RELIGION COLUMN: It is certainly the last hourBy Staff Reports Published 8:00pm Thursday, April 24, 2014
By Jake McCall
I believe we are in the last hour and I believe we can know that it is the last hour. With that said, I want to explain what I mean and don’t mean. There are a lot of claims that we are getting close to the end of time and I think there have always been those claims. I really think the church needs to distance itself from most of those claims and jump on the bandwagon of the apostles that gave us the New Testament.
In the first century, the apostles believed that they were living in the last hour and they were right. The apostle John says, “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). John knew it was the last hour because there were people who were denying the Father and the Son, and many of these people were once among the church. You see, John was a witness of the resurrected Christ. He saw him in the flesh and knew that he was alive and sitting at the right hand of the Father. He knew that this made all the difference in the world and for the world. Jesus had risen from the grave. Because of this fact, the world would not perish and death had been defeated. Therefore John preached the Gospel of Christ, the hope of the world.
There were those who denied the Gospel of Christ—those who denied the resurrection of Christ, and John described these deniers as antichrists. For John this was the clearest sign that they were living in the last hour. He knew that his Lord was coming again to gather his true followers, prove his kingship and judge the world. He also knew that now that Jesus had dwelt among them, died and rose from the grave, the Gospel story was coming to its completion. For John it was all coming together now and he saw that the only thing left for Jesus to do in order to culminate redemption was to return.
Even still, John also knew that narrowing Christ’s return down to a science was not available to him. He was unable to speculate beyond what he did in his letters to the Church because he knew that he was not told the exact time. But John knew that the cross was accomplished, the resurrection was accomplished, and people were denying both. This was enough for him to know that Jesus’ return was imminent and 20 centuries later, it should be enough for us to know the same.
This leads to two final questions: First, why hasn’t he returned yet? Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:9 that it is because he is patient and still seeking some for repentance. We have cycled through many ages of evil since the first century and we have only lived through a small portion of that time. Imagine the long-suffering that is required of Christ in his pursuit of his children. He refuses to let the evil of this world cause impatience and he refuses to let evil cause the loss of any of those he died for, now and in the future. That is a patient and faithful Messiah.
Also, what are we to do in this last hour? John says, “Abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming” (1 John 2:28). Our fellowship with Christ now will allow us to know for certain when he comes that it is him, and it will give us the freedom to celebrate and embrace him rather than shrink and hide as Adam did in the garden. Jesus has risen from the grave. Easter tells us that we can know him, trust him and expect his imminent return.
—Jake McCall is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. He is the pastor at Grace Fellowship Presbyterian Church. His column appears each Thursday.