Why We Should—and Can—Teach and Preach Eschatology

St. John of Patmos, Gustave Doré


Walter Kaiser Jr. is a renowned Old Testament scholar, and this month his book Preaching and Teaching the Last Things is free. You can also get two others by him for $3 and $4. (And if I remember right, the $4 one was a textbook I found quite helpful in seminary.)

But when there is so much to read, why invest time reading about preaching and teaching a controversial topic like eschatology?

Kaiser actually speaks to this in the book’s introduction.

1. End times passages are there for our instruction

Taking down common objections to teaching and preaching eschatology—such as it being too difficult or inciting too much speculation and division—Kaiser reminds us why we preach anything in the Bible:

Why is prophecy and the study of ‘last things’ so often demeaned by some, when our Lord saw fit to include material of this doctrine amounting to almost one half of the Bible? We need the teaching of the whole counsel of God if we are to be fully equipped for every good work.” (Emphasis mine. See 2 Tim 3:16–17)

Not only does eschatology make up a large portion of Scripture (to avoid it would be to avoid much of God’s counsel), but God put it there for our instruction. As the apostle Peter says:

We have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (2 Pet 1:18–19)

God has spoken. He tells us to listen and affirms he will bring understanding “as to a light in a dark place.” When we say eschatology is too confusing to be of much use, we demean God’s revelation.

Further, we demean our own competency.

2. We are competent to understand and teach end times passages

Kaiser reminds us that we do have competency—both spiritual and hermeneutical—to interpret eschatological passages.

On spiritual competency, he quotes Paul:

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter [not the graphē, “writing,” but “letterism”] kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Cor 3:5–6)

Has God not equipped us with the Spirit to understand what he has spoken? Of course, he has.

He has also equipped us with a sufficient understanding of how language works. Kaiser writes:

Others might complain that we are not always sure how we should interpret prophetic passages, for we have heard that these types of texts must be spiritualized or allegorized if we wish to hear them correctly. However, it is always best to begin by taking the words of the text in their natural sense unless we see a signal, found in the text itself, that the words are meant in a figurative or typological sense. If one sees the words “as” or “like,” then we are assured that a “simile” or a “parable” is being offered, for it wishes to make a direct comparison between the subject and the abstract truth it points to.

However, if there are no words such as “as” or “like,” and yet an animate subject is being put with an inanimate description, then it most likely is an unexpressed comparison, called a metaphor, or if made into a larger story or developed more extensively, it is an allegory. Such are some of the rules of figurative language, rules that are not invented as we go, but are clearly part of all writing and speaking, which can be identified, defined, and illustrated in classical and biblical sources.

In short: interpreting prophetic writing is not guesswork. There is plenty interpretive history to go on to arrive at a tenable interpretation. (There is also, Kaiser reminds us, plenty of ancient history that aligns with biblical prophecy.)

So why teach and preach the last things? Because God has revealed them for our instruction, and he has given us the Spirit and skills of language to comprehend them.

Even if in a mirror dimly.

Get Preaching and Teaching the Last Things free this month only.

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered—to Satan?

Throughout the New Testament, “family language” is used to describe the relationship of believers to God and Jesus. The Lord’s prayer instructs us to address God as “our Father” (Matt 6:9). Hebrews 2:11–12 reveals that Jesus considers believers his own siblings. Paul says Christians comprise “the household of faith” (Gal 6:10). How is it, then, that Paul tells Christians living in Corinth that believers unrepentantly living in sin should not only be put out of the Church (1 Cor 5:9–13) but also “delivered to Satan” (1 Cor 5:5)? [Read more…]

How to Find and Review Relevant Online Videos

As you well know, within our Logos Bible Software we have scores of resources ready to yield valuable information related to the passage or subject we’re studying.

Perhaps, however, you’re not aware that the makers of Logos have also curated online images and videos ready and willing to enhance our study!

