A New Earth
What is our final destination? 2 Peter 3:12-13 tells us, "That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness." In Ephesians 2:7 we are told that the amazingly gracious things God has done for us through Jesus Christ have been done "in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." "Incomparable riches"! What a great God we serve!
Truly, our Lord Jesus Christ "is able to save completely those who come to
God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them." Hebrews
7:25. Our utter inability to help ourselves is no hindrance to his ability
to save us. God's provision is far greater than our need.
No wonder Paul was excited!
The World's Future
The idea that this present world has a fairly lengthy future to look forward to has long been rooted in man's thinking, including that of the vast majority of professing Christians. Elaborate systems of belief have arisen over the centuries, supposedly based on the Bible, yet differing radically from one another! One thing they possess in common, however, is a sort of Christianized version of the age-old human longing for and belief in an era of peace and prosperity --- a golden age --- for this world.
The truth is, if a man concludes that a certain belief is true, he can find apparent support in the scriptures for his ideas, no matter how they may differ from those of someone else, equally sincere. Only an honest dependence upon God to reveal His word as He sees fit will rescue us from the Babylon of confusion that exists in our day. God is both able and willing, as He was in Noah's day, to reveal the truth His people need.
The word most often associated with this "golden age" among professing believers is "millennium." A millennium is simply a period of 1000 years such as from 1001-2000. In fact, with the rapid approach of the year 2000, it was common to hear people refer to the coming millennium with no religious implications at all. To them it was simply a measurement of the passage of time on the calendar.
Broadly speaking, there are three main positions theologians take with respect to "the millennium," when used by Bible teachers to refer to a golden age.
The first, and by far the most loudly trumpeted, is premillennialism. With variations, this is essentially the belief in a future literal reign of Christ over the nations of this world lasting 1000 years. Thus the end of the world is believed to be at least 1000 years in the future.
The second, embraced by a significant number of religious groups and teachers, is postmillennialism. In general, this doctrine claims that the church will, through the proclamation of the gospel, gradually conquer the world and bring about an extended era of peace and righteousness to this world. This era, not necessarily a literal 1000 years is somewhere in the future and it is taught that Christ's return will occur after ("post") this era. He will come to judge and separate and only then will this world order end. Hence, in this view, the coming of Christ and the end of the world could be thousands of years in the future! Although this view is not so loudly trumpeted as is that of the premillennialist, a lot of people believe it.
The third position is amillennialism, simply the belief that the Bible does not promise a golden age for this present world. I've heard people mistakenly characterize this position as follows: "Oh, you believe we're in the millennium now!" Of course not! A statement like that simply reveals how deeply the idea of a golden age is rooted in people's thinking. The fact is that a term like "amillennialism" would be totally unnecessary were it not for the widespread belief in a millennium!
This belief, rooted in Judaism, began to be embraced by some Christian teachers after the New Testament era. Had it been an issue at the time of the Apostle Paul, I guarantee he would have had something to say about it, pro or con. His ministry was such that he didn't hesitate to speak out clearly and forcefully about any issue that affected God's people (Acts 20:27).
It would be easy to simply make this a matter of theological debate, my ideas and scripture interpretations and reasonings against those who differ. It's this process that has heavily contributed to the present confusion. I don't have the power in myself to search the scriptures and arrive at the truth and neither do you! If the Lord doesn't intervene and reveal His word to us, we wander in darkness.
Noah didn't engage in debate when he preached for 120 years, warning his generation of the coming flood. He simply proclaimed God's revealed message and the hearers either rejected it and perished or embraced it, helped build the ark, and were saved.
For about 50 years now, one conviction has characterized the ministry of a friend and Christian minister: the nearness of Christ's coming and the end of the world and the need of God's people to wake up and get ready. Attached to this message has been a growing sense of urgency. Either this conviction is from God or it's not. There is no middle ground.
We don't have to be in doubt about this matter. There's a catch, however: we must will to do the will of God (John 7:17). This is the condition we must meet if we expect God to reveal Himself to us concerning doctrines and ministries we encounter.
Most people are unwilling to do this as they are married to a religious system, or a tradition, or their own concepts. They're unwilling to write God a "blank check" in the matter and thus entertain the possibility of being wrong and having to change.
The truth is, if we're not willing to commit ourselves to do God's will before we know what it is, why should He show us anything? What kind of faith is that? Do we really expect Almighty God to open Himself up to us so we can adapt what we like to fit our own concepts and then discard the rest? Is His Word a mere proposal to be debated subject to our wills? If we can't or won't commit ourselves to His will, the only alternative is that we are left to our own resources to walk in darkness and the vanity of our minds. That's where much of Christianity is today. This is the reason for Jesus' warning in Matt. 7:21-23 and John 12:35-50.