God has a place for you in His kingdom. He invites you to be with Him for eternity.

A Closer Walk 3 | Two Streams of Christian Eschatology

God has a place for you in His kingdom. He invites you to be with Him for eternity.

The study of last-day events is extremely personal, tied to our relationship with Jesus. Jesus is coming back for His disciples, who love Him and are in relationship with Him. He is coming back for those who are waiting in hope.

Especially in the United States, the subject of eschatology has been deeply politicized. Views about end-time events have become the subject of foreign policy debates. This should not really be a surprising development. It might even be said that all wars have been fought over competing views of eschatology, especially if eschatology can be broadened to its secular sense. That is, all wars are fought over competing visions of “the end of humanity” or the purpose or destiny to which humanity is or should be moving.

Because of the current social and political environment, especially in North America, many nonbelievers are skeptical about grand visions of the end of the world, especially as those visions entail widespread destruction and bloodshed. In this respect skepticism is not a bad thing. Many of the views widely published are not what God has in mind. Postmodern people in particular need a different way to come at a conversation about “ends,” or the destiny toward which humanity is moving. Many people will no doubt have images of worldwide destruction in their mind when they hear about end times because some Christians have for so long spoken in those terms. Many people wonder, If God loves the world so much, why is He so bent on destroying it?

It is important to understand two main streams of Christian eschatology. These are broad categories that include many specific, detailed approaches. One is an eschatology that focuses on escape, featuring such things as “the secret rapture” of believers, which involves a complex picture of the final days in earth’s history, based on a theological construction introduced during the 1950s, called “dispensationalism.” This is a set of views that has been thrust into the public consciousness partially, at least, because of the incredibly popular Left Behind novels. In some cases this has given rise to Christian Zionism. Most nonbelieversdo not realize that this approach is a minority opinion among Christians. But there is no escaping the fact that most Christiansdo not believe in dispensationalism—including Adventists.

The other view is an eschatology that focuses on hope, with the promise of salvation, when Jesus returns for all to see. The Adventist view is truly an “eschatology of hope.” We want believers to understand that God loves them and wants to save all of us—and will, if we allow it.

Those who propose an “eschatology of escape” see everything in terms of ways in which believers may escape the final events in earth’s history, freeing them to look down on them from a distance. There is no biblical support for this view, even though it is quite popular in some evangelical and charismatic communions.

At a fundamental level, eschatology is no more than an extension of our life of faith. If we choose to study the Bible and come to see the God of love that it depicts, we will be able to have both faith and hope—and we will be equipped to face whatever the future offers, with the certainty that God will be there with us.

If you are someone who doesn’t yet know Jesus, and have been troubled by all the talk of “last-day events,” understand that while some in the faith community are merely intent on escaping the tumultuous days the Bible describes, they are missing the fundamental truth in Jesus’ message about the last days: It’s not about the tumult; it’s about the deliverance.

God has a place for you in His kingdom. He invites you to be with Him for eternity. Accept His gift.*


*Adapted with permission from the iFollow Discipleship Resource, ©North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.