Today’s post highlights the Curated Online Video search feature, which is available only with a Faithlife Connect subscription. If you have Logos 7 Bronze or higher, you can run similar searches to find preselected images from the web.*

For example, let’s say we’re studying 2 Timothy 3:16 and we’d like to watch online videos related to the passage.

Here’s how to find them: [Read more…]

3 Things You Might Not Know about C.S. Lewis

It’s C.S. Lewis week here at Faithlife! We’re celebrating the scholar’s life and writings, and with that, discounting the 30-volume C.S. Lewis Collection for one week only.

This is a post from the Logos Academic Blog remembering Lewis’ career, correspondence, and poetry. [Read more…]

Staff Picks: Our Favorite C. S. Lewis Quotes

It’s C.S. Lewis week here at Faithlife! We’re celebrating the scholar’s life and writings, and with that, discounting the 30-volume C.S. Lewis Collection for one week only.

We asked all of Faithlife to weigh in on their favorite C.S. Lewis quotes, and I’m pleased to share from their responses. They perfectly represent that blend of wit and depth that so characterizes Lewis’ body of work.


Derek Brown, academic editor:

“Yes,” my friend said. “I don’t see why there shouldn’t be books in Heaven. But you will find that your library in Heaven contains only some of the books you had on earth.”

“Which?” I asked.

“The ones you gave away or lent.”

I hope the lent ones won’t still have all the borrowers’ dirty thumb marks,” said I.

“Oh yes they will,” said he. “But just as the wounds of the martyrs will have turned into beauties, so you will find that the thumb-marks have turned into beautiful illuminated capitals or exquisite marginal woodcuts.”

— from “Scraps” in the collection God in the Dock

Why I picked it: This quote perfectly captures Lewis’ love of literature, whimsical imagination, and profound belief in redemption. And I think he’s right.


Seth Copeland, software developer:

There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.

— from Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Why I picked it: It is the kind of thing Lewis sprinkled all through the Narnia books. These witty humorous thing that the adults reading the books to their kids would chuckle at.

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

— from The Weight of Glory

Why I picked it: If asked for the most famous C.S Lewis quote this one is kind of like answering “Jesus” in kids’ Sunday School.

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

— from The Four Loves

Kaeli Joyce, Mobile Ed editor:

Whatever you do, He will make good of it. But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed Him.

— Ransom, in Perelandra

Why I picked it: Throughout this work Lewis holds God’s sovereignty and human responsibility beautifully in tension. Ransom’s words help me realize the gravity of the meaning of obedience to God in my own life.


Virginia Pettit, software developer:

I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of ‘Admin.’ The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern.

— from The Screwtape Letters

Why I picked it: During a church camp in high school some of the camp counselors put on a show that featured a theatrical reading of excerpts from The Screwtape Letters. For me, that’s when a lot of things became real. I feel haunted by them, and I think that’s how we’re supposed to feel.


Ian Mundy, software developer:

“You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion.

— from The Silver Chair

Why I picked it: Other than the Bible, The Chronicles of Narnia are the only books from my childhood that I remember my mom reading to me (though I’m sure there were others). This has always been one of my favorite quotes from that series, from maybe my favorite book in it.


Steve Runge, scholar-in-residence:

I wonder what has happened. Are you ill—or away—or simply lazy? However, as you wrote to me so perseveringly during my silence (tho’ you must allow that mine was foretold and unavoidable) I will continue to write during yours: and also to prevent a bad habit of silence setting in on both sides.

— from The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, vol. 1.

Why I picked it: I often read from these letter volumes at night when I want to read something but don’t have time for a long work. They are a constant encouragement about finding joy in the moment, cherishing friendship, and just taking the time to be snarky with artful prose when it really doesn’t matter much. This quote is a complaint to spur his pen pal to reciprocate, but that Lewis won’t let the correspondence end simply because it’s not his turn to write.


Jennifer Grisham, copywriter:

‘And who are all these young men and women on each side?’

‘They are her sons and daughters.’

‘She must have had a very large family, Sir.’

