May 2, 2012

The Doctrine of the Last Things

Personal eschatology is what the Bible tells us will happen to individual believers, such as physical death, the intermediate state, glorification. General eschatology deals with the last things which affect the whole cosmos. Since these events are still future, there is major agreement on the essentials but much less agreement about the particular details.
A.      The second coming of Christ     
I believe that Jesus will return bodily and that this could happen at any time (2 Pet 3:10; Rev 22:20; Jas 5:8; Matt 24:44). I believe his return will be seen by all and that it will be personal – the Lord himself (Jn 14:3; 1 Thess 4:16). I believe that even though no one knows when this will happen, we should be ready and expectant (Phil 3:20; 1 Cor 16:22; Matt 25:13; Mk 13:32-33).
B.      The millennium                                          
I believe that the tribulation will occur at the end of the church age and then Christ will return and set up an millennial kingdom on the earth (Matt 24: 21, 29-30; Rev 20:4-5). Believers will be resurrected at this time to reign with him (1 Cor15:23-25; Rev 2:26-27). Unbelievers will be under this rule as well and Satan will be bound during this time (Isa 65:20; Rev 20:1-3).
C.      The future of ethnic or national Israel
I believe that God only has one people: his church, composed of all Jew and Gentile believers for all time. In Scripture, I believe that Paul predicts a time in the future when many ethnic Jews will trust in Jesus (Rom 11:12, 25-26). This large ingathering could go hand in hand with the gospel being preached to all nations (Mk 13:10; Matt 24:14).
D.      The Final Judgment                                       
I believe that after the millennium (Rev 20:1-11) all people will be judged by Christ (Rev 20:11-15; Acts 17:30-31). Unbelievers will receive degrees of punishment (Rom 2:5-7; Rev 20:12-13; Lk 12:47-48). Believers will be judged and receive various degrees of reward (Rom 14:10-12; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 11:18) but will not be condemned (Rom 8:1; Jn 5:24). Angels will also be judged (2 Pet 2:4; Jude 6; 1 Cor 6:3). The final judgment shows forth the wrath and justice of God.
E.       Hell      
The final destination of all unbelievers is “hell” or the Lake of Fire (Matt 25:41, 46). Other terms for this place are Gehenna and outer darkness (Lk 12:4-5; Matt 5:22; 2 Pet 2:17; Jude 13). It is eternal, real, and permanent (Mk 9:43, 48). There unbelievers will experience conscious and physical torment forever (Rev 14:9-11; 19:3; 20:10).
F.       Heaven
I believe that God will renew the creation and we will live with God forever in a new heaven and a new earth (2 Pet 3:13; Rev 21:1-3). I would define heaven the way that Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology does: “Heaven is the place where God most fully makes known his presence to bless.” We will be here forever in our resurrected and glorified bodies

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