Archives For eschatology

12380988_1164395103571699_1566099637_o-2Don’t miss the artwork from some of our church children found at the bottom of this post.

From the Greek eskatos/ἔσχατος, eschatology is the doctrine of “last things” or better stated, “the final redemptive work of the Last One.” This area of systematic theology or doctrine summarizes the work of Christ necessary to complete the plan of salvation – – it is what Jesus is doing as he brings salvation history to a conclusion.

Eschatology is an essential area of study for families and local churches. The study of Jesus’s return is how we share the vision with one another of where we are headed. The more we picture the return of Jesus – – the more unity, peace, and joy we will share as families and local churches.

Here are 9 blessings you can expect from studying eschatology.

  1. A fuller view of Jesus’ majestic beauty and power. Christians are familiar with images of Jesus in his first advent. Our churches and Christian literature often feature pictures of Jesus welcoming children (Mark 10:14). And Jesus did welcome children. But Christ’s tenderness is only one aspect of he majestic beauty. When our Savior returns, he will not come as a suffering servant but as a conquering King. Every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess. The more we meditate on the return of our King as a conquering warrior, the more our confidence and hope in him will grow. One of our church children (Noah G.) drew the picture to the right. It is his way of remembering that when Jesus returns, he will come as a conquering king
  2. Comfort for Hurting People. The promise of our Lord’s return and the resurrection is our foundational source of comfort amid loss of life and suffering (1 Thess 4:13-18). Though the pain of this life can seem unbearable, Scripture promises that our wounds will be healed. We will spend eternity with those who know Jesus where there will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain (Revelation 21:3-5). Jesus will return soon.
  3. A Greater Missions Focus. Jesus emphasized that it is not for us to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. Rather than getting distracted by setting dates, we are to go into all the world and make disciples. Indeed, missions paves the way for Christ to return (Matthew 24:14). So we should be creative, work hard, be shrewd, and aggressive in multiplying that which is entrusted to us as we go into all the world to make disciples (Matt 25:21, Luke 16:8-9).12891568_10153295400046986_3059856905847796612_o
  4. Kingdom Shaped Prayer. Our Lord taught us to pray “thy Kingdom come” and the cries of the those who were slain for Christ cry, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge your blood on those who dwell on the earth (Revelation 6:10)?” Studying the return of Christ will help us pray these and other prayers with greater depth and conviction.
  5. Anticipation of the Resurrection. When we study eschatology, we will make a greater distinction between the intermediate state (believers who die are consciously with Christ now) and life together after the resurrection. This, in turn, gives us greater excitement about the hope of the resurrection.
  6. Greater Enjoyment of Creation. Those who study eschatology will quickly see that Christians see too much discontinuity between this earth and where believers spend eternity. The Bible is clear that believers will spend eternity on earth, radically purified from the effects of original sin.
  7. Alertness in the Pursuit of Holiness. Peter wrote, given that all these things are thus to be dissolved we should pursue holiness and godliness (Matthew 24:42-43, 2 Peter 3:11-13). Likewise, regarding our hope in seeing Christ, John added, “Everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure (1 John 3:3).” Likewise, the the author of Hebrews expected that an awareness of the return in Christ would motivate people to be more faithful in church attendance (Hebrews 10:25).”
  8. An Awareness That We are in a Great Cosmic Battle. We struggle not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:10-17) Never the less, given that this war is unseen, we are often lulled into spiritual complacency. Like David in 2 Samuel 11, we presume that we are safe because someone else is fighting the Ammonites when Satan prowls about in our back yards. Studying passages like Revelation 12 reminds us of the nature of the conflict.
  9. A Better Sense of the Scale of Time. As we watch the seconds tick by in this life, we begin to lose sight of the brevity of our days (Psalm 144:3-4, James 4:13-17, 2 Peter 3:8-9). But when we study eschatology, we remember that a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day (2 Peter 3). As a result, we better number our days (Psalm 90:12).

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Below is artwork about the return of Jesus from some of our church children.

By way of explanation, we tell our church children that when we get to the heavenly city are going to meet at the 5th Tree on the right side of the river facing the throne. You will notice that some of our children illustrated this point by including people around the appropriate tree.

While there are many different interpretations of how events of the end times will unfold, orthodox, Bible-believing Christians passionately agree about the most important matters. Here I point out six end times areas of agreement about which the Bible is explicit:

1. King Jesus will soon return. Jesus could not have been more clear. The word “soon” is a repeated refrain in Revelation (Rev 1:1, 2:16, 3:11, 11:14, 22:6, 22:7, 22:12, 22:20). Previously, in the Olivet Discourse, Jesus emphasized that we must always be ready because we do not know when he will return (Matt 24:44, 25:13). Round clock faces are misleading. [1] “The view that the round clock suggests is only a polite fiction. In reality, time is running out,” wrote Frederica Mathewes-Green[2] Time is not an endless cycle. History is headed towards a conclusion.

