Tag Archives: revelation

Seven Reasons to Study Eschatology

One gripping and distinct feature of biblical Christianity is that it is forward-looking. God has spoken authoritatively about the future in His word, the Bible. Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and other world religions each have their own doctrine of the future, but they are not as comprehensive and convincing, nor as fascinating and terrifying as the Bible’s teaching on the future. They all pale in comparison like a penny to a planet.

The word of God covers it all, like a reporter from the future. In the Bible, God tells us that there is life after death, that we must face Him in judgment, and that life will go on well after you take your final breath. But the Bible’s teaching on the future is not limited to eternity in heaven or hell—it also explains what God will do in the future to bring history to an end. God has a plan for the future. He will work in history to accomplish His purposes. The Bible tells us what will happen to us as individuals in eternity as well as what will happen to the world in history.

The branch of theology devoted to the study of the future is called eschatology. The Greek word eschatos means “last” or “end,” and eschatology is the study (the ology) of the end, or the study of the last things. Eschatology is the study of the Bible’s teaching on the future. When we study eschatology, we engage the plethora of biblical authors who were inspired by the Spirit of God, as He gave them “reports” about the future. We listen to John who was caught up in the Spirit when he penned the book of Revelation. We attend to the teachings of Peter, Paul, James, and Jude as God disclosed to them the events of the future by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. And most importantly, we also hearken to Jesus, the eternal Lord, who told us what to expect in the future and in the life to come.

But why study eschatology? Why learn what the Bible teaches about the future? After all, isn’t eschatology confusing and only understood by scholars and pastors?

To be fair, eschatology can be confusing and it has certainly been muddied by years of misinterpretation and misrepresentation. Modern-day eschatology can be like a supreme pizza with too many toppings—nothing more than an unappealing mess. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can clearly understand what the Bible teaches about the future through careful and faithful study. And here is why you ought to do so:

Reason #1: Because You Cannot Know the Future Without Eschatology

Human beings have memory of the past and awareness of the present, but we do not have the ability to foresee the future. You might have flashbacks, but you cannot have flashforwards. Precognition and perception of the future is reserved for Doctor Strange and the God of the Bible—and only one truly exists (sorry, Marvel fans). We may make reasonable predictions about the future based on patterns or natural order, but we do not inherently possess the ability to forecast future events with exact precision. Only God knows the future—He is omniscient or all-knowing. “He knows everything,” John wrote (1 John 3:20b). His understanding is beyond measure and He knows everything about everything. He is the author and possessor of the only infinite encyclopedia.

Thankfully for us, the God who knows the future (and ordained it) has revealed the events of the future, to some extent, in His word. God has disclosed in the Scriptures what are the grandiose eschatological events that will affect the entire universe, as well as what will happen to each individual person in eternity, based on their belief or rejection of Christ as Savior and Lord.

As Wayne Grudem aptly stated, “Although we cannot know everything about the future, God knows everything about the future and he has in Scripture told us about the major events yet to come in the history of the universe. About these events occurring we can have absolute confidence because God is never wrong and never lies.”1

Reason #2: Because Eschatology Is in the Bible

You should study eschatology simply because it is biblical content. Everything in Scripture is profitable for the believer (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and that includes the doctrine of the future. True, nowhere in Scripture is it written, “Thou shalt study eschatology,” but this is one area of theology that you are specifically exhorted to get right.

That is what the apostle Paul implied in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. In this passage, Paul explained that death is only “sleep” for believers, since Christ will come again in a glorious return to “wake up” believers in resurrection. He dealt with the future in this text—eschatology. But notice how he prefaces the passage: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (v. 13). Paul did not want the Thessalonians to be ignorant or uninformed about death, “the coming of the Lord,” and the resurrection when believers “will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (v. 15, 17). He wanted them to be informed as opposed to uninformed about futuristic events.

For Paul to say this means it is possible to be either informed or uninformed about eschatology. You can have the right information, the wrong information, or no information about the future. But you can and should be correctly informed. It is possible to possess correct knowledge about the future and it is expected that you do what is necessary to possess it.

Reason #3: Because False Ideas Abound

No area of theology is as rife with false ideas as eschatology (soteriology is a close second). Useless speculations and unbiblical propositions swarm the field of eschatology like a diamond ring in a public trash can—it’s hard to see the good stuff for the abundance of garbage. Shelves of misleading books have been published on the end times by those claiming to be evangelicals as well as liberal theologians who treat the Bible like Silly Putty, modifying it in anyway they want. And every year, dozens of new bizarre and bogus eschatological books fly off the press. You can count on it—if Israel fires a missile, if the United States votes for a new President, or if the moon burns red in an astronomical anomaly—someone will fill their pocket by releasing another phony volume on how the Bible supposedly predicts such matters.

