One of the great things about a pre-set reading and worship plan is that one encounters texts to which current priorities wouldn’t draw attention. 1 Thes. 5:1-11 is one of these. I think many evangelicals would avoid preaching on this chapter because of its connection to the notion of the Rapture as conceived by dispenstational eschatology (study of end times). Eschatology was… so 70’s and Hal Lindsay. Let’s just move on, shall we?
The contemporary evangelical church tends to put eschatology on the shelf. This is a mistake. If we as a people don’t have a sense of where we’re going we’ll soon lose sense of who we are. Regardless of whether one’s eschatology is pre-millenial, dispensational, post-millenial, or amillenial, it’s vital that we understand ourselves to be a kingdom people on our way to a heavenly kingdom in which all the present injustices and wrongs will be made right. If we lose this then our salt loses its saltiness and our light gets hidden under a bushel.
My own thinking on eschatology has changed over the years. In seminary I was a committed pre-millenialist although not of a dispensational bent. However, further reading and reflection on the book of Revelation as well as its connection to key Old Testament and New Testament scriptures has led me to a current position of amillenialism. I think its important for each of us to know where we stand and why. It’s not nearly as important for all of us to agree.
This is the conclusion theologian Stanley Grenz reaches in his wonderful book “The Millenial Maze”. If you want some help navigating your way through the important question of eschatology, Grenz is a wonderful guide. He concludes his book with this:
The eternal reign of God has dawned . . . and will one day dawn in its consummated fullness. The God who has reconciled us to himself through Christ will one day bring us into full participation in the grand eschatological community of his divine reign. This is the vision that should inspire us in this in-between era to seek to be a kingdom people now and to proclaim now in word and deed the good news of the coming eternal reign of God. . . Will we as the church be motivated by the vision of God’s ultimate future to be about the Lord’s business in the present era until Christ comes in glory and splendor?