The Holy Spirit intended us to engage biblical eschatology within the framework of the gospel, with fervent mature love undergirding our hearts and mind.

Eight Common Reasons People Don’t Study the End Times

by Daniel Lim
2 months ago Teaching

The early church placed biblical eschatology within the framework of the glorious hope in the gospel of the kingdom of God, thus kerygmatic and didactic information is found laced throughout the New Testament Scripture. There are many obvious reasons for the low emphasis and the relatively low literacy pertaining to biblical eschatology in the 21st-century church, even though we are nearer to the second coming of Christ than the time of the early church. Here are eight reasons that I find to be most prominent.

1.  Fear of the Intensity of Apocalyptic Events

The foremost reason for lack of engagement in biblical eschatology is fear. While fear could potentially serve as a “preventive firewall” against wholesale compromise and apostasy, fear was never intended to be our primary posture of engagement for this crucial subject matter. In fact, the apostle John explained to us the limitation of the role of fear in context of the supremacy of love. 

Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:17–19)

The Holy Spirit intended us to engage biblical eschatology within the framework of the gospel, with fervent mature love undergirding our hearts and mind. Only with mature love can we approach biblical eschatology proactively, not reactively, reaping the full benefits of this gospel in this age and in the age to come.

2.  The Message of Biblical Eschatology Is Misconstrued by Many As Anti Hope and Anti Love

Jesus meant to communicate His second coming in context of the gospel (the good news), but today most of us would consider messages related to biblical eschatology as lacking encouragement, hope, and even the demonstration of the loving nature of God. Such misunderstanding of the message is alarming. The message of eschatological hope has always been of the gospel and the main Christian creeds and has been deemed essential for Christian discipleship.

The truth of biblical eschatology contains the message of mature, irrevocable, covenantal love, a manifestation of divine love with divine justice and mercy held together by the zeal and the long-suffering of Christ. It is the very essence of the gospel of the kingdom of God. It is the very essence of assured glorious hope and love which never fail in strength and in perpetuity. If we focus only on the end of things or their destruction, surely our hope will diminish; but biblical eschatology is about the beginning of a more glorious and a permanent created order. It is about going from corruptibility to incorruptibility. It is about entering into the fullness of our eternal inheritance in Christ. How could this be viewed as anti-hope and anti-love messages?

3.  Popular Media Sensationalism

The sensational apocalyptic imagery in popular culture emphasizes large scale destruction of the earth and humanity due to alien invasion, war, plagues, abuse of technological advancement, ecological or climatic disasters, and sometimes the roles of angels and demons. The focus of most story lines is often on the survival of a remnant and the hope to rebuild after the apocalypse. Due to the heavy influence of the popular sensationalized apocalypse, most Christians loose track of the central theme of biblical apocalypse, which focuses on the glory of the person and the works of Jesus and His zeal to return for His redeemed covenantal Bride.

Christ is returning to make all things right, to restore all things, and to grant speedy justice to the oppressed. However, most of us still could not get past the powerful imagery of judgment and destruction (which precede His return to the earth), thus unable to fully appreciate why a God of love would execute such large-scale catastrophic intervention on the earth. The Scripture declares that “the Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). He must come to remove everything that stands in the way of His love.

4.  Confusion Due to Variety of Theological Views

Among many devoted pastors, teachers, and scholars who love Jesus, there exists a great diversity of theological viewpoints pertaining to the second coming of Jesus and the end of things. Apart from several key-foundational truths found in most early-church creed and catechism (e.g., the visible bodily return of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the saints and the gathering to the Lord in the air, and the eternal judgment of Satan and his followers), many of the details related to biblical eschatology within Christian orthodoxy are expressed in a variety of theological viewpoints.

The major views of biblical eschatology can be generally classified into four main categories: amillennialism, postmillennialism, historical premillennialism, and dispensational premillennialism. Within premillennialism, there are many who take a strong position on one of several timings of the rapture (e.g., pre-tribulation rapture, mid-tribulation rapture, pre-wrath rapture, or post-tribulation rapture).

5.  Strong Theological Presupposition Constrained by Ecclesiastical Traditions

Due to the complexity and sensitive nature of this subject, most theologians and Bible teachers prefer to stay within the safety of their respective ecclesiastical traditions. Many denominations and theological educational institutions have strong and clear positions on eschatology, thus demanding their professors, teachers, and preachers to conform to their set view in order to preserve unity within the ecclesiastical tradition. The practice which promotes unity and love is commendable.

However, such general theological climate for engagement in biblical eschatology seldom produces an objective conclusion of biblical text within biblical and theological orthodoxy. Bible students and teachers are simply too constrained by theological presupposition of each ecclesiastical tradition. On the other hand, constraint within thousands of years of  Judeo-Christian theological orthodoxy is actually essential to prevent theological heresy and cultic application. The study of biblical eschatology has a track record in church history of unintendedly producing theological excesses, abuses, and heresies. Therefore, we must embrace conditional objectivity within the constraint of theological orthodoxy with thousands of years of biblical scholarship. 

