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Letter to the Editor of New Horizons magazine
The article entitled The Beginning of the End by Peter Jensen, which appeared in the December 2002 issue of New Horizons, was troubling, to say the least. Lack of time and space will not permit a detailed review of Mr. Jensen’s article. So I will cite only one sentence, among many, that I consider to be quite disturbing."Whether Jesus’ disciples believed that it would be all finished within the near future, or run on as it has over two thousand years so far, is not important."
Now I would be quick to agree with Mr. Jensen if he had said that the disciples may have entertained an indefinite number of stray thoughts about the length of time that their world would continue before the final events would take place. Like all of us, they would doubtless be inclined to speculate about numerous future possibilities. Yet we must admit that we have no record in the Bible to indicate that they engaged in this sort of idle speculation. We have only the Holy Spirit-inspired writings to guide us as to what the disciples actually believed about this subject. Mr. Jensen is obviously referring here to only what is actually recorded for us in the New Testament. And this is where I have a problem with what he writes in his article.
Since it is only what is recorded in Scripture that yields any authoritative insights about the length of the age, we are limited in our search into the disciples’ minds to what we read in Scripture. What do we read, therefore, from the New Testament that provides us with a clue on what they believed?
Here is just a sample:
Paul: "It is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand." (Rom. 13:11-12)
"The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." (Rom. 16:20)
"The form of this world is passing away." (I Cor. 7:31)
Author of Hebrews: "…as you see the Day drawing near." (Heb. 10:25)
"For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay." (Heb. 10:37)
James: "Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. …You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand." (Jas. 5:7-8)
Peter: "The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer." (I Peter 4:7)
"…as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is about to be revealed." (I Peter 5:1)
John: "It is the last hour." (I Jn. 2:18)
"…to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place." (Rev. 1:1)
"The time is near." (Rev. 1:3)
"I also will keep you from the hour of testing which is about to come upon the whole world." (Rev. 3:10)
"…to show to His bond-servants the things which must shortly take place." (Rev. 22:6)
From these Scripture passages (and many others), it should be clear that the disciples actually expected their present world to come to an end very soon. Scholars from every major prophetic school of interpretation freely admit this, including Mr. Jensen. But how did the disciples come to believe that this was true? Who taught them these things? Yet where else, except from the lips of their Master, could these ideas have come from? Would Jesus have deceived His disciples on a subject as important as this? Or, on any subject, important or not?
Mr. Jensen surely is aware of the agreement between Jesus’ teachings and those of His disciples, which may have prompted him to rhetorically ask the question "of how good a prophet Jesus was." And he then follows this with: "His gospel was good, but his news seems false."
So when Mr. Jensen makes the statement "Whether Jesus’ disciples believed that it would be all finished within the near future, or run on as it has over two thousand years so far, is not important," is he implying that many New Testament verses, like those quoted above, can be dismissed as having little or no bearing on the question at hand? He even ventured so far as to suggest that "Jesus, in fact, refused to be drawn in on that point." Did He really? What about the Olivet Discourse, from which the disciples most likely learned what our Lord was teaching?
As one reflects on Mr. Jensen’s article, we might well ask if he intended to suggest that the dozens of passages in the Bible on the nearness of the end-time events are really not that important after all? If so, we are dealing with over 100 verses from our Lord and His disciples that obviously do have a bearing on the nearness issue.
For a more reliable treatment of prophetic events, I suggest that your readers refer to Gary DeMar’s Last Days Madness. This book will help to dispel erroneous teaching.