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Our special, Reformation issue of the Standard Bearer this year is devoted to the influence of the sixteenth century Reformation on the church’s eschatology. Eschatology is the church’s understanding and confession of the Word of God on the last things, culminating in the second coming of Christ.

The subject is timely. As we approach a new millennium, many are distracted by the scare of Y2K. Other professing Christians—millions of them—become excited at the prospect of an imminent rapture of the church, which is utter and bizarre nonsense. Of late, prominent Reformed and Presbyterian theologians and teachers tell conservative audiences that Christ came in AD 70. There is no eschatology, only millennia of earthly power, peace, and prosperity. Impenitent Rome persists in her eschatology of terror. And then, deadliest of all, there is the danger in all the churches, including the Protestant Reformed Churches, of the earthlimindedness that our Lord warned of: absorption in eating, drinking, marrying, making money, buying and selling, and playing.

We do well to remind ourselves of the Reformation’s doctrine of the last things, and to witness of it to others.

A word about the meditation.

The meditation is a sermon preached by Herman Hoeksema in the First Protestant Reformed Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan on New Year’s Eve, 1938. Taken down in his own shorthand as it was being preached, it was then written out in a spiral notebook in his lovely, legible longhand by Hoeksema’s faithful scribe, Martin Swart. For publication in the SB, the sermon was edited by the editor of the SB. The editing did not affect the content. In the sermon, Hoeksema asserts, and explains, the biblical teaching that the second coming of Christ is “near.”

— DJE