Eschatology: What Have We Learned?
Now that we have looked at several end-time issues, it’s time to wrap up our study of eschatology. Let’s take a second to remember all we’ve discussed and then tie it all together.
In Part 1 we introduced the series with an overview of the issues.
In Part 2 we focused on the rapture. The three options for the timing of the rapture are pretribulation, midtribulation, and posttribulation. After examining the biblical evidence, we determined the rapture will most likely occur after the tribulation.
In Part 3 we discussed the millennial reign of Christ. The three positions for this event are premillennial, postmillennial, or amillennial. As we saw, choosing between these options is tough.
Hell and eternal punishment were dealt with in Part 4. The Scriptures, and especially Jesus, seem to describe hell as a place of literal and eternal punishment, opposed to those who see it as metaphorical or believe in annihilationism.
Finally, in Part 5 we turned our attention to the book of Revelation. Its prophecies can be interpreted according to one of three views: (1) Preterist; (2) Futurist; or (3) Idealist. Because Revelation is apocalyptic literature, the best way to interpret it is according to the futurist and idealist approaches.
Having identified and studied the main issues surrounding the end of times and eternity, the question is, “Now what?” What do we do about it? What do we take from it?
No matter where you stand on any of the issues, the main point of it all is this: Jesus Christ will return. And, as the apostle Peter said in 1 Peter 4:7a, “The end of all things is near” (italics added). Not only is He coming, but He’s coming soon. Peter followed up that statement with a “therefore,” meaning, “Here is what you do since the end is near…”
“7 Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. 8 Above all, maintain an intense love for each other, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10 Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:7-11 HCSB)
In light of Christ’s imminent return, Peter gives his readers four exhortations:
1. Be serious/clear-headed and disciplined for prayer.
Peter calls believers to be sober and alert and to devote themselves to prayer. This is in line with what Jesus said concerning His return in Luke 21:36, “Be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.”
2. Maintain an intense love for each other.
A previous HCSB translation reads “keep your love for one another at full strength.” Believers need to be constantly stretching their love far and wide. Why? Because love covers a multitude of sins. If we love one another, we will overlook one another’s faults.
3. Be hospitable…without complaining.
Believers have always been called to take care of and meet the needs of others. But this is especially true in light of the end. And whatever we do for others, we better do it with a smile on our faces.
4. Use your spiritual gift(s) to serve others.
As believers, we receive gifts by the grace of God. The key here is to USE your gift(s). Think about it: if you give someone a birthday or Christmas gift, you don’t want them to sit it on their shelf and forget about it, you want them to use it. The same is true with God. He wants to see us using the gifts He has graciously given us. So having these gifts is not a privilege, it is a responsibility.
You might have noticed that each of these four things has to do with our relationship with God and with others. We need to pray to God and we need to use the gifts He has given us to love, serve, and be hospitable to others. And remember, all of this is prefaced by the fact that “the end of all things is near.”
So as believers, what do we do with all we know about eschatology? We don’t need to worry about it. We don’t need to argue about it. Instead, we need to be focused on praying and serving others.
In conclusion, my prayer is that through this series your thoughts surrounding the end of time have been enlightened and enhanced. Even if you disagree with my eschatological stance, my hope is that you have been challenged and changed by it all!