A study of hospital patients in relationship to their life expectancy reportedly came to the conclusion that there was a strong correlation between life expectancy and future oriented thinking. A man whose mind looked ahead to activities a year hence was more likely to live than one whose thinking was only in terms of the daily hospital routine. Those without a future in mind had no future, as a rule.
Every person needs to have hope regarding the future, both for this life and the next. Almost inevitably, when someone loses hope, if they do not get out of that terrible rut, they will succumb to some kind of downward spiral, some suicidal pattern. But the Bible writers emphasise a positive view about tomorrow. Paul said,
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your work is not in vain in the Lord (I Cor.15:58).
This is the optimism and confidence that should teach the believer. Yes, there are always problems and challenges for the Christian. These have been evident right throughout human history. They can be personal and of the heart, and they can relate to health or family, or our financial state. They can be social, national or political.
I don’t believe in minimising the problems we face, as though they don’t really matter. Of course they matter. I just heard yesterday of two acquaintances of ours from years ago, who had passed away through illness in their sixties, one from prostate cancer, the other from heart problems. The problems of life are real. But the Bible emphasises faith, confidence and optimism because of the God Who has placed us on the earth, to love and serve Him.
If He has placed us here to love and serve Him, life will have its challenges, but it will not be impossible. It will also have its opportunities and victories, founded upon the victory of Christ over all His enemies, which He won at the cross and through His resurrection.
This confidence in His victory should also impact our view of eschatology, and this has been one of the gravest mistakes of the modern church, which since 1830 has been increasingly infected with the heresy of pre-millennialism. Pre-millenialism, particularly as it was interpreted by Scofield through his Scofield Bible commentaries around 1900, has meant that the 90% of the church that believes his foolish and heretical teachings has lost any real confidence about the Church’s future.
This has meant that the majority has essentially accepted the pessimism of the ten unbelieving spies that entered Canaan: “We’ll never be able to win.”
On the contrary, I believe that the Bible teaches post-millenialism. Jesus will return to the earth at the end of time, but Christians have their marching orders from Him to disciple the world for Christ, until all His enemies become His footstool.
The three gospel passages that have commonly been interpreted in the context of the 2nd coming (Mat.24:1-34, Mk.13:1-30, and Luke 21:1-32), are not referring to the 2nd coming at all. They are referring to the visitation in judgement of Jesus Christ upon Israel and Jerusalem, in 70AD, when the Romans came and destroyed Jerusalem, killing or enslaving all its inhabitants. In each of these 3 parallel passages, Jesus specifically warned that this awful event will take place in “this generation” (see Mat.24:34; Mk.13:30; Luke 21:33).
Why would Jesus do this? Because Israel had been in almost perpetual rebellion against Him since the Exodus, and now she had deliberately murdered Him, her promised Messiah (Mat.27:19-26). Soon her day of accounting came, at the hands of the Romans.
This is a frightening thought. God would deal so drastically with Israel? Yes, He did. And He will deal with His church in a similar way, if we don’t get our act together. And that is something we’ve had a lot of trouble of late, doing.
We think we’re going to lose, so guess what? We do.
…since the world is surrendered to the devil, the role of the church, as we have already indicated, is to be, not only a soul-saving agency but also a convent, a retreat from the horrible world around us. Protestants have long criticized the idea of monasticism, but, under the influence of these two millennial views [amillenialism and premillenialism] Protestantism has turned the whole church into a retreat from the world, minus only sacerdotal celibacy. Men are summoned to withdraw from the world into the church. Nothing is said of establishing the reign and rule of God in every area of life, thought, and action.
What if we are consistently losing, because we believe things that aren’t true? What if our viewpoint was really positive, confident and filled with hope in the God of the Bible, like Joshua and Caleb? It was Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) who wrote that,
I myself believe that King Jesus will reign, and the idols will be utterly abolished; but I expect the same power which turned the world upside down once will still continue to do it. The Holy Ghost would never suffer the imputation to rest upon His holy name that He was not able to convert the world.
What people think about their future, really does affect their activities today. Pre-millenialism (and amillenialism) have both detrimentally affected the church, so we are lacking confidence about the results of persistent, faithful labour for the Lord. All this must change.
The Messianic State is hastening towards its demise. If it collapses and great is its fall, what godly institutions will be around to pick up so many tasks that the Messianic State has promised to properly administer and care for, but never could?
If the Church has any confidence that it really can leaven the communities of the world for the kingdom of God, this will be predicated on a positive, post-millenial view of the future, which is founded upon the victory of Christ over all His enemies. For the scripture says,
For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet (I Cor.15:25).
 R. J. Rushdoony, “God’s Plan for Victory,” 1997, ch. 2.