2. In his second advent, Jesus will come as a conquering King. When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem for holy week, he came on an animal of peace (Zechariah 9:9, Matthew 21:1-11). But when He comes again, he will come on a white stallion symbolizing victory (Revelation 19:11-16).[3] Every knee will bow. Every tongue will confess.[4]

[11] Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. [12] His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. [13] He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. [14] And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. [15] From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. [16] On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Revelation 19:11-16 ESV)

3. Christians should be found busy with gospel priorities when Jesus comes back. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we should fulfill the Great Commission to go into all the world and make followers of Jesus (Acts 1:6-8); likewise, we should seek to live holy and godly lives (1 Thess 5:5-8, 2 Peter 3:11-12). We should encourage one another all the more as we see “the Day” approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25).

When Jesus comes to reward His servants,
Whether it be noon or night,
Faithful to Him will He find us watching,
With our lamps all trimmed and bright?
Refrain:
Oh, can we say we are ready, brother?
Ready for the soul’s bright home?

Say, will He find you and me still watching,
Waiting, waiting when the Lord shall come?If, at the dawn of the early morning,
He shall call us one by one,
When to the Lord we restore our talents,
Will He answer thee, “Well done”?
Have we been true to the trust He left us?
Do we seek to do our best?
If in our hearts there is naught condemns us,
We shall have a glorious rest.
Blessed are those whom the Lord finds watching,
In His glory they shall share;
If He shall come at the dawn or midnight,
Will He find us watching there?
Fanny Crosby

4. Christians look forward to the physical resurrection. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. But death will not have last word physically. Cancer will not have the last say. Alzheimer’s will be defeated (1 Corinthians 15:50-58). Those who died in Christ will rise in Him (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18). The promise of Jesus’s return and the resurrection is the blessed hope of all Christians (Titus 2:13) and the foundation of our comfort in a fallen world where there is so much pain (1 Thess 4:18, 5:11).

Missionary John Paton regarding those who sought to discourage him from missions:

Amongst many who sought to deter me, was one dear old Christian gentleman, whose crowning argument always was, “The cannibals! You will be eaten by Cannibals!”

At last I replied, “Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you that if I can be live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my resurrection body will arise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.[5]

5. God’s people will spend eternity with Him on a New Earth. Those who have put their faith in the Lord Jesus will be with him forever on a New/Renewed Earth in a never ending adventure in which each day is better than the one before (Revelation 21:3-5). Eternity with Jesus will be immeasurably better than all we ask or imagine. We can imagine a wonderful place – – but, the new earth will be even better (Ephesians 3:20-21).

6. Hell awaits those who reject Christ. Those who do not receive Christ as Lord and Savior await eternal condemnation with no hope of reversing their state (Matt 10:28, 25:46, John 3:36, 2 Thess 1:9, Revelation 14:11, 22:8-10). Our hearts should be full of compassion for those who do not know Christ. We should be filled with love for even those who harm us when we consider the awfulness of the wrath of God. Let’s tell more people the Good News that for all who receive him, for those who believe in his name, he gives the right to be called children of God (John 1:12).[6]

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[1] Frederica Mathewes-Green, “Time Out,” Christianity Today, October 25, 1999.

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Jesus Messiah, who came first in weakness, poverty and humiliation will come again in great power and glory, exercising universal authority and dominion, all to the glory of God (1 Thess. 4:16; Rom. 8:38-39; Phil. 2:10-11). This hope gave rise to the prayer of early Christians: ‘Come, Lord Jesus’ (Rev. 22:20).” K.E. Brower, “Eschatology,” in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Exploring the Unity and Diversity of Scripture, ed. T. Desmond Alexander et al. (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 2000), 464.

[4] James M. Hamilton Jr., Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches, ed. R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 356.

[5] Quoted in Ibid., 231.

[6] Chris Brauns, “What Do Christians Mean When They Reference the Gospel or Good News?,” A Brick in the Valley: The Web Site of Pastor and Author Chris Brauns, June 13, 2013, http://chrisbrauns.com/2013/06/what-do-christians-mean-when-they-reference-the-gospel-or-good-news/.

Children praying during a time of worship at Vacation Bible School in 2013.

I need the help of our church children in drawing pictures for our series on the End Times and the return of King Jesus. Draw pictures of one or more of the below Bible passages. We will find a way to share them with our church family.

