Understanding Eschatology (End Times)

2 Minute Seminary: Understanding Eschatology (End Times)

Premillennialism

Premillennialism is the position that Christ will physically return before the literal 1,000-year reign on earth. When Christ returns, believers who have “fallen asleep” and those still present on the earth will receive their glorified resurrected bodies. Together all those in Christ will reign with Him on the earth for 1,000 years. At the end of this time, one last rebellion will come against God and His saints by Satan and those who still never repented. Ultimately, Satan will be destroyed and the wicked will face God’s everlasting judgement in the lake of fire. The new heaven and earth will come, and the elect of God will live with Him forever without sin, death, or sorrow.

Some also believe that Christ will rapture His Church prior to the tribulation period. Then He will bring them back to begin His 1,000-year reign. Others believe believers will be present either for part or all the tribulation period.

Amillennialism

Amillennialism argues that there is not, nor will there be a literal 1,000-year reign. Rather Christ is reigning in the hearts of His people. Those who agree with amillennialism do believe, however, that Christ will return one day to destroy Satan, his followers, and death. Until that day, Christ’s Church will experience suffering and persecution as the Gospel is preached. Yet, evil will never prevail over the Church and its mission to reach every nation. And one day the saints of God will live eternally with God in the new heaven and earth.

Postmillennialism

Postmillennialism asserts that Christ will return after the 1,000-year reign. However, unlike premillennialism, Christ’s millennial reign is from heaven, not earth. Adherents believe Christ exercises His reign through His Spirit and His Church’s proclamation of the Gospel. Another distinctive is that conditions of the earth will only improve as time draws closer to Jesus’s second coming. All aspects of life and culture will be redeemed.

At the end of the millennium, God will loosen His restraint on Satan and the wicked. Then Christ will come to defeat them once and for all, ushering in the new heaven and earth as well.


Please understand that each of these views are considered within the realm of orthodoxy. Historically, the Church has affirmed each of these views at different points in time. Most American Christians held to a form of postmillennialism during the Civil War. Go back and read some of the lyrics to the hymns that were written at that time. It wasn’t until the 20th century that premillenialism became the majority held view. Prior to all of this, many early church theologians held a very amillenial view of the end times. In other words, while we may not agree on everything, we are still brothers and sisters in Christ. Like one of my professors always said, “It will all work out in the end.”

3 Needs in Church Planting

3 Needs in Church Planting

I love to read about missiology and study church planting movements throughout the world. It is amazing to see how God is redeeming people from every nation, tribe, and tongue. He is doing it by His power, according to His will, for His glory and good of the nations. As someone who is living in a cross cultural context, I get to hear the encouraging testimonies of pastors and missionaries from almost every continent. They also share their needs and difficulties of ministering in their native contexts. What I hear most often is the need for 3 things: expository preaching, systematic theology, and the training up of leaders. Now there is a lot that can be said about these things, but today I’ll discuss them briefly.

Expository Preaching

Mark Dever defines expository preaching as “preaching in which the main point of the biblical text being considered becomes the main point of the sermon being preached.” An expository preacher who be someone who keeps his sermon grounded in the text at hand. Please understand that I am not a stickler when it comes to expository preaching. In fact, I believe that topical sermons and even biblical storytelling have their place within the local church. But the majority of our time spent preaching should be devoted to expository preaching, preaching verse-by-verse through every book of the Bible. It is the responsibility of the pastor/teacher to preach/teach the whole counsel of God to his congregation. It is especially important in church planting to explain and teach how all of Scripture fits together in order to provide the local church with a strong, biblical foundation. Yes, the Bible consists of 66 books, but it is telling 1 story. The goal of expository preaching is to help people understand what any given text means and how it applies to us today.

Systematic Theology

Systematic theology involves “organizing the teachings of the Bible into categorical systems.” Let’s say, for example, that you are leading a Bible study on the subject of angels. If you only talked about what Revelation said about angels, you would have a rather lopsided view. Furthermore, if you only taught from the New Testament much of what the Bible teaches about angels in the NT can only be understood with some background of the Old Testament. Systematic theology is the response to the problem of doing theology in the vacuum of one book or testament. It is important that we look to all of Scripture gain a fuller understanding of what it teaches. It is my personal opinion that the teaching of systematic theology is effective for making mature disciples.

In our context, there are few systematic theology resources in Thai. There are some theology books that have been translated from English to Thai. And now we are beginning to see some Thai theologians take on the challenge. Yet, the number of options is still relatively small. As an American, I feel spoiled with the amount of resources available to me in English. It is my desire to see more godly Thai men devote their time and efforts to developing a systematic theology that is wholly biblical and distinctively Thai.

Leadership Training

I think sometimes we assume that future church leaders are going to make themselves, as if people will become prepared by some sort of osmosis. Not only is this foolish; it isn’t the example set in Scripture which is far more intentional (see the relationship between Paul and Timothy). To be clear, I am referring to the training of young men to become pastors, teachers, elders, and deacons. It is imperative that we train them how to preach, teach, and serve. Frankly, this responsibility shouldn’t fall to the Bible colleges and seminaries; it is the job of the local church.

