There are many people who miss the mark when it comes to our understanding of the purpose of eschatology. They somehow believe that the texts in both the Old and New Testament were written to simply give us some knowledge about how things are going to end. Some of this knowledge, in their view, has nothing to do with us at all and it is left to a future generation of believers some thousand years in the future and hence a completely other group of people. What most prophecy students miss is the purpose of scripture in giving us text that are eschatological in nature and how it essentially should affect us.
I have met many individuals whose eschatological understanding causes them to retreat from everything around them in some fatalistic fashion. They cannot be bothered by their surroundings and they attempt to escape their current environment by retreating and waiting for the end. We merely need to look to Israel to get a glimpse of the end. There are others who become almost overly involved in the culture. Their hyper optimism is seen in their quest to take over the world through political, social and economic means all the while arguing that their eschatology is one that brings forth cultural regeneration. There are a number of other views and affects to our eschatological position that could be mentioned some more balanced than others. The questions we must think through is what does the bible say about eschatology and how does it affect me today?
I recently read these articles by Sam Storms (Part 1/ Part 2 / Part 3) on how important it is to recognize how we are to live in the end times. I felt his understanding of the purpose and effect of our eschatology was well put. Storms writes:
What most Christians don’t grasp, however, is that the primary purpose of eschatology is two-fold. First, it is designed to deepen our confidence and faith in God as the sovereign Lord over history who will bring his purposes to their proper consummation in such a way that righteousness will prevail and evil will be defeated and Jesus Christ will be glorified. Eschatology is important because it tell us that God wins! And because he wins, he is to be worshiped.
But eschatology has a secondary purpose as well. It is also designed to encourage and sustain us in practical righteousness. It is precisely because we know that Christ will return and put the world to rights that we are to be obedient to the Word of God.
He goes on to demonstrate that God’s sovereignty in accomplishing all His purposes even in the end should drive us to live lives that are towards biblical holy living in waiting for the return of our Lord. We look forward to the final triumph of God over sin, the world and the adversary by giving the world today a glimpse of that righteousness that will come into this world when our Lord returns. We demonstrate the victory of Christ over the kingdom of Satan by persevering through our suffering in holding to the faith at all costs even while being counter-cultural. Storms finishes the article with a great point
So that is what I want to address in this article and in a few that will follow. I want you to think about how you should react to the reality of Christ’s impending return. I want you to think about what kind of person God wants you to be in view of the end of all things. As Peter put it in his second epistle, chapter three, I want to focus on “what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness.”
Let’s think about what impact our eschatology has in our lives and in our witness to Christ in this age.