Our church is doing a series on eschatology or the “end times.” Pastors sometimes avoid preaching about this important subject because it is controversial. But the Bible has many, many pages about what it will be like when Jesus returns. This is the Word of God that feeds our souls. We dare not avoid it because someone might disagree with us.

The best way to study the return of Jesus is to meditate on key Bible passages. I am asking our church children to help me do this between now and Easter. Draw a picture of one or more of the following scenes. We will then share with our church family. Be sure and read what the Bible says about each scene – – and then label your picture.

  1. 5th Tree, Right Side of the River Facing the Throne of Jesus – Revelation 22:1-5 promises God’s people that we will all be together before the throne of Jesus. Our church family is planning to meet at the 5th tree back from the throne, on the right side (see here). Some of our folks don’t follow directions well. A picture will help everyone be in the right spot.
  2. The Rapture of 1 Thess 4:16-18 – In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul encouraged the early church that we do not grieve without hope when we lose a loved one. Jesus is coming back and those who died in Jesus will be resurrected. Those who are alive will be “caught up” or raptured to meet Jesus in the clouds. We need a picture!
  3. The Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24 – Some of the most important teaching about the end times comes from the Olivet Discourse – – a sermon Jesus gave on the Mt. of Olives on Tuesday of Holy Week. Draw a picture of our Lord teaching his disciples about when he will come back.
  4. Meeting Friends in Heaven that Were Reached Through Missions (Luke 16:8-9) – In the parable of the dishonest manager, Luke 16:1-13, Jesus told us that we can use our worldly treasure – – which will not last – – to make friends and be welcomed into heaven. Our church gives money to missions. We are praying we will meet many people in heaven who were helped by our investment. What will our meeting with people from around the world look like?
  5. Jesus is preparing a house with many rooms (John 14:1-6) – Jesus promised that he was going away to prepare a place for us. And the author of Hebrews tells us that Abraham was looking forward to a city with foundations whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:8-10). Draw a picture of the heavenly city Jesus is preparing.

Soon on End Times at The Red Brick Church

WHY does the Bible tell us so much about what will happen at the end of the age? Beginning on March 6, at the Red Brick Church, I will preach a new series on the end times and the return of King Jesus.

If you read the below verses from the book of Revelation, you will understand how I came up with the title, “soon.”

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John . . . Revelation 1:1.

Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth. Revelation 2:16

I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. Revelation 3:11

The second woe has passed; behold, the third woe is soon to come. Revelation 11:14

And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” Revelation 22:6

“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” Revelation 22:7

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. Revelation 22:12

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20

David Platt explains why we shouldn’t spend our money on the many books coming out about heaven, nor the small fortune it costs to go to the movie version.



JT gives the source of the MacArthur quote.

Wouldn’t it be sweet if this happened?

Cornelius Plantinga:

The point is not that our Lord hopes to catch us napping. Just the opposite. He hopes to catch us wide awake, on the job, eager, expectant, readiness is all.

Yet Jesus’ prediction is that we will be surprised. He will come when we least expect him.

Perhaps one day when we are in church?

See also:

The Pastoral Privilege of Telling Our Flock When Jesus Will Return

Wow that Was Quick


Describing his destination, John Bunyan’s pilgrim said:

I am going now to see that head that was crowned with thorns, and that face that was spit upon for me. I have formerly lived by hearsay and faith; but now I go where I shall live by sight, and shall be with him in whose company I delight myself. John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress.

One of my favorite parts of ministry is being the pastor to children like Elaine (and Bananas the monkey too)An eight year old in our church had some questions for me in an email. She asks better questions than many adults. So you all might be interested in her questions and my answers. The picture to the right is of the little girl and me prior to her losing teeth and me getting root canals.

Dear Pastor Chris

Happy New Year!

You may not know this, but I have email now. I got it on my eighth birthday in December.

I have two questions for you.

What if Jesus comes back and I haven’t lost all my first set of teeth yet?

How will I be able to know who my Manga (Grandma) and Aunt Alice are in heaven?  Will they look the same as they did here?

Thank You for being my pastor and answering my questions.

E

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E,

How fun that you have email.

Though I am sorry to hear that your teeth are falling out.

photoEat bananas like your monkey friend. It is easy to eat bananas with only your gums.

I had 2 root canals this fall. I thought I was being brave. I only whimpered while the dentist was drilling. But then I got the bill and I screamed like a baby. It is sort of embarrassing looking back on it all. I am enclosing a picture that summarizes the experience. I recreated my scream experience. Study details in the picture:

  • The shiny thing on one side of my mouth is a temporary crown. It will be replaced with something more the color of teeth.
  • The nicer looking tooth on the right side is a permanent crown.
  • (A later addition: these crowns have nothing to do with crowns in the book of Revelation).
  • I have not shaved b/c it is a new year and I don’t like shaving.
  • The thing on the left side of my face (as you look at the picture) is actually my blue-tooth cell phone dealie. It is not my ear.
  • Blue tooth is a kind of technology your dad can explain. It has nothing to do with the color of my teeth.
  • I brushed my teeth this morning. I don’t want any more root canals.
  • If you look closely, you can see the reflection of the church steeple in my classes.

