ESCHATOLOGY, THE DOCTRINE OF “LAST THINGS”

(Lesson 22 on Bible Doctrines) 



 

I. THE SECOND COMING OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

  1. For two thousand years Christians have believed in the second coming of Christ.  It is a “fundamental” doctrine.  All true Christians agree that our Lord’s first coming was in humiliation but that His second advent will be “with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30).
  2. But while all genuine Christians believe in the literal second coming of Christ, there is much disagreement over the details.
    1. Premillennialists believe Christ will return to set up His kingdom.  This is the most literal interpretation of Scripture, and therefore the correct position.
    2. Postmillennialists teach that Christ will return after the millennial kingdom. They believe the church will usher in the kingdom. This is the most unscriptural view (cf. Luke 18:8; II Tim.3; II Peter 2). “Post-millennialism is closely identified in the twentieth century with an optimistic view of history and, in a superficial way, may be thought of as an eschatological confidence that ‘every day in every way things are getting better and better.’ Two world wars in less than thirty years have largely destroyed the idea of inevitable progress, and post-millennialism has been scrapped by great numbers of people” – A Handbook of Christian Truth, Harold Lindsell and Charles J. Woodbridge.
    3. Amillennialists teach that there will be no millennium. Their system is built upon an allegorical or figurative approach to Bible prophecy. Followers of John Calvin and Augustine promote this view.
  3. Premillennialists are divided into three groups:
    1. Pretribulationists believe the rapture is imminent and Christians will be translated before the tribulation begins (cf. I Thess. 4:13-18; Titus 2:13). This is the most literal and consistent position.
    2. Midtribulationists believe Christians will go through the first half of the tribulation.
    3. Posttribulationists believe Christians will go the entire tribulation.
  4. By “the tribulation” we mean Daniel’s seventieth “week” (Dan. 9:27), “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), the time when God will pour out His wrath upon this wicked world because of its sin and unbelief (Deut. 4:30; Isa. 2:12-22; I Thess. 5:1-3).
  5. In His Olivet Discourse, our Lord said: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matt. 24:21; cf. Rev. 7:14).
  6. The New Testament promises deliverance to true Christians from this time of wrath and judgment (cf. I Thess. 4:18; 5:9; Rev. 3:10).  The church is not seen on earth while the Word of God vividly describes the horrors of the tribulation period (Rev. 4-18).
  7. The New Testament teaches that the rapture is imminent. This doctrine of imminency, largely based upon the hope and comfort of Christ’s appearing, coupled with the exhortations to watch and pray with expectancy, is one of the strongest arguments for the pretribulational rapture.
  8. Events which must precede the second coming. Note: no events must precede the rapture (Matt. 24; Rev.6).

A.  Religious deception and the rise of false prophets (Matt. 24:4, 5, 11).

B.  Wars and rumors of war (Matt. 24:6).

C.  Famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places (Matt. 24:7).

D.  Religious persecution (Matt. 24:9, 10).

E.   The preaching of the Gospel to “all the world” (Matt. 24:14).

F.   The coming of the antichrist (Matt. 24:15; cf. II Thess. 2; Rev. 13).

G. Unusual physical phenomena (Matt. 24:29; Luke 21:25, 26).

 

II. OTHER DETAILS CONCERNING THE SECOND COMING

  1. No one knows the day (Matt. 24:42; 25:13; Mark 13:32).
  2. It will be a literal, bodily, visible return (Zech. 14:4; Acts 1:11; Rev. 1:7).  The JW’s and other cults deny this.
  3. The judgment seat of Christ will follow the rapture (Rom. 14:10; I Cor. 3:13-15; II Cor. 5:10).
  4. This teaching is an incentive to godly living (Luke 21:34-36; Titus 2:11-15; I John 2:28; 3:2, 3).
  5. Christ will come to judge the wicked at the battle of Armageddon (Rev. 19:11-21; 20:10).
  6. After this, Christ will set up His kingdom (Matt. 19:28; 25:31-46; Luke 1:31-33). Jerusalem will be the capitol (Ps. 2:6; Isa. 2).

 

III. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?

  1. Those who believe in Christ will be with Him forever (John 14:1-3).
  2. Those who reject Christ will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15; 21:8).
  3. There is no purgatory, no reincarnation, and no “second chance” beyond the grave.

    ·        “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).

    ·        “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

 

CONCLUSION:

“And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13).


Pastor James Barker
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