7 Reasons Why You Should Study and Teach Biblical Eschatology

Various views of end times events have caused division, confusion, and frustration for many Christians. It isn’t hard for a person that wants to downplay the importance of eschatology to point out extreme examples of each view in order to demonstrate that the effort is fruitless. Some have jokingly called themselves “pan-millennialists” saying that it will all pan-out in the end.

However, complexity, alternate views, and even wacky ideas among some teachers should not be enough for us to put off the study of end times. We wouldn’t follow that reasoning regarding difficulties in our understanding of the Trinity, or the doctrine of hell, or any other biblical doctrine, would we? Any pan-Trinitarians out there?

In my opening message at the IFCA Annual Convention a few weeks ago, I set out seven reason for why we need to study and teach biblical eschatology. My message will be posted soon, but until then, I thought it might be helpful to enumerate those reasons:

1. You Should Study and Teach Biblical Eschatology Because It Puts God’s Glory on Display (Rev. 1:1-2)

2. You Should Study and Teach Biblical Eschatology Because It Shows Us God’s Future Plans (Rev. 1:1-2)

3. You Should Study and Teach Biblical Eschatology Because It Comes With Blessings (Rev 1:3)

4. You Should Study and Teach Biblical Eschatology Because the Time Is Near (Rev 1:3)

5. You Should Study and Teach Biblical Eschatology Because It Encourages the Saints (1Th 4:18; 5:11)

6. You Should Study and Teach Biblical Eschatology Because the Judgment of God is Coming (2Pt 3:1-10)

7. You Should Study and Teach Biblical Eschatology Because It Promotes Holiness and Godliness in the Church (2Pt 3:11-12)

These aren’t the only reasons why we need to study and teach biblical eschatology, but these among others are rooted in the authority of Scripture itself. I pray these reasons will motivate, enourage, and inspire you to go to the Scripture and study and teach the hope of Jesus coming again.

Go Forth to Die

Robert Quinn, a leadership professor at University of Michigan, has joined others in pointing out that the origins of the word leader means to “go forth and die.” In his book Change the World, he writes: “Leadership authors do not understand that leadership means “Go forth to die.” If they did understand it, they would not be enticed to write about it—because people do not want to hear this message. Most people want to be told how to get extraordinary results with minimum risk. They want to know how to get out-of-the-box results with in-the-box courage.” True leaders are servants who die to themselves so others may flourish. True leaders go forth, not for themselves, but for others.

Geiger & Peck, Designed to Lead [1]

Many have noted that an alarming majority of our young people are not staying in the Church following high school. There are several contributing factors as to why this is, but one reason to add to that list is probably that we do not do well in developing in our young people a need to serve and grow into leaders.

That isn’t to say that many of this younger generation aren’t interested in serving and becoming leaders—we often are simply failing in taking them serious enough to develop them into leaders in our Bible Church movement. The results have been disastrous.

Not only do we find it more difficult for the younger people in our churches to stay in our churches, but those that do stay often move on to churches that they perceive are forward thinking and have a vision to win the world for Christ. They want to be involved in a living church. Although the millennial generation has been often lampooned as lazy, hyper-sensitive snowflakes that want everything handed to them, I don’t think that is a fair estimate of many, if not most of them (at least in the church).

As proof I can point to the revolutionary activities of several movements that have captivated the hearts and minds of our young people—from Bernie Sanders to Black Lives Matter to the LGBTQIA+ movement. That brings me back to the Geiger & Peck quote at the beginning of this post. Clearly these movements are driven and manned primarily by young people—the very same ones that are leaving many of our churches!

Maybe instead of youth pizza parties and volleyball we should be calling our young people to “Go forth and die.” BLM and other social issues have clearly demonstrated that many are willing to go out and do just that for causes that at best will only yield temporary answers, but at worst are soul-destroying at their core. Although I understand that those that leave the Church and run headlong into apostasy would not have been “fixed” or kept if they had served or trained to lead in our churches. I’m not saying that. But I also recognize that a shallow vision of a holistic church that ministers to every age of Christian as Christians, will lead to a departure of those dissatisfied with a church that has an appearance of life but is dead inside.

Ours is the most noble cause and our Leader went forth to die for us. And He calls us to do the same. Let’s stop soft-selling the gospel and stop coddling our youth. Let’s stop putting the bar so low and begin to raise it up again. Let us point them to the cross and then show them how to take it up and follow Jesus, dying if we must.

