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.

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).

Book Recommendation: Innovation in World Mission by Derek T. Seipp

Book Recommendation: Innovation in World Mission by Derek T. Seipp

Innovation in World Mission: A Framework for Transformational Thinking about the Future of World Mission. By Derek T. Seipp. Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2016, 2733 locations, $9.95 Kindle edition.


What does the future of world mission look like?  In Innovation in World Mission, Derek T. Seipp aims to answer this crucial question by examining current global trends. Seipp focuses heavily on a principle he calls “strategic drift”, or the widening gap “between what we actually do and what needs to be done (Kindle location 152).” He argues that the Church has been far more reactive than proactive when it comes to developing new strategies for missions. The book relies heavily on anecdotes from the business world to explain the dangers of not looking forward to the future. While Seipp does develop his thoughts by examining the Scripture, it is obvious that much of his thinking on innovation has been shaped from his experience in the business world.

The book is divided into 8 chapters, with chapter 1 being the most informative and chapter 8 being the most applicative. Throughout the book, however, Seipp instructs the reader to put the book down, think critically, even complete a project before continuing. I think many readers will find this helpful as they try to practice the skill of innovation in their own lives.

Chapter 1 explains the nature of our “changing world” and why innovation has been important since the beginning of time. The Creator God has created us in His image, “and we were called to be creative. When we apply that creativity to work, we simply call it innovation (Kindle location 216).” Seipp believes that a failure to innovate stems from a lack of awareness and will result in an unpreparedness for the future (Kindle location 244). In the business industry, the things that worked yesterday, may not work today. Seipp explains that “world mission is not less immune to these changes (Kindle location 189).” With several real-world examples, chapter 1 serves as a wake-up call for the global and local Church to innovate now.

Chapter 2 deals with the “mega-trends” that are contributing to the various changes we see in the world today and how these trends are affecting the Church and its mission. While only six mega-trends are listed in this chapter (globalization, technology, economic change, deculturation and reculturation, mobility, and environmental change), Seipp explains that the list is not exhaustive (Kindle location 272). I found it telling that he chose to write first and focus heavily on globalization. Globalization is good for global business: it helps stimulate global economies and essentially levels the playing ground for the poor and marginalized who previously had no opportunities (Kindle location 294). Yet, “Globalization is also changing the problems we face. Prostitution rings are now global in nature (Kindle location 320).” Seipp does a good job of explaining both the pros and cons of each trend; or it could be said that he demonstrates how they all come with their blessings and curses.

Chapter 3 also focuses on mega-trends, but specifically those to watch for within Christendom. Seipp spends much of the chapter discussing changes occurring within the confines of missionary sending and the current climate of the American church. Being that I am a 24-year-old American missionary, I felt as though this chapter was written about me. At various times, I would audibly say “that is so true,” or I would immediately share a passage with my wife for her consideration. Regardless of age or profession, readers of this book will find Seipp’s commentary in this chapter to be spot on, if not prophetic. I must also commend him for staying impartial while discussing some of the hot-button issues within the American church (e.g. rise of Pentecostalism and New Calvinism). However, the same cannot be said of the discussion of the shift in the American Church’s understanding of Missio Dei. Seipp seemed troubled by the reality that many young missionaries are bypassing mission agencies and “the wisdom and experience from a long history of mission involvement (Kindle location 791).” Time will tell if his cause for concern is warranted.

Chapter 4 explains the vital role innovation has played throughout Church history. The Apostle Paul is sited as a Gospel innovator, whose courage to “stand up” contributed to the conversion of Roman Empire (Kindle location 833).  Seipp also takes this opportunity to appeal to the Old Testament to support his thesis, most notably 1 Chronicles 12:32. Seipp believes that the men from Issachar’s ability to “understand the times and know what Israel should do” was a prime example of innovative thinking. Seipp will go on to site this passage several more times in the book. I noticed that Seipp stressed heavily that innovation is a trained skill. He also emphasized the need for “an entire organization of transformative leaders (Kindle location 905).” There is tremendous wisdom is discussing these issues with other godly innovators. However, it is difficult to understand how to carry these principles over into the local church whose leadership differs from that of businesses and para-church organizations. Perhaps Ephesians 5:21 is the key to applying these principles in every area of life.

