I have stated my position on the Scriptures, God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the doctrine of man, salvation, ordinances, and the Church.  This week I want to outline an area of theology that has been difficult for me.  I personally believe to much emphasis is placed on the chronology of Jesus’ return.  Much of this we are not meant to know.  Jesus himself said that no one will know the day or the hour, (Matthew 24:36).

I used to hold a position of being “pan-trib.”  It will all pan out in the end!  I realized that I was just being theologically lazy and needed to study it more.  It is a difficult topic.  Many commentators have not written about Revelation.  John Calvin who wrote a commentary for every book of the Bible except Revelation said about Revelation – “who can understand it!”

The important aspect to end times theology is that Jesus is coming again.  He came humbly before this time He will come as King, (Acts 1:11; Revelation 19:11-19).  My denomination, the Evangelical Free Church of America in their 1950 statement of faith said about this aspect of Christian doctrine:

We believe in the personal, premillenial and imminent coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and that this “Blessed Hope” has a vital bearing on the personal life and service of the believer,” (Article XI of the 1950 EFCA Statement of Faith).

All believers should have that day in mind.  It should impact how we live.  It should impact our service.  We do want to be ready.  Martin Luther once said, “There are only two days on my calendar: Today and That Day.”  Those are ultimately the two days that really matter.  If we live today in view of the day when Christ returns do you think our choices would be different?  I believe so.

I believe in the personal and imminent return of Jesus Christ.  Jesus said to His disciples:

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also,” (John 14:1-3, ESV).

The apostle Paul said that Jesus Himself “will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God,” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, ESV).  He will return bodily with the saints to earth.

The apostle John describing his vision while in exile on the Island of Patmos describing Christ’s return said:

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.  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.  He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.  And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.  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.  On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords, (Revelation 19:11-16, ESV).

When He returns He will establish His Kingdom on earth and reign for a thousand years, (Revelation 20:1-6).  I believe in a premillenial return of Christ.  This is to be preceded by a period of tribulation in which the personal return of Chirst is imminent, by which I mean soon.

Regarding the rapture, this is likely one aspect of my doctrinal position where I sincerely hope I’m wrong.  I used to believe in a pre-tribulational rapture, but have since moved to a post-tribulational view.  I came to believe that the pre-trib stand ignores that tribulation and trouble are realities which Christians should expect in the world, (John 16:33).  The Bible in various places warns about the trials and tribulations which believers will undergo.  It does not promise removal from these adversities, but the ability to endure and overcome them, (John 17:15).

When Jesus is asked about what will be the sign of His coming, He describes events that are described in the tribulational period, (Matthew 24).  We are to watch for those events.  Matthew 24:29-31 also indicates that His elect will be present during the tribulation.

I believe that Christ’s followers will be caught up to meet Jesus in the air, (1 Thessalonians 4:17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-54) and then will return with Him to earth, (Matthew 25:6) after the wrath of God has been poured out.  I do not believe that the elect will undergo His wrath as the apostle Paul writes that “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Thessalonians 5:9, ESV).  His elect will be kept out of the midst of His wrath poured out on the earth, but not kept away from the tribulation.

Believers are exhorted to watch for Christ’s return, (1 Thessalonians 5:6; Titus 2:3; Revelation 3:3), and this “Blessed Hope” of His return return is to have us then to live in light of His coming, (Philippians 3:20; James 5:8).

22 comments
  1. While I affirm the physical, literal return of Christ, I prefer to leave the details to the Lord’s wise discretion. Any study of the end times calls for more humility and less rigid dogmatism. No sense bluffing. We have not been dealt all the cards.

    I love the Luther quote, Shane. That really puts life in perspective. It also helps me to remember that the mystery of the second coming in no way affects the certainty of the second coming.

  2. While I affirm the physical, literal return of Christ, I prefer to leave the details to the Lord’s wise discretion. Any study of the end times calls for more humility and less rigid dogmatism. No sense bluffing. We have not been dealt all the cards.

    I love the Luther quote, Shane. That really puts life in perspective. It also helps me to remember that the mystery of the second coming in no way affects the certainty of the second coming.

  3. While I affirm the physical, literal return of Christ, I prefer to leave the details to the Lord’s wise discretion. Any study of the end times calls for more humility and less rigid dogmatism. No sense bluffing. We have not been dealt all the cards.

    I love the Luther quote, Shane. That really puts life in perspective. It also helps me to remember that the mystery of the second coming in no way affects the certainty of the second coming.

  4. I absolutely agree with you. This is not a “theological hill to die on” for me. I want to remain teachable, but don’t want to place much emphasis on the “timeline”, just the fact that He will return.

  5. I absolutely agree with you. This is not a “theological hill to die on” for me. I want to remain teachable, but don’t want to place much emphasis on the “timeline”, just the fact that He will return.

  6. I absolutely agree with you. This is not a “theological hill to die on” for me. I want to remain teachable, but don’t want to place much emphasis on the “timeline”, just the fact that He will return.

  7. What really irks me are the Tim LaHaye’s and the Hal Lindsey’s who have sensationalized so much of this issue. The Scritpures need to be examined in light of genre (apocalyptic) and historical circumstance. Most (not an exaggeration) commentators take an absolutely arrogant approach to the end times. They start with now and apply what they read to today. This violently rapes the context from the lives of the persecuted 1st century Christians who desperately needed a message of hope and victory (which is ultimately the main thrust of Revelation).

    I believe that the message of the Bible concerning the end times is absolutely simplistic…BE READY. That’s it. No fanfare. No sensationalism. Just a simple command reflected all throughout the New Testament that Christians need to live their lives like today is the day of Christ’s return.

