My desire for writing The Triumph of the Redeemed was to reconnect the gospel with Jesus’ imminent appearing in a way that breathes hope into your heart, regardless of what you face today or in the future.
My passion is to give believers a solid biblical foundation for their hope against the constant assault of false teaching that results in the saints “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14). Sadly, this is the state of the church today in regard to future things; so many are carried about by end-time scenarios based on earthly wisdom rather than God’s Word.
What follows is an excerpt from The Triumph of the Redeemed.
God designed the study of future things, what theologians refer to as “eschatology,” to encourage us each day as we step out of bed. Regardless of the messiness of our lives or the discouraging news reports that greet us each morning, an unwavering focus on the joys ahead in eternity injects needed assurance into our hearts and relieves anxieties regarding the future.
“If there’s really so much to look forward to in eternity,” you might ask, “why have so many believers lost their eagerness for it? Why do even seasoned students of prophecy at times lose their focus on our Lord’s appearing and their future reign with Him?”
Why the loss of excitement among believers for our “blessed hope?” Why do saints today have difficulty looking beyond the confines of this temporal world?
I believe this happens for many reasons:
The Busyness of Life
It’s easy to live as though this temporal world is all we have. We get up, eat, go to work, return home, eat again, watch TV, and go to bed. We do a hundred different things throughout the day that focus our attention solely on the things of this existence, with the result that we soon forget about eternity. Even if we spend time studying the Word and praying each morning, we soon find that the all-consuming activities of our days redirect our thoughts to temporal concerns.
I’m not saying we should concentrate on heaven all day long; if we did, we might not get anything done at work or at home! Yet we often go about our routines oblivious to the joys Jesus has planned for us after this life.
We live as though we have no hope beyond the grave, despite what we claim to believe.
Misconceptions About Heaven
When it comes to heaven, misconceptions abound. How often have we seen depictions of solitary men and women sitting on clouds, strumming harps? Who would even look forward to such a dull existence?
Some believers imagine that heaven will be an unending worship service. Of course, we will sing God’s praises throughout eternity, but the Lord has so much more in store for us once we reach the brighter shore.
I love the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, but someday we will be far more than aspiring angels jumping into icy waters to earn our wings. In fact, Scripture not only does not say we’ll become angels, but it says that we will “judge angels” (1 Corinthians 6:3). I’m not sure of all that implies, but it certainly distinguishes us from them.
Perhaps the most popular myth regarding heaven is that it will be boring. Nothing could be further from the truth; this is the greatest delusion of all!
Randy Alcorn, in his wonderful book, Heaven, addresses this fallacy:
Our belief that Heaven will be boring betrays a heresy—that God is boring. There’s no greater nonsense. Our desire for pleasure and the experience of joy come directly from God’s hand. He made our taste buds, adrenaline, sex drives, and the nerve endings that convey pleasure to our brains. Likewise, our imaginations and our capacity for joy and exhilaration were made by the very God we accuse of being boring. Are we so arrogant as to imagine that human beings came up with the idea of having fun? [[i]]
In Psalm 16:11, David confirms this upbeat view of eternity with these words:
“In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
“I’ve Heard That Before”
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, eschatology became a hot topic. Many churches emphasized the soon return of Jesus. I remember the week televangelist Jack Van Impe came to my church to teach about prophecy. After hearing his words, I felt the excitement of waiting for the Lord’s imminent appearing.
Many decades, however, have passed since then. Large numbers of believers have lost their expectancy of Jesus’ return, and they often respond with “I’ve heard that before” to those telling them to watch for it. Having anticipated the Rapture for five decades, I understand the sentiment that finds it more than a little challenging to remain focused on that stunning event.
Yet, as we see the circumstances and events described in biblical prophecy coming to life before our eyes today at an ever-accelerating pace, if there was ever a time to be mindful of eternal matters, it’s now! An abundance of converging signs points to the soon beginning of the Tribulation and thus to Jesus’ imminent return for His Church, an event that will happen before the onset of the terrible time of the Lord’s wrath upon the earth.
Don’t let the sentiment behind “I’ve heard that before” take your focus away from the glorious prize that awaits you when Jesus comes for us!
