Friday, September 04, 2009

Waldron's Any Momentness vs Immanence

One other aspect to Jesus' Second Coming that I'd like to address is the timing. Jesus said in Matthew 24,
42"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
The Christian life is often full of tensions. The Christian must grow in maturity in handling the different teachings of the Scriptures. The Second Coming and its timing is no exception.

The Christian believes in what has been called the immanence of Christ's return. All Christians agree that Christ will come at a time that is unexpected, and therefore, we are to be vigilant and to keep watch. However, for many Dispensationalists, the term immanence has been confused with what Sam Waldron calls, "at any momentness".

In one of Waldron's many internet lectures on the subject, he illustrates the meaning of the example from Matthew's Gospel in a personal anecdote. Going from my short term memory, Waldron explained how he had a friend stuck in an airport due to the fact that a part on the engine broke. Since repairs were needed to be made and the part was being fetched from quite a distance away, it was told to the people waiting to board the plane that there would be a delay in the schedule of their flight. Therefore boarding would be delayed.

It was guessed that the retrieval of the part would probably be a few hours plus the time to fix the part. So no one really knew how long the delay would be. However, the delay was going late into the night. So Waldron's friend felt he had to stay awake, not because the plane could be fixed at any moment, but because he did not want to be asleep when the delay ended and the plane was ready to be boarded. In other words, the friend needed to stay awake as to not miss the flight. This was not because the flight was going to leave at any moment, but because he needed to be alert when the delay came to an end.

Jesus tells us that there will be a delay in His coming again, and He tells us a few reasons why. First, we read in Matthew 24 text that the Gospel must go into all the nations and people groups.
This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Another reason may be found in Jesus' parable of the wheat and tares.
"The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' And he said to them, 'An enemy has done this!' The slaves *said to him, 'Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?' But he *said, 'No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.'"
God has His purposes in allowing both the righteous and the unrighteous to grow up together until the end of the age. We see this culminating between the Man of Lawlessness of 2 Thessalonians and Christ's appearance also at the end of the age.
Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;
The Shepherd has chosen to use means to find His sheep and is not wanting any of them to perish. According to the Apostle Peter, God is not wanting any of us to perish. So He is patient with us. Aren't we glad He is.

In conclusion, I believe Waldron is right. There is a delay in Christ's coming. There is much work to be done. There are far too many family groups that have never heard the Gospel. Yet we must remain alert for this Blessed Hope. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5,
But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
Let us live as children of the day, who are sober and vigilant so that the great day will not overtake us by surprise.

1 comment:

Howard Fisher said...

Waldron also uses the illustration of farming. Every year we Kansans wait for wheat harvest. It is immanent after the seed is sown. We know that there is a delay for the wheat to grow and mature. Yet I have never met a farmer who is not anticipating his harvest and its immanence.