When Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father, He did not leave the earth or abandon His mission. Rather, He gave His disciples a commission to go into all of the world and proclaim Gospel of the Kingdom to all creation (Mark 16:15). He gave them an assignment that was impossible to accomplish without the empowerment and enablement of His Spirit. While giving them such a high command, He also gave them beautiful promises about the hope of the resurrection and the coming new heavens and new earth. This future hope motivated them to engage His realities in the age of the Spirit and to help speed up the Parousia where Jesus will be revealed in all of His splendor and heaven and earth will join together as one.
Jesus told His beloved apostles about the present glories in the age of the Spirit and the glories to come at His final unveiling. These realities shaped the apostle’s motivation and gave them constant inspiration to do all that Jesus required of them. A hopeful eschatology, built upon God’s desire to restore the earth and all that is in it, provided them with the framework to partner with God’s restorative work in creation before Parousia. Their understanding was that the work of Jesus continued through them and that their role was to join His work through the power and enablement of the Spirit.
The purpose of this paper is to use Scripture to explore the hope-filled reality of the coming new heavens, new earth, and the resurrection, and to use that eschatological hope to reaffirm the present possibilities and responsibilities of the ekklesia in the age of the Spirit. The central research question I will answer is, “How does a hopeful eschatology provide a framework for the ekklesia to engage God’s restorative work in the present age of the Spirit?”
In the first section of this paper, I will discuss God’s desire to restore and redeem creation, which includes the material world and the saints’ physical bodies. In this section, I will 2 explore the hopeful anticipation of the coming new heavens and new earth in 2 Pet 3:6-13 and the transformative power of the resurrection for both the saints of God and all of creation. I will provide a framework for understanding the present possibilities and responsibilities of the church within the age of the Spirit, which is the main theme of the next section of the paper.
In the second section of the paper, I will provide interpretative comment on Isa 65:17-25, explore the ever-increasing nature of God’s Kingdom in the earth, and explain how He is in the process of creating new heavens and a new earth. With that understanding as an outline, I will explore Acts 3:19-21 and explain how the restoration of all things began at the appearing of Jesus and the outpouring of His Spirit and show how it continues through the work of the church today.
In the final section of the paper, I will examine Haley Goranson’s exegetical work on Rom 8:28 and give modern-day examples of communities that are engaging the realities of the Spirit through prayer and good deeds. Then, in conclusion, I will explore how the present engagement of the ekklesia in the world can speed the coming of the day of God and use that as an invitation for the saints of God to join the ageless song of the Spirit in Rev 22:17. All of this will affirm how a hopeful eschatology provides a framework for the ekklesia to engage God’s restorative work in the present age of the Spirit.
Graves, Charles, "A Hopeful Eschatology and the Role of the Ekklesia Prior to the Parousia" (2020). Theology Undergraduate Work. 4.