Turn on the television and you’ll find a plethora of late-night prophetic “experts” whose only real expertise is falsehood. Jim Bakker promotes the sale of dehydrated and freeze-dried foods on his television program, since apparently the Bible prophesies a famine in the 21st century. Irvin Baxter, who hosts Understanding the Endtime, teaches on his one-hour program that the Bible mentions the United States, the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, and other biblical prophecies which are being fulfilled before our eyes by current events. During It’s Supernatural, host Sid Roth interviews guests who have visited heaven in near-death experiences and crazed charismatics who claim God spoke directly to them about how Russia will lead the way to the New World Order.

These dangerous wolves and their deadly ideas will remain abundant since they have convenient explanations for a confusing subject. And they will continue to have a bounty of material since there will always be wars, earthquakes, planetary phenomena, and technological advancements.

The temptation to be deceived and the susceptibility to circumvent biblical truth is especially prevalent in the study of eschatology, since it is sometimes puzzling and complex. By the way, if we believe that we are exempt from deception in our own eschatology, then we carelessly assume that we are better than the Thessalonians and need no warning from the apostle Paul! He wrote to them: “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3a). He did not want them to be unsettled or deceived in their thinking about the second coming and eschatological events—which means it is possible to be deceived and unsettled.

The final and only authoritative word on the second coming, the end times, and the future is the word of God. The way to determine if a stick is crooked is to lay a straight one beside it—and studying the Bible’s teaching on eschatology is the only way to avoid crooked deception. Proper interpretation will prevent you from falling into parlous deception (or it may rescue you from it).

Reason #4: Because Clarity is Possible and Confusion is Avoidable

Many people drive past the study of eschatology because it appears to be complicated and baffling. Unfortunately, eschatology has been understood as nothing more than perplexing charts, heated arguments, endless “isms,” and biblical math. This is a serious underestimation, to say the least, for biblical eschatology is so much more.

Certainly, God is not responsible for the confusion that has infiltrated eschatology. He is not the author of confusion and His word is clear and understandable (1 Corinthians 14:33). The responsible party for confusion, then, must be sinful and fallible men.

Why, then, is eschatology sometimes unsettling and confusing? Here’s how I see it: on The Price is Right, each audience member shouts a different answer to help the contestant make the right call on the value of an item. But it’s nothing more than annoying noise because of the abundance of answers. Does that mean there is no correct answer? No, but it makes it difficult—nearly impossible—to discern the right answer. Likewise, understanding what the Bible truly teaches about the future is challenging because everyone is shouting different answers—but that doesn’t mean the right answer is undiscoverable.

Again, Paul implied in 1 Thessalonians 4 that you can have the right biblical information about the future. And he also implied in 2 Thessalonians 2 that it is possible not to be deceived regarding eschatological matters. A biblical and thoroughly correct understanding of eschatology is attainable. The study of eschatology is definitely demanding and difficult, but it does not have to be disorienting. The right answer is out there—the difficulty lies in muting those who shout the wrong answers.

Reason #5: Because Eschatology Affects Your Life in the Present

“I’ll be by your office between 9 and 10 this morning,” a church member assured. Did they mean 9:15 or 9:59? Well, I didn’t have that information. All I knew is that they would visit me in the near future. And I conducted myself accordingly by waiting for them by the church door. What I knew about the future affected what I did in the present.

When you learn and discover what the Bible says about the future, your life in the present is directly impacted. What you do today is always governed by what you know will happen tomorrow. And when you know for certain, for instance, that Christ will visit the earth again in glory and judgment (as the Bible teaches), you will stand by the door in anticipation! His second appearance is guaranteed, unavoidable, drawing nearer, and no man knows the day or hour when it will be (Matthew 24:36). Knowing this truth about the future compels you to do something about it now.

Eschatology enables faithfulness in the present. As John Frame wrote, “So far as I can see, every Bible passage about the return of Christ is written for a practical purpose—not to help us to develop a theory of history, but to motivate our obedience.”2 The promise of a new heavens and new earth encourages you to abandon worldliness. The reality of belonging to the kingdom of God now prevents a toxic obsession with the affairs of earthly kingdoms and nations. The certainty of impending (and ongoing) state-sponsored persecution of the church compels you to stick close with the local church, in preparation to suffer and die together. What is done in the present is determined by what is to come in the future (at least, it ought to be).

