Eschatology intimidates me. Although I have been a Christian for a little over 49 years, I can’t take iron clad positions on when our the Rapture will occur in relation to the Tribulation or which saved people will live in the Millennal Kingdom. Many of you will undoubtedly be disappointed that I don’t unquestioningly follow John MacArthur’s pronouncements on these points. But I just don’t think I understand the finer points of eschatology well enough to take a stand on these two matters.
I’m not sure it’s necessary that I be an expert in eschatology, frankly. It’s an important topic, yes. But minds far more brilliant than mine have debated the details for centuries.
That said, I do have firm convictions about our eternal state. And I find much of contemporary evangelical speculation about heaven to be man-centered and silly. Furthermore, much of what evangelicals say regarding heaven bears almost no resemblance to the Bible’s depictions of heaven.
My disability provides an extra opportunity to hear some of the foolish ideas people have about the eternal kingdom. For instance, friends often talk about having foot races with me in heaven. They envision me pushing them around in wheelbarrows (as payback for all the times they pushed me around in my manual wheelchair), and they anticipate dancing with me or wearing me out on a celestial tennis court. And I appreciate their desire to see me free of my Cerebral Palsy, with all its muscle tension, skeleton distortions and limitations.
Of course my resurrection body will be a wonderful relief after my earthly lifetime as a quadriplegic. But if I focus simply on the physical relief that my resurrection body will give me, I miss the entire point of God’s kingdom.
22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. ~~Revelation 21:22-27 (ESV)
Yes, I’ve read the first paragraph of that chapter. Praise God that He will abolish sorrow and pain and death! But that wonderful abolition is secondary to the glorious joy of physically beholding Jesus in His unmitigated splendor.
Too often, we make heaven about us. In doing so, we trivialize it by inventing nonsense about foot races with disabled people and similar absurdities rather than thinking about worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ in all of His majesty. Until we get clear on His centrality in heaven, I’m not sure the other points of eschatology really matter.