End of the World and Daily Life
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” –Matthew 24:14 (NASB)
The way we view our own role in history has a massive impact on the way we live our lives. This is one reason why our eschatology (understanding of the final events of history) is so important.
I’ve been reading a biography of Saint Patrick (“St. Patrick of Ireland” by Phillip Freeman) and one thing that is made clear is the impact that Patrick’s eschatology had on his ministry.
For a brief history lesson, in Patrick’s day (the mid-400’s) the vast majority of scholars believed in a round Earth. However, while they got the shape right, they got the size wrong. Because the Sahara Desert was all but impassible to the south, it was widely believed to be the scorching hot lower border of the globe. Likewise, the Mediterranean region was seen as the temperate and comfortably livable middle region and the northernmost region was viewed as the terribly cold northern border of the globe.
This put Ireland at the very edge of what was seen by academics as the inhabitable world. Therefore, Patrick firmly believed that he was preaching to the last region of the world to be reached with the Gospel. He was under the firm conviction, from Scripture, that the preaching of the Gospel to the whole world was the requirement for Our Lord’s return. In this way, he viewed himself as playing a direct role in the Second Coming of Our Lord Jesus. God used this one man’s conviction and devotion to save an entire nation.
I could not help but compare Patrick’s belief with the impact postmillennialism had on the Puritans. The vast majority of the Puritans held to a postmillennial eschatology. This is the view that a righteous Christian kingdom will be established here on earth before Our Lord’s return. It was this view that fueled the Puritan desire for a righteous state, and ultimately what lead to the pilgrimages that would go on to form the United States of America.
Patrick was so emboldened because he believed that reaching that one final nation was all that stood in the way of the coming of the eternal Kingdom. The Purtians were so emboldened because they saw it as their duty to establish a literal Kingdom on earth that was perfectly submissive to God.
Today, the dominant eschatology is premillennialism with an emphasis on the tribulation. The Lord’s Army as a ministry intentionally seeks to avoid taking a hardline view on secondary issues such as eschatology. However, there does appear to be an obvious correlation between this particular view and some dangerous trends in the Western Church.
I have often found myself wondering why there is such a defeatist attitude within the Church. There are times, speaking purely anecdotally, that it seems as though many in Christ have all but given up on any hope of changing the world. I have heard it as almost axiomatic, sayings like “well, we know it is going to get worse before it gets better.”
This laissez-faire mentality and attitude must end. And while it does seem clear that certain eschatological views lend themselves to more defeatism than others, the reality for all of Christian orthodoxy is that the Bible is clear in its ultimate message- Christ wins. The Chruch wins. Whether one is postmillennial, amillennial or premillennial, we all affirm that Christ’s return is that of Triumph. Furthermore, we must all remember that it is a direct result of the Gospel that a life of joyous victory is able to lived out today, right now.
Our Lord is on His throne and His Spirit is in us. Let us never feel defeated or powerless. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation- let’s take it to the world TODAY!