Category Archives: Eschatology

Why the World Hates Jesus of Nazareth (7 of 7)

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”  Jesus, Jn. 15:18

In the previous installment, I made the case that Jesus was both loving and intolerant. Jesus regularly made truth-claims (theological, philosophical, moral, etc.). These exclusive claims naturally placed competing worldviews outside the realm of divinely revealed truth (Jn 14:6).

I also stated that Jesus saw certain thoughts, actions, and behaviors as sinful. His response was to love sinners out of their sinful bondage.

God’s love operates out of truth, not despite the truth.

You can’t have real love without an objective standard of truth by which love operates. There is no love without truth. And there is no truth without love. They are inseparable. Jesus ministered with this mindset.

I began this blog series by laying out seven provocative statements that would serve to summarize the radical life and teachings of Jesus. My desire has been that the follower of Christ would rethink what it means to be a disciple, and that the skeptic would open up their heart and mind to the beauty of the Kingdom of God that Jesus displayed in his life and ministry.

In this final installment, I will bring together all of the material covered in this seven-part series, and show how the many pieces form a cohesive portrait of a new humanity revealed in Jesus of Nazareth.

 7. Jesus Revealed the New Way to be Human

Jesus was (and is) the only begotten Son of God. He was sent from the Father to show the world the truth about God, to save us from our sins, and to reveal the Father’s will for all of creation (Jn 3:16; 6:38; Col 1:15; Heb 1:3).

“For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.” Jesus, John 6:38 NLT

The will of God for Jesus was first and foremost to live perpetually by the Father’s divine LIFE (Jn 10:38; 14:10-12). Everything we see from Jesus on the earth is what it looks like when God reigns in a human being.

According to Jesus, if you want to be fully human you will…

  • Love God with heart, mind, soul, and strength (Mk 12:29-31);
  • Love your neighbor and enemy (Matt 5:38-48; Jn 13:34-35);
  • Do unto others what you’d have them do unto you (Matt 7:12);
  • Uphold justice, mercy, and faithfulness (Matt 5:7; Lk 11:42);
  • Abhor physical violence (Matt 5:39; 26:52);
  • Be peacemakers in the world (Matt 5:9);
  • Freely forgive and not judge others (Matt 18:21-22; Lk 6:37);
  • Bless the poor and needy, visit prisoners (Lk 6:20; Matt 25:36);
  • Practice true righteousness (Matt 5:6; 6:1-4);
  • Heal the sick and drive out demons (Matt 10:8);
  • Seek unity and reconciliation (Matt 18:15-20; Jn 17:20-23);
  • Pray “Thy Kingdom come” in everything (Matt 6:5-13);
  • Not worry about life and material stuff (Matt 6:25);
  • Seek first the Kingdom of God (Matt 6:33).

Jesus revealed the new way to be human. This radical new life, in the face of the old world system, eventually led to his death on the cross. But God vindicated the life and ministry of Jesus by raising him from the dead.

“For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” Paul, Romans 6:4 NLT

Jesus was the firstborn of God’s new creation (Rom 8:29). He is the beginning of a new humanity. For he calls out to the world to be reborn.

“Christ is the Son of God. If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God. We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Spirit will arise in us. He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has — by what I call “good infection.” Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.”  C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Herein lies the greatest threat the Kingdom revolution poses to the world.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ continues to further the Kingdom, amidst the forces of darkness in this fallen world, through his called-out community of faithful followers, known as the ekkelsia (church).

“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul, Ephesians 3:10-11 NIV

The mission of Messiah Jesus was to do the will of the Father in bringing about God’s good purposes for creation—right in the middle of this present evil age! The resurrection of Jesus is evidence of God’s future breaking into our present. God’s new world was launched in Christ.

Jesus brought Israel’s story to her climax, and now he is reigning through the church. In order to follow Jesus, you must give up on the world system and commit to God’s Kingdom revolution at work through the church.

You have to leave the old world and the old life behind.

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” Jesus, Mark 8:35 NIV

Our hope in Christ is that he will return in the future to consummate heaven and earth. In the meantime, his followers are called to further the Kingdom by the power of the Spirit, and increase the new humanity upon the earth.

Listen to the invitation that Jesus has extended to us:

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Jesus, Matthew 16:24 NIV

Will you follow him?

If the world hates you for following Jesus, remember that it hated him first.

You’re not alone. There is a growing Kingdom revolution that can’t be stopped, not even by death itself. For Christ has overcome the world.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus, John 16:33 NIV

Viva La Revolution!

D.D. Flowers, 2013.


Rapture Palooza!

I thought we could all use a little humor this Friday. I think most of my readers will find it funny. The following video is a trailer for an upcoming rapture spoof film called, Rapture-Palooza (June, 2013).

Relax and have a good laugh!

For more of my serious theological reflections on the rapture:

Help enrich the blog and get the word out about posts that resonate with you. You can “Like” a post, share a post, or comment on a post. Thanks!

D.D. Flowers, 2013.


Extreme Makeover: WORLD Edition

I don’t have a great deal of time to watch TV these days, but I will occasionally get drawn into shows like Yard Crashers or Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. There are several other shows like these that are fairly popular today. Do you ever wonder why they gain so many viewers?

I’m sure some folks may just like to covet nice things, as they find themselves wanting what they don’t have. But I think there is something else at work that attracts us to seeing old houses renovated and an ugly yard beautifully landscaped. So what is it?

