Dr. James C. Denison
President, Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, TX
June 10, 2011
Anthony Weiner and the end of the world
Had you heard of Anthony Weiner two weeks ago? The New York congressman has been in the House of Representatives since 1999, but most of us didn’t know his name before the pictures he sent last month to at least six women made global headlines. Yesterday we learned that his wife is pregnant with their first child, and the story continues to grow.
Now we add him to the list of public figures in recent news for moral failures, alongside John Edwards, the former presidential candidate, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former California governor. And the list will go on.
What does moral failure have to do with Armageddon and the end of the world?
After surveying seven different ways in which conservative biblical scholars have approached the book of Revelation, one fact should be clear: no one knows exactly when or how Jesus will return to our planet. But we know that he will: “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). And we know that we must be ready when he returns. As Jonathan Edwards warned us, we should do nothing we would not want to be found doing when Jesus comes back.
In the meantime, three principles may be helpful as we close our series on the end times. One: interpretive approaches should not divide fellowship. We love to debate speculative issues like the age of the earth and the end of history. However, the Bible is a practical book. It was not written to tell us everything we would like to know, but everything we need to know. If I could prove to you that one of the eschatological theories we’ve discussed was right, how would that change your life this morning? We can agree on the practical essentials of the faith while disagreeing in speculative areas.
Two: we should interpret the Bible according to its intended meaning. I did my doctoral dissertation on biblical interpretation and have been teaching courses on the subject for more than 20 years. In each class I’ve emphasized the fact that the Bible can never mean what it never meant. If a suggested interpretation would hold little or no relevance or meaning for the original audience of God’s word, it is suspect for us as well.
Three: we must be ready to meet the Lord whenever that day arrives. He may come for us today, or we may go to him. Our earthly lives may end in physical death or with Jesus’ return, but we will all one day stand before his throne (2 Corinthians 5:10). And we have only today to be ready. “Tomorrow” is promised nowhere in God’s word.
So live every day as if it were your last, because one day you’ll be right. And remember this lesson illustrated by Rep. Weiner’s scandal: Sin will always take you further than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you wanted to pay. Always.