Now comes the really fun one; Eschatology, or the study of the end times. What we will not do in this post is give a thorough detailed accounting of each of the end times positions as there are literally libraries devoted to the subject. What we will do is give a general outline of each view, point of the disagreements and the similarities and move on from there.
NOTE OF WARNING (read that in an authoritative ominous tone). This is the exact definition of a secondary issue. No one who disagrees with you or me on this is a heretic endangering the souls of themselves or others. The reason for this warning is the issue of eschatology is first off, difficult; and second, very much so open to interpretation. The main dividing factor of the millennium (1,000 years) has only a handful of Biblical verses to support it all of which are very unclear and must be read in light of the rest of Scripture. That is why I actually know of churches where staff members hold to different understandings of eschatology and everyone teaches the same salvation and hope in Christ’s return. So with that said.
There are 3 classic views on eschatology summarized by their views of the millennial kingdom of Christ of Revelation 20. They are pre-millennial, amillennial, and post-millennial. Post-mills see the return of Christ occurring after the symbolic millennial reign of Christ in which His church spreads the Gospel to such an extent that the world is converted. A-mills see the millennium as a symbolic time period where the Gospel has success as Satan is prevented from deceiving the nations; Christ returns during this time as this time stretches from Christ’s ascension until He comes back. Pre-mills see the 1,000 year reign as a physical-earthly reign of Christ after which Satan is unbound and the final judgment is begun. Therefore in this view Christ returns to usher in the millennial kingdom. Among the 3 groups only pre-mills believe there will be a rapture and they have 3 views on its occurrence in relation to the Tribulation (before, during, or after) (this is viewed differently by posts & a-mills).
I will not hash out or defend any of the above ideas (though I do fall into one particular view) because it would take pages that first off, I don’t want to write; and second, none of you would read. At the end of the day these simple distinctions are the only differences in books worth of understanding the topic of eschatology.
So what?!?? You said this stuff was going to be important to my life!!!!!
This doctrine causes much argument and disruption in Christian life; and it shouldn’t. Should be hold our position because we are convinced of Scripture; uh, yeah. Should we let this divide us, uh, no; and here is why. At the end of the day the agreements of these positions is much greater than the distinctions, and these agreements are where the rubber meets the road in this theology. They all agree that Christ reigns finally at the end, returning for His people, conquering sin and death finally, and ushering in the restored rule of God amongst His people. Amen, this is good news for us. You see, Jesus is coming back for us. He will judge every sin, and bring about righteousness in everything. He will end sin and death and restore the glory of the creation that is good and rightly lead His people into a personal, deep worship of God. If you can think of a better thing to look forward to God bless you, because it does not exist. This is where we can hope and trust. This is why we can live, work, and function in this world; it is not the end. No matter how bad, or how tough, or how much we suffer; Jesus has not forsaken us and His promised return is coming.