I’ve often heard, “Why concern myself with what’s going to happen in the future? What’s gonna happen is gonna happen, so shouldn’t we focus instead on evangelism, Christian living, and figuring out how to grow closer to God?” Interestingly, biblical eschatology is what provides clarity and perspective on all those crucial matters. Eschatology fills the fuel tank of passion in evangelism. Eschatology keeps you glued to the right path. And nothing will compel you to grow closer to God than knowing that the day of the Lord grows closer (which is eschatology). Eschatology may be concerned with the then, but it is certainly for the now.

Reason #6: Because You Cannot Prepare for the Future Without Eschatology

You can’t prepare for something if you don’t know it’s coming. If I had no knowledge of my church member’s intent to fellowship in my office that morning—I might have missed an important visit. If you missed the emergency weather warnings on the morning news, you may get caught in a tornado on your way to work. If you toss a summons from the courthouse that states that on such-and-such date you are to appear in court for a speeding ticket, you may end up paying more than a small fine!

If you do not know that Christ is coming again, you may be on the wrong side of the most important visit in history. If you miss the warnings in Scripture about the storm of God’s wrath that Christ will unleash at His Parousia, you will get caught in more than a tornado. If you ignore the clear statements in the Bible that you will be judged on the Final Day, you will pay more than you could ever imagine.

You must know eschatology to be prepared for the redemptive events of the future. But conversely, you need biblical eschatology to avoid preparing for something that will never happen. Many believe credit cards and vaccines are the mark of the beast. More believe that Joe Biden is the antichrist (like literally every other United States President). And some hold that the moving of the United States embassy to Jerusalem is an undeniable sign of the end. Here’s the bottom line: your heart won’t wander into these endless and meaningless speculations about the future when you are firmly planted in the Scripture’s teaching on the future.

Reason #7: Because Eschatology is Encouraging

As stated earlier, it is lamentable that eschatology has been reduced to a puzzle of confusion. This grave miscalculation of the value of biblical eschatology has caused many Christians to forfeit one of its most rewarding benefits: encouragement. Surprisingly, it is eschatology that will lift your head and lighten your heart. Tell me—what is more encouraging than knowing that Jesus is coming to earth to bring grace and reward? What is more encouraging than knowing Christ will come again to usher in a new heavens and new earth? What is more encouraging than knowing He will transform your lowly body and gather you unto Himself?

When you are troubled with guilt, study eschatology—it tells you that you will be guiltless on the day of Christ’s coming (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13). When you are weary of this present world and physically afflicted with bodily aliments, study eschatology. It assures you that the Savior will “transform [your] lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:20). When you are exhausted from grief, study eschatology. It reveals that Christ will bring heaven to earth for every believer and, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). When seeking things above and living for the kingdom becomes burdensome, study eschatology. It proclaims that such faithfulness is worth it because, “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4).

Conclusion

How can you get started in your study of eschatology? There will be more on this later. This is only the first of many forthcoming posts in a series on biblical eschatology. To the best of my ability, I will cover it all right here on the blog. I will discuss the central eschatological passages in Scripture, interact with all the main viewpoints, and discuss topics like the rapture, the great tribulation, the antichrist, Israel and the church, the kingdom of God, the millennial reign of Christ, and much more. But if you want to get started studying eschatology, I recommend reading The Bible and the Future by Anthony Hoekema, Kingdom Come by Sam Storms, A Case for Amillennialism by Kim Riddlebarger, and The Presence of the Future by George Ladd. For works more systematic and more appropriate for study, see the volumes Systematic Theology by John Frame and The Christian Faith by Michael Horton.

