Understand What The Bible Really Says About The Future...

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A Non-Futurist Vision of the Future
Written by Dr Andrew Corbett, lecturer in Hermeneutics and President of ICI Theological College Australia


a half full glass"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." begins the Dickens' classic, The Tale of Two Cities. For many End-Times preachers, these are the worst of times. This idea is reinforced repeatedly by many Christians who feel that the world is indeed getting worse and worse. When I have lectured on Ethics or Eschatology both here and abroad, I have been challenged by students who despair that Christians can not hope to have a godly influence on society since the Bible apparently says that the last days will be dark and full of rampant evil. I have generally responded to these claims by asking if there was another time in history in which they would rather have lived? When students think about it, they usually conclude that there is no better time to be alive than now. But this presents a dilemma for those Christians who have bought into the idea that these are the "worst of times", because the evidence suggests that these are the best of times.

I'm a Preterist. I'm not a Futurist. This means that I consider the Bible needs to read and understood as it was intended. I consider this to be taking the Bible "literally". This kind of literalism distinguishs between a metaphor, an allegory, poetic parallelism, narrative, and didactic prescriptions. I therefore regard Christ's statements about His coming and the Kingdom of God being "near" and "at hand" as being intended to convey the idea that His coming and the Kingdom of God on earth was about to commence within the life-time of Christ's original audience. I also regard Christ's emphatic statement about the timing of these events described in Matthew 24 (the "Olivet Discourse") literally when He said in verse 34 that they would all be fulfilled within the life-time of His audience. I regard Matthew 24 as a parallel of Revelation 1-19. I explain the reasons for this in two of my eBooks, The Most Embarrassing Verse In The Bible and The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible.

Doom'n'gloom "End Times" preachers pronounce that Armageddon, the Great Tribulation, the Anti-Christ are all just around the corner and that in order for these things to be fulfilled the world must inevitably become more sinful and wicked. These preachers point to the apparent growing crime-rate, burgeoning prisons, and world turmoil to support their case. Others who take a different point of view regard the alleged growing crime-rate as evidence that the 'rule of law' (a Christian concept) is becoming more accepted; so-called burgeoning prisons as evidence that we are becoming a more humane society (another Christian concept, consider that the word Penitentiary comes from the word: penitence); and world turmoil as nothing new. Perhaps, as Charles Dickens wrote, these are the worst of times and the best of times.


Missiologists tell us that there are more Christians alive today than the combined total of all Christians who have ever lived. In China, conservative reports indicated that as many as 20,000 people a week are converted to Christianity. In Brazil the apparent rate of conversion to Christianity outstrips the birth-rate by about 8:1. Even in Australia while traditional churches have experienced a huge slump in attendances this has easily been picked up by the Pentecostal and Contemporary church movements. In fact, there are now more people in church on Sunday in Australia than there are at all the weekend AFL games combined. Some churches, like Hillsong, in Sydney, have grown to over 25,000 members. Other churches around Australia have similarly noted extraordinary growth over the past few years from conversions to Christianity.

Added to this is the social difference that the Christian Gospel is having on societies. No longer content to think Christianity is restricted to the four walls of a church on a Sunday, many Christians are now deeply involved in the arts, media, politics, the academy, and business. Pastor Ashely Evans from Paradise Community Church in Adelaide often talks of the need for Christians to have ongoing 'influence' in these arenas and has taken pro-active steps to facilitate this. Guy Sebastian, the first Australian Idol winner is from his church. Pastor Evans' "Influencers" Conference now attracts thousands from around Australia to hear this message of positive engagement with society. Many pastors are now questioning the 19th century 'rapture theology' and wondering what place it has in a more Biblically literate church which regards the Kingdom reign of Christ as fundamentally spiritual and promoted by the engagement of the church with the world as its salt and light.

They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
Revelation 20:4b

These days are the best days to be alive!



End Times teachers captivate their audiences by claiming to have great authoritative insight from the Bible about the future. They make emphatic claims about how national destinies will soon unfold based supposedly on "the clear teaching of the Bible". But rarely, if ever, have their predictions come true. Sadly though, what this has done in the minds of millions of Christians is conditioned them to regard the Bible as a kind of crystal ball. When I show Christians that history argues for the contents of Matthew 24 and Revelation 1-19 to be regarded as fulfilled, they usually ask Well what's left to be fulfilled then?

