Posted in eschatology, theology

Why Eschatology Matters

By Elizabeth Prata

I am a fervent believer in the sufficiency of and the importance of all of scripture. Around a quarter to a third of all scripture deals with last things, known as the study of Eschatology. That’s a lot.

I am also a believer in the clarity of the Word. This is known as the doctrine of the Perspicuity of Scripture.

In other words, God didn’t set down His clear revelations to us throughout the Bible only to purposely muddy Last Things. It’s ALL clear, if one studies hard and remains submitted to the illumination of the Spirit. Eschatology can be understood, if not 100% just like any other doctrine, at least with a high degree of confidence, just like any other doctrine.

Therefore, since it comprises so much of the Bible, we should be studying it. Since the Spirit promised to illuminate the Word to us, (Psalm 119:130) we should be studying it with the expectation that we can know to such a degree that we can and will cling to the promises made in the doctrine of Last Things, and obey the commands within them.

Because there are promises and commands within the study of Eschatology, it is doubly critical that we consider the Doctrine of Last Things just as important as the rest of the Doctrines of God, such as the Doctrine of Man, the Doctrine of Sin, the Doctrine of Angels, and so on. Eschatology should not be relegated to a back room because it’s allegedly too hard. I want to encourage you all to read and study with confidence and joy.

My own personal testimony regarding this issue is:

  • It has brought me bountiful awe. I read Revelation and literally sometimes my breath is taken away with the majesty of Jesus. Nowhere in scripture is He seen as He is now except in Revelation, and it’s simply awe inspiring. And yet for all His glorious majesty seen in that book, including His righteous wrath, when we further realize He is friend and father too, it brings me to my knees.
  • It has given me a perspective of eternity that helps me in the present. For example when an enemy sees to take my job or malign my reputation with heinous slander, (and these things have actually occurred in my Christian life), I look to last things and realize this IS but a short affliction. This perspective helps.
  • Knowing what is going to happen to the ungodly gives me a gratitude I can’t even express in words. I was a sinner who justifiably would receive the wrath we see in the prophetic books and other verses. There but for the grace of God go I, said John Bradford in the mid-sixteenth-century, seeing prisoners led to execution.
  • It enhances my love for first things. My favorite books in the Bible are Genesis and Revelation. Seeing God’s activity from beginning to end allows me a perspective of His work I would otherwise miss, I think, if I did not study Eschatology as much as I do.

And there are so many more benefits to studying it than these I’ve shared from my own life.

Remember, Last Things is the only doctrine and Revelation is the only book where Jesus promises that if one reads it you will receive a blessing. This promise is made twice in the book, once at the beginning and once at the end.

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (Revelation 1:3).

Behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of prophecy in this book. (Revelation 22:7).

He would not have made that promise of blessing while tricking His children by making it impossible to understand it.

Dr. Nathan Busenitz delivered this “Premillennialism and History” lecture (also below embedded video) at The Master’s Seminary Chapel last year. He began with the following premises:

Why does eschatology matter?

1. Hermeneutics. One’s view of last things reveals his approach to interpreting the scriptures.

2. The issue of hope. God has given promises in His word as to what the future entails. These promises are the substance of our hope. We as believers are called to pace our trust in those promises.

3. Holiness. Last Things, the truth about what us to come are revealed to us in the scriptures to impact and motivate our lives in the present. An accurate understanding of last things is necessary to equip us to obey in the present. Our future hope promotes present obedience.

It isn’t just theoretical theology, eschatology matters.

Here is the video if you care to watch. Enjoy His word, all of it, including Last Things!


“Premillennialism and History ” by Dr. Nathan Busenitz – TMS Chapel – February 6, 2018 from The Master’s Seminary on Vimeo.

Posted in eschatology, theology

Eschatology is more than “Jesus Wins”

By Elizabeth Prata

I taught kids at church on Wednesday nights. I loved their conversations and their thoughts and their joy. I remember one night, they were asking about Jesus and heaven. They got so excited when they figured out that their friends will be in heaven too. They practically jumped out of their seats when they made the connection that they will actually see Jesus and hang out with Him. They started making plans, clapping their hands … It reminded me of Mark 10:13-16, “suffer the little children to come unto Me, do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Boy, does it ever. Let US be excited, innocent, planning, expectant, too. Are we? We should be!

