I enjoy conversations about end times. It’s fascinating how otherwise mostly like-minded godly people can differ so sharply on the timing and events surrounding the return of King Jesus. These conversations can get complex. It is a complicated conversation because the differences do not start with a discussion of the end, per se, the differences stem from fundamental interpretive differences in how the Bible is read even starting in Genesis. A degree of difference early yields a major chasm at the end. While these discussions about when and how are important, it is vital that we not to get lost in the minutia and forget the most important piece. We aren’t given information about the future simply to complete our timelines, we are told about the future so we can live well. The purpose of eschatology is to put some ballast into the belly of the saints. I appreciate a good timeline, but let’s make sure to recognize why we know what we know about the future. God has not given us a crystal ball, he’s given us a Bible so that we may live well for God’s glory. Through the Word and by his Spirit we have everything we need for life and godliness. Let’s look at a few passages that demonstrate how knowledge of the future impacts life in the present.
A Bold Resolve. — 1 Cor 15.50-58
Arguably, this is one of the more important theological chapters in the Bible. Paul covers oceans of theological material. Having begun the chapter by demonstrating the necessity of the resurrection, he shifts the scene to the future. Noting that Christ has gone as a prototype for humanity, defeating death, believers now know they have safe passage prepared for them to walk through death. Since Christ was raised and glorified, so will all believers be clothed with immortal clothing.
There will come a day when the trumpet sounds and believers will be changed in a moment as they meet their savior. Death will forever be defeated. Since these things are true, Paul’s encouragement is to bolster their resolve to faithfully walk in obedience.
He concludes:  Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
A Reliable Comfort.1 Thess 4.13-18
The Thessalonians were commended often in Paul’s two letters. By God’s grace, they seemed to get it right for the most part. They are encouraged to excel still more, knowing no one has fully arrived. Despite the positive commendations, there was confusion about the future. Living with a real anticipation of Christ immediate return, some were concerned when a loved one would die. Had they had missed their opportunity to spend eternity with Christ? Paul writes to assure them not to grieve as those without hope but to know that those who are “asleep” are not out of the program. At a future day, those who live and those who have already died will both be accounted for when the trumpet blows. Because of this, they must, “…encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
A Sober Warning. 2 Thess 2.1-12
Knowing the end is coming should put the believer on high alert. Mass defection, deception, and idolatrous worship is going to be par for the course. This passage is a warning for the faithful to batten down the hatches knowing the onslaught is coming. Living life as a Christian is like a day at the beach…Normandy Beach. This will be especially true in the final days prior to Jesus return.
A Call to Holiness — 2 Pet 3.8-13
Peter deals head on with scoffers. Decades have now passed since Jesus left. He promised to return but hasn’t yet. We can almost hear their jeers. “Oh, look at that cloud, wonder if that one has Jesus in it? You can’t possibly believe he’s actually coming back on a cloud, right?” The world is full of injustice yet Jesus does not seem to be concerned. These types of things are heard regularly in our world today. Peter calls attention to the fact of God’s previous judgments noting that his precedent in the past proves his ability and, in fact, his guarantee to act in the future. The only reason he has not yet acted is simply an act of his great mercy giving opportunity for repentance.
Peter offers a glimpse into the spectacular show that is to come. The scene understatedly described in verse 10 speaks to the incredible power of the Lord that will be made known upon his return. This beats anything you’ve ever seen in a sci-fi movie. It is terrifying. The world will be fundamentally and forever changed as the earth is exposed to the dissolving heat of God’s white hot glory. Since believers know how the story ends, “what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness.”
Christians should never read about the end simply with a view to orchestrate a timeline but should always ask, “so what?” The fact of his return should motivate us, encourage us, and spur us on towards love and good deeds as we eagerly wait for his return.