trying to untangle eschatology

I can get anything tangled. Shoe laces, garden hoses, computer cords, seat belts, …. and theology. Especially eschatology (the doctrine of the end times). A few preachers are consumed with prophecy, making charts, and scaring people into readiness. Many prefer to stay away from the hot-button issues that lay people love to test their pastors about – you know test the pastor’s alignment with a preconceived theological system. This month I waded into these muddy waters for a short 3 part sermon series. This of course is an adventure deserving much more effort and time, and is more worthy of a New Testament scholar or Professor of Christian Theology. I must admit that the study and preparation reminded me of those days 40 years ago when curiosity, passion and adrenaline (and the quest to score at least a passing mark in my courses) drove my academic blood.

Simply, here is what I did:
1. “Watch! No Sleeping On Duty“. Mark 13:24-27, 32-37
2. “Ready Or Not, Here I Come!” 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, 23-24
3. “Ask Any Question” An opportunity for people to seek eschatological clarity

Our church website is sadly, badly, out of date. However links to the audio of sermons is current.

If anyone wants to look at my modest notes I can certainly email them to you. Just message me on Facebook or email

I depended heavily on some good sources, which I list below. I brought only a small portion of my library to Germany, and you no doubt can locate some good academic resources, but these books served me well. (And yes, my default ‘go to’ publisher of much of my library has always been Inter Varsity Press.)

I believe the best scholarly treatment of Mark 13 is by Robert H. Stein; his book published by Inter Varsity Press Academic in 2014 Jesus, The Temple and the Coming Son of Man. It is concise, readable and persuasive intellectually.

99 Reasons Why No One Knows When Christ Will Return by B.J. Oropeza, Inter Varsity Press 1994

Jesus, Paul and the End of the World: A Comparative Study in New Testament Eschatology, Ben Witherington III, Inter Varsity Press 1992

What the Bible Teaches About The End of the World, Bruce Milne, Tyndale House, 1979

A balanced and easy to understand commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians is by John Stott, The Gospel and the End of Time, Inter Varsity Press, 1991

A very helpful presentation of various theological and Biblical approaches to heaven, hell, resurrection, the return of Jesus and the millennial kingdom is found in The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity & Diversity by Roger E. Olson, Inter Varsity Press 2002, (note chapters 14 & 15)

I recommend reading the debate writings about hell. Two Views of Hell: A Biblical & Theological Dialogue, Edward William Fudge, Robert A. Peterson, Inter Varsity Press, 2000

After Life: What the Bible Really Says, Douglas Connelly, Inter Varsity Press, 1995

MARANATHA! – Doug Johns, May 2017

why doxology? – why church?

doxology pic

Very few churches sing THE DOXOLOGY any more. Hopefully they compensate for all they lose by omitting this traditional item from Sunday worship. Here’s why ‘doxology’ is so important:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him all creatures here below;
Praise him above ye heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

People out of touch with the glory of God are not grounded, they have no anchor. Eventually they drift back to self-focus, self-elevation, and self-worship. This is why the first two words of the Doxology are crucial!


This is a bold reaffirmation of monotheism. Church can help us because when we sing the doxology, or at least other songs with the heart of this doxology, we remind ourselves that there is one true God. Life is grounded, it has perspective.

Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

Thomas Ken wrote this hymn at a time when the church believed only Scripture should be sung as hymns—with an emphasis on the Psalms. Some considered it sinful and blasphemous to write new lyrics for church music, akin to adding to the Scriptures. In that atmosphere, Ken wrote this and several other hymns for the boys at Winchester College, with strict instructions that they use them only in their rooms, for private devotions. The original hymn, “Awake, my soul, and with the sun” had 11 verses. Ironically, the last stanza has come into widespread use as the Doxology, perhaps the most frequently used piece of music in public worship. At Ken’s request, the hymn was sung at his funeral, which was held at sunrise (see name of hymn and its first line) – a fitting summation of his life focus.

For Sunday August 3, 2014 2 Corinthians 4:1-6, 16-18; Romans 11:33-12:1

K why church ppt pic poster red

what is all the hype about Christmas?

for years i have been trying to figure out exactly what is behind my Christianized ‘bah-humbug’ ‘Scrooginess’ … this blogger has carefully put together some good possible explanations that i could never quite articulate: a good read – dj

Certainly Resurgam

By Amber


Christmas is right around the corner, Isaac’s about to be spoiled beyond appropriateness, and many are crossing their fingers, hoping to avoid a big holiday debt.

I don’t mind the holiday season: it is nice to listen to the Christmas music, see the lights and continue family traditions, but there are a few things that just don’t sit right with me and that may change the way our little family treats the big day in the future.

I think we all know that December 25th was not the birthday of Christ, but ask any believer and the more important reason to celebrate this unusual day, is simply the representation of the birth of our Savior. That seems innocent to me and a noble idea, except that leads us to a few more problems: 1) the actual origins of Christmas are less than admirable and hardly “Christian” 2)

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what will God do? and what should I do? … the tangled web of divine sovereignty and human responsibility

The struggle to reconcile these two theological extremes has challenged theologians through the centuries. My library contains books that reflect the opposite ends of the spectrum, and books that suggest possible common ground. I have just three very simple observations, one confession and one image to share.

First, while I love to research, reason and debate, I know that such activity can become an excuse to ignore the work of the church and possibly evolve into a cause of disunity in the Body of Christ. At the very least it can become a distraction to Kingdom living.

Second, the Scriptures appear to hold both viewpoints in simultaneous tension. The Bible seems to paint a picture of a tangled weave of God at work amidst the aspirations, rebellion and obedience of humans.

Third, some will be disappointed and angered that I do not have the courage to take a stand one way or another. Others will seize the opportunity to convince me of the real truth.

Here is the confession: when among Calvinists I like to expressively flaunt my free will. When in the company of the group that thinks they control the universe, I like to exhibit patient pious trust as I wait for God’s will to be revealed. Now if lunch is involved, then I will put all my theological eggs in the basket of the one who is paying. Is there such a thing as a theological chameleon? I am not talking hypocrisy here, just adaptability. And please, a little less arrogance.

Now the image. Some think a two sided coin. Some embrace a parallel universe model. I prefer the railroad track with rails that eventually come together. My perspective this side of eternity does not allow for a monorail theology. It takes both rails to stay on track. In the distance, the space between the two becomes insignificant.

I have chosen two Psalms to reflect on over the next two Sundays. To my simple mind, they show me the two rails of this track. Less chance of a train wreck if we stick to both.


Rev. D. Johns

Part #1 Getting on track with God      What will God do?

November 13, 2011

Psalm 139

Notes part #1 Psalm 139 (key verses  1,10,23,24)

In the midst of my confusion, running, hiding, shame and suffering ……. God will      SEARCH ME       HOLD ME      LEAD ME

C.H. Spurgeon says about this Psalm: “it sings the omniscience and omnipresence of God with brightness like unto a sapphire stone. It casts a light even to the uttermost parts of the sea, and warns us against that practical atheism which ignores the presence of God and shipwrecks the soul.



Rev. D. Johns

Part #2   Staying on track with God    What should I do?

November 20, 2011

Psalm 37


I should not

  • Fret (mentioned 3 times! verses 1,7,8)
  • Envy (verse 1)
  • Get angry (verse 8 )

I should

  • Trust (mentioned twice: verses 3,5)
  • Dwell (verse 3)
  • Delight (verse 4)
  • Commit (verse 5)
  • Be still (verse 7
  • Wait patiently (verse 7)
  • Hope (verse 9)

C.H. Spurgeon says these directives offer the combination to holy and happy living.