The study of End Times has led to numerous theories and theologies over the centuries. Some of these theologies are good, and others have zero basis in the biblical text. Wherever you land on eschatology (the study of the End Times), what matters is that we, as Christians, are looking to the Lord and His imminent return. Paul, at the end of his life, looked forward to the imminent return of Christ in 2 Timothy 4:8, 13. He also eagerly looks forward to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. Wherever you are in terms of your End Times theology, can you say with Paul that you eagerly look forward to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus? Are you eager for the Lord to return to execute divine justice, judge His enemies, and establish His Kingdom?

As we talk about the End Times in this issue of Theology for Life, let’s be clear about a few things… Many people suggest that the End Times are mostly speculation. If by “speculation”, they mean using charts and postulating a system to find exact dates that the Bible doesn’t support, then I’d agree with that suggestion. But if “speculation” means that the whole enterprise of End Times is unimportant and “secondary”, and/or that we shouldn’t discuss it at all, then I’m not on board. Paul was eagerly looking forward to the Day when the Lord returns, which means we should be also.

The Book of Revelation is highly disputed and often greatly misunderstood (either in part or in its entirety) today. John’s goal in Revelation is to encourage the saints to trust in a sovereign God who rules over all history. He ends the Book of Revelation with a call for the Lord to come soon (Revelation 22:20). The study of End Times is not for our speculation; it is for our instruction so we might understand what the Lord has said about the future and how it will come about (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Whether we agree on the exact details of how everything will work out is another matter, but we can all agree that the Lord will return. As to the timing of His return, we can respectfully disagree, but we should not be divisive about it. Instead, we should be willing to open our Bibles, engage each other in discussion, hear the best arguments, and decide which most closely aligns with the biblical text (setting aside any non-biblical assumptions and opinions, if revealed).

In theology, we must be biblically rooted in everything. Disagreeing on the timing of the Lord’s return means we can agree to disagree on subjects such as the rapture, etc. I can go to a church that teaches rapture or any other non-essential because it is not essential to the Christian faith. The moment these types of issues become a litmus test to becoming a church member is when a Christian should consider looking for a new church home. I am talking about any non-essential issue becoming essential to being a church member—as in what defines a Christian and makes them a Christian. Such churches have a skewed view of core Christian doctrine and may even hold to unbiblical teachings that can lead people from the Gospel.

One of my former pastors in California provided a good explanation of the proper perspective on this topic. He said in his sermon, “If I’m right, as we go up in the rapture, then you’ll tell me. If we are still here and the rapture doesn’t happen, then I will tell you that you are right.” And while his statement may have been a little tongue-in-cheek, my former Pastor and I are pointing out that love for the Lord and one another should be a cornerstone of our theology. Jesus said we should love the Lord and one another (Matthew 22:37-40). The return of the Lord is imminent.

What isn’t as clear is when the Lord will return or which of the many End Times theories, if any, is the correct one. More than these ideas, our concern should be whether we are honoring the Lord and obeying His commandments—which all center around loving the Lord and one another (Matthew 22:37-40; John 14:15). After all, in almost every list that is given in the New Testament is love. One example of this is in Galatians 5:22-23 where Paul lists the fruits of the Spirit, which the Holy Spirit produces in our lives through the means of grace. Theology is not to be done in a vacuum. We need one another. We need to sharpen one another and come alongside one another as we gather around the Word. Our goal therein is to know the Lord more, so that we can love Him and one another more.

The Lord is returning, and He is coming soon. How soon? We don’t know, but our concern should be to continue to look forward eagerly to His return and to be busy in the here and now, as we make disciples, who in turn make disciples of the Risen Lord Jesus. Like Paul, we are to eagerly long for the Lord’s return and live in light of eternity, as you fix your gaze on your Savior, King Jesus. We pray that by reading this issue, you’ll understand and grow to appreciate the imminent return of the Lord Jesus more.

In Christ Alone,

Dave Jenkins

Executive Editor, Theology for Life Magazine

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