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Faithlife

Last Things

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God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.

John 14:1–3 ESV
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
The Bible’s scope is eternity past, historical past, present, future and eternity future. God is not trapped by time. He created time as a construct within eternity - part of His creation. From the very beginning, time was to be limited in duration.
Genesis 1:1 ESV
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
What does “in the beginning” imply? There will be an end.
We are promised a day when time will be no more. While the Bible points us to the past for an understanding of God’s work and the unfolding of his plan in history and while the Bible takes the present very seriously, it also places a central focus on things to come.
WHAT TONIGHT IS NOT ABOUT...
The Bible’s doctrine of eschatology, which focuses on Last Things, provides a future horizon for Christian theology and Christian living. Believers are to live in anticipation of Christ’s coming and in absolute confidence that God will consummate and accomplish His purposes.
For Christians, while the world is a place of incredible beauty and wonder, it is also a place of grave danger. We understand that creation is fallen, as revealed in Scripture. But even as we live and witness in this fallen world, we look forward to a new heaven and new earth.
Isaiah 65:17 ESV
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.
Revelation 21:1 ESV
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
This world will come to a necessary end.
As the BF&M states, “God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end.” This should bring us great comfort and humility.
People differ on the details regarding the Last Things…doesn’t determine orthodoxy.

The Return of Christ

The doctrine of Last Things focuses primarily on Jesus Christ and His return.

The Bible tells us that He will return to earth personally, visibly, and gloriously.

This will be MUCH different from his first coming. In Bethlehem, he entered human existence in the form of a lowly baby. His first place of residence was an animal’s humble feeding trough. There were no trappings of majesty, and the shepherds saw God’s glory displayed in the weakness of a baby.
However, when Christ returns, He will come in glory as a conquering King to claim his kingdom. Christ will return visibly so that all creatures will see him, as the natural world testified of Christ’s finished work when the earth trembled and clouds darkened at Calvary. When Jesus returns, he will come in the clouds, the heavens parting to signal his arrival.
Luke 21:27 ESV
And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
1 Thessalonians 4:17 ESV
Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

“The reality of Christ’s return is grounded in the overall purposes of God. The central themes of the Christian message accompanying the proclamation of Jesus’ lordship include His sinlessness, death, resurrection, ascension, and His return. These assurances brought hope to the early church as they do today. From the beginning, the climactic event of Christ’s return has been at the heart of Christian preaching, echoing the words of Jesus Himself: ‘And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.’ () Wherever the apostles preached, they preached the reality of this announcement.”

(David Dockery)

The Resurrection of the Dead

When Christ returns, the dead will be raised.

1 Thessalonians 4:16 ESV
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
The promise of our resurrection is sure and certain.

All those who have died - believers and unbelievers - will experience the resurrection of the dead.

This is because of Jesus’ resurrection.
1
1 Corinthians 15:21–22 ESV
For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

Jesus’ resurrection guarantees our resurrection.

Our resurrection precedes the judgment that is to come. On this day of judgment, God will judge all human beings, and Christ will judge all people in righteousness. The righteous - those who are declared righteous through faith in Christ - will be allowed into heaven. The unrighteous will be consigned to hell, the place of everlasting punishment.
Revelation 20:11–12 ESV
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.
Revelation 20:11–15 ESV
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Revelation 20:13–15 ESV
And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Eternal Destiny

Polls indicate that the vast majority of American not only believe in heaven and hell but also believe they will certainly go to heaven. Most people believe that heaven is for ultimate pleasure and enjoyment. Most people believe they’ll be in heaven because they’re good and there’s no reason why God wouldn’t allow them in.

Heaven is the eternal dwelling place of believers in the presence of God and in the company of the saints.

John 14:2–3 ESV
In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
Philippians 3:20 ESV
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
We can anticipate heaven as a state of existence and a place where believers, now both resurrected and glorified, will serve, praise, and honor God forever.
What will we do in heaven?

Our task will be to declare God’s glory and to exult in His holiness forever, joining the angels and the other heavenly beings in enjoying the infinite pleasure of being in the presence of Almighty God.

In contrast to heaven, hell is the place of eternal judgment, punishment, and torment.

The Bible’s presentation of hell is straightforward and honest.
Did you realize that Jesus talked more about hell than he did heaven?
The Bible’s portrayal of hell centers on it as a place of eternal, conscious torment. - Lazarus and the rich man.

God’s presence is totally and eternally absent in hell.

Hell is a place where God’s judgment is manifested against sin for all eternity.

Matthew 3:10 ESV
Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Matthew 3:10 ESV
Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Matthew 5:22 ESV
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
Mark 9:48 ESV
‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’
James 3:6 ESV
And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
2 Peter 3:7 ESV
But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
Jude 7 ESV
just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
Revelation 20:14 ESV
Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
This should be an impetus for evangelism, shouldn’t it?

The Final Judgment

We must understand and know that one day God’s justice will be fully realized. In this life we understand that all attempts at justice are finite and fallible. We must also understand that even when we see God’s judgment being revealed in our own times, we must anticipate the absolute, ultimate, and final display of God’s justice and holiness on the day of judgment. This gives us hope. We are to live in anticipation of God’s total consummation of His purposes and the final, comprehensive display of His glory.
This is what the bible refers to as our “blessed hope.”
Titus 2:13 ESV
waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
We must live and work in light of this sure and certain hope.

For believers the judgment is secure and safe because of the work of Christ.

1 John 4:17 ESV
By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.
Romans 5:1 ESV
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 John 2:1 ESV
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
We will be accepted by God not because of what we’ve done but because of what Christ has done.

Believers will face judgment for our deeds in terms of obedience and disobedience to God’s commands.

Having been resurrected and glorified, we will receive rewards commensurate with Christian devotion and service.
Matthew 16:27 ESV
For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
Luke 6:35 ESV
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
Luke 14:13–14 ESV
But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
Luke
Galatians 6:9 ESV
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
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