The Last Days According to Jesus
Scripture: Matthew 24:1-44
We are going to do something a little different today. Since we are between series, I asked the congregation to select a topic or passage for the sermon this week. The most popular request was for a message on the end times. Not what I would have chosen, but clearly of interest to many of you, so that is what we will do. Since it is impossible to deal with this in a single message, and considering the interest shown, we will have a discussion and Q&A session the evening of January 29th for those who wish to explore this further.
I think the best way to begin is to start with what Jesus himself says about it. Before we do that though I should mention that our statement of faith is broad when it comes to eschatology. There are multiple views acceptable within our fellowship. There are several different positions that still agree on the core doctrines of the faith and salvation. Difference among those views does not prevent us from cooperating in local ministry together. These questions are important, but they are third-order issues about which we can disagree in love and fellowship.
We should approach these doctrines with tolerance and humility because there is so much we simply do not know for certain. Listen to what the early church father Justin Martyr wrote in the year 155 after commenting on the end times,
“… I and many others are of this opinion, and believe that such will take place, as you assuredly are aware; but, on the other hand, I signified to you that many who belong to the pure and pious faith, and are true Christians, think otherwise.”
If we humbly seek to help one another grow in our understanding of the word, whatever differences we may have on these issues should only draw us closer to one another and deeper into the word. The view I am going to preach is essentially the same view the Justin Martyr held. Today it is a minority viewpoint, but it is well represented throughout the history of the church and was the most common view for the first few hundred years.
Many teachers who I know you respect understood it the way you will hear it today. That doesn’t mean it is right. I only share that because I want you to understand it is not a new or unusual teaching. In fact, it is very old. I am persuaded it is so old, it is what Jesus taught