‘Every young man or boy that met her became her son—even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door. Every girl that met her was her daughter.’

‘Isn’t that a bit hard on their own parents?’

‘No. There are those that steal other people’s children. But her motherhood was of a different kind. Those on whom it fell went back to their natural parents loving them more… Every beast and bird that came near her had its place in her love. In her they became themselves. And now the abundance of life she has in Christ from the Father flows over into them…. Already there is joy enough in the little finger of a great saint such as yonder lady to waken all the dead things of the universe into life.’

— A scene from The Great Divorce

Why I picked it: This quote from The Great Divorce gave me a vision for my life that I’d never seen before. In this section, a fictional version of George MacDonald tells the main character about Sarah Smith, an unmarried woman who cared for everyone around her so much that her joy became their joy. Oh, to share even half as much of God’s love and life with others as she!

Matthew Boffey, copywriter:

I love real mice. There are lots in my rooms in College but I never have set a trap. When I sit up late working they poke their heads out from behind the curtains just as if they were saying, “Hi! Time for you to go to bed. We want to come out and play.”

— from The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, vol. 3.

Why I picked it: This is from a letter to Hila Newman, a child who sent Lewis some drawings of the characters in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (including Reepicheep the mouse). I love Lewis’ imagination here, and that he—with his brilliant mind and busy schedule—takes the time to share such a silly thought to his and the child’s delight. Reminds us the importance of noticing and delighting in the smallest things (and creatures).


Jessi Strong, associate editor of magazines:

The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them.

— from The Weight of Glory

Why I picked it: I could paste this whole essay. When I first read it 15 years ago, I felt so heard and understood, like Lewis was telling my own story back to me, and giving a proper name and context to all my feelings of needing to belong and to matter.


Liz Roland, program manager:

You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.


We hope you’ve been enjoying this special week celebrating Lewis’ life and work. There are just a few more days left to grab the C.S. Lewis Collection for 30% off.  The rare sale ends midnight Sept. 24.


For more posts about Lewis, see below:

9 Shareable C.S. Lewis Quotes

4 Ways C.S. Lewis Can Shape Your Faith: Insights from a Scholar

3 Simple Reasons You Can’t Dismiss Miracles in the Bible

The Only Three Kinds of Things Anyone Need Ever Do

C.S. Lewis: A Lutheran Appreciation

Why We Do What We Do: C.S. Lewis on Motivation

On Misquoting C.S. Lewis (and Knowing an Author’s Voice)

You Think You Know the Bible, Then You Read Mike Heiser

Dr. Michael Heiser has carved out a unique reputation for helping people take a second look at Scripture.

Whether it’s through his books on the supernatural realm, his video series on aliens and UFOs (seriously)*, or his video courses on biblical interpretation and ancient backgrounds, Dr. Heiser is committed to helping people read the Bible on its own terms—and discover there’s more there than they realized. [Read more…]

When Everything Seems in Ruins: Encouragement from C.S. Lewis

It’s C.S. Lewis week here at Faithlife! We’re celebrating the scholar’s life and writings, and with that, discounting the 30-volume C.S. Lewis Collection for one week only.

This guest post is from pastor and C.S. Lewis scholar Ryan Pemberton.


When I get called in to speak, it’s either on the topic of C. S. Lewis or calling. That’s about all I’m good for, I like to joke (half-jokingly). The best is when I can share a bit on both.

As a minister for university engagement in Berkeley, I’m often doing some combination of the two. And while C. S. Lewis is quoted as much as any other writer among Christians, it isn’t often that I see others looking to Lewis for wisdom on calling. But I’ve found him to be a helpful guide here, too.

While studying theology at Oxford, I had the privilege of serving as President of the Oxford University C. S. Lewis Society. Nowhere else was my feeling of Imposter Syndrome more acute.

One of the many perks of this role was the opportunity to meet scholars and those who knew Lewis during his life, and to hear firsthand stories of their experience with Lewis. One of the most memorable of those conversations was with Laurence Harwood, C. S. Lewis’s godson.