I become so sad thinking about a similar joy that adults should display when thinking of the “Last Things.” Many adults don’t want to talk about eschatology because it’s “controversial” and “divisive.” It shouldn’t be. Jesus talked about it a lot. The disciples were eager to hear and asked Jesus to explain it. They had a long sit-down. (Matthew 24-25). The last things are not complicated, and in my opinion, are laid out pretty clearly in scripture. In any case, for people who hold opposite interpretations, (and only one can be right) we can and should share in the joy of our eager anticipation of Jesus’s return and our glorified state.

I read this article from Challies, his book review of a Dayton Hartman’s book Jesus Wins:

It’s ironic and more than a little pathetic that a doctrine as glorious and comforting as Christ’s impending return has been a source of such vehement disagreement among Christians.

I do not agree with the author’s premise that we should all return to the common eschatology expressed in the Apostle’s Creed, (which is watered down and amenable to everyone from Catholics to Unitarians to Ecumenical partnerships). Nor do I agree with Hartman that the exact details are unimportant (they are crucial because the details are the difference between hope and fear, AND because the Spirit wrote them down). “Jesus Wins” isn’t enough, not when those details are given to us for a hope and-

so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

Paul urged the brethren to “stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15). The teachings to which he refers are the Gospel, of course, and also the eschatological teachings Paul is reminding them of in 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians.

‘Jesus Wins’, yes, but how? Why? In what manner? Reducing your eschatology to ‘Jesus wins’ is like saying all one needs to know about the Son is that “He died and rose again.” There’s so much more!

Speak of the glories of His victory, diligently study the last things so you will know, and proclaim His last days plans to one and all. Don’t settle for a simplistic ‘Jesus Wins.’ There is so much more to it than that, and all of it glorious. Fight for it!

Here are 7 Reasons Your Church Should Take Eschatology Seriously

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.

The 7 reasons are short and easy to read. Enjoy!
4 aseity thursday

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

“Sorry I Never Knew You” – Should we sing about God’s judgments?

Eschatology: the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind.

Eschatology isn’t taught much. Many preachers feel underqualified to preach it because their seminary shied away from educating their students on these important doctrines. Many other preachers (incorrectly) believe that the body of doctrines in eschatology contain mysteries too dense and befuddling to fully understand. Another reason, sadly, is that many preachers and teachers don’t want to get involved in “controversies” regarding the timing of the rapture of whether there really will be a 1000 year kingdom on earth before eternity begins, controversies that aren’t really controversial at all. However, because of perceived difficulties of one kind or another, they shy away and don’t teach their congregants about ‘last things.’ Finally, the climate today in evangelical Christianity is to be ‘tolerant’ and ‘loving’, so the doctrines regarding judgment, hell, wrath, etc. are not ‘on trend’. Speaking of judgment and hell is almost taboo.

This vacuum in proper eschatological teaching has led to many fringe people ‘teaching’ on these things but instead, they’re just promoting wacky theories or generally mishandle the doctrines of last things completely. For example, they focusing on signs or setting dates, or worse, they lead many astray, confuse the sheep, or tarnish what should be a glorious hope. This wackiness has made orthodox preachers even more reluctant to delve into these doctrines because the fringe element has made eschatology almost into a joke and they don’t want to be associated with the fringe folks. So they stay even further away…and so on. The cycle continues.

It’s one reason I’m so relieved and excited I have access to Dr MacArthur’s teaching on last things. At home, I’ve been going through his Revelation series on Friday nights. I also trust S. Lewis Johnson, Martyn Lloyd Jones and Alistair Begg on last things also.

With the dearth of eschatological doctrines taught during sermons and Bible Studies, nowadays there is even less chance of finding songs about last things in worship music. But surprisingly, hymns, praise songs, Southern Gospel and Bluegrass Country used to be populated with songs about such things.

I was driving home from church on Sunday and turned my radio to a different channel. I found a little station out of Cornelia, Georgia I had not heard before. It was playing some old-timey country tunes from the 60s. This one I heard was by Naomi and the Segos, formerly Sego Brothers And Naomi. The group began gaining exposure in the late 1950s, though the band was well known in Georgia before that.

