[ 3 minutes to read ]Hickory and oak smoke stuck to my hair and settled in the folds of my clothes. Eager kids had charred marshmallows and convinced themselves, “I like mine this way.” Sure Buddy, charcoal really goes best with chocolate and graham crackers. The kids had whole-swallowed their S’mores and deserted the scene for the darkness with their flashlights. I stayed by the fire with a couple of other dads. We sat and talked, and I heard something I had never heard before.
In a short time, we solved the world’s problems. We had pressed many hot buttons, like women preachers, the King James Version Bible, Southern Baptists, and Democrats and Republicans. Somehow, we got to eschatology, the study of end times. You know, things like the thousand years of peace Christians have been fighting about for two thousand years. We discussed some of the different schemes and systems of eschatology, and one man said, “I’m a pan-millennialist.”
What? I had never heard of this. My brain raced to place this among the millennial varieties. I had nothing, so I had to ask, “What is that?” He looked happy, “It’ll all pan out, so don’t worry about it.” He was joking. He was like that. We all laughed.
Why should I care?
Why does eschatology make so many eyes glaze over? I know many people don’t like controversy. Some think it’s just too hard to figure out. Some see no practical importance to it, because they think it doesn’t affect real life and whatever is going to happen is going to happen.
We should study and try to understand what the Bible teaches about the end times. For one thing, it is a part of the Scripture and “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable” (2 Timothy 3:16), so we should study all Scripture. The book of The Revelation twice pronounces blessing on those who study its prophecies (Revelation 1:3; 22:7). Paul wrote of Christ’s return as the “blessed hope” of the saved and that hope gives direction to our lives (Titus 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:13; 1 Corinthians 15:19). Understanding what has been revealed to us is important knowledge, but also important practically. The expectation of Jesus’ coming has nine important effects in the Christian life.
- Gives comfort in present turmoils (John 14:1)
- Sustains our faith in patience (John 14:1)
- Gives us assurance of the future (John 14:2)
- Gives us a firm hope in life (John 14:3)
- Stabilizes us for sustained endurance (Philippians 3:20-4:1)
- Energizes us for diligent service (2 Peter 3:12-14)
- Equips and provokes us to overcome sin (1 John 3:1-3; Colossians 3:1-6)
- Relieves the full sting of death and sorrow (2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:13)
- Lends urgency to our task in this present world (2 Timothy 4:1-2)
If you’re confused by charts and graphs or extensive literary explanations where the Bible never means what it says in any concrete way, you need to stick with the text of Scripture and focus on first things first. Prophecy is difficult and even the Old Testament prophets themselves did not understand how all those things would be fulfilled, particularly the prophecies concerning the sufferings and the glories of the coming Messiah (1 Peter 1:10-12). You need to start with primary and clear teachings concerning the future. The first is the fact of Christ’s return.
Jesus Christ is coming again. There are hundreds of prophecies in the Bible about the coming of Christ and only about a third of those were fulfilled in his first coming when he was born of the virgin Mary, was crucified, buried, rose again, and ascended to the Father. Many passages of Scripture remain to tell us he is coming again. I want to give you seven witnesses that Jesus will come again to start you in this most serious and worthy study.
- Jesus himself spoke of his coming again (John 14:1-3; Matthew 23:37-39; Revelation 22:7, 12)
- Angels from heaven assured his apostles he would come again (Acts 1:9-11)
- Peter spoke of his return (Acts 3:19-21; 1 Peter 1:13; 5:4; 2 Peter 1:16)
- John spoke of his return (1 John 2:28; 3:2; Revelation 1:7)
- James wrote of his return (James 5:7-8)
- Paul wrote often of his coming again (1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 3:13; 4:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)
- The author of Hebrews also wrote of his return (Hebrews 9:28; 10:37)
Realizing and understanding Christ’s return ought to humble us and move us to diligent faithfulness (Mark 13:33-37). Let us be as John, looking, watching, and waiting for his return.
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
– Revelation 22:20