  1. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 1091.
  2. John M. Frame, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2013), 1094.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

Rewards for the Conqueror (Expanded) | Bible Gleanings – Jan 16-17, 2021

Rewards for the Conqueror (Expanded)

A special designation is assigned by God to all who refuse to succumb to the evil influences in the world and triumphantly conquer its temptations: conqueror. Jesus, the ultimate Conqueror, will grace you with heavenly rewards if you stand your ground victoriously against the flesh, the devil, and the world system. In fact, seven distinct rewards are promised, “to the one who conquers,” at the end of the letters to the churches of Asia Minor in Revelation 2-3. For believers who trample the world underfoot and win the war against the influence of the world, the enticement of the devil, and the lusts of the flesh, these seven rewards are promised:

(1) Access to the Tree of Life (Rev. 2:7b). “To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” The tree of life was in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:9), but Adam and Eve were restricted from it by cherubim with flaming swords because they had sinned against God (Gen. 3:24). The tree of life will be waiting in the new heavens and new earth to be enjoyed by all who overcame the world by the power of the Second Adam. Permission to the tree of life was denied in Eden because Adam and Eve listened to and obeyed the devil. Permission to the tree of life is granted in glory to those who listen to and obey God.

(2) Eternal Life (Rev. 2:10b-11). “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life . . . The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.” The crown of life represents participation in Christ’s heavenly and victorious rule. Right now, you reign with Christ on earth in a spiritual and unseen kingdom. When all is said and done, you will reign with Christ on earth in a literal kingdom—in the new heavens and new earth. He will crown you with life if you are victorious over the world. He will also prevent you from being touched by the second death. The second death is, of course, the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14; 21:8). If you believe in Christ and overcome the world, you only die once. If you reject Christ and serve the world, you die twice. As someone once said, “Born once, die twice; born twice, die once.” The second death is of no concern to the overcomer.

(3) Feasting with Jesus (Rev. 2:17). “To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.” Jesus promises that overcomers will feast with Him in eternity. The hidden manna is the heavenly food you will consume at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9). You’ll share a feast with the True Bread from heaven Himself (John 6:32-33). The white stone is your admission token. It is the invitation pass to partake in Jesus’ supper. That it is white symbolizes righteousness, meaning those who receive it are only those made righteous by the atonement of Christ. And finally, the new name simply means you will have a new status in heaven. God’s name will be upon you (Rev. 22:3-4). Feasting with Christ—what a reward! To feast with Him, you must resist feasting at the table of the world, as God enables you by His grace. The conqueror is rewarded after a bloody fight with the world by eternal fellowship and feasting with the King of kings.

(4) Ruling and Reigning with Christ (Rev. 2:26-28). “The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star.” Jesus guarantees that if you triumph over the world you shall rule and reign with Him. Psalm 2 explained that the Messiah would build an invincible kingdom and you are part of it right now. You rule and reign with Christ in this life, for He has made you a kingdom (Rev. 1:6). Moreover, you do not need to worry about prestige and approval in this life, because in the next life you will rule with the Lord Jesus Christ.

(5) Your Name Will Remain in the Book of Life (Rev. 3:5). “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” Jesus promises that your name will never be removed from the book of life. In addition to the white robe of righteousness, which will be your heavenly attire, Christ assures that your name will never be taken out of His book. This book is, of course, the “registry” of the names of all believers. Christ also promises that He will confess your name before the Father and the angels in heaven. The assurance Christ gives here, that your name is permanently written in the book of life, is another way of describing the doctrine of the security of the believer’s salvation. All true believers will endure to the end, and part of that endurance is overcoming the world.

(6) Eternal Belonging to God (Rev. 3:12). “The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.” Christ says you’ll be a pillar in heaven, meaning, like a pillar, you will not be moved—your heavenly residence will be permanent. It’s not like a hotel where you check in at 3 and check out at 11 the next morning—once you check in to heaven, you can’t check out. Also, many names will be “written” on you, indicating complete irrevocable belonging to God. You name what is yours; you are God’s.

(7) Sharing in Jesus’ Victory (Rev. 3:21). “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” The overcomer will sit on the throne with Jesus Christ. Christ said something like this to His disciples in Matthew 19:28, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” In Revelation, that promise is expanded—the overcomer will sit on the throne with Jesus Christ. As Paul said, “If we endure, we will also reign with him” (2 Tim. 2:12). Don’t you want to be there with Him? Don’t you want to be by His side throughout all eternity? What a wonderful promise to encourage us to persevere!

Will you wield your Sword, clothe yourself in armor, and brace yourself for a bloody fight (Eph. 6:10-20)? Will you persevere and stand your ground till the end? Will you be a conqueror?


Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

Small People, Big Impact | Bible Gleanings, September 19-20, 2020

Small People, Big Impact

Earlier this month, Americans and many nations abroad celebrated the 75th Commemoration of the End of World War II. The worldwide conflict initiated in 1939 when Britain and France declared war on Germany in response to Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Every major part of the world loaded their weapons and got involved, including the United States. After seemingly endless battles and bloodshed for over half a decade, the war officially ended on September 2, 1945 when the Japanese formally surrendered.

