Thursday, October 18, 2007

Egypt's Unworthiness, Part VII

This is the last segment of Egypt's Unworthiness, enjoy....

“Eschatology Precedes Soteriology”

Princeton theologian Geerhardus Vos famously stated that “eschatology precedes soteriology.” What he meant by this was that man’s desire for eternal life was resident within him even before his need to be saved from his sin. The implications of this insight are legion, but what is especially germane to our discussion is how this relates to the idea, so common in the context of modern evangelism, that before a person can be expected to repent and trust in Christ he must be convinced of his dissatisfaction with life as he presently knows it.

Many of us have encountered what I refer to as the “Jesus Is Better Than Drugs” method of evangelism. Aside from the fact that, if what is being compared here is the feeling one derives from Jesus on the one hand and drugs on the other, this statement is probably false, this approach also fails the test of eschatology. If Vos is correct, then the need that we often feel to invalidate all earthly pleasure in order to make Jesus appear the most pleasing option is wrongheaded to begin with.

All people—even the ones with nice houses and expensive cars—are equally plagued with a longing to escape the fleeting and temporal confines of this age. This is not due to their worldly happiness being a farce, which allows us to concede the point rather than secretly wishing we could slash their tires in order to prepare them to hear about “the happiness that only Jesus can give.” Rather, the angst that all people inwardly experience is due to their being created for eternity and hardwired for frustration with anything less. In fact, the apostle Paul even extends this sense of longing past the human heart into the very universe itself.
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now (Rom. 8:20-22).
Our two malcontents, therefore, were not alone in their shared sense of burden. Even with the pleasures of the world’s most powerful kingdom at their beck and call, Joseph and Moses had a faith that penetrated the here and now and glimpsed the One who has entered the age to come as a “forerunner” for all who take up crosses and follow (Heb. 6:20). What the cosmos knows, and what the saints of Hebrews 11 understood, is precisely what many believers in our own day forget: It is the height of vanity to identify our lasting treasure with the stuff of earth. Our heavenly pedigree is set aside when we, like “that profane man Esau” (Heb. 12:16), forfeit our noble birthright because we are charmed by the trifles of time.