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Practical Theology | Keeping the End in View

  • May 2021 Issue
Practical Theology

“The outcome is certain. Jesus will return. Satan will be defeated. Those who are Christ’s “will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thess. 4:17).

Have you ever looked at the state of our world and wondered if the end is near? In Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians, one of the themes is eschatology, or the study of the events leading up to Christ’s return. The apostle corrects misconceptions about several teachings, including “the day of the Lord.”

The “day of the Lord” appears around 100 times in Scripture to describe a time of divine judgment. It does not refer to one specific day but to a series of events. The particular judgment Paul discusses in 2 Thessalonians is “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), a period of worldwide tribulation marked by the rise of the Antichrist.

The spirit of deceit that will mark the Antichrist’s teaching is already at work in the world. It is the spirit behind all false teachers and so-called messiahs who attempt to deceive the church and influence people (1 John 4:3). When the Antichrist appears, he will demand worship and deceive many with signs and wonders, and then Christ will come (2 Thess. 2:4).

Christians differ in their understanding of the timing of some of the events surrounding Christ’s return. But Jesus warned His disciples not to concern themselves with “times or dates” (Acts 1:7). We can be certain of three facts. First, Jesus will come and gather the church to Himself (2 Thess. 2:1). Some in the church were afraid they had missed this event. Paul assured them that this gathering was still to come (1 Thess. 4:13–18). Second, the apostle makes it clear that the Antichrist must come before Jesus returns. Christians do not need to speculate about his identity. They only need to know that he will exalt himself over God and that he is “doomed to destruction” (2 Thess. 2:3–4). Third, the outcome is certain. Jesus will return. Satan will be defeated. Those who are Christ’s “will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thess. 4:17).

As for us, we do not need to know specific details about times and seasons to “encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:18). The one thing we need to know is that our future is secure in Christ.

For Further Study

To learn more, read Understanding End Times Prophecy: A Comprehensive Approach by Paul Benware (Moody Publishers).

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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