The results of a new and timely survey of 1,000 Evangelical pastors’ positions on eschatology (doctrine of end times) is just in time for Easter! As will be seen, there is tremendous agreement by all denominations, age and gender groupings that Jesus is physically going to return – in the same way He rose from the dead (Acts 1:10-11) and ascended to the right hand of the Father.
97% of pastors agreed with this statement. It is fitting therefore that this remarkable survey be released during these difficult days when the hope of His resurrection and soon return is of great comfort to every Jesus follower, especially during the pandemic of 2020.
The release of the Survey at this time is appropriate because of the proximity to Easter, but also because the Jewish community is beginning the Passover season. At this time Jewish people celebrate the redemption from bondage and the hope of Messiah’s coming by observing the Passover Seder.
One of the most dramatic moments of this event (to be celebrated virtually by most families this year) is the recitation of the ten plagues. Jewish people remember that God brought plagues upon others in mysterious harmony with His will and love for all people. He used plagues to move both the Egyptians and Jewish people to action. Plagues always bring with them terrible circumstances, but God still uses plagues for His holy purposes.
Will this be true of the Corona epidemic? Though hard to see at this moment as we enter the worst of times in the United States as the disease ravages our health and economy. We will hopefully look back one day to the good the Lord accomplished in the midst of this epidemiological trial. We pray that somehow good will come – for all, through the pain and suffering of the next few weeks (Romans 8:28).
This survey indicates that the majority of Evangelical pastors see the Corona Virus as similar to what is described in the Bible as one sign of the beginning of the end game in preparation for the return of Jesus. We should ask ourselves, “is this really the beginning of the end?” Have we taken a first step towards the return of Jesus? Of course, the only realistic answer to this question is that we will only know when He comes! But undoubtedly this event has captured out attention and made the reality of end times events more accessible and real to each one of us. Perhaps in recognizing His return as more immediate than previously, we will gain deeper lessons about God and ourselves from this horrific plague that the Lord uses to shape our character, reorder our priorities and draw us closer to Him.
Either way, it is a very timely survey and we hope it will intrigue you and help give you a better perspective on what some of our leader believe is ahead. After all, the real value of eschatology is not necessarily knowing what will happen in the future but learning how to live today with tomorrow in mind.
The Survey Results
Aaron Pearls of LifeWay Research writes in a press release distributed today,
“According to Mitch Glaser, president of Chosen People Ministries, the idea of birth pains is not unique to the New Testament or evangelicals, as he said Ultra-Orthodox Jews also believe these types of signs are indicators of the Messiah’s coming.”
“The term used in rabbinic literature, ‘birth pangs of Mashiach,’ is similar to the Olivet Discourse,” Glaser adds. “The current pandemic is viewed in this way by many religious Jewish people who share a heightened Messianic expectation with evangelicals.”
The above comments are drawn from the press release written by Aaron Pearls of LifeWay Research and released today summarizing the findings of a survey of 1000 evangelical pastors completed earlier this year, 2020.
Pearls adds, “The Bible has several lists of potential signs of Jesus’ return, like the Olivet Discourse passages of Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, Luke 21, and some include concepts of global sicknesses.” He goes on to quote Luke-Acts expert, Dr. Darrell Bock, professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary and Chosen People Ministries Board member who gives critical perspective to the relationship between the predicted birth pangs of the Messiah and how Christians might view the current pandemic,
“Numerous biblical texts speak of disturbances in the creation that disorient and trouble people,” said Bock. “These disturbances have quite a range with earthquakes and wars being the most common. However, Jesus mentions plagues or pestilence explicitly in Luke 21.”
The Survey, which was designed to provide an objective picture of the ways in which American evangelical pastors view eschatology was completed prior to the outbreak of the pandemic in the United States.
According to Scott McConnell, executive director LifeWay Research,
“While Christians prepare to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, many pastors believe they see signs his return may be close.” “These sentiments were expressed in January before the prospect of a global pandemic became known.”
LifeWay Research asked pastors if they considered certain current events to be included in Jesus’ warnings.
