It is concerning that some churches today don’t take eschatology seriously. The very fact that God has revealed so many details about events to come in both testaments tells us that it is important. At the center of biblical eschatology is the blessed hope of the appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). Not only should we be interested in prophetic events to come, we are also looking for our Savior, with whom we will spend eternity.
Why do some churches neglect serious study of eschatology? One issue is complexity. There are many eschatological details in the Bible to work through and harmonize. So there is hard work to do in this area. Also, when we see godly men disagreeing on prophetic issues, it can be disheartening. Another reason might be that some don’t want to be linked with those who have abused eschatology. There are those who have become obsessed with the end times by offering a date for Jesus’ return, or treating many current events as fulfillments of Bible prophecy. So some people have swung away from the abuse of eschatology to no interest at all.
But these are not good reasons to avoid the study of eschatology. Below are 7 reasons churches should take eschatology seriously:
1. Eschatology is a major part of the Christian storyline
Eschatology is a major part of the Bible’s story. By “story,” I’m not talking about fiction. I’m talking about the narrative of the Christian worldview. Since Christianity is rooted in history and real historical events, God’s story includes past, present, and future events. All should be taught. We simply should not ignore prophetic events that are future from our standpoint—events such as the rapture, the Day of the Lord, the Second Coming, the Millennium, and the Eternal State. We must also talk about heaven and hell, and the coming New Earth. To avoid discussion of eschatology is to avoid an important part of the Christian worldview.
2. We are called to preach and heed the whole counsel of God
There are large sections of Scripture devoted to prophecy, many of which still need to be fulfilled from our current standpoint. For example the events of Ezekiel 36–48 still need to occur. In the New Testament passages like Matthew 24-25; Mark 13; much of Luke 21; 1 Thess. 4-5; 2 Thess 1-2; 2 Peter 3; Revelation 6-22 describe events that still need to happen. We cannot ignore these passages. Paul says in Acts 20:27, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.” If your church does not teach what the Bible says about the future, the whole counsel of God is not being taught.
3. People are interested in the future
Christians are interested in what the future holds. But if we do not teach eschatology, we are denying important biblical information for those who want to know what the Bible has to say about the future. We are also withholding a major source of the hope that the Scripture wants us to have.
4. Eschatology is a motivation for believers
Eschatology changes our lives because what we do now impacts our future. Paul viewed everything he did in light of his standing before Jesus someday. In 2 Timothy 4:7-8 he said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
5. Eschatology has a purifying effect on the believer
Eschatology is meant to transform our lives in the present. Why should we live sensibly, righteously and godly? Because Jesus is coming again. 1 John 3:2-3 states, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
James 5:8-9 also says, “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.” The study of biblical eschatology is a motivation for godly living.
6. Eschatology gives perspective to the troubles and trials of this age
We live in a fallen and tragedy-soaked world. We are all physically decaying and dying. Evil seems to triumph. Without Jesus there is no hope, only despair. But for the Christian there is the hope of resurrection and the restoration of all things (1 Cor. 15:20-28; Acts 3:21). Romans 8:18 states, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” The sufferings of this present time are real, but they are not comparable to the glory that is to come. 2 Peter 3:13 says, “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”
The coming of Jesus and the restoration of all things are future realities that give Christians hope and the joyful realization that the turmoils and trials of this age will not last forever. Righteousness and goodness win in the end. Christians need that message.
7. Eschatology warns the unbeliever of coming judgment
Biblical eschatology does not teach that the story ends well for everyone. It exists as a frightening warning to those who have not believed in Jesus. Eschatology warns all people that there is eternal punishment and banishment from God’s kingdom and the presence of God for those who do not repent. We should do what John the Baptist did—warn people to flee the wrath that is to come (Luke 3:7-8). Just as there are judgment and resurrection of the righteous, there are also resurrection and judgment of the unbeliever.
In sum, biblical eschatology is an important part of Christianity. For these reasons, all true churches should embrace the importance of biblical eschatology and share its truths with Christians and unbelievers alike.
Watch the TMS Distinctives series on eschatology:
- Part 1: Israel and the Church with Dr. John MacArthur
- Part 2: Dispensationalism with Dr. Michael Vlach
- Part 3: “Has the church replaced Israel?” with Dr. Michael Vlach
- Part 4: Church History and Israel’s Future with Dr. Nathan Busenitz
- Part 5: God’s Plan for the Nations with Dr. Michael Vlach
- Part 6: Premillennialism in Preaching with Dr. John MacArthur
- Part 7: Premillennialism in Curriculum with Dr. John MacArthur
- Part 8: Early Church Premillennialism with Dr. Nathan Busenitz
- Part 9: Premillennialism and Christian Ministry with Dr. Nathan Busenitz