Let me color code some words in a short statement that aims to also explain why they particularly come to mind. I suppose the first would be “apocalyptic evangelism,” since at some soon point I want to re-introduce in some form or another what originally set out to be a course presented in seven modules [or maybe it was ten. See the original 2001 BI newletter announcement of the “Apocalyptic Evangelism” Course Reggie is talking about, ed.].
It aimed to realign the church in consciousness and approach to the first century mode of evangelism, namely, to show the evidence from the prophetic writings that a mystery (as completely contained in those writings, see Acts 26:22; Ro 16:25-26; 1Pet 1:10-12 et al) has come to light in the revelation of the gospel. In this sense, the church is defined as the people of the ‘messianic secret’ (see Isa 8:14:17 et al).
The idea of the course was to recover the context of the apocalyptic gospel of the first century as a call to flee to Christ from the wrath to come, and thus make personal appropriation of the messianic salvation in expectation of the imminence of Jersualem’s destruction, which represented the imminent tribulation to first century Jewish expectation. Well, we are there again. We have come full circle. We stand and witness once more under the shadow of an imminent world disaster over Jerusalem. Thus the same issues that confronted first century Israel are back in the forefront.
All that was thought to have passed into history (as in preterist presuppositions) is on our modern door step. The modern scene conforms in remarkable detail with the picture presented in the prophets, and threatens a very ‘literal’ modern fulfillment.
The idea is to restore the prophetic context and urgency of an apostolic, which was manifestly an apocalyptic approach to evangelism. The church needs to return to making the mystery of the gospel known (i.e., the gospel AS mystery in its particular relationship to Israel’s eschatological judgement and salvation) by using the OT prophetic witness to confirm and verify the truth and relevance of the gospel. This is to be done as it was done by demonstrating from prophecy the wisdom of a Divine plan that stresses God’s sovereign election and predestination as the One who “declares the end from the beginning” All of which finds its center and sum on a cross outside of Jerusalem.
But this center is never well enough considered nor appreciated apart from its divinely chosen context in relation to the eschatological death and resurrection of Israel , which context defines the church as the righteous remnant at the core and center of the elect nation, a kind of corporate Jeremiah calling the apostate nation and all other nations to Christ as the only means whereby the promised covenant obedience can be fulfilled by a people that have received the promised gift of the Spirit. This is the ‘already and the not yet’ of Christian eschatology, which in no way cancels the promise of Israel’s restoration at a still future Day of the Lord.
In the face of the impending world crisis, the restoration of this context is vital to prepare the church not only for its own deep testing, but it equips and enables the church to be the prophetic witness than can compel the intellect and conscience of men and women to come to grips with the great themes of covenant and and judgment, which confronts all nations with the proper context for the claims of the gospel. This gives ultimate meaning to history, and if history can be shown to have ultimate meaning, then there is ground for personal / existential meaning, which is the great human quest that only a biblical philosophy of history can provide.
It aims at preparing the church with a reasonable measure of prophetic literacy in order to confirm the gospel and to persuade and answer objections to the faith, particularly Jewish objections, since to answer the Jew goes far towards preparation to give everyman an answer. So ‘restoring the context’ is a principal burden as well.