Book Review: How will the world end?

It’s with thanks to Shaun Tabatt, of Cross Focused Reviews, I had a chance to check out this little 93 page book, How will the world end?: and other questions about the last things and the second coming of Christ (Questions Christians Ask) (The Good Book Company, 2014) written by Pastor Jeramie Rinne (MDiv, GCTS).

how will the world endRinne’s basic thesis in his book is that when it comes to the end of the world, many Christians are confused and unsure about what the Bible teaches about the last days.  Rinne asserts this is the case be all too often most Christians and even those who teach on end times tend to miss the trees for the forest; they get bogged down in the details instead of taking a step back and getting a sense of the larger picture.

The purpose of Rinne’s book then, is to help regular Christians regain that big picture about the end of the world.  Its a book about seeing the whole forest once again, not a microscopic study of tree bark. (9)

At the same time he hopes to give the reader the opportunity to do more than have a cursory or even confused understanding of end times to “have a basic commonsense understanding” (9).  Many also have fear and anxiety about the end of the world and he hopes this little book will free people from that fear and allow for joy and peace to give direction to them as they explore the topic further.

The topics discussed are:

1) How will the world end? (and why is it taking so long?).  Here Rinne asserts:

At the center of the Bible, and at the center of the whole human story, stands Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  And it will be Jesus himself who brings the world to its end (19).

2) What will happen before Jesus comes back?  Here he uses Jesus’ own image of labor pains.  Various events that take place such as the rise of false messiah’s and wars and disasters, persecution, the increase of wickedness, etc are all labor pains that will happen just prior to Christ’ return.  Though Christians are to press on with proclamation of the gospel, we must remember, like labor pains, all these things will happen before Jesus’ return.

3) How will Jesus come back?  Here Rinne states that “we know Jesus will come back “publicly, gloriously, victoriously, and savingly” (41).  He spends time unpacking each of these concepts.

4) Will Jesus come back before or after the “Millennium”? For Rinne, this book is not intended to be an in-depth study of eschatology. Instead, “seeks to point us back to the primary focus of the New Testament’s teaching about the end of the world, namely, that Jesus is returning” (53).  So, in this chapter Rinne does not directly give his take, but instead covers all the basics as far as what the millennium is and the different views as to when Jesus may return in light of it, and lets the reader decide.

5) What Happens after Jesus comes back?  In this it is important for the reader to understand “the world’s finale is merely the beginning of our eternal saga.  The end of the world is not the end of the story” (69).  Here he talks about the Great White Throne of Judgment (something that should both comfort us and caution us); the Lamb’s Book of Life (is your name in it?); Hell and the Lake of Fire (which is the final judgment of the wicked).

Finally,

6) How should we live until Jesus comes back?  “What we think will happen in the future, shapes our in the present” (81).  Our understanding of how the world will end greatly affects how we live now.  Many live in fear and others have found out how to live in faith and godliness as history moves forward to the end of days.  His desire is that more Christians would move away from fear about the end of the world and to a place of faith, hope, and love.  Rinne’s most poignant point in this section is his assertion that “when the reality of Jesus’ return and the end of the world grips us, it should spawn an urgency in our hearts to proclaim “this gospel of the kingdom” to all nations” (89).

I think this is a good little book that could be helpful for those Christians who are wanting or needing some direction in their understanding of how the world will end.

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