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Centennial Statement Series: “Last Things”

As Brethren articulate who they are, they are prone to communicating the behaviors of their particular witness, often omitting the distinctives of Brethren thought. Brethren believe particular things that shape our peculiar witness. This series will highlight the beauty and challenge of “The Centennial Statement.”

“By the sending of His Son, God inaugurated the last days. Therefore the church waits eagerly for the consummation of the divine plan in Christ. Prior to that, the human body at death returns to the dust from which it came. The soul of the Christian goes immediately to be with the Lord, while the souls of the unsaved enter into torment. The climax of God’s plan will include the personal, visible return of Jesus Christ from heaven as King of kings and Lord of lords; the bodily resurrection and judgment of believers unto eternal life; the bodily resurrection and judgment of the wicked unto eternal punishment; and a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells, where the saved will live eternally with the Lord. The Bible does not focus so much on the details and order of final events as on how believers are to live in light of these things.

Discussion Prompts:

  1. Read 2 Peter 3:11-15. What does “destruction of the heavens, and the elements will mely in the heat” imply to you? If God created the world (and the universe), how do you reconcile this passage with the groaning of creation in Romans 8:22-25?
  2. Why are people obsessed with the timing of the end times if Jesus said that even he did not know the time nor the hour (Mk. 13:32b)? What do you believe about the end times? What scriptures do you cite for your understanding?
  3. How does your view of the end times (eschatology) shape your posture/witness in the present? How does eschatology inform the mission of the church today?
  4. What should a church of the eschaton (the “already/not yet) look like? How should this church behave in that tension?

This will be the last post on this blog on the Centennial Statement. This statement, authored in 1983, is divided into two parts—the Message of Faith and the Life of Faith. I have been blogging through the “Message” section.

This Fall, discussion prompts for both “Message” and “Life” sections will be available to congregations through the Brethren Church National Office. I am also working on a larger exposition of the “Life of Faith” section. It is my hope that these prompts, produced as a study guide for this important document, will reinforce that Brethren believe distinct things that animate their peculiar witness.

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