6.  Historical and Contemporary Heresies and Cultic Expressions Related to Emphasis on Eschatology

From Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses to the Unification Church (“Moonies”) in South Korea, to the Davidian Branch death cult in Waco, Texas, church history is full of examples of the abuse, errors, and misapplication of biblical eschatology. Even when church groups and communities stay within doctrinal orthodoxy, cultic praxes may still be a potential danger when it comes to the application of eschatological truth. The question remains: If such a path is so full of snares, why must we embark on it? 
Although there are many reasons to fear eschatological teachings, there are also plenty of reasons why growth in literacy about biblical eschatology is not optional in Christian discipleship. Instead of fear of error, we can adopt wise, biblical guiding principles in our dogma and praxis, such as:

  • humility and diligence;
  •  prayer and fasting;
  • consulting scholars and teachers with different viewpoints as well as conducting comparative studies between viewpoints;
  • conducting biblical exegesis on the Scripture directly instead of just learning biblical eschatology from a favorite expert teacher, searching the Scripture to see whether it is true;
  • holiness;
  • engaging in the great commandment and the Great Commission;
  • fellowshipping with the larger Body of Christ;
  • connecting to the root of our historic faith and creed and using consistent biblical hermeneutics;
  • being teachable and open to correction;
  • focusing on the person of Jesus Christ and His glorious works rather than an accurate prediction of prophecy. 

Jesus warned His followers to be mindful of the rampant deceptions in the last days, “Take heed that no one deceive you” (Matthew 24:4). We really do not have the luxury of not getting equipped with the fundamental literacy in biblical eschatology as the Day of the Lord draws near.

7.  Historical and Contemporary False Predictions and Alarmists

Church history was marked by numerous incorrect predictions of the timing of the second coming of Christ. Many beloved teachers of biblical truth have touched on apocalyptic predictions. Various renowned mainstream Christian ministers have had their share in communicating their predictions regarding the second coming of Christ.

The numerous failed predictions and the occasional lack of humility from those who missed in their predictions have inoculated a whole generation of believers from the validity and accuracy of biblical prophecy. They have created a climate of cynicism pertaining to the subject of biblical eschatology. There is a growing level of disengagement with this truth among genuine Jesus-loving believers who simply prefer to focus on engagement with society now rather than preoccupy themselves with understanding the apocalyptic vision. 

While engaging the society in this present time is crucial to our faith and works, the dichotomy of choice between engaging our faith now and the understanding of the second coming of Christ is an artificial one. A proper understanding of the second coming of Christ in the context of the gospel of the kingdom of God actually brings health and fruitfulness to our current mindset and practices. Understanding of the glory and the works of Jesus around His second coming actually increases our level of engagement with our faith and works now.
The skepticism and cynicism related to the timing of Christ’s second coming have caused many to simply adopt the attitude of “no one knows the day or the hour, so let us not worry about it and just live our Christian life on a daily basis.” This seems like a reasonable approach, except that this attitude will contribute to a growing illiteracy in the Church about our wedding day at the second coming of Christ, and we will lose the urgency in our preparation. We will not watch and pray with the same vigilance. 

8.  Lack of Teaching from the Pulpit

There is indeed a general lack of teaching on this subject matter from the pulpit of churches across the nations. The common reasons include lack of literacy among preachers on this subject, prioritization of other “more pragmatic messages” for the congregation, and the fear of potential division, confusion, and cultic misapplication of eschatological truth.


Even when we hear teaching from the pulpit about the return of Jesus Christ, it often highlights the aspect of “prophetic prediction” in light of the development of alarming current affairs, the warning of soon coming judgment and damnation, or a preacher’s latest and favorite revelation about biblical eschatology. It is a rarity to hear comprehensive and systematic teaching on the apocalypse or biblical eschatology centered around the glory of the person of Jesus and His glorious works in the last days and its connection to the gospel of the kingdom of God. 

In light of these eight common reasons that discourage the Body of Christ from the study of eschatology, we can certainly conclude that: 

  1. We need more eschatological teaching in the Church that moves away from a reactive and defensive posture to a proactive one which fuels stronger engagement in the first commandment and overflows into passion to fulfill the Great Commission. 
  2. We need to see applied an ubiquitous Christo- and gospel-centric biblical eschatology that fuels holiness in the Church today. 
  3. We must equip this generation and the next with a clear understanding of Jesus’ canonical blueprint for the marriage of the Lamb as revealed in the Bible.
  4. We must equip a whole generation of believers to be fascinated by and to keep the words of Jesus, “who was, who is, and who is to come.” 
  5. We need to focus on the essential and the core of the message of the gospel of the kingdom of God, which will be preached to all nations before the end comes instead of getting lost in our comparative prophetic predictions of the details of eschatological events.

For more from Daniel Lim, we recommend his book Bible 360°: Total Engagement with the Word of God. Experience profound heart change as you discover ten dynamic ways to engage with God in the Bible. Get your copy here >

How can you increase your knowledge of Revelation, the rapture, and Jesus’ return?

Get grounded before Christ’s Second Coming and go deep with anointed teachings from Mike Bickle, Stuart Greaves, Dana Candler, David Sliker, and special guests Francis Chan and Chris Reed at the RETURN Conference, September 16–18, in Kansas City and online. Join a thriving community as we prepare for the great harvest and end-time revival, while steadying our hearts to thrive under rising pressures. RETURN is a truly interactive experience, both in-person and online. You can participate from anywhere, joining prayer and prophetic ministry, healing prayer, and engaging in friendship and family. There are also four unique tracks, with associated breakout sessions: Prayer, Promise, Power, and WorshipRegister today for this not-to-be-missed event!>> 

Daniel Lim

position

  • Senior Leader, IHOPKC
  • Facilitator, Onething Global Leadership Summit
Daniel Lim served as the Chief Executive Officer of the International House of Prayer of Kansas City (2008-2020). He was trained at a Baptist seminary (MA in World Missions) and served as a Baptist pastor in Southeast Asia. With a passion for the gospel of the kingdom of God and the glory of Jesus Christ, Daniel teaches at conferences, churches, universities, and seminaries throughout the nations.

Daniel is the author of Bible 360°: Total Engagement with the Word of God. Daniel is married with two children. One of his children went home to be with the Lord in 2008 during a crisis relief effort.

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