At least 3 in 4 pastors agree Jesus was referring to current events (today) including the rise of false prophets and false teachings (83%), the love of many believers growing cold (81%), traditional morals becoming less accepted (79%), wars and national conflicts (78%), earthquakes and other natural disasters (76%), and people abandoning their Christian faith (75%).
Clear majorities also see famines (70%) and anti-Semitism toward Jewish people worldwide (63%) as signs of Jesus’ return.
Around 1 in 10 pastors (11%) say they don’t consider any of these to be part of the birth pains to which Jesus was referring.
“For too long many pastors have shied away from teaching on birth pains and events leading up to the second coming,” said best-selling author Joel Rosenberg, “but the current pandemic demonstrates the need for solid, non-sensational preaching done in a biblical manner.”
Pearls reports, “Almost 9 in 10 pastors see at least some current events matching those Jesus said would occur shortly before he returns to Earth, according to a new survey focused on Christian eschatology, or the study of end times.”97% say they believe Jesus Christ will literally and personally return to Earth again. “There are details of Christ’s return and his reign that scholars disagree on,” said McConnell. “However, the vast majority of pastors believe certain current events correspond with prophecies Jesus himself gave about things that would occur right before he returns.”
Signs Regarding Israel and the Jewish People
Pearls mentions the following survey results related to Israel, the Jewish people and the end times
- Pastors are also likely to see several events related to Israel and the Jewish people as fulfillment of biblical prophecy and signs of the end times.
- Seven in 10 evangelical or Black Protestant pastors (70%) say the modern rebirth of the state of Israel and the regathering of millions of Jewish people were fulfillments of prophecies in the Bible.
- Similar numbers (69%) say those events show Christ’s return is closer.
- Around 2 in 5 pastors (39%) agree that the establishment of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem is a sign of the end times.
- Most (62%) believe another temple will be built in Jerusalem in accordance with a prophecy in Ezekiel 40-48.
- Many make end times connections to Israel and specifically Jerusalem, in part, because 73% believe that Christ will return and reign in Jerusalem in fulfillment of God’s promises to David.
- More than half of pastors (57%) believe the Bible teaches that one day most or all Jewish people alive will believe in Jesus.
- Close to 3 in 5 (59%) say Jesus will return when the Jewish people accept Jesus.
- Nearly all pastors (98%) believe sharing the gospel with Jewish people is important.
- Among those who believe Jewish evangelism is vital, they give a variety of reasons why.
- Close to 99% say it is important to share the gospel with all people groups.
- More than 4 in 5 (82%) believe Jewish people are special in God’s sight. The same percentage point to God’s promise to preserve a faithful remnant of Jewish people.
- Around two-thirds of pastors (67%) say sharing the gospel with Jewish people is important because Apostle Paul’s pattern was to evangelize Jewish people first. More than a quarter (28%) say Jewish evangelism will speed up the return of Christ.
“I was glad to see that 98% of Evangelical pastors believe Jewish evangelism is important and that many believe there is a connection between the second coming of Jesus and the national salvation of Israel in the last days.”
Dr. Bock’s conclusion is important to understand as the Survey was not designed to fuel date setters or those who argue that the pandemic is the beginning of the end.
“Whether Jesus’ return is near or far, Christians believe these disturbances represent the groaning of creation, reminders of our mortality, our need for God and the accountability we have to him for life, both now and forever,” said Bock.
Yet, end times plagues are clearly on the list mentioned by Jesus as one of the beginnings of birth pangs that eventually lead to His second coming. And the message is evident, that those who follow the Lord Jesus as Messiah must get ready for His coming and those who do not yet believe, Jew or Gentile need to heed the signs of the times and recognize that the Bible is true and the only reliable predictor of future events.
There is considerably more information discovered from the survey that compares eschatological views in terms of ethnicity, gender, age, denomination, among those with a variety of traditional eschatological views.
The full Survey results are available by clicking on www.chosenpeopleministries.com/eschatologysurvey or by going to https://lifewayresearch.com