Chapters 5 and 6 are more explanatory than others, but for the benefit of the student of innovation. In Chapter 5, Seipp explains the role of research in decision-making and ultimately seeking God’s will. A company or business that neglects research is susceptible to “creative destruction.” In other words, “the creativity of one company of organization causes the destruction of another (Kindle location 956).” Seipp claims the principle also applies to ministries and non-profits. If the non-profit’s supporters are not engaged by the “story” they will take their money elsewhere; to put it simply: innovate or die (Kindle location 1049).  The rest of chapter deals with s-curves and the importance of capitalizing on the life cycle of a product or idea. I have personally seen s-curves being incorporated in Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) leadership training. In chapter 6, Seipp provides tools (scan hits, impact maps, and plausible scenarios) to help the Church innovate with the future in mind. This chapter is quite technical; it may seem out of place in a mission(s) textbook; however, I think it helps drive Seipp’s point home about looking to the future. It could be said that Innovation in World Mission is timely, ahead of its time, or a mixture of both.

Chapters 7 and 8 brings the book to a close by providing examples of ways to practically implement the information from the rest of the book. Seipp points to organizational leadership for successful innovation in chapter 7. He devotes a lot of time to the value of learning and dialogue within these organizations (Kindle location 1912). I found this chapter to be a little redundant a times, but I can’t deny its truthfulness regarding innovation within missions. Chapter 8 wraps things up nicely by recapping the content from the other chapters. Seipp does an excellent job of encouraging the reader to experiment, but on a small, focused scale at first. He also makes clear that failure is a good thing; it is “an opportunity to grow (Kindle location 2091).” Seipp closes out by looking to the cross. “If God simply drew a line from our past, he would have never sent his Son (Kindle location 2157).” Seipp seems to be saying that the things/ideas/events that change the world come from drawing a line from the future to today.

I would recommend Innovation in World Mission not only to new missionaries, like myself, but to anyone curious about where our world is headed. It is a wonderful resource for the local and global Church to take a step back and look at its current course. If I have any critique it would be for Seipp to have spent more time examining the Scripture. Occasionally, I felt as though he was reading some of his personal biases into the text; yet, nothing he said ever made me feel uncomfortable. Overall, Innovation in World Mission is a quick read that will help train many new innovators to carry out the Great Commission in new and exciting ways.

Empathy vs. Sympathy Christian

Empathy vs. Sympathy

It is relatively easy to be sympathetic towards someone. Sympathy involves simply understanding someone’s current situation and having compassion on him or her. Empathizing with someone is far more difficult. Empathy is the ability to feel what another person is going through because you have gone through it yourself. To put it another way, sympathy extends a card, whereas, empathy extends a hand. Don’t get me wrong, they are both important in life. But ask yourself this question: are you more prone to listen to someone who has never been in your situation or a close friend who has?

I think Christians do a pretty good job of being sympathetic when people are hurting. We visit people in the hospital, bring meals to the shut-ins, and provide blankets to the homeless. But, non-Christians do these things too. The thing that sets us apart from the world is not how we sympathize with people. What sets us apart is how we use the painful experiences from our past to minister to people experiencing them currently. Empathy means we cry with the person, not simply for them. It is a subtle difference, but I believe it is important one.

The Scripture says that the Church is the body of Christ. When one part hurts, we all hurt (1 Corinthians 12:26). When one person mourns, we all mourn (Romans 12:5). We are connected to each other in such a way that the spiritual health of my brother affects my spiritual health. We have been called to more than pity for others. We’ve been called to love one another from a sincere heart—a heart that feels. I think a lot of Christians, especially guys, are afraid to feel anything, citing verse like Jeremiah 17:9. But, have we forgotten that this verse is in reference to the unregenerate heart? If we have been born again then God has removed our hearts of stone and replaced them with hearts of flesh. Are they perfect? No, not at all. But, one day they will be. It is important we understand that growing in Christ-like maturity doesn’t mean we become more and more unfeeling. Rather, it actually means we feel more and more, but as Jesus would (1 Peter 2:21). And no one feels more love for the Church and for the lost than Jesus.

Do you know what Jesus’ incarnation tells us about God? It tells us that He is a God of empathy. He doesn’t just know about the human experience, He has lived it Himself. Hebrews 4:15 says:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus has been through it all. He has been tempted. He has suffered trails. He has lost loved ones. He even experienced death. And He did it all for us. Jesus is sympathetic and emphatic towards humanity as He is both our high priest and perfect sacrifice. A priest knows that the sacrifice is painful for the animal, but he doesn’t feel the cut of the knife. Jesus understood the wrath of God that we deserved and took our place instead. There is no greater display of empathy than this that Jesus would take the judgement for our sins upon Himself. If this is the way in which God loves us, how should we be loving others? How does our empathy towards people point them to the empathy of God?