In addition, pastors should always be on the lookout for future church planters and missionaries within their own congregation, starting with the children’s/youth ministry. It is never too early to get people thinking about how they can participate in reaching the nations for Christ. This is just as true overseas. One of our hopes as missionaries is to see more Thais sent out to reach the nations for Christ as well. The Great Commission is the task of the Church, not the responsibility of a select few. Training qualified leaders involves helping them to come to understand the mission of God.


Certainly this list is not exhaustive. There are plenty of other things that are important when planting churches; however, if these 3 things a neglected, the churches we plant won’t be healthy. There are plenty of church plants in the world. The problem is that few of them are rooted in the Word of God. Please be praying for the church planters and missionaries all around the world who diligently devoting themselves to these 3 things.

Are Truth and Morality Subjective?

Are Truth and Morality Subjective?

One of the things I encounter most often when talking with people is what many apologists would define as “subjective moral reasoning.” In simpler terms, it just means that they believe they determine what is morally right and wrong. From their perspective, they are perfectly capable of discerning truth and morality. However, if truth and morality are nothing more than a matter of opinion, then no person’s actions can be called good or evil. There is no standard of morality by which to judge anything.

The reason many people believe this is because it creates an environment in which no one questions them. If someone, such as myself, happens to question their worldview then he or she is seen as a hateful bigot. Again, not because they are in reality, but because that person claims that they are. Yet, from their worldview all beliefs are supposed to be equally valid, even the ones they disagree with. You can see the glaring hypocrisy here.

Without an objective source of truth and morality, anything goes. Without an objective standard of what is good, one could argue Hitler’s actions are just as “good” as Corrie Ten Boom’s. This is one reasons why I could never be an atheist because my conscious tells me that some things are objectively good and some things are objectively evil. The Bible says in Romans 2:15 that God has written His law (standard of goodness) on our hearts. We know that it is wrong to steal, lie, murder, and cheat. If we call these things good, it is because we are suppressing the truth, not accepting it.

This is why the Gospel is so offensive. It calls all people to repent of their sins. The truth is…we have all sinned against a perfect, holy God and according to God’s Word, are deserving of death. He is our creator and moral law giver. How can we, creatures made from the dust, think we know better than the One who made us? But, the good news is that Jesus died in our place. He took our sin and gave us His righteousness. And to those who call upon His name, He gives us His Spirit who leads us into all truth.

Friends, truth and morality start and end with God. We need Him. We need His Word. And that isn’t subjective.

abortion and the god Molech in the Old Testament

21st Century Molech

“You are not to make any of your children pass through the fire to Molech. Do not profane the name of your God; I am Yahweh.” Leviticus 18:21

There is an interesting command God gives to the Israelites in Leviticus chapter 18. It is sandwiched between other commands concerning prohibited sexual relations and forbidden pagan practices. God specifically calls out Molech, a god of the Canaanite people. According to ancient historians, worshipers of Molech would sacrifice their infants to Molech to ensure prosperity for their future. It is said that the Canaanite people would also get rid of their illegitimate children by way of child sacrifice. I even read somewhere that poor families would sell their infants to those who did not have babies of their own.

It is important to understand what was going on when people worshiped Molech. The Canaanites would heat up a statue of Molech until it was red hot. The statue usually featured a bull-like figure with outstretched arms that slopped down like a slide into a fire pit. The infants literally melted before the eyes of those in attendance. Keep in mind that the child’s parents were among those watching. Yet, they were told not to cry or shed a tear lest they forfeit the blessing that would come as a result of their sacrifice. In fact, the Canaanites would play loud flutes and drums to drown out the sound of the infant’s screams.

Wicked is not strong enough a word to describe what was going on here.

Going back to the command that God gave Israel, we see that He abhors such behavior and practices. Don’t forget that the command was given amidst other commands about  sinful sexual practices. This type of “worship” would be tempting to those who either didn’t want their child or felt this was the way they could take hold of their future.

Make no mistake, Molech is still being worshiped today. He has just taken on a more modern, 21st century look. The drums and flutes have been discarded, but there is still plenty of noise to drown out the cries of the infants. In both situations, the baby is offered up so that the parents might have a “better life.”

God was patient with the Canaanites for 400 years before He sent His righteous judgement. When will His patience run out with us? Oh Lord, have mercy!

What does the Bible say about mankind?

What Do I Believe About: Mankind

I believe that God created humans in His own image. Mankind is the pinnacle of God’s creation. Mankind has no existence or life outside of the existence of the living God. God created both male and female to glorify Himself and gave them dominion over all creation. He created mankind with the intention of having an intimate relationship with us. God made the first man (Adam) from the dust of the earth and the first woman (Eve) from man’s rib. God told them to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Before the Fall, man was perfect and blameless before God. When Adam sinned against God, shame and death entered the world (Genesis 1:26-31; 2:4-25; 3:1-7; John 1:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6).

