Eschatology is the study of The End-Times. Before Jesus, Daniel talked about The End-Times, and after Him, so did John the Revelator. Ezekiel talked about the Day of the Lord, as did Isaiah. There are others, but don’t forget Jesus Himself – Scripture stresses that it is important for us to consider what is to come. Why? Because how we think of our end directly impacts how we live today. (Steven Covey had a lot to say about that concept, too.)

Outside of The End-Times simply being a fun discussion, it is not a clear one – you know, because it hasn’t happened yet. The warnings about God’s return in judgment, complete with pictures – some of those pictures are rather crazy, mind you, with all of them evoking a strong reaction from those who heard it first – are designed to help us when that coming-time takes center-stage.

Until it shows up, though, we’re just looking out for it and guessing. Being confident in these guesses, however, is not a smart move. Remember how Jesus said that nobody will know exactly when it will all come together (Matthew 24:36)? It would seem as though the Jewish people around AD-30 were looking forward to the Messiah arriving on the scene as a military commander. Even though they received their understanding from Scripture, they expected something different than what showed up in Jesus. Which begs: What about our understanding?


Even though many recognized Christ as the Messiah, many more did not. John the Baptizer seemed confident in who Jesus was before His ministry went public, yet John questioned Him some time afterward – which is crazy considering how the other two members of the Trinity showed up in confirmation on that amazing occasion. My take on that is that it is simply not possible for our puny little heads to get the details of God’s future plan correct, even when the Godhead is present.

We need to take what is clear from Scripture, mix in a healthy measure of humility, add a dash of I-Don’t-Know, maybe fold-in of some equivocations, followed by an asterisk with not a few disclaimers. Or, to actually be helpful, it might be better to identify where the extremes of error are prone to show up. And so I think it’s time for some more fancy terms.


“The Already” refers to the work that God has already accomplished. “The Not-Yet” is the work that God is currently accomplishing. The difference is, essentially, just a matter of verb-tense – past tense versus present-progressive tense – which identifies where we are in God’s timeline. But that sounds like I’m married to an English teacher. Our understanding is important because it impacts how we live with the time that is given to us, to invoke a sentiment from Gandalf.

The extremes of misunderstanding are “over-realized eschatology,” which misunderstands “The Already,” and “under-realized eschatology,” which misunderstands “The Not-Yet”. Even though getting The End into proper perspective may not be easy, wrestling to identify those pendulum swings, I submit, is worth the effort.

Misunderstanding The-Already:

Over-realized eschatology took me by surprise, at first. The struggle I had in recognizing this concept, was compounded by it not having a fancy, cool name. It’s just simply referred to as, “over-realized eschatology”, which is both the term as well as the category – and as I had neither to work with, I struggled. It took me a while, but I now think I have an understanding.

  • What it is:

This extreme view says that the new heaven and the new earth are already here-and-now, so we need to take dominion. This way of thinking says that we can claim what we want – because God has called us, God will give us what we want if we just have enough faith, say “please,” and look sad enough for not having it. Either that, or we just demand what we want, like spoiled children.

  • The Parts That May Be Right:

There is absolutely something true about this understanding. The kingdom has arrived in Jesus, as He explicitly stated in His reply to John the Baptizer’s request for clarification (Matthew 11:1-6). Then, as He took His last breath, Jesus declared, “It is finished.” After Jesus ascended, the Spirit of the Lord arrived with a Red Carpet at Pentecost, and then, as He comes to us individually, He replaces our hearts of stone with His heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26, 2 Corinthians 1:21-22). The Kingdom has arrived.

  • Why It’s Wrong:

Consider suffering. Because we know that in the New Earth, there will be no suffering (2 Peter 3:12-13), we can be sure that we are not there yet. Sin is still rampant, and seemingly getting worse, we can be sure that God has not fully bound Satan (Revelation 20:2). Also, a lot of stupidity can flow from this way of thinking – like the Health, Wealth and Prosperity Heresy; and some cancerous variants of Christian Nationalism also.

And it doesn’t have a catchy name, like its opposite does.

Misunderstanding The Not-Yet:

Under-realized eschatology does have a fancy, cool term: antinomianism – which is such a crazy word that it caught my attention when I first heard it, so what else was I going to do but look it up?

  • What it is:

In short, this pendulum-swing is a denial of God’s Law. It says: no Law, only grace. In other words, it is the hyper-grace movement, which redefines God’s commandments and places them into the category of No-Longer-For-Us. This way of thinking is wrapped up in Progressive Christianity and its cousin, Universalism. In an effort to maintain some logic, antinomianism is forced to say that the bad news of sin is something other than our rebellion against God. Rather, under-realized eschatology says that the problem of the human condition is not our sin, but is instead our shame.

  • The Parts That May Be Right:

God’s Grace is amazing. It is more than we could ever ask or imagine, and it is undeserved and unearned. It is God doing all of the heavy lifting, because we are lost and powerless. God gives to everybody who is willing to submit to Him as Lord, freely and without restraint.

  • Why It’s Wrong:

Conveniently, those with an under-realized eschatology remove what Scripture teaches, starting with the very reason for our first parents being ashamed: Adam and Eve accepted a lie, then acted upon it, thereby rejecting God’s directive. In doing so, not only should the result have been shame, but also justice – which would have been served if they had been immediately sentenced without mercy or appeal.

Also, removing The Law is illogical – it doesn’t fit into Scripture, either the Old or the New Testaments – because by removing the bad news, the good news cannot stand as such. If there is no Law, then there can be no Grace – as the very foundation upon which Grace is built is removed.

Furthermore, this extreme view forgets all the warnings repeated throughout all of Scripture to live a holy life: to submit our wills, to renew our minds, to train our bodies, and to master our sin. Indeed we are called to be holy, as He is holy. Righteousness is never presented as a suggestion in God’s Word, and nowhere is it considered to be out-of-reach. It is a command, repeated often and understood clearly as faith, repentance and obedience.

Because under-realized eschatology replaces the problem of the human condition – which is universally felt – from sin to shame, the role of Jesus changes from atonement to example. With this position, that which God condemns, antinomianism blesses in the name of God – resulting in the Good News being replaced by The Impossible Burden, which it shrouds in calming language.*


If we belong to Christ, we are already adopted – but we are not yet adopted in that God has not called us home. If we submit to the Lordship of Christ, we are already redeemed in what Christ has done for us – but we are not yet redeemed in that we still struggle with sin. It sounds tricky, but has a good article on this dilemma.

I hesitate to say we are to find a balance between the over-realized and under-realized extremes of eschatology. I think instead that we are to embrace The Already and The Not-Yet at the same time. To live in both Truths is not a contradiction, but a development. Developmental issues can unquestionably be hard – we’re in the middle of it, trying to analyze it. But we can wrestle with the hard things. In fact, Scripture encourages us to wrestle (Genesis 32:24-25). And fancy terms sometimes help.

The Impossible Burden:  Briefly, if Jesus is no longer our substitutionary atonement, if He is only our example, then the burden of righteousness is back on us.  Calming language:  The Law in the name of Grace.