Gary: Now, Contending for the Faith. “Dear Dave and T.A., I’ve been a true Christian for about three years, and I want to learn everything I can about biblical Christianity. I say ‘biblical’ Christianity because I grew up in a home that many people might consider Christian, but it was only culturally so, having no real heart for the person of Jesus Christ. So I’m loving every minute learning more about the real biblical Jesus, and God’s plan for mankind through reading His Word. However, among the things that I still haven’t sorted out relates to eschatology. There are quite a few views of how the last days and the millennium are supposed to go. My question is how important is a correct view of eschatology in the life of a believer?”
Tom: Dave, that’s a good question. Some people just hear the term “eschatology,” and they go “W-h-a-a-a-t?” Eschatology just means the Last Days, how things are going to come about.
Dave: Tom, let me go back a little earlier in this question. I like very much what he said. He’s distinguishing between biblical Christianity and cultural or other kinds of Christianity. And it’s very simple—everybody knows it’s the Bible that tells us about Christianity, okay? The Bible tells us about Jesus Christ. The Bible gives us the words of Jesus. The Bible gives us the prophecies concerning Jesus. Well, then, if you’re going to call yourself a Christian, you’re going to have to go by the Bible! You’re going to have to go by what Jesus said. You can’t make it up as you go along.
Tom: Which a lot of people are doing these days.
Dave: Well, we’ve got these so-called biblical scholars sitting around: “Well, Jesus didn’t say that, but we think He said this,” and so forth. If we don’t have—and I’ve said it a number of times, but I’m going to repeat it—if we do not have an eyewitness account of what Jesus said, what He did, and so forth—if the Bible is not the Word of God, inspired of the Holy Spirit, forget it! We could sit around and talk about it from now until forever! And it’s going to mean nothing! So, that should settle the matter.
Let’s go back to the Bible. That’s what this program is about: Search the Scriptures daily. Let’s go back to the Bible and find out what is biblical Christianity, okay? Now, he’s asking a specific question about eschatology. Well, eschatology—what you believe about the antichrist or the Second Coming or a Pre-trib Rapture or a Post-trib Rapture, or whatever, obviously that has nothing to do with salvation, but I think it is important in the way we view a situation today as Christians and what we should be doing. In other words, if I think Christ could come at any moment, then I’m going to be diligently serving Him. I don’t want to be caught doing something, you know, when He comes. I don't want to be ashamed before Him at His coming, as John says. I would realize that the time could be very, very short. I’m going to be diligently preaching the gospel, trying to win others to Christ.
On the other hand, if I think it’s a post-Trib Rapture, well, I’ve got at least seven years to clean up my act. Or I think the Antichrist must come first. And then I’m not watching and waiting for Christ. There’s no point until the Antichrist comes, because Christ couldn’t come before then.
John says in 1 John 3: “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, even as He is pure.” And I think there’s a big difference…and I’m not saying that other people can’t live a good Christian life—I’m not saying that. But I’m suggesting, as Jesus said a number of times, He said, “What and if that evil servant should say in his heart, ‘My lord delayeth his coming…’” So, Jesus associated evil with the thought that the coming, His Coming, could be delayed. And it’s very logical—if I’m not sure that Jesus might come at any moment, I think I’m going to live a more earnest Christian life. But if I think He isn’t going to come for another hundred years or whatever, I think that could affect how I live.
Tom: Right. So, there really is a practical aspect to your understanding of eschatology. Now, Dave, as you said, correctly so, the most important thing is the gospel, salvation. But after salvation is “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” That is our life, our fruitfulness in the Lord.
Tom: Exactly. And it’s good works. The Scriptures say that we have good works to do. Not for salvation, but to be fruitful and productive in the Lord. Now if I have a view of eschatology that says, “As the church in recent years has gone through an idea of dominion, that Jesus is held in the heavenlies until we sort of take over the earth and produce a society that’s going to reflect His truth and His light and His life,”—if you have that idea, well, it’s called Dominionism, it’s called Kingdomism, Kingdom-Now; it’s called Reconstructionism—if you have that idea that you’re working to do something that’s not biblical, that really isn’t true to God’s Word, you’re going to spend a lot of time in futility and an exercise even working against what the scriptures say, if it’s not true to God’s Word.
Dave: I think also if we recognize [that] apostasy is prophesied. Paul said, 2 Thessalonians:2:3, “That day [the day of the Lord] that comes like a thief [I believe it begins with the Rapture, surprises the world], that day will not come except the apostasy, the falling away, comes first.” Then I’m going to be alert to this. I’m going to recognize things around. But if, on the other hand, I believe what some are teaching, that there’s this great revival, the last…you know, the Bible says Jesus is coming for a sleeping church. He raises the question—we’ve mentioned it a number of times: Luke:18:8, “When the Son of man returns, will He find the faith on the earth?”
So, if I recognize that we’re heading into apostasy, then I must oppose it. Then I must earnestly contend for the faith! I think that will affect the way I live, the way I act as a Christian as well.
Or, on the other hand, if I think, “Wow! We’re just moving into this great…Christianity’s going to be popular,” and so forth, I can fall into an acceptance of a Christianity that isn’t really genuine but is popular.
So, I think that also is going to affect the way I view things that are happening, and the way I’m going to respond to them.
Tom: Dave, we know things are going to work out the way God says, and it’s going to come to pass. However, if we know that there’s apostasy coming, we’re still to take Jesus’s commandment to go out and preach the Word, to encourage people to try and rescue those. But we’re not to put time, effort, energy into something that’s futile, that is, believing that we can set up God’s kingdom on earth. People involved in that may have a heart to do things for God, but it has to be something that’s true to the Scriptures.