Eschatology is the study of what Scripture teaches about the end times. While many Christians treat the subject of eschatology as something to be avoided, the Bible speaks of it not as something to be avoided but studied. Eschatology is not as critical as our understanding of the person and work of Christ, but it [eschatology] is vital to a fully orbed biblical worldview. For example, how the people of God understand eschatology impacts how they live their lives and what to expect to occur in the unfolding plan of God in the Word of God.
Understanding the Already/Not Yet
One of the best ways to understand eschatology is to understand the "already/not yet" tension throughout the Bible. The "already" of the end times has occurred in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Such truths include the forgiveness of sin, adoption of the people of God, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and more for the Christian.
For example, the Christian is saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, but that faith is never alone. The Christian has eternal life (John 5:24) but not in the fullest sense in that they’ve been glorified by Jesus. The Church is a fellowship of people who are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17) but who also have indwelling sin, yet are growing in Christ while they wait for their glorification.
Even so, as Christians, we can be pessimistic about the outlook of the future. It’s not hard to do so, given our cultural climate to put an undue emphasis on the not yet of the kingdom of God, but that’s a mistake. Kingdom citizens are to work not in a spirit of defeat but from confidence in the victory of Christ. Satan’s defeat occurred at the cross, and his final doom is sure (Revelation 20:20). Even so, the Christian's optimism is rooted in Christ by remembering the eradication of evil is reserved for the last day (Revelation 20:14).
The already/not tension exists not only in our understanding of salvation but throughout the New Testament. Understanding the already/not yet tension provides the people of God with balance to apply its teaching to the whole of the Christian life and ministry.
6 Ways Eschatology Helps Christians
1. Eschatology helps to teach the Church.
The Church needs the teaching of eschatology because it is the capstone and crown of systematic theology. When the Church neglects to teach Christians in the pew about eschatology, it creates a dangerous vacuum. Abraham Kuyper once said that eschatology sheds light on every biblical doctrine and answers questions that every theological subject raises. Louis Berkhof in the Systematic Theology, 665 explains,
In theology [proper] it is the question, how God is finally perfectly glorified in the work of His hands, and how the counsel of God is fully realized; in anthropology, the question, how the disrupting influence of sin is completely overcome; in Christology, the question, how the work of Christ is crowned with perfect victory; in soteriology, the question, how the work of the Holy Spirit at last issues in the complete redemption and glorification of the people of God; and in ecclesiology, the question of the final apotheosis of the church.
2. Eschatology helps Christians to worship God.
The end of all of theology, which is the study of God, including eschatology, is worship. Eschatology is concerned with the area of biblical truth about the defeat of Satan, the final and perfect judgment of Christ, the new heavens and a new earth, and eternal fellowship with Christ.
Such biblical truths cannot but aid the people of God and their worship of the Lord. If our understanding of eschatology leads to more fear than to worship God, then we are in error, or we are approaching this subject with the wrong attitude or motives.
3. Eschatology helps Christians to serve the Lord with zeal for biblical truth.
Eschatology reminds Christians of the Second Coming of Christ, which is both good and dangerous. Good in that it reminds the people of God that there is an imminent end of all things with zealous service rendered to Him. Bad in that it can lead to fatalistic inactivity and a sitting on the fence in service to God and apathy to our sin.
By having a biblical understanding of eschatology, Christians will be motivated with a greater passion for lost souls, to worship, and to live for the glory of God before His face.
4. Eschatology helps Christians to hope in the Lord during times of trouble.
Christians face trials of all kinds and types. Some face disease, pain, and injustice, among others. It is vital to have a hope of the final resurrection and glorification for these truths fuel a faithful endurance to the end.
5. Eschatology helps Christians to help prepare the lost for judgment.
Many people think they don’t need to prepare for their last days or any day after death, but that’s what Satan wants the lost to think. Satan is described as one who comes to steal and destroy (1 Peter 5:8), and he is very successful at lying to the lost, so they think they are okay in their sins apart from Christ.
The Bible, though, speaks differently, for it tells us that everyone apart from Christ is dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-7). It is only by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone that man may be saved (Acts 16:31; Romans 10:7-16; Ephesians 2:8).
Eschatology motivates Christians to prepare the lost for God’s unavoidable judgment. If the lost will not receive Christ and believe upon all He has done in His finished and sufficient work then they will go to hell, a place of unending, unrelenting, conscious eternal punishment.
6. Eschatology helps Christians to look forward to heaven.
Often as Christians, and I’m guilty of this myself, we can focus so much on what’s going on presently in our lives that we forget about what’s most important. After all, the world, the flesh, and the devil entice us to believe its claimed truth instead of biblical truth.
Why Does Eschatology Matter Today?
Eschatology helps remind Christians that this world isn’t our home and to look beyond what is presently happening for heaven, where we will be with Christ and His people forever and always.
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Dave Jenkins is the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, the Executive Editor of Theology for Life Magazine, and the Host of the Equipping You in Grace Podcast and Warriors of Grace Podcast. He received his MAR and M.Div. through Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. You can follow him on Twitter at @davejjenkins, find him on Facebook at Dave Jenkins SOG, Instagram, read more of his writing at Servants of Grace, or sign to receive his newsletter. When Dave isn’t busy with ministry, he loves spending time with his wife, Sarah, reading the latest from Christian publishers, the Reformers, and the Puritans, playing golf, watching movies, sports, and spending time with his family.