Their sons “Sorry, I Never Knew You” tells the story of a man who was dreaming. He was in heaven with all the people before Jesus, and when it was his turn to face Jesus he confidently said he had been a Christian all the while. The Lord uttered the title refrain, ‘Sorry, I Never Knew You, there is no record of your birth’. The song goes on… and at the end, the man awoke and with tears in his eyes, took stock of his faith, realized he’d been self-deceived, and repented.

I was so stunned I pulled the car over in order to listen, and to ponder the sudden sucking sound of a vacuum I heard in my mind. With that song from 1964, the first Gospel song to sell over 1 million records, by the way, I suddenly realized how FEW songs nowadays dwell on any of these topics. Would a song like that even get on the radio these days? Never mind make a million sales?

Here at SGM Radio, (Southern Gospel Music radio) they write of Naomi Sego, a Music Legend.

The song I’d heard was on what I have described before as one of the two most difficult and tear-inducing verses in the entire Bible, for me. There will be many on His day who plead for entry into the Kingdom, but the Lord will say,

And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:23)

It’s a devastating promise. I say promise because it is prophesied, which means it will come true. I will exult in Jesus righteousness and His perfect ability to make judgments, but the thought of many self-deceived “Christians” being rejected in tears and in horror, being cast away into the Lake of Fire is emotionally wrenching.

The question is, should we sing about it? What are the boundaries of singing about God’s judgments? Is that a subject that’s off limits in music as well as it seems to be in preaching?

When songs have good doctrine in them, even praise songs or popular songs, the Lord can and does use them for souls. I read several websites where people said they had heard Sorry I Never Knew You when it came out and were saved by it. “I never knew you” is directly from the Bible and covers a scene explicitly described there. The song closely matches the scene.

We should sing about last things because they’re biblical. Last things were important to Jesus- He preached on His Second Coming almost more than any other topic. The Psalms are songs, and many of them were about judgment, the righteous decrees of God and how He will finally exult over His enemies.

I love singing about the rapture in songs such as “I’ll Fly Away”. There is nothing wrong and everything right with hanging our hopes on Jesus’ future promises. (2 Timothy 4:8). But I needed to clarify my thinking on the topic further, so I did some research.

 

Bob Kauflin at Worship Matters wrote a few essays on the topic that I liked. In this essay, Should we sing songs about God’s judgments?, he outlines three ways God might like us to sing about His judgments,

–focus on Jesus judgment on the cross
–God’s past judgments
–God’s future judgments

And here is the important point I want to make. Yes, I believe it is OK to sing about judgment and last things. But, as Mr Kaufman wrote,

The point of all this isn’t that we should always [emphasis mine] be focusing on God’s judgments, nor to sing about them in a cold-hearted way that minimizes the tragic consequences of sin. The point is to magnify the greatness of God’s holiness, justice, righteousness, sovereignty, power, mercy, kindness, and grace in his judging evil, and especially in the judging of the Savior in our place at Calvary. His undeserved kindness has enabled us to be forgiven, to be adopted as precious children, and to anticipate unending joy at God’s right hand in the new heavens and the new earth.

In his follow-up essay, Mr Kaufman wrote,

Songs that Reference God’s Judgments

In a recent post, I suggested that generally we shy away from singing songs about God’s judgments, but that judgment is a theme found in many Psalms and Scriptural songs. I promised that I’d follow up with a post that suggested some songs we can sing that reference God’s judgments and help us think about them in a way that honors God, encourages a passion for holiness, and strengthens our confidence in the gospel.

I long for His appearing and not a day goes by when I don’t pray or sing “your kingdom come…” but that does not mean I’m cold-hearted about those who will be left behind to face the Great Tribulation or even an eternity in the Lake of Fire. In longing for His judgment it means He will have no more enemies. I long to be delivered from this body of death. I want never to sin against Him again. I want pure lips to praise Him. Most of all I want all the people to praise Him with pure hearts, with no sin or stain to interfere with the glory He is due from His redeemed.

If a song like “Sorry I Never Knew You,” which is doctrinally accurate, is used to gain Him one more soul in His triumph, then it is a good thing. We need more songs like that.