A little-known fact about the world’s bloodiest conflict is that a small business in New York City helped the Allies triumph victoriously. Over 70 years ago, Louis Pfohl founded Plaxall, a family-owned plastics manufacturing company, which still operates today. A New York Times article recounts that they have recently aided in the production of face shields to combat the coronavirus, but most notably helped us defeat the Axis powers during WWII. The federal government requested that their minuscule workforce produce plastic replicas of American, German, Russian, and Japanese airplanes so citizens and military personnel could better identify them during air raids. Plaxall even advanced the production of the atomic bomb as they were contracted by the Manhattan Project to build a five-sided pyramidal cone that was indispensable to the endeavor. 

Plaxall may have been small in number but they were big on impact. They helped us win the world’s deadliest conflict, although they never employed a huge workforce. They didn’t need a great army to help the greatest armies of the world. They didn’t need a big name to make a big difference. The truth is, you don’t need a multitude or a ton of resources to make a global impact. All you need are a few committed people working together for the fulfillment of a single mission.

Jesus Christ agrees: “I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name” (Revelation 3:8b). Jesus commends the Philadelphian church, acknowledging that they had been faithful despite being small. They had little strength—small numbers and little resources. They couldn’t produce much because of their little size and influence, but they produced the greatest thing of all: faithfulness to Christ. That’s all it takes to make a big impact. God will use you greatly when you remain faithful to your mission—the Great Commission (Matt. 28:16-20).

He doesn’t need a big church to make a global difference. He doesn’t need an army to spread the gospel to the world. He just wants faithfulness. God can do a lot with a little, right? Christ fed the multitudes with a sack lunch and even changed the world by the preaching of twelve apostles. Do what you can and God will use it, even if it is small. He may even use it to win a war.


Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it will be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

Day 24: Jesus is Comin’ to Town

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.”—Revelation 22:12

Children all over the world are waiting for Santa Claus to deliver lots of toys and goodies to their homes. The anticipation for Santa is so great that the children go to bed early and cookies and milk are left out for his enjoyment. There are even songs about Santa’s coming which dominate the radio waves: Here Comes Santa Claus and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town. Little boys and girls are told that they’d better be on their best behavior because Santa is making a list and checking it twice. He’s “gonna find out who’s naught or nice.”

This expectation of Santa’s coming does not compare with the eagerness the Israelites had in waiting on the arrival of the Messiah. For thousands and thousands of years, they waited on the One who would bring them salvation by offering Himself as a substitute (Isaiah 53:4-6). They were waiting for their Savior to come, the One who would crush the head of Satan and reverse the curse of sin (Genesis 3:15-19). On Christmas day, He came to earth; He finally arrived. He was born in the likeness of men with a fleshly body—like you and I in every way, yet without sin (Philippians 2:5-8; Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 2:14, 17-18).

His first advent was humble, quiet, and observed by only His earthly parents, lowly shepherds, and a few bystanders. Now that He accomplished the work God sent Him to do, we are waiting on His second advent. He will come to earth a second time, but this time everyone will see it: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen” (Revelation 1:7). He will not come as a helpless babe, but as the King of kings and Lord of lords riding on a white horse to, “tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty” (Revelation 19:15). And you need not be concerned about whether or not you are on Jesus’ naughty or nice list—you need to be concerned about whether or not your name is found in the book of life (Revelation 20:15).

One glorious day, Jesus is comin’ to town. Have you made preparations for His second arrival? He is coming soon—it may be today, it may be Christmas, or it may be a hundred years from now. In any case, you must be ready—ready by trusting completely in Christ and His finished work for your salvation.


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Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.

The Persecuted Church (Rev. 2:8-11)

The following sermon was delivered at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky, on the 5th day of May 2018, during the morning service:


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their two dogs, Susie and Aries.

The Loveless Church (Rev. 2:1-7)

The following sermon was delivered at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky, on the 29th day of April 2018, during the morning service:


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their two dogs, Susie and Aries.

What Does the Bible Say About the Eternal Destination of a Person Who Never Hears of Jesus?

This question has in mind the eternal destination of an individual who never gets a chance to hear about Jesus Christ or the gospel. Hypothetically, you might think of a person completely alone on an island. In reality, you might think of persons in an indigenous tribe where the message of the gospel has not yet arrived. The question assumes that God may treat such an individual differently because they never had a chance to believe in the gospel because they never heard it. How could God hold a person accountable for what he doesn’t know? Wouldn’t it be unfair for God to send such a person to hell?

