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God’s Word for You

Luke 17:23

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, November 19, 2018

23 And they will say to you, ‘Look, it’s here!’ or ‘It’s there!’ Do not go chasing after them.

Some ancient copies of Luke have the warning this way: “‘Look, it’s here!’ or ‘Christ is there!’” Since the Greek text is very similar to verse 21, I have left the translation the same, but the meaning is clear. Jesus is warning his disciples not to fall for false claims of his return.

In our time, these false claims are still sometimes voiced by actual false Messiahs, but more insidious are the claims of Christian denominations which contradict the clear teachings of the Bible, often by discouraging members from reading the Bible or intentionally making certain passages and books obscure.

Consider the dangers of certain teachers of Millennialism. This is the idea that Christ will return and begin a thousand-year reign on earth, a second paradise, prior to judgment day. Some of these teachers directly contradict the Bible. For example:

  1. Millennialism almost always teaches a twofold visible return of Christ: A first coming to establish the millennium and a second coming to judge the world. However, Hebrews 9:28 teaches that the first advent or coming of Christ was in the flesh to bear the sins of the world on the cross, and that the second and final advent or coming of Christ will be to conduct his people into eternal life. “So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28).
  2. Millennialism teaches two resurrections of the dead, a resurrection of pious Christians (especially martyrs) who will join Christ in his (supposed) millennial reign, and then a resurrection of the ordinary run-of-the-mill Christians on the Last Day. However, Jesus says: “My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40). Whoever teaches something else teaches contrary to the will of the Father.
  3. Millennialism confuses the hope Christians have by mixing it with a false expectation of world peace. But the Scriptures describe the path of the Christian as the path of suffering, the way of the cross: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:21). Paul, who said that, also focused our attention on heaven rather than on any millennial reign of Christ: “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21).

The Lutheran theologian Francis Pieper (Concordia, St. Louis) wrote: “In short, Scripture does not teach [Millennialism], but warns against it” (Christian Dogmatics, III p. 527).

Jesus comforts us many times with the simple faith he has given to us, the faith that trusts in Jesus and looks simply and steadfastly to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:22). “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:21).

Trust in Jesus and know that in the end, you will rise from your grave and be joined to your Savior forever in heaven. In him you have everlasting life.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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