Those of you who have been tracking with me closely on this blog have no doubt seen that I have been slumming with the Lutherans lately. I have been reading a lot of Lutheran blogs these days, and their answers to many questions just make sense to me, a whole lot more so than what I am hearing in the world of evangelical Protestant-dom these days.
Here is yet another example: the return of Christ.
It is no secret that the world of evangelical Protestant-dom is rife with all sorts of silliness, craziness, and outright bunk on the issue of when Christ is coming back. From “The Pope is the Antichrist” to Hal Lindsey to Left Behind, we have an unfailing penchant for turning out all sorts of craziness on this issue. And I am sure that some of you have seen John Hagee’s latest escapade over in Jerusalem; I believe this little piece of blogging is especially timely in light of that.
But here is some sanity on the issue of Christ’s return. William Weedon over at Concordia–The Lutheran Confessions offers a breakdown of the things which we can know for certain about the return of Christ.
First, at the end of the age Christ will APPEAR to judge the living and the dead. Not come–appear. That may come as a huge, whopping surprise to many of you, but there it is. The return of Christ will not necessarily be Christ appearing in the sky as if coming from another world. Instead, it will be an unveiling. In one moment we will see that, in fact, He has been with us all along, and that all the things we have accepted by faith are true in reality. After all, He did say, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
Other things we can know for certain about the return of Christ:
–Christ will give the godly and the elect eternal life and everlasting joy.
–Ungodly people and the devils will be condemned to eternal torment. As C. S. Lewis says, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ ” This will be a time when all the devils and ungodly cry out to God, “Leave us alone!!!!!”, and God says, “Okay, if you insist.”
–There is no end to this punishment. The Anabaptists who were prevalent in Luther’s day believed, as Origen did, that at some point God would draw all things to himself–including hell–and that at that point the torments of all who were in hell would end. Wrong.
–It is wrong to imagine a millennial kingdom in this world with the general suppression of ungodliness prior to the final return of Christ. Those of you who believe that the millennial kingdom will be an earthly, political kingdom happening at some unspecified time in the future: Wrong, people. What part of “My kingdom is not of this world” do you not understand?