[1] Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck, Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development, B & H Bools, 2016, Kindle ed. Loc. 254-263.

Don’t Just Tell Them What to Do (weekend repost)

It’s no accident that the New Testament uses the term “pastors” because of the similarities of the duties of Christian leaders and the herdsmen of the time. The pastor or sheep-herder/shepherd was to constantly be among his sheep, tending them, feeding them, watching over them, leading them, and caring for them personally.

Read the rest of the post here: Don’t Just Tell Them What to Do

Don’t Just Tell Them What to Do

“According to some estimates, 80 percent of what is learned comes through imitation and 20 percent by instruction. The 20 percent is crucial because it establishes what ought to be imitated and how to conserve it, but most of what we learn is acquired by imitation. Therefore, being a model with character integrity is a priority.”

Reeder III, Harry L.. The Leadership Dynamic: A Biblical Model for Raising Effective Leaders . Crossway. Kindle Edition.

It’s no accident that the New Testament uses the term “pastors” because of the similarities of the duties of Christian leaders and the herdsmen of the time. The pastor or sheep-herder/shepherd was to constantly be among his sheep, tending them, feeding them, watching over them, leading them, and caring for them personally.

I know there are some fundamentalists that like to call the leaders of the local church the “preacher” and those training for ministry “preacher-boys,” but the Bible doesn’t use these labels for those that lead the church. Preaching or proclaiming (Gk. kerusso) is only one responsibility (albeit a very important one) of those who lead the flock of God, but it is not the only one, and those that hold the opinion that they are simply to preach and God will do the rest will find that the sheep need more than simply a preacher-boy.

When writing to the churches he ministered to, the Apostle Paul often spoke of the personal influence he had through more than just teaching. Teaching was a part, but it necessitates that the disciple is able to follow an example. To the Corinthian church he wrote: “For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.” (1 Corinthians 4:15–16, ESV)

For Paul, being a spiritual father meant more than simply preaching. The Great Commission demands that we train up these spiritual children in the way they should go, to borrow from Proverbs 22:6. And like every other child, they need to have a model to follow so that they can see what the instruction they receive is supposed to look like.

So, make sure that your teaching times are also supplemented with plenty of personal interaction with the sheep so that they can learn to become imitators of Christ by watching you and the other spiritually mature believers walk in obedience to Christ.

The Place of Theology in Sermons

The recent State of Theology study by Ligonier ministries puts into quantifiable results the fact that the Evangelical Church is astoundingly ignorant and misinformed about the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. It isn’t hard to understand this when sermons continue to get shorter and substance grows thinner. Moralism, stories, pop psychology, and video clips fill up the time given for preaching and the results are predictable.

How can we beef up the theological content of our sermons while not overwhelming our congregations with long dissertations and dry lectures? As in many things in life, we must strike a balance. How can we do that?

  1. Preach the text. Expositional preaching is not the same as a theological diatribe. Every text contains theology, but not every theological message is expositional. Stick to the text and explain the passage by making the theology in it clear.
  2. Make sure you understand the depth and breadth of the theology in the text. As the one expounding the passage, you must know the greater concepts of theology inside and outside of the passage. Pull out that systematic theology and refresh yourself with the broader and more full ideas involved in the particular theological concept you are addressing. This will guard you from saying something contradicted elsewhere in Scripture.
  3. Be clear about the theological idea before you preach on it. Nothing makes a muddy sermon than not knowing what you are talking about. If you can explain the main idea of a theological concept to a 10 year old, you understand it well. Break it down into bite-sized ideas and use illustrations or similes in order to communicate to different levels of spiritual maturity.
  4. Don’t be afraid of using theological terms, but be sure to define them. Don’t avoid using words like justification, atonement, even hypostatic union, but make sure that you define the word and idea. But be careful that in defining a word, you don’t oversimplify a complicated concept for the sake of being clever.
  5. Connect the theology with living for Christ. God places theological concepts in his Word because they are important, but it is the job of the expositor to mine the riches and point out the practical application of each idea to life. Show them the riches of theology and make them thirst for more. The Puritans were masters at this!

As we add theology each Sunday we will serve up rich, meaty spiritual meals that will satisfy and strengthen the congregation. Your church doesn’t have to be near a seminary, highly educated, or even made up of mature believers to do this. Start at whatever level your church is at spiritually, and then move them toward greater maturity and theological precision with patience and love. Not only will they thank you for it, you will be inoculating the church against false doctrine and false teacher as well, making your job as a shepherd so much easier.