Mark 13 is our sermon text today. Passages like this always raise questions about the end times. I get asked about these issues a lot, especially by visitors. Here is a transcript of how many of those conversations go (it’s fake, but frankly, it could be real.)

(Bold Font = Visitor Speaking, Regular Font = Me Speaking)

 

Hey – Pastor Tyler, can I ask you a quick question?

You just did. {Dad-joke grin.} I’m kidding. Sure, go ahead.

 

What does the church think about the end?

Uh. The end of what?

 

The end of what?! The end of times! You know –the antichrist, judgment bowls, the Middle East and angelic trumpets. What’s the church’s position on all that stuff?

Oh. Great question. All our doctrinal views can be found in The Baptist Faith and Message (2000). It summarizes the main beliefs for all the institutions and agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention along with most of our churches.

 

Wait! I didn’t ask about Southern Baptists. I asked about Forest.

I know. I’m getting there. Article X explains the SBC view which is also the FBC view.

 

Ok. Then, what’s that say?

It reads:

“God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.”

 

Hold on! That doesn’t answer my question. I want to know if the church is pre-, post-, or amillennial. Do you believe in a pre-, mid-, or post-trib rapture? What’s your view on Israel and Palestine? Do you hold to 3 blood moons or 7?

{Confused look on my face.} Um…What’s a blood moon?

 

You don’t know what a blood moon is?!

Should I? I know what a Moon Pie is. Now, those are delicious. Pop it in the microwave for like 3 seconds. Yum. But, uh…no. They did not teach me about blood moons in seminary.

 

Ok. Forget that. What you quoted (from the BF&M) doesn’t give me a specific view. That’s what I want to know. What’s the church’s specific view of the end times?

First of all, read it again. It is a specific view. It’s the historic, orthodox view of Christianity. Sure, it is what some might call a minimalist view, but it is specific. It keeps the main things the main things, clarifying what we are certain the Bible teaches.

It is in keeping with the spirit of the Apostle’s Creed which confesses a belief that Christ “shall come to judge the living and the dead…” as well as a belief in “the resurrection of the body and the everlasting life.” That’s basically what we affirm.

With those minimal doctrines in place, we think that Christians (even fellow church members) can agree to disagree on the particulars of the end times. As Adrian Rogers once said, “We can be brothers and sisters without being twins.”

 

Well, I want to see the church’s end times, Daniel-Revelations chart.

Sorry. We don’t have a chart.

 

My last church had a chart. They printed it out, in color, for everybody to have.

Um. Good for them, I guess.

Look. It’s fine for church members to have more specific views than what Article X says. But as a congregation, we do not raise our personal convictions to the same level as our church doctrine. If a person believes in the physical return of Christ, the future resurrection of the dead, the coming final judgment, as well as heaven and hell, then they can be a member of FBC. We can discuss (and even lovingly debate) the particulars with one another. Again, we want to strive for unity without unanimity.

 

Are you saying my last church was wrong?

No. I’m saying it sounds like they had a more narrow, detailed view. Local churches can do that. It’s okay. It’s just that at Forest Baptist Church, we don’t do that on purpose. We do not think the end times should be a test of fellowship. We want to be unified on the major issues and charitable on these more minor, specific issues.

 

Well, that Article X doesn’t tell me much. I want more.

Actually, it affirms a lot. It reminds us that end times prophecy is not an end in itself. Prophecy is about a Person, the Lord Jesus. That’s where we should focus. Too many Christians get obsessed with code-breaking, mysterious meanings and miss the plain teaching. The end times reminds us that global missions matters, the gospel is primary, that persecution is real (now and then), and that in the end Jesus wins!

 

Well, which end times view will you preach from the pulpit?

As a local church pastor, I believe my job is to defend, define, and champion the church’s common confession, not my own particular interpretations. So, I try to avoid going beyond Article X in my sermons. I want to emphasize the fact of the Second Coming more than the how and when of the Second Coming, just like the BF&M does.

 

Huh. I hadn’t thought of that. One more question: what’s the biggest mistake that people make when it comes to the end times?

Honestly. It’s pronouncing the book of Revelation as “Revelations.”

 

I do that sometimes.

Yeah. I noticed.