A conversation with Joel Beeke
photo: Michelle DeBella-Bharath

BENYOLA: Looking backward on a half-millennium of Reformation, with your understanding of eschatology and seeing the trajectory of the kingdom of this world and the kingdom of God, what do you predict the next 500 years of Reformation will be like?

BEEKE: Our hope is that Christ will come again to judge the quick and the dead, and soon! But if the Lord tarries, we expect that the good seed of the Word being scattered far and wide by today’s sowers will bear much good fruit in the years that lie ahead. We know that the church will endure, under the protection of her Lord and Head, and the kingdom of God will grow and prevail, according to the promise of God. I think of a stanza from the metrical version of Psalm 105 sung in our churches:

Jehovah’s truth will stand forever,
His covenant-bonds He will not sever;
The word of grace which He commands
To thousand generations stands;
The covenant made in days of old
With Abraham He doth uphold.

In general, it seems to me that there are two sets of verses in the Bible about the end times — one set that seems discouraging and one set that seems encouraging. I believe that these texts, when studied together, teach that as we move forward the godly will become more godly and the ungodly will become more ungodly. The antithesis between the world and the church will grow. In fact, it seems that that is taking place even now. Over the past 30 years I have had opportunity to speak at Reformed conferences in several dozen countries that have spanned every continent of the globe. My observation has been that in most countries if one returns to do the same conference several years later, the attendees have grown both quantitatively and qualitatively. Despite the darkness hanging over Europe and many other individual countries, overall I am optimistic about the future — especially of the Reformed faith. I regard myself, therefore, as an “optimistic amillennialist.”

Finally, we need to remember the biblical injunction to “put no confidence in princes, nor for help on man depend.” The unknown future lies entirely in the hands of the sovereign God of the Bible. No doubt in ways that would astonish us if we knew or could see it now, God will make all things work together for the good of his people and the glory of his Son, Christ Jesus the King of kings and Lord of lords.


Further study

Why You Should Read the Puritans, Joel Beeke and Ligonier Ministries

The Westminster Confession of Faith, the Westminster Assembly 

A Body of Divinity, Thomas Watson

The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett

Puritan Portraits, J.I. Packer

Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, Thomas Brooks

The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Jeremiah Burroughs

The Bruised Reed, Richard Sibbes

Overcoming Sin and Temptation, John Owen

The Mortification of Sin, John Owen

The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan

Puritan Library

Reformation Heritage Books


Covenant theology, interviews, Reformation