Book Entry: Chapter 3
December 6th 2017
Why Eschatology Matters
Human nature impulsively wants to know about the future. Horoscopes, Ouija boards, psychics, necromancers and false prophets are a sad but abundant testimony to the searching that many engage in with a desire to know the future. Among Christians, there is also a fascination with prophecy and what it is that the Bible has to say regarding End Time events. Unfortunately, some Christians study nothing but prophecy and forsake all other areas of study within Christian theology. This should not be so. A proper balance is what the Christian should be striving for.
In America there are Christian radio and TV programs that attempt to teach nothing but the subject of Bible prophecy, often perpetuating many incorrect teachings in the process. Some of the interest in prophecy is a Christianized form of escapism. It is commonly more fascinating to try to figure out prophecy puzzles than it is to work on righteous Christian living. Sadly, some believers break fellowship with other Christians who do not share their personal views pertaining to Bible prophecy.
As we explore why it is that Eschatology matters, we must first agree that a person does not enter into a redemptive relationship with God by believing in any particular eschatological system. Rather, a person enters into a redemptive relationship (salvation) by believing in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, just as it was documented and expanded upon within Scripture (1 Cor 15:1-4). Christ Jesus is the central focus of all Scripture and that includes the Scriptures that describe the End Times. With that as our foundation, we must also recognize that the follower of Christ is never commanded to be stagnant or idle with regards to their faith. Rather, the Bible exhorts the believer to be in study and to interpret the Scriptures with precision:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
[2 Timothy 2:15]
Thus it is both legitimate and important for us to understand what the Bible says about future events. This area of Systematic Theology should never be ignored. There is no question that one’s personal position pertaining to Eschatology affects how they live their life today. If studied properly, the Christian will be able to understand how the Bible’s teachings align with that Christian’s life lived in history, their present life or “walk” being lived now, and what it is that the future has in store for them in the near future and beyond.
The life benefits and spiritual blessings that come from understanding prophetic Scripture enrich every well-studied Christian. For example, Bible prophecy tells us that those who unjustly persecute the righteous will be judged by God. Through a proper understanding of Eschatology, one can rest in that fact. Bible prophecy also gives us motivation for holy living today and that comes after one understands that not only will the unjust be judged, but the righteous will also be judged at a separate event that has a different focus. Understanding the difference between these future judgments can only be achieved by studying the prophetic Scriptures. Bible prophecy therefore stands as a source of hope, of comfort, and of encouragement for the Christian. Bible prophecy also stands as a firm foundation for the Christian to rest upon since fulfilled prophecy proves that the Bible is true and it therefore inspires confidence in the Holy Scriptures. Lastly, prophetic Scripture provides answers to difficult theological questions that can be accurately obtained nowhere else. No doubt you have heard of a very peculiar doctrine within Christianity known as the rapture of the Church. No doubt you are aware that the apostle Paul counted the doctrine pertaining to the resurrection of Christ as utmost importance to the Christian faith -
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
- but do you clearly understand the relationship between the resurrection and the rapture of the Church? The point is that only through a careful study of the prophetic Scripture, can one identify the correct answers to difficult theological questions such as these.
The fact of the matter is that God wants us to enjoy the anticipation of the End Time events along with Him. He tells us about Heaven within Scripture so that we can enjoy the anticipation of Heaven now. He tells us about the future glorious return of Christ so that we can live in anticipation of that glorious hope now:
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
This passage in Titus 2 connects Christ’s first coming (“…that bringeth salvation hath appeared”) with His Second Coming (“Looking for … the glorious appearing”) and states that these events give us instruction for avoiding sin and for pursuing purity and good deeds. It is critical for us to understand that the historical events of Christ’s first coming affect how we live now in light of anticipation of His Second Coming.
The Second Coming of Christ is a prominent theme within Scripture. With nearly 1/3 of all the verses that make up the entirety of the Bible referring to prophetic topics, it has been estimated that over 20 percent of these prophetic verses speak to Christ’s Second Coming. One of every 25 verses within the New Testament refers to the Second Coming of Christ in some way. Jesus Himself referred to His return 21 times within the New Testament. All nine of the authors that the Holy Spirit used to write the New Testament mention the Second Coming of Christ and this accounts for 24 out of the 27 New Testament books. This is obviously a very important subject to God and it is therefore worthy of our diligent study.
The knowledge obtained through understanding what the Bible has to say about End Time events gives us the motivation to endure various trials so that our life of faith will glorify God both in this life and when Christ appears again. Because of that, your worldview is therefore tied to a proper understanding of both history and Eschatology. Keep in mind that every person walking on the face of this planet has both a worldview and an Eschatology.
Since Jesus perfectly fulfilled His Father’s will, as revealed to us in Scripture, the last days are already set in motion. God’s triumph is guaranteed and God’s plan will be executed. Christians throughout the world and throughout the centuries have shared a common confession when it comes to the End Times: “The same Savior who was crucified also conquered death, and He will return to earth in bodily form; the dead will be raised, and the judge of the living and the dead will be Jesus Himself.” As you study Eschatology further and you develop a clear understanding of the End Times, you are likely to look for the coming of Jesus with a deeper and more urgent sense of anticipation and you will find yourself joining this author in saying, “Maranatha!”