Silence in the Pulpits
Rather than increase their focus on Jesus’ return as the day approaches, many pastors either remain quiet about our hope or they reject biblical teaching about it. Such silence not only takes the eyes of those in the pews (or chairs) off the Lord’s return, but it also deadens their expectation of it. How can the saints look forward to something they seldom or perhaps never hear about?
When pastors mention life beyond the grave, the subject often comes across as such a fleeting and lifeless allusion that those in the congregation forget about it by the end of the sermon. Such lackluster mentions of our gospel hope don’t stir our hearts or relieve our anxieties for the week ahead.
Teaching that Lacks a Biblical, Two-world Perspective:
When pastors and church leaders don’t present instruction based on a biblical, two-world perspective (2 Corinthians 4:17–18), they unwittingly make goals such as happy marriages, good parenting, and wise financial planning the ultimate hope of believers.
Of course, biblically centered teaching on such matters is essential. However, without a two-world outlook integrated into such instruction, these issues easily become all-consuming. As a result, believers put all their efforts into becoming “better Christians” and soon forget about forever.
Problems arise when the saints (believers) place their ultimate hopes on temporal outcomes wherein many factors, including sinful choices, negatively impact the results they so greatly desire. Children rebel, wives leave husbands and vice versa, finances fall apart, and tragedies often turn lives upside down.
What’s left when believers do their best to adhere to biblically sound principles, yet everything falls apart, and they end up alone to pick up the broken pieces?
I know of such turmoil; it happened to me.
The New Testament teaches us to expect difficult times (James 1:2–3; 1 Peter 1:6; 4:12–13). The Lord promises paradise once He comes for us—but not now. We set ourselves up for disappointment if we define anything in this life as our ultimate hope, even if it’s scriptural, desirable, praiseworthy, good, or wholesome.
I’m not at all saying that we fail to enjoy the things of this life and the many blessings God sends our way. A two-world outlook doesn’t mean that we fail to dream, set goals, or plan wisely for our future. It does, however, teach us to place our ultimate aspirations on eternal realities versus the fleeting matters of this life.
The Great Divorce
“What’s the big deal?” you might ask. “As long as I believe in my future resurrection from the dead and possess a general understanding of heaven, what difference does it make what I believe about the Rapture, the Tribulation, Christ’s Second Coming, or the Millennium?”
The danger of ignoring these specifics is this: Instead of eagerly waiting for Jesus’ appearing, our fondest desires naturally shift to matters in this life—to our plans for our future. Momentary concerns soon consume our focus, and thoughts of Jesus’ imminent return rarely, if ever, enter our minds. Paul David Tripp describes this malady as “modern evangelical schizophrenia,” which he describes in this way:
It is the fact that we declare that we believe in forever, yet live as if this is all there is. This functional contradiction between our belief system and our daily living cannot work. Here’s why.
First, you cannot make sense out of the Christian life without eternity. This is the whole argument of 1 Corinthians 15….
Second, you and I have been hardwired for eternity. Ecclesiastes 3:11 declares that God has placed eternity in every person’s heart. That means that everyone hungers for paradise. No one is satisfied with things the way they are. [[ii]]
It’s the details of our everlasting hope that enable us to put the ups and downs of our lives as well as chaotic world events into a sound biblical prophetic framework that offers assurance of God’s unfailing sovereignty over all that concerns us. These specifics redirect our attention to the joys ahead in paradise during times when life doesn’t make sense or when all seems lost.
The tragic divorce of the Rapture from the message of the gospel has resulted in a near blackout of teaching about our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:11–14). This negatively affects new believers as well as seasoned saints, as it leaves them ill-prepared to live in a fear-ridden society. In addition, this neglect or even denial of Bible prophecy provides no context into which a follower of Jesus can place the violence and lawlessness of our day or the push for a New World Order or what the World Economic Forum calls the “Great Reset.”
My book, The Triumph of the Redeemed-An eternal Perspective that Calms Our Fears in Perilous Times, is available on Amazon. This book not only shows the necessity of focusing on eternity during perilous times but also provides a rock-solid foundation for our hope in Jesus’ soon appearing. Please consider purchasing it, especially if you have any doubts regarding our imminent hope.
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Jonathan C. Brentner
Website: Our Journey Home
[i] Alcorn, p. 410.
[ii] Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies—A Daily Gospel Devotional (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014), January 21 (the book does not have page numbers, just dates).