Does it make any difference whether I am a dispensational premillennialist or an amillennialists or a postmillennialist or a full preterist? What difference does it make when Jesus comes, as long as he comes? When I was a premillennialist, I didn’t think it mattered at all. I knew what I believed, and, if you believed differently, that was okay with me—you were wrong, but I didn’t mind, because I didn’t think eschatology was that important. I don’t mean to imply it wasn’t a lot of fun to study about the end times. It was great fun, but I figured, if God didn’t think it was important enough to reveal the day and the hour, well, how important could it be what I believed, just as long as Jesus did come eventually?
At that time I wasn’t very informed about the other points of view, but I didn’t mind that either. I had a general knowledge of what all the titles meant, except for full preterism. That one was a mystery to me, but I wasn’t very curious about a belief that didn’t look forward to a future coming of Christ. I didn’t know that they believed Jesus came cir. 70 AD, but I’m not certain how much of a difference that would have made 15 to 20 years ago.
I guess, since I’ve come around to believing full preterism is the truth, I have come to believe that eschatology is really important. The reason is not simply that it is correct. Being correct has always been important to me, but the big reason eschatology has come to be so important is this: a big reason why Jews, Moslems and atheists reject the New Testament is that all the writers of the New Testament claimed that Jesus would return in their lifetimes. The Synoptic Gospels have Jesus saying all things would be fulfilled in that first century AD generation that rejected Jesus as Messiah. Therefore, these folks have a good argument against divine inspiration, if Jesus and those who wrote the New Testament were wrong. As little as a year ago I would have tried to argue for a future coming of the Lord, but I know that argument couldn’t have been very convincing to a knowledgeable Jew, Moslem or atheist.
Jesus once told his scoffers (Jews of the first century AD), “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not” (John 10:37). In other words, Jesus challenged his scoffers and scoffers of all ages (Jews, Moslems, Atheists etc.), saying don’t believe what he says, unless he is able to perform what his Father gave him to do! That’s a powerful all-or-nothing challenge! Jesus simply laid it all on the line at that point. ‘If I can’t do what I say I’ll do, don’t believe me” (my paraphrase of Jesus at John 10:37. Would it be important, then, if Jesus promised to return to that generation of the folks living in the 1st century AD? I have to believe it makes a whole world of difference, given his statement in John 10:37. He told his disciples: “A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father” (John 16:16). In other words Jesus said in a little while he would go to be with the Father, but in a little while he would return. In his own words, if he didn’t return “in a little while” then don’t believe him (John 10:37; 16:16). Did Jesus do what he said he would do? My answer to that question really does determine my colors.
I have to say, that I understand the unbelief of the scoffers (Jews, Moslems and atheists) on this point, because I’ve lived to be 70 years of age and have never heard of even the possibility of Jesus’ Second Coming to be an accomplished event. I understand that the unbelief of Jews, Moslems and atheists is more complicated than whether or not Jesus returned cir. 70 AD, but I also understand it is a ‘big’ point with them. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, my eschatology is extremely important at this point in my life, and, if God grants me the privilege of speaking with anyone who scoffs at Jesus’ promise to return in the 1st century AD, or anyone who mocks the writers of the New Testament who foretold that he would, I’ll set them straight on that point. No one will be able to use ‘failure to perform’ as a legitimate argument against Christianity with me ever again.