I argue that the contents of Matthew 25 and Revelation 20-22 are yet to be fulfilled. But you wont find anti-christs, great tribulations, armageddons or the four-horsemen in these passages. What you do find however, is the Kingdom of Christ being outworked in the earth in the hearts of men and women.

What the future should hold is-

  • Christians being filled with the Spirit of God to be witnesses in all the world.

  • Christians using their God-given talents to honour Christ, make Him known, and promote His Cause.

  • The glory of God increasingly being recognised as His grace redeems lives and the culture in which they engage.

  • The church increasingly loving its communities, especially its outcasts ("I was in prison...")

  • The discipling of nations in the ways, will and Word of God.

  • The growth of the church in previously closed territories.

  • A demonstration of the power of the Gospel to gloriously transform lives.

  • The return of Christ to judge the living and the dead ("then He shall come in His glory")

  • The complete banishment of sin, suffering and death.

  • The eternal bliss of those unconditionally elected by God to receive eternal life.

Rather than looking to escape this evil, dark and depraved world, let's engage with it. Let's regard life as a gift from God to be enjoyed celebrated and shared. Let's pray that His Kingdom reign will be experienced in the hearts of people all over the world. Let's ensure that He is ruling in our hearts now.

Andrew Corbett, 31st October 2006

Listen to part of the lecture given by Dr Corbett at Oral Roberts University, London, earlier in 2006, where he was invited to teach an intensive on Eschatology.

A Glossary of Revelation.
The language of Revelation is one of the keys to understanding its message...[more]
Why I'm Not A Full-Preterist...
There is a distinction that should be made between Preterism and Hyper (or Full) Preterism. Full Preterism is not orthodox, does not agree with the Creeds, denies a future resurrection, and the possibility of spiritual gifts for today... [more]
Why The Rapture Has Ruptured...
The "rapture" is an idea that is less than 200 years old! Yet most Evangelicals believe it is was taught by the original apostles and even Christ Himself! But there is not one proof text anywhere in the Bible to support it...[more]
Why Left Behind Should Be Left Behind!
The Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins' blockbuster LEFT BEHIND series has been embraced by millions of Evangelicals as dramatised doctrine. But...[more]
The Eschaton...
The Greek word "eschaton" means "the end". Millions of Evangelicals have assumed that this New Testament word refers to the end of the world. But this is not necessarily the way the New Testament uses the word at all! [more]
Is The End of The World Near?
Does the Bible predict the events which we are experiencing today, and does it really make prophecies that these events are the signs of the end of the world? How does Preterism answer these ideas? [more]
Ever Noticed That The Word "Antichrist" doesn't appear in the Book of Revelation?
Yet despite this, many people blindly accept that the character identified as 666 in Revelation 13 is "the Antichrist". The assumption is further carried over into 2Thessalonians 2...[more]
Are We On The Brink of Armageddon?
Every time things hot up in the Middle East, some Evangelical declares that the Battle of Armageddon is about to commence! But the Book of Revelation says that is was to happen within the lifetime of the first century believers! [more]
The Biblical Position of Israel
What does the Bible really say about Israel and its legitimacy to the Land of Palestine today? [more]
Is it Possible To Understand The Book of Revelation?
Not if you deliberately change words like "soon", "near", "now", "at hand", "this hour", to mean not until thousands of years into the future! The Book of Revelation can be understood if we take the time to learn how to read it as it was intended. [more]

These and other issues are discussed in my eBooks, The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible (about the Book of Revelation), and The Most Embarrassing Verse In The Bible (about the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24). Readers will profit in their understanding of these matters by reading both of these eBooks.

Based on faulty "end-time" teaching some evangelicals promote the concept that evangelism will be made unnecessary as God will take over the mission of the Great Commission and sweep millions around the world into the Kingdom of God. But this can only be done, these teachers claim, if their teachings are closely followed. This becomes more akin to magic than miraculous...[more]
MIRACLES? Are they for today? [watch]

Andrew Corbett 2006

Download Dr Corbett's eBook The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible.


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