Movies

Movie Tuesday: A Thief in the Night

 

Keep a sharp lookout, for you do not know when I will come, at evening, midnight, early dawn, or late daybreak. Don’t let Me find you sleeping.

Today’s Movie Tuesday is a double whammy: evangelical pop culture and homework. A Thief in the Night was my generation’s Left Behind. It’s the reason Christians my age, who grew up in church experience a split second of terror when we walk into the house and it’s unexpectedly empty. (Did the rapture happen and I didn’t make it?)

So grab your Bible and your popcorn and experience Christianity of yesteryear. Look up the passages that are mentioned in the movie and read them in context. Does the movie rightly handle those passages? Do you agree or disagree with this eschatology? Why? Are movies like this helpful, or do they just scare people into becoming false converts?

And most importantly, whatever way you think the Lord is coming back, He is coming back. Are you ready?

For you yourselves are fully aware that
the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
1 Thessalonians 5:2

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Eschatology

 

Can you provide some good resources on eschatology?

Could you answer this question I have about a particular branch of eschatology?

I’ve received a few different questions about eschatology recently. Eschatology is the division of theology that deals with Christ’s second coming and all of the various events and characters involved therein: the Antichrist, the rapture, the millennial reign, the Great Tribulation, etc.

I’ll just be totally transparent with y’all: I’m not equipped to answer questions on eschatology. Every time I’ve sat down and tried to study eschatology, I’ve found it very confusing and have ended up throwing up my hands and walking away from the study materials in frustration. This is partly because, from my perspective anyway, eschatology is largely educated guessing, and our various theories of what will happen when and in which order don’t really matter. I mean it’s not like you’re going to stand before the Lord on Judgment Day and He’s not going to let you into Heaven because you were pre-millennial instead of post-millennial. And it’s not something that should have any impact on our day to day fellowship, work, and worship with other Believers.

When Christ returns, events will unfold as laid out in Scripture. Until then, we have a limited understanding of what will transpire and the order in which those things will transpire. Here’s my eschatological framework:

• Jesus is coming back for Believers (praise God – I hope it’s really soon).

• Anybody who tells you Jesus has already come back is either lying, deceived, or more ignorant of eschatology that I am (if that’s possible).

• Everything the Bible says about Jesus’ return is true, even though we may have a hard time understanding how all the passages work together. There may be some passages that seem to contradict each other, but we know that’s not the case because God does not contradict Himself. The seeming contradictions happen because our brains are finite. Just because we don’t understand how two pieces of the puzzle can fit together doesn’t mean God doesn’t know how to fit them together perfectly.

• I honestly don’t think anybody in the church era, living or dead, has ever had a 100% perfect, no mistakes or misunderstandings, eschatology. And you know what? It doesn’t matter. When Jesus comes back, He’s going to do things exactly the way and in exactly the order that God has sovereignly predestined that they occur. You don’t get extra points for knowing ahead of time exactly what’s going to happen when, and, at the point of Christ’s return, you’re not going to find anybody who’s interested in listening to “I told you so!” pontifications.

• I think it is much more fruitful to spend our time evangelizing the lost and discipling the saved so that the church will be spiritually ready for the return of Christ. Whatever may happen in the days surrounding His return, we know that none of His sheep will be lost.

• If you enjoy studying eschatology, by all means, go for it! Dig into God’s Word and see what it says! Just a few words of caution:

Don’t become obsessed by it, and don’t let it replace your regular Bible reading time.

Hold your eschatological views loosely and don’t let them come between you and your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Make sure you’re handling Scripture rightly and in context.

If you’re listening to or reading a particular teacher’s materials on eschatology, make sure that person is doctrinally sound in general.

So, can I answer your questions on eschatology or provide you with good resources I’ve personally used? No, but here’s what I can offer:

• Assuming you attend a doctrinally sound church, start with your pastor. Set up an appointment, and ask him to explain the view of eschatology he holds and other views he may be knowledgeable on. Does your church as a whole subscribe to any particular eschatological view? Can he recommend any good resources on eschatology?

• After checking with your pastor, if there’s a well-known doctrinally sound pastor or author whose theology you generally find yourself in agreement with, check his website for resources on eschatology or e-mail him and ask for his recommendations. (Note: Just because you agree with the rest of his theology doesn’t mean you have to agree with his eschatological view.)

• Some seminaries offer online courses (some of them are even free!). Find a good doctrinally sound seminary (yes, unfortunately even seminaries need to be vetted these days) and see if they offer any courses on eschatology. You may want to check out The Master’s University, The Master’s Seminary, Southern Seminary, and Reformed Theological Seminary for starters.

• Don’t get your eschatology from fictional books or movies about the end times. Just…don’t.

• My friend Gabe Hughes was recently asked about eschatology resources. He suggested a few on the August 2, 2019 episode of the WWUTT podcast (around the 24:11 mark). This would be a good place to start.

• I’m going to ask you readers for some help here. Can you suggest any doctrinally sound books, articles, videos, sermons, etc., on eschatology? Leave a comment in the comment box below. (For everyone reading the comments section: A) We’re not going to have any arguments on eschatology in the comments section. B) Please know that I have not vetted any of the suggestions that will be made. Compare everything to rightly handled Scripture, and if it doesn’t match up, chuck it.)

Until the Lord comes back, be about the business of sharing the gospel. We want to take as many people with us as we can.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Mark Bible Study

Mark: Lesson 19

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Mark 13

And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

And as he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” And Jesus began to say to them, “See that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.

“But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. 10 And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. 11 And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, 16 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 17 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.

24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light,25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider

1. Read verses 1-2. Where had Jesus just been teaching? How do these verses demonstrate the “prophet” part of Jesus’ threefold office of “Prophet, Priest, and King”? Did Jesus’ prophecy come true? How and when? How does this support Jesus’ omniscience and trustworthiness?

