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Your eschatology doesn’t determine your eternity

Unsplash/Shashank Sahay
Unsplash/Shashank Sahay

How exactly are things going to play out when Jesus Christ returns to earth one day? What will the end times look like? The answer you receive to these compelling questions depends upon who you ask.

Every Christian trusts in Jesus alone for salvation, but followers of Christ have different interpretations among themselves on secondary doctrines, such as the doctrine of last things (Eschatology).

Your doctrine of salvation reveals whether or not you are a believer, whereas your eschatology reveals what you believe about a relatively brief period of time when the world as we know it will come to an end.

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Eternity is forever, whereas the end times will be quite brief in the grand scheme of things. Your eschatology doesn’t determine your eternity. It simply defines your conviction on a doctrine that is not essential to salvation.

Your personal interpretation of a secondary doctrine does not make you more or less a part of the body of Christ. It does not provide you with more or less forgiveness. And it does not prompt God to love you more than He loves those believers who disagree with your interpretation.

Heaven and Hell are places where people will spend eternity. Eschatology, meanwhile, is not a place at all, but a biblical topic of study. Your eternal existence in Heaven as a believer in Jesus Christ will not be weakened or strengthened as a result of your particular eschatological perspective.

Perhaps you agree with amillennialism, or with postmillennialism. Historic premillennialism might be your preferred interpretation, or maybe dispensational premillennialism seems correct to you. Whichever interpretation you accept about the end times is a view shared by other believers in the body of Christ, but also rejected by many believers in the body of Christ. 

A professing believer who assumes that his eschatology determines his eternity places himself on shaky spiritual ground, to say the least. After all, your perspective on the end times cannot wash away even one of your sins. The blood of Jesus is the only thing that can cleanse your soul (see Hebrews 13:11-12). Your eschatology is not nearly as important as your faith in Christ alone for salvation. But that doesn’t seem to stop a handful of professing believers from making their eschatological interpretation the focal point of their religious life. 

Perhaps you have known someone who seems extremely judgmental toward believers who do not share his particular view of the end times. A condescending attitude produces a simmering hostility in man's heart. It is exceptionally ugly and highly offensive to the Holy Spirit. A few professing Christians behave as if the specific details of your eschatology is essential to your salvation.

Romans 14 provides corrective instruction for such an unhealthy point of view. The Apostle Paul wrote, “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord…” (Romans 14:5-6).

Likewise, one man considers his eschatology more sacred than another. Another man disagrees with his interpretation. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. Believers can hold personal perspectives on secondary issues and “do so to the Lord."

Does your particular view of the end times increase your love for Jesus and for God’s Word? If so, rejoice! Does your interpretation increase your anticipation for the Lord’s return, and your love for the lost? If so, be glad! Does your eschatological perspective increase your desire for holy living? If so, great! Does your preferred interpretation increase your love for other Christians, including those who hold an alternate view of the end times? If not, then your spiritual growth has been stunted. 

Any Christian who develops a judgmental spirit needs to confess his sin to the Lord and ask God to replace his arrogant attitude with a gracious, loving and humble heart. The devil is a master at tempting zealous believers to go off the deep end over secondary doctrines and become fanatical. 

Consider how Paul described unsaved Jews: “I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge” (Romans 10:2). I think something similar can be said about professing Christians who use their eschatology as a club to pound those who disagree with their interpretation. 

An obscure 17 century Lutheran theologian named Rupertus Meldenius famously said: “In essentials unity, In non-essentials liberty, In all things charity.” What a beautiful Christian principle to implement when confronted by conflicting Scriptural interpretations! 

After all, if I lack the love of Christ in my heart for those who disagree with my perspective, then I am in great need of repentance, compassion and kindness. The Lord can fix the hot mess my heart has become, but not until I own it and renounce the darkness within my soul.

Since our eschatology doesn’t determine our eternity, “let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), as we “make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:19).

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska. 

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