Post by Pastor Tim – A key phrase in understanding the Work of Mercy of proclaiming the gospel is “according to the Scriptures” or as Jesus put it, “all that the prophets have spoken.” Too often when we present the gospel, we focus on a few Scripture passages from the book of Romans and ignore the greater testimony of God’s word.
This becomes extremely important as it relates to the first coming and the second coming of Christ. Most of the New Testament Jews misunderstood who Christ was and what he was trying to do precisely because they misinterpreted Old Testament Scriptures in relation to the Messiah’s coming. And this is why Jesus points the disciples to “all that the prophets have spoken.” They thought that Jesus would destroy the wicked and that the righteous would be vindicated . . . in other words they thought that Jesus would restore the kingdom to Israel.
What they didn’t understand was that the Day of the Lord (as they understood it) could only be inaugurated through Jesus laying down his life. In many of the gospel presentations that we see in the Scriptures, the presenter points to the Day of the Lord. For example, in Paul’s Acts 17 gospel presentation, Paul ended his sermon by saying, “For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead (Acts 17:31).”
Notice that Paul doesn’t give a discourse to the Athenians on pre-trib, mid-trib or post-trib. And before the altar call, he doesn’t require them to subscribe to a dispensational understanding of end-times (and by the way there actually was no altar call). He does, however, make it clear that there will come a day where God will judge the world, and that this Day of the Lord is only possible because Christ rose from the dead.
Practically speaking, how should this affect our Gospel Proclamation?
- Include the “Day of the Lord” in your gospel proclamations. Peter did it (Acts 2:17-21) and Paul did it (Acts 17:31). The Gospel is not simply about “accepting Jesus personally into your heart” and “going to heaven when you die.” It is about the Kingdom of God, and how Christ’s rule, already begun, will be fully realized at the Day of the Lord!
- Don’t emphasize your own pet doctrines regarding the End Times. When thinking about the “essentials of the faith,” think about the Nicene Creed and its specific convictions about the End Times–ones which have been shared always and everywhere by all faithful believers. If you are introducing doctrines and beliefs that are opposed to the creed or even are not found in the creed, you may be muddying the waters when it comes to your gospel presentation. Elements such as the rapture or the tribulation are not tests of faith and the church has never used these things to delineate whether or not someone was a believer. For example, the pre-tribulation rapture was not a popular teaching until the mid – 1800’s, and even then, only in parts of the church and the world. Conversely, being post-trib is not heresy.
- With that said, it is a good thing to study and understand “all that the prophets have spoken.” Take some time to understand the different viewpoints on Christ’s return, and make sure to look how Christians throughout history have interpreted these portions of Scripture as opposed to what only modern, Western authors write.