2. What were God’s theological reasons for allowing the temple to be destroyed? Why is the temple obsolete now that Christ has come?

3. Examine verses 3-13. In verse 4, the disciples ask what the signs they could be on the lookout for that the temple is about to be destroyed. Does this indicate they expected Jesus to establish His kingdom right away or millennia later? What should Jesus’ answer in 5-8 have indicated to them about the timing of these events? Compare the timing aspect of verses 5-8 with 9-13. In which section does Jesus seem to be indicating events that would happen within the disciples’ lifetime? In which section does Jesus seem to be suggesting that the events He mentions are far off? (Hint: look at Jesus use of the word “you” in both sections.)

4. What “signs” (4) did Jesus say would take place prior to the end of time and the establishment of His kingdom? (5-8) What is Jesus’ primary instruction to the disciples – then and now – in this passage? (5,6,9)

5. What will the disciples “bear witness to” before governors and kings? (9) Sometimes people use verse 11 to suggest that a pastor or teacher need not study for and prepare his sermon or lesson ahead of time, but should speak extemporaneously  “by the Holy Spirit”. Examining verse 11 in context, is that what this verse means? How do verses 9-13 refute the “health, wealth, and prosperity” gospel?

6. What is the abomination of desolation of the end times? (14) What does God instruct His people to do when this event occurs? (15-18, 21, 23) What will all of these end times events culminate in? (26-27) Make a list of the specific things in verses 5-25 that Christ says will happen before He returns (26-27).

7. Verses 5-25 deal with “what” will happen. Verses 28-37 deal with w___ they will happen. When does Jesus say these end time events will occur? (32-33) Like the disciples, we tend to focus on “When will these things be?” (4) and the specific events that will occur. List Jesus’ explicit instructions (do this, be that, don’t do this, etc.) to the disciples and us in verses 5, 7, 9, 11, 14-16, 18, 21, 23, 28, 33, 35, 37. Is Jesus’ focus more on the events and timing of the events or on instructing His people how to respond to those events? What are some ways Christians can begin preparing our hearts to rightly respond to those events if they should occur in our lifetime?

8. Summarize verses 5-37 in one to two sentences. What do we call the branch of theology that deals with the end times and the return of Christ?


Homework

One of the themes of this passage is that false christs and false prophets will arise to deceive many and lead them astray. Make a list of five specific ways you can avoid being led astray by a false teacher. Begin implementing one of those ways this week.


Suggested Memory Verse

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Mark 13:31

Faith, Second Coming, Suffering, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ In the Mean Time

Originally published August 21, 2014In the Mean Time

 

When I was a little girl, around three or four years old, my mother occasionally needed to drop me off at a daycare center so she could run errands or attend to other things you can’t take care of with a pre-schooler in tow.

I hated it.

Even 40+ years later, I remember being terrified. I wasn’t a regular, so I didn’t know any of the other kids or the teachers or the routine or where anything was located. I didn’t want to be there because I didn’t fit in. I wanted to go home. I felt completely uncomfortable the entire time I was there. In fact, I remember crying unconsolably. When would my mom come back and get me out of this God-forsaken place?

Don’t cry. Your mom’s coming back for you soon.

I’m sure some kind teacher whispered that in my ear as she put her arms around me, the same way I’ve whispered it in the ears of children I’ve comforted over the years.

And, finally, Mom would come back, take me away, and everything would be all right.

Today, I still feel like that tiny child sometimes.

There are days when the evil and sadness of this world overwhelm me. When problems in my own life terrify me.

I hate it.

You see, I don’t fit in here. This isn’t my home. I don’t want to be here. And sometimes, I cry inconsolably…

When, Lord? When will you come back and get me out of this God-forsaking place?

And that’s when the kind and precious Holy Spirit wraps the arms of the Word around me and whispers…

Don’t cry. Your Savior’s coming back for you soon.

Soon, little ones. Dry your tears. He’s coming back for us soon.


Out of honor to my mom, I just wanted to say that I totally understand why she had to take me to the daycare from time to time. I would have done the same thing with my child. I’m sure it was a fine daycare with loving teachers. I’m just the kind of person who never outgrew stranger anxiety. This was my brokenness, not anyone else’s unkindness.
Easter, Second Coming

He’s Coming Back

coming back

They’re words cooed by a mother to dry the tears of her frightened child.

Words murmured bedside by a nurse calming her anxious patient.

They’re comforting words, imparted by someone in charge, someone taking care of us, someone we’re depending on. Words that God has spoken to His people from the beginning.

I’m coming back.

From walking with God Himself in the cool of the day to banishment from the Garden.

The anguish of giving birth.

The toil of tilling the ground.

The sting of physical death.

Could anything compare to man’s ache of losing tangible communion with God? And, yet, even in the curse of the Fall, His bold declaration rang out:

I’m coming back.

In base splendor.

In humble glory.

Emmanuel – God with us – came back.

He tabernacled for a time among us, but all too quickly, the days of His visitation drew to an end.

Time and again, though they would not yet understand,

Though the cross was unfathomable,

And the empty tomb, unimaginable,

He gathered His disciples close and taught, with unassailable authority:

I’m coming back.

They saw the stone rolled away. The nail prints. His riven side. They ate with Him, walked with Him, talked with Him. They followed Him out to a hillside and watched as He was taken up into the clouds.

And with them, we wait. We set our gaze upon the heavens. We long for His blessed return. And we hear the same words they heard…

Words which should drive terror-stricken sinners to their knees in repentance and faith…

Words which warm the hearts of believers with glorious hope, comfort, and joy…

Words which, one dazzling and magnificent day, will never need be heard again…

HE’S COMING BACK.