Eschatology 101: An Exploration of the Christian's Hope
There are few subjects that generate more interest and more confusion than eschatology. Announce that you will be speaking on hell this evening and you will immediately have everyone’s attention. If your church advertises a new sermon series on “the end times,” and you are sure to attract a crowd. In my experience, God’s people – even God’s young people – are deeply interested in eschatology. They want to know more what the Bible says about death and judgment, heaven and hell, the return of Christ and the final destruction of Satan. It is only natural that they do. The Christian’s DNA is made up of three bases – faith, hope, and love – and eschatology is simply the study of our hope.
It is hard to imagine a more relevant topic for God’s people. We are beset with discouragements, bombarded by temptations, and bruised by suffering. When we look to the horizon, our prospects seem increasingly bleak. The future for God’s people does not seem bright. But nothing could be further from the truth. Christ is coming to rescue his people, judge his enemies, and renew the world. Death may come first, but the New Testament describes it as “gain” and “far better” for the believer – not because it is necessarily pleasant but because it will usher the Christian into the immediate and glorious presence of our Savior.
Sadly, what should be a source of unspeakable hope has, for many, become a source of confusion. End times speculation coupled with unbalanced and unhelpful teaching discourages many interested Christians from studying eschatology. The multiplicity of end times “views” or “schemes” only adds to the perplexity. As a result, “our blessed hope” becomes “our neglected hope.” This ought not to be the case.
There are some eschatology-related issues that good and godly Christian teachers have disagreed on throughout church history, the nature and duration of the millennium of Rev. 20:1-3 being chief. The millennium, however, is not the sum and substance of eschatology. With respect to the millennium, I am in the amillenialist camp. However, those convictions only come through in two of the twelve lessons at most. The rest of the lessons focus on aspects of eschatology that all orthodox Christians agree upon.
Eschatology 101 is broken down into twelve weekly lessons. It is an introductory study, hence the title “Eschatology 101.” It is aimed at middle school and high school students, though I’ve personally taught it to adults as well. You know your church and your students best, so feel free to tailor this material to find the best fit.
Each lesson is designed to fill a 30-45 minute time slot. I have tried to anchor each lesson in one particular Bible passage. My reasons for doing so are twofold: it requires less context work on the part of the teacher, and it requires less page turning for the students. For some lessons, however, this was a practical impossibility. Thus, you and your students will have to move around the Bible more in some lessons than others.
Some lessons include optional readings and questions, which may allow you to go further or dig deeper into a particular topic if time permits. I’ve also included some quotes from the likes of J. I. Packer, J. C. Ryle, and C. S. Lewis to illustrate or apply certain truths. The major leg-work has been done for you; now you can you can make it your own. Add your own quotes. Find your own illustrations. Come up with your own application questions. Cicero argued that every oration must be tailored to suit the audience, speaker, and occasion. The same is true of an eschatology study.
It is our prayer that you will be encouraged by this study of the Christian hope. We also pray that your hope becomes contagious to the student’s in your class. We hope that both teacher and students develop a deeper grasp of, “our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
Lastly, Eschatology 101 is completely free. When we say “completely free,” that means not only monetarily free, but with no strings attached. That means you don’t have to sign up for our newsletter, you don’t have to share this on a social media platform, etc. Reformed Youth Ministries seeks to spread the good news of the gospel by reaching and equipping students for Christ. Part of that goal is fulfilled through the production of resources.
Bennett W. Rogers