Category Archives: Anthony Hoekema

The Holy Spirit and the Age to Come

What does the Holy Spirit do for the Christian? The short answer is “a lot!” In his work The Bible and The Future (one of my personal favorites) Anthony Hoekema highlights one of the things the Spirit does in the life of the believer: He brings God’s future into the present their present life experience.

Another way of putting this is to say that, for Paul, the Spirit means that breaking in of the future into the present, so that the powers, privileges, and blessings of the future age are already available to us through the Spirit…”… In other words, on the basis of the work of Christ, the power of the redeemed the future has been released to act in the present in the person of the Holy Spirit.”

For Paul, therefore the reception of the Spirit means that one has become a participant in the new mode of existence associated with the future age, and now partakes of the “powers of the age to come.” Yet Paul would insist that what the Spirit gives is only a foretaste a far greater blessings to come. It is for this reason that he calls of the Spirit the “firstfruits” and the “guarantee” of future blessings which shall far surpass those of the present life. (Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, 58)

For more, see:

A Kingdom Vision of Life

What a beautiful portrait:

Being a citizen of the kingdom, therefore, means that we should see all of life and all of reality in the light of the goal of the redemption of the cosmos. This implies, as Abraham Kuyper once said, that there is not a thumb-breadth of the universe about which Christ does not say, “It is mine.” This implies a Christian philosophy of history: all of history must be seen as the working out of God’s eternal purpose. This kingdom vision includes a Christian philosophy of culture: art and science reflect the glory of God and are therefore to be pursued for his praise. It also includes a Christian view of vocation: all callings are from God, and all that we do in everyday life is to be done to God’s praise, whether this be study, teaching, preaching, business, industry, or housework.

~Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, pg 54.

Without exaggeration, The Bible and the Future is near the top of my list of favorite books on theology. Pick it up, read it and enjoy the feast.

Waiting for Our Lord’s Return

Hoekema does it again. Here he highlights the New Testament teaching on the role our expectations of Christ’s Second Coming should have upon our daily living. It doesn’t get much more practical than this:

What do the New Testament writers have to say about the practical significance of the expectation of the Parousia [i.e. the second coming of Christ] for faith in life? Most common is the emphasis that our expectation of the Lord’s return should serve as an incentive to holy living. So we hear Paul telling us in Romans 13 that the nearness of that return should motivate us to cast off the works of darkness and to put on the armor of light, to make no provisions for the flesh but to conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day (vv. 12-14). In Titus 2:11 – 13 Paul makes the point that our living between Christ’s two comings means that we must renounce worldly passions and live sober, upright, and godly lives in this present world. Peter, it his first epistle, tells us that setting our hopes fully on the grace that is coming to us at the revelation of Christ means for us the diligent pursuit of self-control, obedience, and holiness (I Peter 1:13 – 15). And in his second letter he puts it this way: “since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening  (or earnestly desiring, mg.) The coming of the day of God…” (II Peter 3:11 – 12). The Apostle John, in his first epistle, after telling us that when Christ appears in glory we shall be like him, adds “and everyone who does hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (I John 3:2 – 3).

In various other ways our anticipation of the second coming should affect the quality of our living. The future appearance of our Lord should move us to be faithful to the commission God has given us, as it did Timothy (I Tim. 6:14). If we continue to abide in Christ, we shall be confident and unashamed before him when he appears (I John 2:28). The realization that when the Lord comes he will disclose the purposes of our hearts implies that we ought not to utter premature judgments about people (I Cor. 4:5). Being faithful and wise managers of what ever the Lord has entrusted to our care is another way of showing that we are ready for the Lord’s return (Luke 12:41 – 48). In the parables of the Talents and the Pounds the point is made that readiness for Christ’s return means working diligently for him with the gifts and abilities he has given us… And in the light of the portrayal of the last judgment found in Matthew 25:31-46, the best way to be prepared for the Second Coming is to be continually showing love to those who are Christ’s brothers.

Our expectation of the Lord’s return, therefore, should be a constant incentive to live for Christ and for his kingdom, and to seek the things that are above, not the things that are on the earth. But the best way to seek the things above is to be busy for the Lord here and now.

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Death as the Servant of Christ

The following is taken from Anthony Hoekema’s The Bible and the Future, to my mind one of the best works on biblical eschatology (the doctrine of the “last things”) in print. In his chapter “Physical Death,” Hoekema takes up the question of why do Christians still die even though they have been forgiven their sins through the work of Christ. Here are his (always) insightful comments:

The conquest of death, therefore, is to be seen as an essential part of Christ’s redemptive work. Christ not only redeems people from sin; he also redeems them from the results of sin, and death is one of them. And so we read in II Timothy 1:10 that Christ has “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light.” It is therefore a fitting culmination of Christ’s redemptive work that in the new Jerusalem there will be no more death (Rev. 21:4)

But then the question arises, why must believers still die? Why couldn’t they just immediately ascend to heaven at the end of the earthly days without having to go through the painful process of dying? As a matter of fact, this is what will happen to those believers who will still be living when Christ comes again. They will not have to die, they will be changed “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (I Corinthians 15:52) into the state of incorruptibility. Why can’t this happened to all believers?

This question is, in fact, asked in the Heidelberg Catechism, question 42: “since, then, Christ died for us, why must be also die?” The answer reads as follows: Our death is not a satisfaction for our sin, but only a dying to our sin and entering into eternal life.”

Death is for us who are in Christ not a satisfaction for sin. It was for Christ, but it is not for us. Since Christ was our Mediator, our second Adam, he had to undergo death as a part of the penalty for sin which we deserve, but for us death is no longer a punishment for sin. For Christ death was part of the curse; for us death is a source of blessing.

But then we ask, What does death now mean for the Christian? “A dying to sins,” the catechism goes on to say (literally, “an extinction of sins”). In this present life sin is the heaviest burden we have to bear. The older we get, the more it grieves us that we keep on falling short of doing the will of God. One feels something of the weight of this burden when he reads Paul’s words in Romans 8:23, “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” But death will bring an end to sinning. …Our death will also be en “entering into eternal life.” These words are not intended to deny that there is a sense in which the believer already possesses eternal life here and now, since the same catechism teaches in Answer 58 that we now feel in our hearts the beginning of eternal joy. But what we enjoy now is just the beginning. We shall enter into the full riches of eternal life only after we have passed through the portal of death. Therefore Paul can say, “to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21), and “we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8).

All this implies that death, our “last enemy” (I Cor. 15:26), has through the work of Christ become our friend. Our most dreaded opponent has become for us the servant who opens the door to heavenly bliss. Death for the Christian is therefore not an end but a glorious new beginning. And thus we understand why Paul can say,

All things are yours,

whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas

or the world or life or death

or the present or the future,

all are yours;

and you are Christ’s;

and Christ is God’s (I Cor. 3:21-23).

Hoekema on Hymns

Anthony Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, 274:

One gets the impression from certain hymns that glorified believers will spend eternity in some ethereal heaven somewhere off in space, far away from earth. The following lines from the hymn “My Jesus I Love Thee” seem to convey that impression: “In mansions of glory and endless delight / I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright.” But does such a conception do justice to biblical eschatology? Are we to spend eternity somewhere off in space, wearing white robes, plucking harps, singing songs, flitting from cloud to cloud while doing so? On the contrary, the Bible assures us that God will create a new earth on which we shall live to God’s praise in glorified, resurrected bodies.