Well, there are several logical and theological problems with the assumption that any person would be treated differently than any other sinner. The question itself is flawed from its false assumption. But remarkably, even though this question is flawed, the Bible gives a very clear answer. The Bible’s answer is this: all sinners everywhere are justly condemned by God for willfully rejecting His rule and His laws. A sinner is not exempt from condemnation just because he doesn’t hear the gospel, and a sinner does not become liable to judgment once he does hear the gospel. For the individual who never hears the gospel, he is liable to the judgment just like a person who does hear the gospel. We can arrive at such an answer because of several things that the Scripture clearly teaches.

First, the Bible clearly teaches that God has revealed Himself generally through the beauty and order of creation. That is, every person on the planet has some level of knowledge about God – even the person who’s never heard of Jesus. The apostle Paul states this in Romans 1:18-20, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (emphasis mine). Paul states in that passage that God has given general revelation to all of mankind. That is, God can be generally known through creation. That being said, knowledge of God from creation is limited. You cannot know things about God from creation like the fact that He is Triune, loving, or omnipresent. But God’s existence, His power, and some perception of His divine nature can be known through creation alone. Paul says that God has revealed Himself through the creation of the world and because of this, all men are “without excuse.” Because of the evidence of God in creation, mankind should know that God exists – he has no excuse and he cannot claim that God didn’t give him sufficient evidence for His existence. Paul also states that sinners have suppressed this knowledge. Because mankind is unrighteous, he suppresses the truth that God exists. So then, because God has made Himself known in creation, all of mankind have knowledge that God exists, whether they be in North America or some undiscovered tribe. The problem is not that they have no knowledge of God at all, the problem is that they have suppressed the knowledge of God that they already have.

Second, the Bible teaches that all of mankind have a sense of what God requires. All mankind have some sense of morality, an understanding of right and wrong. Even the person who never hears of Jesus or the gospel understands right and wrong. He will therefore be held accountable to God for doing what is wrong and failing to do what is right, since he knows what he should and shouldn’t do. Now, as with general revelation, this does not mean that mankind has an exhaustive knowledge of right and wrong, but that he has a general one. Again we turn to Romans to find this truth revealed where Paul says, “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (Romans 2:14-16). Paul is dealing with the nature of man in this passage. Even though a man may not have “the law,” that is, the law of Moses, they are a “law to themselves.” Paul says that all man has knowledge of moral law written on his heart, and it is enough moral knowledge for him to have conflict in his conscience. So again, man has general knowledge of God and general knowledge of morality – the person who never hears of Jesus is therefore not innocent or exempt from being accountable to God. Although he doesn’t know the Bible or all the specifics, he doesn’t seek the God he knows exists and he doesn’t obey the moral law written on his heart. People are responsible to God for what God has already revealed to them.

Third, the Bible clearly teaches that you must hear the gospel in order to believe it and thereby be saved. A person who never hears of Jesus cannot believe in Him. How can you believe in something you’ve never heard of? Scripture teaches that a prerequisite for salvation is hearing the message of the gospel. In Ephesians 1:13, Paul describes something of the process of conversion, and notice what he says comes before belief: “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, [you] were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” (emphasis mine). Hearing the “word of truth,” the gospel, comes before belief. Furthermore, Paul states this truth even clearer in Romans 10, where he explains how a person arrives at believing in Christ for salvation. Notice the progression and simple logic in the passage: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (vv. 14-17, emphasis mine). Paul states that belief in Christ is necessary for calling on Him, and hearing about Christ is necessary for believing in Him. He even summarizes that truth in the last verse of the passage, saying that faith (for believing unto salvation) comes from hearing the word of Christ, the gospel.

The question assumes the possibility that a person is not liable to judgment until he hears the gospel. But hearing the gospel doesn’t make you liable to judgment, being a sinner makes you liable to the judgment. Hearing the gospel is only the prerequisite for coming to Christ in repentance and faith. If hearing the gospel was what made a person liable to judgment, then you should avoid evangelism at all costs! Why would you take the gospel to the nations if they were innocent before hearing the gospel and condemned after hearing it? The apostle Peter says something to this effect: “For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them” (2 Peter 2:21). If people who never hear the gospel are already saved, then we should make sure no one ever hears the gospel. The worst thing we could do would be to share the gospel with a person and have him or her reject it. If that were to happen, he or she would be condemned. Why run the risk of people possibly rejecting the gospel and condemning themselves when they were previously saved because they had never heard the gospel?

