My View On Biblical Eschatology – By Dr Chris Kang (Dated 6 Aug 2021)
Eschatology is that branch of theology studying the end-times or last days. I regard biblical eschatology as an essential element of the gospel, an indispensable part of God’s grand story arc of creation, fall, redemption, and new creation. Eschatologically speaking, Christ has inaugurated the new creation by His first coming and will consummately fulfil this eschatological promise when He comes again. I see the biblical dynamic of the ‘already-and-not-yet’ as a transformative vision enabling believers to anticipate the restoration of new creation while wisely stewarding this old creation. In so doing, we seek to proclaim the gospel as a consecrated covenantal community eagerly awaiting her Bridegroom’s return.
Following biblical investigation and study, my eschatological convictions are currently as follows:
1. Premillennialist – I believe Christ will physically return to the earth (Second Coming) prior to the Millennium, a literal thousand-year reign of Christ with the saints that is a golden age of peace and prosperity for God’s people (see Revelation 20:1-6). During this time, satan will be bound and thrown into a pit so that he could not deceive the nations till the thousand years are over (Revelation 20:3). After this time, there will come the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1; 2 Peter 3:13). This is the new creation.
2. Post-tribulationist – I believe the church will undergo seven years of tribulation when God’s people experience grave sufferings and hardships (Matthew 24:21, 29; Daniel 9:24-27; Revelation 11:3, 12:6, 13:5). This implies that Christ’s glorious second coming at the end of the great tribulation and the ‘rapture’ of the saints (1 Thessalonians 4:17) are part of the same simultaneous event. At that time, all saints rise to meet the Lord in the air and return to the earth (in their resurrection bodies) with Jesus as the rightful King over the earth. Personally, while I would like to believe in pre-tribulation rapture of the church (let’s face it – who would want to suffer such intense tribulation under any circumstance?), my knowledge of biblical evidence points me instead to a post-tribulational view of the rapture.
I believe it is important for the church to guard against an under- or over-realized eschatology. This is especially salient in espousals of spiritually-fixated legalism (viz-a-viz under-realized eschatology) and materially-consumed hypergrace (viz-a-viz over-realized eschatology) prevalent in the church today.
On the one hand, under-estimation of the extent of God’s eschatological promise fulfilment can evoke the extreme of what is termed ‘poverty gospel.’ This is a gospel that emphasizes religious living (including moralistic adherence and voluntary poverty) above the message of God’s saving grace in Christ. Psychologically, it can foster negative attitudes to material wealth and possessions reminiscent of Gnosticism. Consequently, the suffering of lack or ill health can be rationalized away by fatalistic application of poverty theology, to the detriment of one’s spiritual growth, mental health, and material well-being.
On the other hand, over-estimation of the extent of God’s eschatological promise fulfilment can result in the opposite pole of ‘prosperity gospel.’ This is a gospel that promises health and wealth in the here and now for those who believe in Jesus. There is thus premature closure of eschatological fulfilment that skews and truncates the gospel. Jesus becomes subverted into an instrument for worldly satisfaction and sensual comfort rather than worshipped and savoured as the supreme Treasure of one’s existence. This is not conducive to discipleship maturation and growth in Christlikeness, so crucial and central to the Christian life.
For me, eschatology is an essential teaching that needs to be properly taught and studied at church. Sadly, in my experience of church thus far, very seldom have I encountered such teaching. What is worse is the preaching of the biblically unhinged, relatively recent, minority view (in whole of Christendom terms throughout history) of pre-tribulation “rapture” theory, common in the prosperity/hypergrace fake gospel settings.
In this regard, I commend Rev George Ong for his teaching videos on the post-tribulation doctrine, which are timely and clear, well-argued and biblically sound, and a service to the church at large. If Christ witnesses and disciples are not trained and prepared to face the oncoming tribulation (and for that matter, the post-tribulational apocalyptic battle against evil), I do not see how we can be worthy of the calling to which we are called. We will likely lose heart, reject Christ, and fall into eternal destruction. What a tragic loss. Let’s not trivialize eschatology.