You asked about “Heaven” / the New Earth. I think we will all be young adults on the other side in the New Earth. Kind of like Prince Caspian was young again in the Chronicles of Narnia. This means that you will most likely have teeth. If you don’t, then we will make fun of you, but you won’t care because you will be glorified. But then we probably wouldn’t make fun of you because we would be glorified too. It will all be good in any case.

We better tease one another now in case we’re too cool for school in heaven and can’t tease any longer.

Your aunt and Grandma will look far different than you remember them. If you have pics of them young, take a good look at those. It will help you find them. But it will be only a short term adventure and you will find them and it will be so, so exciting.

Worst case, you will need to include someone like Esther (Esther 2:7) in your search. Your conversation, might go something like – – – “Esther, you are even more beautiful than I imagined.” She will respond, “Well, I always did look pretty good.” This won’t be arrogant because we won’t be arrogant. Then she will say, “I like your dimples though. I always wished I had dimples.” You will then talk about dimples at that point. My wife, Jamie,  will probably come up in the conversation with Esther since Jamie has such pretty dimples.

You might ask Ruth too, if she has seen your grandma. Everyone will know Ruth (Ruth 1:16) and I bet she is very sweet.

Or maybe Martha (Luke 10:38-42). I would go with Martha rather than her sister Mary, because Mary is so relational that you might get slowed down in conversation. Martha will have her own stuff to do and will send you right on your way.

Back to Esther, if she wants to talk too much about your dimples, just say, “Hey, Esther, I’d love to stay around and chat. But I’m actually looking for my grandma. . .” You can then give some basic information about your grandma. Just network for a few minutes and the next thing you know, you be giggling with Grandma.

I’m being a little silly, but mostly not. Very, very soon (Revelation 22:7) you will see your grandma and it won’t be so much different than I am saying.

Of course, only people who are truly Christians will be together on the New Earth. I am thankful your grandma is with Jesus and that you believe in Jesus too.

Would you pray for me today? Pray that my back and neck don’t hurt and that I can get lots done.And pray that my teeth don’t keep falling out. It’s a bigger deal for a guy who is 50 when his teeth fall out than for a little girl who is eight.

Pastor Chris Brauns

44214_10151240441653265_683763825_n[3]Scripture gives us very specific information about when Jesus will return. Pastors are privileged to remind their flocks of this truth.

I called on one of our older folks today. It is the nicest day of the year in Stillman Valley, and she lives an October football field away from church, so I walked. My friend is going through radiation and chemotherapy so she barely had the strength to let me in. But we soon got comfortably situated. She had to turn off a favorite Andy Griffith episode but she was pleased to see me just the same.

We visited for a bit and then I began to read Scripture and talk about different passages. We spent a lot of time in Revelation 22. We tried to picture the New Earth which was made easier by the fact that it is such a beautiful Fall day and the leaves on the maple tree in her front yard are just beginning to catch on fire.

One of the parts of Scripture we enjoyed the most was being reminded that in Revelation 22 Christ repeatedly says “when” he is coming back. You can read the answer for yourself:

    [22:1] Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb [2] through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. [3] No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. [4] They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. [5] And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
    [6] And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”
    [7] “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
    [8] I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, [9] but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”
    [10] And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. [11] Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”
    [12] “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. [13] I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
    [14] Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. [15] Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
    [16] “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
    [17] The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
    [18] I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, [19] and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
    [20] He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
    [21] The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Question: When is Jesus coming back?

Answer: Soon!

I told my friend that “soon” is one of my favorite words.

We talked about how anxious we were as kids waiting for Christmas. We thought it would never get there. But Christmas came soon enough.

She shared with me that the worst part of cancer is not being able to get out. She is confined to her home. She doesn’t feel like eating and she doesn’t suppose that she will get a lot of Trick or Treaters this year. Though my little girl knocked on her door last year. Of course, we talked about her granddaughter who went off to college.

We weren’t done in Scripture yet when we finished Revelation 22. We reviewed John 14, I started Psalm 23 and she quoted it to me, and we finished by talking about the story of Namaan  from 2 Kings 5. I knelt down and we prayed together. As her pastor, I was able to tell her with great confidence and sincerity that our congregation loves her. She responded, “I love you too.”