Fourth, the Bible clearly teaches that salvation is only by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Just because a person never hears of Jesus doesn’t mean he can take a different way of salvation. If he doesn’t receive salvation by grace through faith, “the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36) and he goes to hell. If this were not the case, then you would have to explain how salvation comes to a person differently than what is clearly prescribed in the Bible – and there is no other way. And what would it say about the justice of God and the work of Christ if a person could be saved apart from faith in Christ? The Bible is clear that a person must come to Father through Jesus (John 14:6), and that there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12).

Fifth and finally, we are not in a position to judge whether or not God’s actions are fair or just. We are not ultimately in a position to judge God’s actions as fair or unfair. Some think it is unfair for Him to express judgment on sinners who have never heard of Jesus. What’s more, some people would consider it unfair that they were “force-fed” Christianity their whole lives. If you consider it unfair for God to condemn those who have never heard, your opinion doesn’t matter. God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), He does what He pleases (Psalm 115:3; 135:6), and He always does what is good and glorifying to Himself.

So what does the Bible say about the eternal destination of a person who never hears of Jesus? Without saving faith in Jesus Christ, he will go to hell. Just because he didn’t have a chance to hear the gospel doesn’t mean he was innocent. He has knowledge about God and some sense of what God requires, and because he doesn’t seek God or do what God requires, he is condemned like the rest of mankind. If he doesn’t hear the gospel, he cannot believe it, and the only way to be saved is through hearing and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ. And instead of judging the fairness of such, we should be more fervent to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15) so that they can come to Jesus Christ.

What Does the Bible Say? is a question and answer series which seeks biblical answers to pressing questions.

26219980_2002699353334045_1898487006197556984_n.jpgBrandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with free Christian resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their dog, Susie.

The Need for Studying Theology, a Guest Post by Michael Chadwick

Before I dive into the subject of why theological study is crucial for the Christian, I would really like to address something important. When you read the title of this post, you may have had certain doubts. You might have had one of these reactions: Theology? I don’t want to lose the simplicity of faith! Won’t I substitute thought for action? I mean, theology has caused divisions – theology uses big words, and it just complicates communication. Isn’t theology all based on speculation, and doesn’t theology major on minor truths? 

If you had a reaction similar to this, you’re not alone. You see, a large number of people in the church, unfortunately try to avoid theology and all that goes along with it like avoiding some plague. Most people have strong doubts about theology – but let me encourage you by saying that theology is not a bad thing. In fact, if theology is done with the right motive, it is a most glorious thing. With that said, let’s dive in deeper into why we should study theology and why it is definitely a good thing.

First of all, what is theology? Theology, in its literal translation is the study of God. The meaning of the word comes from two separate words: Theo (meaning God) and ology (meaning study). Essentially, theology is the study of God. Henry Clarence Thiessen gives us an even better way to understand the definition of theology, saying that “we may define theology as the science of God and His relations to the universe.”¹ Why is this? Why is theology the science of God and how He relates to the universe? Because in Christian theology, you have to include many different doctrines. Throughout years of study, we now include every Christian doctrine to this idea of theology. Doctrines such as:

  • the doctrine of revelation (the study of how God reveals Himself to us, etc.)
  • the doctrine of God (this includes His nature, His attributes, His decrees, His works, etc.)
  • the doctrine of humanity (this includes our nature, and our relationship to both sin and a holy God)
  • the doctrine of Christ (includes both the person and the work of Christ)
  • the doctrine of the Holy Spirit (includes both the person and the work of the Holy Spirit)
  • the doctrine of salvation (how it is that we are saved, what does that entail, etc.)
  • the doctrine of the church (how is the church to be led, what is the purpose of the church, etc.)
  • the doctrine of last things (consummation and what will happen when we die)

This was far from a complete list, but it definitely gives a good overview of what we consider to be theology today. It’s not just one idea, or a few scattered ideas – it is a science – the science of God. Theology is important because it deals with every day Christian life, as you can see clearly from the list above.

Why should we study theology? There are four main reasons why it should be important for Christians to study theology. So why should we sit down and enjoy studying theology?

