Mailbag

The Mailbag: Eschatology

 

Can you provide some good resources on eschatology?

Could you answer this question I have about a particular branch of eschatology?

I’ve received a few different questions about eschatology recently. Eschatology is the division of theology that deals with Christ’s second coming and all of the various events and characters involved therein: the Antichrist, the rapture, the millennial reign, the Great Tribulation, etc.

I’ll just be totally transparent with y’all: I’m not equipped to answer questions on eschatology. Every time I’ve sat down and tried to study eschatology, I’ve found it very confusing and have ended up throwing up my hands and walking away from the study materials in frustration. This is partly because, from my perspective anyway, eschatology is largely educated guessing, and our various theories of what will happen when and in which order don’t really matter. I mean it’s not like you’re going to stand before the Lord on Judgment Day and He’s not going to let you into Heaven because you were pre-millennial instead of post-millennial. And it’s not something that should have any impact on our day to day fellowship, work, and worship with other Believers.

When Christ returns, events will unfold as laid out in Scripture. Until then, we have a limited understanding of what will transpire and the order in which those things will transpire. Here’s my eschatological framework:

• Jesus is coming back for Believers (praise God – I hope it’s really soon).

• Anybody who tells you Jesus has already come back is either lying, deceived, or more ignorant of eschatology that I am (if that’s possible).

• Everything the Bible says about Jesus’ return is true, even though we may have a hard time understanding how all the passages work together. There may be some passages that seem to contradict each other, but we know that’s not the case because God does not contradict Himself. The seeming contradictions happen because our brains are finite. Just because we don’t understand how two pieces of the puzzle can fit together doesn’t mean God doesn’t know how to fit them together perfectly.

• I honestly don’t think anybody in the church era, living or dead, has ever had a 100% perfect, no mistakes or misunderstandings, eschatology. And you know what? It doesn’t matter. When Jesus comes back, He’s going to do things exactly the way and in exactly the order that God has sovereignly predestined that they occur. You don’t get extra points for knowing ahead of time exactly what’s going to happen when, and, at the point of Christ’s return, you’re not going to find anybody who’s interested in listening to “I told you so!” pontifications.

• I think it is much more fruitful to spend our time evangelizing the lost and discipling the saved so that the church will be spiritually ready for the return of Christ. Whatever may happen in the days surrounding His return, we know that none of His sheep will be lost.

• If you enjoy studying eschatology, by all means, go for it! Dig into God’s Word and see what it says! Just a few words of caution:

Don’t become obsessed by it, and don’t let it replace your regular Bible reading time.

Hold your eschatological views loosely and don’t let them come between you and your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Make sure you’re handling Scripture rightly and in context.

If you’re listening to or reading a particular teacher’s materials on eschatology, make sure that person is doctrinally sound in general.

So, can I answer your questions on eschatology or provide you with good resources I’ve personally used? No, but here’s what I can offer:

• Assuming you attend a doctrinally sound church, start with your pastor. Set up an appointment, and ask him to explain the view of eschatology he holds and other views he may be knowledgeable on. Does your church as a whole subscribe to any particular eschatological view? Can he recommend any good resources on eschatology?

• After checking with your pastor, if there’s a well-known doctrinally sound pastor or author whose theology you generally find yourself in agreement with, check his website for resources on eschatology or e-mail him and ask for his recommendations. (Note: Just because you agree with the rest of his theology doesn’t mean you have to agree with his eschatological view.)

• Some seminaries offer online courses (some of them are even free!). Find a good doctrinally sound seminary (yes, unfortunately even seminaries need to be vetted these days) and see if they offer any courses on eschatology. You may want to check out The Master’s University, The Master’s Seminary, Southern Seminary, and Reformed Theological Seminary for starters.

• Don’t get your eschatology from fictional books or movies about the end times. Just…don’t.

• My friend Gabe Hughes was recently asked about eschatology resources. He suggested a few on the August 2, 2019 episode of the WWUTT podcast (around the 24:11 mark). This would be a good place to start.

• I’m going to ask you readers for some help here. Can you suggest any doctrinally sound books, articles, videos, sermons, etc., on eschatology? Leave a comment in the comment box below. (For everyone reading the comments section: A) We’re not going to have any arguments on eschatology in the comments section. B) Please know that I have not vetted any of the suggestions that will be made. Compare everything to rightly handled Scripture, and if it doesn’t match up, chuck it.)

Until the Lord comes back, be about the business of sharing the gospel. We want to take as many people with us as we can.


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Evangelism, Faith, Forgiveness, Gospel, Heaven, Hell, Homosexuality, Legislation, Marriage, Salvation, Sin

From the ERLC: “Your Church and the Same Sex Marriage Decisions”

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The ERLC has come out with a helpful fact sheet on the recent Supreme Court decisions on same sex “marriage.” It can be distributed or even used as a bulletin insert at your church, (it’s a free PDF download available in both English and Spanish). Anyone is free to use it– it’s not just for Southern Baptists. It’s really a great resource, so I wanted to share it with you.

I think there’s one point of clarification that needs to be made, though. Under the heading “What Hasn’t Changed,” we find this statement:

“Jesus Christ is still alive, and ultimately will bend history toward His kingdom.”

I read that, then read it again, then turned it over in my mind several times, then tried to recall a verse of Scripture that says anything about Jesus ultimately “bending history towards” His kingdom. Nada. Bupkis. Zilch.

I’m still not exactly sure what the fact sheet writer meant by this phrase. All I can figure (and perhaps I’m misunderstanding his intent) is that he’s referencing Christ’s return and the coming judgment.  When I read Scriptures referencing Christ’s return, I see things like Revelation 19:15:

“From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.”

and Matthew 21:44:

“And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.”

Not exactly a soft summer breeze gently bending a stalk of golden grain, is it? At least that’s the mental picture I get when I read a phrase like “bending history toward His kingdom.”

Judgment is coming for all of us, lost and saved, regardless of sexual preference. It’s going to be fast and furious and without any second chances to change your mind. The wheat is going to be gathered into the barn and the tares burned up. The sheep are going to be placed on the right, and the goats on the left. Period. End of story. That’s all she wrote.

Sounds scary, doesn’t it?

It should. And that’s a good thing.

As Christians, it should scare us enough for ourselves that we do what 2 Corinthians 13:5 says to do: examine ourselves– our hearts and the fruit of our lives –against Scripture and make certain we are, indeed, saved. (If you’re not sure where to start with that, here’s an excellent tool that I’ve found very helpful.)

It should also scare us for our lost friends and loved ones. It’s a hard, cold, frightening fact, but anyone who does not repent of his sin and place His faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice for his sin is going to spend eternity in hell when he dies. There’s no Purgatory. There’s no god who just forgives everybody and lets everybody into heaven.

Does that scare you for your children, your parents, your siblings, your spouse, your best friend?

Yeah, me too. And it makes me want to plead with them to repent and believe the gospel so they can escape that terrible fate and we can all spend eternity together with the Lord.

So use these fact sheets at church and share them with your friends. They’re good! They’re informative! But forget the “bending” and remember the sword, the fury, the wrath, and the crushing that are coming, and let them ignite a passion within you to love your lost neighbors enough to plead with them to flee to the cross for cleansing, forgiveness, and eternal life.