I believe that humans were created as moral beings with the freedom to choose good or evil. We know the difference between right and wrong. However, in mankind’s fallen state, even our best deeds are sinful at their core. There is no one, apart from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is sinless (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 2:14-15; 3:23; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

I believe that sin is man’s rebellion against Holy God—it separates us from having a relationship with the Father. Every person is deserving of eternal damnation for his or her sin, regardless of its type or severity. Sin’s effect on creation is all encompassing, from our very own minds to the movement of the cosmos. All of creation is groaning to be restored when Christ returns to make a new heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 59:2; Romans 6:23; 8:18-22; James 2:10; 2 Peter 3:7-13).

I believe that humans were created as immortal beings; we will live beyond our physical death. Furthermore, every person will stand before Almighty God and give an account for everything they have thought, said, and done. The saints of God will dwell with God for all of eternity, while the unregenerate will perish in Hell for all of eternity. Everything we do in this life matters to God (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:8-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).

I believe that God also created humans as whole beings—the division between body, soul, and spirit is indistinguishable. While there is certainly an existence apart from our physical bodies, this splitting or division is not what God intended for humanity. This is another tragic reality of mankind’s sin (Genesis 2:7; Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 10:28; Mark 12:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:23).

I believe that every human is created equal, for God shows no partiality. Furthermore, men and women, though different anatomically and in their respective roles, are viewed as equals in the eyes of God. Within marriage, the husband’s role is to be the spiritual leader of his household and to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. The wife is to be submissive to the leadership of her husband, as the Church submits to Christ, our Head. Just as Eve was created to be Adam’s helper, so are wives to be their husband’s helper. Marriage is ultimately a picture of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Genesis 2:18-22; Romans 2:10-11; Ephesians 5:21-33; 1 Peter 3:1-7).

praying in the morning

Your Mornings Matter

Brothers and sisters, don’t sleep the day away. Listen, I know how nice it is to sleep in every now and then. Sometimes we need to catch up on our sleep and that’s okay. But just remember that there is a constant war going on beyond your comforter.

I’m talking about a spiritual war between good and evil; truth vs. lies; morality vs. immorality. All you have to do is turn on the news or scroll through your social media feed to see that the future of our world is becoming increasingly more chaotic and unsure. For many, these are beyond frightening times.

For Americans, we are seeing more and more division between coworkers. I’ve noticed more hostility between friends and neighbors. And the nuclear family is disappearing like Spiderman at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. It seems as though all of our relationships are strained.

But there is hope!

The Bible makes it clear that the prayer of a righteous person accomplishes much (James 5:16). Furthermore, things happen when we pray to our Father in heaven that wouldn’t happen unless we prayed. It may be difficult for you to imagine your atheist friend trusting in Jesus. It is difficult for me to wrap my mind around the abolition of abortion in the United States. And honestly, there are some days where fulfilling the Great Commission seems laughable. Why is this? Because in our own strength none of these things will come to pass. We aren’t strong enough. But God is! And that is why we pray. Prayer acknowledges who God is and who we are not.

It is easy to stay in bed and ignore the problems of the day. I have wasted so many opportunities in the past snoozing my alarm when I could have been praying to the only One fully capable of handing all of my problems. Mornings are important because they are usually quiet, and we are unencumbered with things we have to do for that day. Before you get on your phone, get on your knees. Before you call up a friend, call out to God. Christian, you are a soldier for Christ. You are on the front lines now. The only weapons you have are prayer and the Word of God. But they are all you need.

Brothers and sisters, your mornings matter. They matter because God hears the prayers of His children. Do not take prayer for granted or undervalue its worth. Pray all throughout the day, but especially at the start. Your prayer this morning could change the course of the day. It could even lead to a brighter tomorrow.

 

 

Wooden carving of Jesus on the cross

Is Jesus Beautiful to You?

“We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God ( Hebrews 12:2 GWT).”

I am constantly overwhelmed by the beauty of the Lord, especially during times of personal trials. During those difficult times, I begin to focus and meditate on Jesus’ death on the cross. You might say, “how can a naked, bleeding, dying man on a cross be seen as beautiful?” And I’d tell you, “the cross of Jesus is beautiful because I know that it should have been the cross of Jesse (me).”

As horrific and awful as Jesus’ crucifixion was, it is exceedingly more beautiful once you understand what He was accomplishing for us. Jesus was paying our debt, suffering our punishment, and satisfying the wrath of God for our sins. It often renders me speechless because it is so beautiful and undeserved. Nothing will ever surpass this in beauty.

Is Jesus beautiful to you? Do you find His shed blood repulsive or life giving? Do you run from His wounds or are they your hiding place? Jesus endured the cross for you, friend. Fix your eyes upon Him and behold His beauty today. Turn from your sins and turn to Jesus in faith.