1. Study Theology Because the Bible Teaches That Theology is Important

The first reason is because the Bible teaches us that theology is important. Look at Hosea 4:1-6:

“Listen to the word of the Lord, O sons of Israel, for the Lord has a case against the inhabitants of the land, because there is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land. There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and everyone who lives in it languishes along with the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky, and also the fish of the sea disappear. Yet let no one find fault, and let none offer reproof; for you people are like those who contend with the priest. So you will stumble by day, and the prophet also will stumble with you by night; and I will destroy your mother. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest, since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (NASB).

In the beginning verse, God tells the people of Israel that there is a case against them – because on top of many other things, there was no knowledge of God in the land. And this is an essential part of theology. We as theological students try to learn more and more about our God. We need the right knowledge of God as Christians. This passage from Hosea calls us to pursue that knowledge, and it does so through one of its many warnings found in verse 6: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest, since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” If God is unchangeable (which is one of His many attributes), then He can do the same thing to us. We can be spiritually destroyed and reap the consequences without knowledge of God. We as Christians, as God’s people, need to have knowledge about God. Also, similar instruction is found in Malachi 2:7, “for the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.” In the local church, your pastor(s), deacons, elders, Sunday school teachers, or any other persons in leadership roles should help you in your personal study of the knowledge of God. This study is what we call theology. So first we see that the Bible teaches that study of theology is important.

2. Study Theology Because Jesus Demonstrated That Theology is Important

Secondly, we should study theology because Jesus demonstrated that theology is important. Let us look at Matthew 16:13-16:

“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” (NASB)

What is pictured in this passage is that they are walking in a line and Jesus goes to each disciple individually and asks these questions. When it says that Jesus was asking the disciples, it has the action of beginning to ask and kept asking. Finally, after he got through all of the disciples, he got to Peter. And Peter said that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah. The point: Jesus wanted to know what people were saying about Him. By doing this, He was demonstrating that theology is important to Him. If we cannot answer this fundamental question right, then we cannot dive further into theology, for if we have an answer any different than Peter’s, anything else we say is as flawed as the “wisdom” of this world.

3. Study Theology Because it is Important for Discipleship

Thirdly, to be a disciple we need to study theology. Remember, if we cannot answer who Jesus is correctly, we cannot begin to go anywhere else in Scripture. To be a true disciple of Christ, we have to know what Christ says, does, and thinks. The only way we can figure this out is by reading our Bibles and by studying theology. We need theology to help us in our walk with God. We need theology to be better ambassadors for Him. The Christian life may start out with a “blind” and simple faith, but God does not want us to stay there. God wants you and I to grow in our faith. God wants us to learn more about Him, and as we do we will be growing disciples.

4. Study Theology Because the Early Church Demonstrated That Theology is Important

Last, the early church demonstrated that theology is important. The early church had to rely on sound theology to safeguard against the all-too-frequent heresies that came about. Many of the major heresies really started after the apostle John died. Soon after his death was when Gnosticism was on its rise. This heresy affected people’s understanding of the doctrine of Christ, the doctrine of God, and the doctrine of humanity. If you ever decide to research Gnosticism, you will see that its impact was so sever that we are still trying to recover from this heresy. On a similar note, you even have to be careful when studying the heresies! Make sure you have a very solid foundation on the Bible before you work through those. There were many other heresies that came about that compelled the early Church to rely completely on sound theology. And that demonstrates the need for studying it.

Conclusion: Study Theology for the Glory of God

As I said in the introduction, if you study theology with the right motive, then it is a most glorious thing. Since we know why we should study theology, then we need to find out what the right motive is for studying theology. So what is this right motive? The answer to that is really the answer to why we do anything. We as Christians do everything to bring praise, honor, and glory to our sovereign King. That is always the end goal in everything that we do. Our motive for studying theology is no different. We study theology for God’s glory. If our motive is anything other than to learn more about our Creator, and to grow in our relationship with Him, then we are wrong and need to desperately repent. There are many who study theology so that they can answer all the questions, and be the smartest person in the room – quite plainly, that is wrong. They need to repent because it is clear that God is displeased with that. Truthfully, they would be better off not studying theology in the first place. So before starting to study theology, ask yourself why you are doing this. If the answer is not so that you can grow in order to glorify God, then wait until you can answer that way.


  1. Thiessen, Henry C. Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006), 1-2.
13716047_10153790694491547_9032896755713306761_nMichael Chadwick is the pastor of Jensen Baptist Church in Pineville, Kentucky. He and his wife Kari live in Pineville, where they both study at the acclaimed Clear Creek Baptist Bible College.