This evening, our church will be participating in the Secret Church simulcast with David Platt. This is the 13th Secret Church event, and I’ve been blessed to participate in the last seven. It’s always fantastic, and I’m sure tonight will be no different!
At each SC event, Pastor David Platt of the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL, teaches on a topic for about six hours, with times of musical worship and prayer for the persecuted church around the world interspersed throughout the night. This year’s prayer focus is for the Hui people, an ethnic minority in China that is predominantly Muslim.
Tonight’s topic is “Heaven, Hell, and the End of the World.” While I don’t know exactly how Platt will approach teaching about the End Times, the promo video gives a very encouraging preview:
Based on this video, and on a familiarity with Platt’s teaching style, here are some things I expect to happen tonight:
Mix of Individual and General Eschatology
Whereas most teaching events on the topic of eschatology that I’ve attended have been focused on the timing & manner of Christ’s return, I expect Platt to spend much more time teaching about the eternal fate of individual believers and nonbelievers. With this focus, a study of the doctrine of the future is one of the greatest motivators of evangelism. David Platt never opens his mouth without calling Christians to take the gospel to the lost, always stressing the extreme urgency of this mission. This is as it should be!
Focus on Unity Rather Than Division
There’s a joke that’s been around for quite some time that “the millennium is 1000 years of peace that Christians like to fight about.” Eschatology, sadly, is one of the most divisive doctrines among Christians. People tend to either be very passionate about their beliefs regarding the end of time, or to be ambivalent (which has a tendency to upset the passionate folks!), choosing to focus on other things. If anybody can teach what is sure to be a diverse group of believers in a way that unites believers around the gospel rather than dividing on millennial fault lines, it will be David Platt. Besides, whether you’re “pre-mill”, “a-mill”, or “post-mill”, you have WAY more in common with those of different eschatological persuasions than you have in difference. I expect Platt to highlight these unifying themes.
The Millennium is Now
That said, I doubt he’s going to teach for six hours without “planting a flag” somewhere. While I am sure Platt will endeavor to present other views fairly and accurately, I expect tonight’s teaching to lean slightly toward an amillennial perspective, as this seems to be the bent of his teaching in his books and sermons. This happens to be my own personal view (which has changed somewhat over the last five years after much study and prayer), but for those who hold to different views, don’t worry! I expect him to highlight the best aspects of other perspectives rather than highlighting areas of disagreement. I doubt anyone will walk away anything but encouraged and edified!
Incidentally, most of our church staff and members are Dispensationalists, and we all get along just fine! I’m thankful to serve on a staff that is united around the centrality of the Gospel rather than divided over peripheral doctrines. For a great book that models cooperation between Dispensationalists and Amillennialists, check out Understanding Dispensationlists by Amillennialist Vern Poythress (my review).
The simulcast at Stevens Street is being hosted by The MIX, our college ministry. However, this is NOT just for college students! All church members are invited to attend and study with us. There is no cost to attend, though if you are able to contribute, donations will be appreciated to help offset the cost to the college ministry. Study guides will be available (as long as our supply lasts!) for $5. Let me know if you want one and I’ll put your name on it.
If you’d like to come, join us in the MIX room, Building H at SSBC (this is the building on Short St. across from the youth building). If you’d like to come early, there will be a spaghetti dinner in the Fellowship Hall starting at 5:00, with proceeds benefiting the family of Roger Vinson, one of our church members recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. The cost of the dinner will be $5.
I’ll bring copies of all the books listed below tonight, in case anyone would like to browse or borrow any of them:
Books by David Platt:
- Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream (my review)
- Radical Together: Unleashing the People of God for the Purpose of God (my review)
- Follow Me: A Call to Die. A Call to Live. (review pending)
- When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor… and Yourself (foreword to the expanded edition by David Platt; my review)
Sermons by David Platt:
Recommended reading on personal and general eschatology:
- Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
- Heaven by Randy Alcorn
- Erasing Hell by Francis Chan & Preston Sprinkle
- Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond edited by Stanley Gundry & Darrell Bock
- Revelation: Four Views edited by Steve Gregg
- Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation by Bruce Metzgar (review pending)
- The Bible and the Future by Anthony Hoekema
- Christ and the Future by Cornelis Venema (my review)
- An Evening of Eschatology [Video] — A roundtable discussion on the millennium moderated by John Piper
- Endtimes Q&A — A helpful series of videos summarizing the four predominant views of eschatology
- Why I Changed My Mind About the Millennium — Examples of how one baptist pastor and seminary professor (Sam Storms) changed his beliefs from premillennialism to amillennialism, and how another (Tom Schreiner) changed his mind in the opposite direction.