May 22, 2024

Welcome to the Last Days

Sinclair Ferguson
Welcome to the Last Days

The day of Pentecost was a visible sign from God that world history has entered a new era. Today, Sinclair Ferguson provides the Bible's answer to that all-too-common question: Are we living in the last days?


Last Sunday was Pentecost, and we’ve been thinking this week about Acts 2. But if you’ve been with us on Things Unseen, you’ll know we haven’t really even scraped the surface of the chapter itself because we’ve been really reflecting on some of the more general lessons we can learn from watching and listening to Simon Peter. But today, let’s think about that situation.

Jerusalem must have been an amazing place at Pentecost—people from all over the world there for the feast, all kinds of colors, facial features, languages, accents. And then around nine o’clock in the morning, something happens. People hear a strange sound, maybe tornado-like even. And the next thing is that this group of Jesus’ disciples are speaking to them in all their own different languages. No wonder they were asking the question, “What on earth does this mean?”

And once again, the spokesman of the little disciple band, Simon Peter, stands up and preaches a sermon. He even has a text from the second chapter of Joel. “These events,” he says, “are exactly what Joel was talking about when he said that in the last days the Spirit of God would be poured out on all flesh, and sons and daughters would prophesy.” So, he says, “You need to realize this means that the last days have begun.”

Don’t you love it when somebody asks you, “Do you think we’re living in the last days?” Because if you know your Bible, you say, “Yes, we’re definitely living in the last days.” But people who ask that question are usually thinking: “There’s global warming, there’s conflict all over the world, there’s some dictator who might be the antichrist, maybe the end is near. Will there be a great tribulation? When will Jesus return? Is the resurrection about to take place? Are we living in the last days?” But that’s not quite how the Bible sees things, is it? Although that last part of the question, when will the resurrection take place, actually brings us to the heart of the matter—because it’s the resurrection that ushers in the last days.

And that’s what Peter is talking about here. The resurrection has taken place in the resurrection of Jesus. As Paul will later say about the resurrection: “Christ’s resurrection on Easter Day, and His ascension and enthronement, has inaugurated the last days. His resurrection that inaugurates the last days is the firstfruits of the resurrection that will take place on the final day. The last days, therefore, have already begun.”

“Not only so,” says Peter, “but the outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost is a visible sign that something has happened that divides history into two ages: the earlier days and the last days.” What from the Old Testament point of view was always the future has become the now.

Before Pentecost, God’s people were looking forwards to the day of resurrection. Now God’s people are living in the light of that resurrection. As Paul puts it, “The old has passed away; the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). A new creation has been inaugurated within the world that’s dominated by the old creation. And when we become Christians, we become part of that new creation, although we are still living within the context of the old one dominated as it is by the world, the flesh, and the devil. But we are living in the power of the risen Christ.

So, Pentecost was a monumental occasion, and it leads to a monumentally different way in which Christians see themselves, see the world, and, in fact, see everything. If you’re a Christian, welcome to the last days. And live today knowing that you belong to the new creation that has been inaugurated in Christ.

The old has passed away; the new has come. As Paul says, if anyone is in Christ, then he or she is part of the new creation. And when you begin to see your life through the lenses of Pentecost, even with the challenges you face, your life will have a wholly different atmosphere to it. And when that’s true of you, then there will be people who will begin to ask, as they asked on the day of Pentecost, “What’s the explanation for this?” And of course, our answer is the same as Simon Peter’s—ultimately, it’s Jesus.