Future Things: Five Eschatological Essentials, Part 3 (of 12)

Some people think that because Christendom has some sharp differences when it comes to certain doctrinal matters this is a sign that Christianity cannot be true. It’s just too divided.

Yet the truth of the matter is that while historic Christians of various theological stripes have important differences, they also share significant common doctrinal ground on essential beliefs. To the casual observer, the differences among denominations seem dominant. But upon closer inspection, the common unity of belief presents a truer characterization of historic Christianity.

One of the best examples of this deeper unity is illustrated in the controversial area of eschatology (the study of “last things” or “future things”).

Five Eschatological Essentials

While important differences over the final events of human history exist, nevertheless, all historic Christian theological traditions affirm essential core orthodoxy when it comes to eschatology. In part two of this series, I listed three significant events that unite Christians in terms of general eschatological essentials.

1. Second Coming of Jesus Christ

2. General Resurrection of the Dead

3. Final Judgment of Humankind

There are two more areas of agreement when it comes to historic Christianity’s view of last things.

4. Eternal State

The general position is that the divine events of bodily resurrection and the final judgment of humanity are then followed by the unfolding of the eternal state. Nonbelievers go away to eternal misery, while believers partake of eternal blessedness.

Because of their sin, nonbelievers are eternally excluded from the presence of God (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9) and are cast into what the Bible terrifyingly describes as the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). There they consciously suffer the just wrath of God as an eternal punishment for their sins (Matthew 25:46).

Believers in Christ, having been given glorified human bodies, will experience the final step of redemption—glorification into the moral and spiritual presence of Jesus (Romans 8:30).

5. New Creation

After incredible apocalyptic events, God will destroy this present cosmos (2 Peter 3:7, 10, 12) and bring forth a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1-5). A new and glorious realm of existence without sin, pain, sorrow, and death will be made by the almighty power and infinite wisdom of God. Believers will live in the new creation, clothed in their glorified, resurrected bodies, and enjoying the intimate loving presence of God. His redeemed people will love, worship, and serve the Lord in a righteous and just kingdom that will never end.

These five points of eschatological agreement mark the profound common ground that historic Christians share even in an area that also reflects marked differences and controversy. The biblical vision of reality includes an incredibly hopeful and peaceful apocalyptic picture of the future state.

For an introduction to the topic of general eschatology, see Donald G. Bloesch, The Last Things and George Eldon Ladd, The Blessed Hope.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12

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