Laurence was tall and well dressed. He spoke in a calm voice, which peaked to excited high notes when he recalled what it was like to grow up with Lewis visiting his family’s home for dinner.

“I always loved it when Jack came around,” Laurence told us over dinner. “As children, we’d be playing games when he’d come over, and he’d get right down there with us on the floor, at our level. He was genuinely interested in what we were playing, and he’d play with us. Not in a condescending way. He’d always beat us, of course, but we really enjoyed him.”

Before our meal was finished, Laurence shared a difficult experience he faced during his own days as an Oxford student. He told us how, after being struck with double pneumonia, he did not pass his first-year’s preliminary exams, and therefore was not able to return for his second year. He received a letter from Lewis in response to hearing this news.

“At the moment, I can well imagine, everything seems in ruins,” Lewis wrote to Laurence. “That is an illusion.”

Lewis encouraged his godson neither to dwell on this seemingly bad news, nor to consider himself the victim of Oxford’s exam system, but rather to do his best to brush himself off and get on with life. He must trust that this would actually serve to save him much hard work and many years spent traveling in what very well might have been the wrong direction.

Lewis went on to explain that many people, if not most, find this to be one of life’s most difficult periods, struggling from failure to failure, as it had been for him:

Life consisted of applying for jobs which other people got, writing books that no one would publish and giving lectures that no one attended. It all looks hopelessly hopeless, yet the vast majority of us manage to get on somehow and shake down somewhere in the end. You are now going through what most people (at least most of the people I know) find, in retrospect to have been the most unpleasant period of their lives.

But it won’t last; the road usually improves later. I think life is rather like a bumpy bed in a bad hotel. At first you can’t imagine how you can lie on it, much less sleep on it. But presently one finds the right position and finally one is snoring away. By the time one is called it seems a very good bed and one is loath to leave it. (C. S. Lewis, My Godfather, 125)

For those of us standing on this side of Lewis’s remarkable success and achievements, it’s difficult to imagine his experience with self doubt and vocational struggles. And yet, knowing that Lewis struggled here can offer peace to those of us who are yet struggling with disappointment or questions. If nothing else, Lewis’s candid letter is a reminder that faithfulness to the One who calls, rather than to any particular call, is the true measure of success.


Ryan J. Pemberton, MA (Oxon), MTS (Duke Divinity School), is the minister for university engagement at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley. He is the author of Called: My Journey to C. S. Lewis’s House and Back Again (Leafwood Publishers) and Walking With C. S. Lewis: A Spiritual Guide Through His Life and Writings (Lexham Press). Follow Ryan at @ryanjpemberton or RyanJPemberton.com.

For more C.S. Lewis insights, read the man himself. Grab the C.S. Lewis Collection for 30% off while you still can—the rare sale ends midnight Sept. 24.

Or check out the other posts in this series:


Photo by Elias Schupmann on Unsplash.

3 Tips for the Library Expansion Sale

This month we’re rolling out topic-focused library expansions and discounting them between 20–50%.

The savings are huge, and the options are many. [Read more…]

On Misquoting C.S. Lewis (and Knowing an Author’s Voice)

It’s C.S. Lewis week here at Faithlife! We’re celebrating the scholar’s life and writings, and with that, discounting the 30-volume C.S. Lewis Collection for one week only.

This repost from Faithlife staff member Mark Ward previously appeared in March 2018. It reflects on what it means to know C.S. Lewis’ voice—or any other, such as God’s—well enough to discern it by instinct. [Read more…]

Not All Harps and Halos: Learn What the Bible Really Says about Angels

Whatever you think about angels, there’s a good chance it’s wrong.

That may sound harsh, but most of us get our perspective of angels from movies, myths, and Valentine’s Day cards—not as much from the Bible.

In his new book, Angels, Dr. Michael Heiser carefully reviews what the Bible says—and what it doesn’t say—about the heavenly host. [Read more…]