There is a deep satisfaction that resonates within the core of our being when we see old, dead things come alive. I believe that it’s the mark of our Creator. The Lord stands opposed to death and decay in the world.

While death and decay exists for the moment, and even seems necessary for biological evolution, the resurrection of Jesus has expressed God’s true thoughts on the powers of decadence in our world (1 Cor 15:54-56).

We have been hardwired for hope in resurrection and renewal. We can feel it in our bones. Have you sensed it? Can you see it? The entire universe has been prefigured for a spiritual and physical metamorphoses (Rom 8:22-25).

“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” Isaiah 65:17

The truth is… we like makeovers. And why wouldn’t we? It’s built into us as a signpost of God’s activity in our lives. It reflects his heart for creation. It’s where God is guiding the space-time continuum.

At the end of John’s Revelation, where we see heaven coming to earth and God transforming the world as we know it, we hear Christ speak, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev 21:5). Let’s believe it.

If we will listen to the rhythms of the soul we will know it to be true. We caterpillars will one day be transformed into beautiful butterflies!

In the meantime, we are called to live and long for that good end as we work out our salvation. People who hope in the resurrection will celebrate art, beauty, music, and poetry. We will work for renovations, renewal, reconciliation, and redemption of all creation.

Wherever there is darkness, we proclaim in our living that the light has come. Wherever there is death and decay, we call for an extreme makeover.

And it’s not just for your house and mine. It’s for the whole world.

D.D. Flowers, 2013.


Who Gets Left Behind?

I’m thoroughly convinced that the Scriptures themselves, and a long history of the church doing biblical theology, simply doesn’t support the idea of a secret escape from tribulation and an abandonment of the earth.

If you’re a subscriber to the blog, you know that I have recently been challenging rapture theology. If you’re new to the blog or you just drop in from time to time, please know that the following posts should really be read as a series of my thoughts on the subject:

When I first posted on the topic, I had no plans to address the rapture systematically. I never really had a plan, and honestly I still don’t. I’m just sharing whatever I’m thinking as I reflect on my upbringing, pop-culture Left Behind ideas, and what some of you have written in response to my posts.

Thank you to those who have responded. You really do help cultivate ideas for future posts. You can expect that I will further address some of your questions and concerns that relate to key rapture passages and ideas.

So, here’s my next installment.

In a previous post, I wrote: “Pay careful attention to this truth. It’s those who are righteous that are “left behind” (Matt 24:38-41). The wicked will not inherit the earth. They will be swept away in a flood of judgment.”

Let me expound on this point as I continue to dismantle rapture theology.

I Wish We’d All Stop Singing This Song

Did you ever hear the song “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” (1969) by Larry Norman? I remember hearing DC Talk’s (1995) version of it when I was in junior high. I admit that it was a moving song back then.

Life was filled with guns and war
And all of us got trampled on the floor
I wish we’d all been ready
Children died the days grew cold
A piece of bread could buy a bag of gold
I wish we’d all been ready
 
There’s no time to change your mind
The Son has come and you’ve been left behind
 
A man and wife asleep in bed
She hears a noise and turns her head he’s gone
I wish we’d all been ready
Two men walking up a hill
One disappears and one’s left standing still
I wish we’d all been ready
 
There’s no time to change your mind
The Son has come and you’ve been left behind
 
Children died the days grew cold
A piece of bread could buy a bag of gold
I wish we’d all been ready
 
There’s no time to change your mind
The Son has come and you’ve been left behind

It’s a catchy tune, no doubt. It can even spur someone on to trusting in Jesus. But it’s songs like this that often shape our theology for the worse.

And our theological ideas impact the way in which we live.

What’s the problem? Well, it’s a plain distortion of the biblical hope for the righteous, and the righteous judgment for the wicked.

Let’s take a look at our primary text.

The Righteous Get Left Behind

Where does the idea of “Two men walking up a hill, one disappears and one’s left standing still” come from anyway? It’s taken from Matthew 24:36-44. But notice that the one left “standing still” is not the wicked man.

It’s the wicked that are taken from the earth. The righteous are left behind.

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.  Jesus, Matthew 24:37-42 (NIV)

See my post Then the End Will Come for the context of Matthew 24.

Jesus is talking about his imminent return at the end of the age, and he uses the story of Noah as an example of the judgment to come. So when he mentions two people in the field, and two people at the hand mill, it must be recognized that the ones taken are the wicked that reject God’s image in the earth. The flood of God’s judgment will remove the wicked from the earth.

It teaches the exact opposite of what rapture folks propose.

Therefore, the context of Matt 24:36-44 rules out a secret escape for Christians. Instead, as I have presented in my previous posts, Christians should expect God’s Kingdom to come to earth. As Jesus said, “the meek shall inherit the earth” (Matt 5:5) and God’s will is to be done “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10). Heaven is coming to earth (Rev 21).

Christ will return in glorious fashion to dwell on the earth forever. We shall go out to meet him and parade our divine King back into his rightful domain (1 Thess 4:15-17). Let’s be clear about this…

Kingdom people aren’t going anywhere.

The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it (Ps 24:1). We will receive resurrected bodies for a resurrected world. It’s the wicked that will not enter into God’s rest on the earth. Just like in the flood, the wicked shall be removed in judgment. They want no part in God’s new creation.

The righteous will be left behind.

Of course, this means that we should then expect to endure suffering and tribulation on the earth. You can’t offer a well-rounded challenge to rapture theology without addressing the matter of tribulation.

I suppose that’s where I’ll take us next.

Stay tuned!

D.D. Flowers, 2012.


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