nothing is wrong. God sees where you really are and the real mess you are in. God is looking for you to invite Him in so that He can help you clean up your mess.

Love in Christ,

Greg Burriss, Pastor

Rocky River Baptist Church

Siler City, NC

God’s Wild Love

“He’s not a tame lion.” This sentence is repeated frequently throughout the Narnia novels by C.S. Lewis. You may be familiar with the most famous of these, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In these novels, the land of Narnia is inhabited by talking animals, centaurs and fauns. And the true king of Narnia is the great lion Aslan. In these stories, Aslan represents Christ. And as Lewis says, “He is not a tame lion.”

Preachers often struggle with how to counteract the influence of cultural ideas in the thinking of Christians. We are all influenced by our culture and the ideas that are presented to us on the Internet or television or even in the gossip of our hometown. Often ideas that people like are linked with Christian religion to create a hybrid animal that is not true to Christianity at all.

The Bible tells us with certainty that God is love. If we know anything about real love, the Bible also says, it is because we have received it from God. John says “we love, because He loved us first.” Our culture has taken this notion of God’s great and gracious love and married it to the ideas that love means giving you everything that you want. Therefore, if God loves you, He will never make you feel bad or criticize what you are doing or ask you to change your behavior.

In other words, this God of our culture is a tame lion.

But like the Narnian lion Aslan, Jesus is “not a tame lion.” God loves you more than you can possibly understand. But the Bible is also clear that God’s love is about making you into a mature and holy human being. God’s love is not about giving you what you want to make you happy. If you are sinning, God’s Spirit is trying to bring you to repentance. As preacher/singer Keith Green once put it, “The heaviness you’re feeling may not be Satanic attack. It might be the Holy Spirit rebuking your sin.”

You can rest assured of God’s unfailing love for you. But be careful that you understand what God’s love truly is. Don’t accept a counterfeit.

Love in Christ,

Greg Burriss, Pastor

Rocky River Baptist Church

Siler City, NC