    Bible commentaries are too full of predictions and arbitrary symbolisms that are always interpreted into meaning for the 21st century (or whatever century the commentator is from). That’s just plain arrogance, IMO.

  8. What really irks me are the Tim LaHaye’s and the Hal Lindsey’s who have sensationalized so much of this issue. The Scritpures need to be examined in light of genre (apocalyptic) and historical circumstance. Most (not an exaggeration) commentators take an absolutely arrogant approach to the end times. They start with now and apply what they read to today. This violently rapes the context from the lives of the persecuted 1st century Christians who desperately needed a message of hope and victory (which is ultimately the main thrust of Revelation).

    I believe that the message of the Bible concerning the end times is absolutely simplistic…BE READY. That’s it. No fanfare. No sensationalism. Just a simple command reflected all throughout the New Testament that Christians need to live their lives like today is the day of Christ’s return.

    Bible commentaries are too full of predictions and arbitrary symbolisms that are always interpreted into meaning for the 21st century (or whatever century the commentator is from). That’s just plain arrogance, IMO.

  9. What really irks me are the Tim LaHaye’s and the Hal Lindsey’s who have sensationalized so much of this issue. The Scritpures need to be examined in light of genre (apocalyptic) and historical circumstance. Most (not an exaggeration) commentators take an absolutely arrogant approach to the end times. They start with now and apply what they read to today. This violently rapes the context from the lives of the persecuted 1st century Christians who desperately needed a message of hope and victory (which is ultimately the main thrust of Revelation).

    I believe that the message of the Bible concerning the end times is absolutely simplistic…BE READY. That’s it. No fanfare. No sensationalism. Just a simple command reflected all throughout the New Testament that Christians need to live their lives like today is the day of Christ’s return.

    Bible commentaries are too full of predictions and arbitrary symbolisms that are always interpreted into meaning for the 21st century (or whatever century the commentator is from). That’s just plain arrogance, IMO.

  10. “The important aspect to end times theology is that Jesus is coming again.”

    -Amen to that Shane!

    I liked something my Revelation teacher used to say in Bible College – I don’t see a pre-trib rapture but I am sure pulling for those people who do 🙂

    D James Kennedy didn’t see a pre-trib rapture saying that he didn’t see multiple returns of Christ in the scriptures.

    Thanks for asking the question Shane.. haven’t thought about eschatology in a while 🙂

  11. “The important aspect to end times theology is that Jesus is coming again.”

    -Amen to that Shane!

    I liked something my Revelation teacher used to say in Bible College – I don’t see a pre-trib rapture but I am sure pulling for those people who do 🙂

    D James Kennedy didn’t see a pre-trib rapture saying that he didn’t see multiple returns of Christ in the scriptures.

    Thanks for asking the question Shane.. haven’t thought about eschatology in a while 🙂

  12. “The important aspect to end times theology is that Jesus is coming again.”

    -Amen to that Shane!

    I liked something my Revelation teacher used to say in Bible College – I don’t see a pre-trib rapture but I am sure pulling for those people who do 🙂

    D James Kennedy didn’t see a pre-trib rapture saying that he didn’t see multiple returns of Christ in the scriptures.

    Thanks for asking the question Shane.. haven’t thought about eschatology in a while 🙂

  13. But life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus–the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love. Acts 20:22-24 (Living)

    Lets make each day count!

  14. But life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus–the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love. Acts 20:22-24 (Living)

    Lets make each day count!

  15. But life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus–the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love. Acts 20:22-24 (Living)

    Lets make each day count!

  16. I think the end times thing is quite an unknown to be honest. Using Revelations as some guidebook serves as very problematic – since that book can be seen in a variety of ways – and reading it literally may take some of the meaning out.

    I see the use of the 1000 year reign – well that could just be numbering used symbolically and not literally…not sure John had some calender beside him that assured him this vision he had included a 1000 year reign…could be a use of numbering about a ‘long triumphant’ reign.

    I am like you – I put very little stock in end times theology – since it is rather unimportant anyways. The focus of the Christian is to be ‘here and now’ and what they can do with their time on this planet. Most scenarios concerning heaven/hell are concerned with one’s actions while they were living. To me, the end times is a fruitless endeavor – one of speculation about an event we know little about (timing wise).

  17. I think the end times thing is quite an unknown to be honest. Using Revelations as some guidebook serves as very problematic – since that book can be seen in a variety of ways – and reading it literally may take some of the meaning out.

    I see the use of the 1000 year reign – well that could just be numbering used symbolically and not literally…not sure John had some calender beside him that assured him this vision he had included a 1000 year reign…could be a use of numbering about a ‘long triumphant’ reign.

    I am like you – I put very little stock in end times theology – since it is rather unimportant anyways. The focus of the Christian is to be ‘here and now’ and what they can do with their time on this planet. Most scenarios concerning heaven/hell are concerned with one’s actions while they were living. To me, the end times is a fruitless endeavor – one of speculation about an event we know little about (timing wise).

  18. I think the end times thing is quite an unknown to be honest. Using Revelations as some guidebook serves as very problematic – since that book can be seen in a variety of ways – and reading it literally may take some of the meaning out.

    I see the use of the 1000 year reign – well that could just be numbering used symbolically and not literally…not sure John had some calender beside him that assured him this vision he had included a 1000 year reign…could be a use of numbering about a ‘long triumphant’ reign.

    I am like you – I put very little stock in end times theology – since it is rather unimportant anyways. The focus of the Christian is to be ‘here and now’ and what they can do with their time on this planet. Most scenarios concerning heaven/hell are concerned with one’s actions while they were living. To me, the end times is a fruitless endeavor – one of speculation about an event we know little about (timing wise).

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