The End Times
One might think that the doctrine of the end times (eschatology) has
very little to do with living the Christian life, since we are to live
the same Godly lives whether Jesus returns today or in a thousand
years. However, this doctrine is presented to believers in the Epistles
so that we might have hope and comfort about our temporal destiny as
well as eternity (1 Thessalonians 4:18). The book of The Revelation
promises great tribulation just before the end of the world as we know
it. Presented here is only a brief summary of the events of the end
There is much speculation about the events of the end times, and there
are many different assumptions made by various theological experts. The
doctrine of the end times is difficult to follow because it is
presented in small pieces of noncontiguous scripture throughout the
Bible. As a result, the subject of the end times is
quite controversial, even among evangelicals. The specific points of
controversy most often deal with the rapture, and the kingdom, and
these will be discussed below.
The Last Days
Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:1-3 that in the end times, it will be
common for people to fall away from true doctrine and practice false
doctrine including the doctrine of demons. Paul says that people will
be hypocrites and liars, and some will forbid certain practices such as
marriage and the eating of certain foods as part of their doctrines. He
gives an even more explicit description of the last days in 2 Timothy
3:1-7. He says that these will be difficult times because
people will be wicked, mean, and full of hate, and they will love
fighting. They will love themselves and be boastful, conceited, and
arrogant. They will love money and pleasure, and live dangerous,
reckless lives, and children will be disobedient to their parents.
People will be ungrateful, unholy, and malicious gossips, and they will
be without self-control. Imagine a world without self-control, yet we
see signs of this today.
The epistles give such extended warnings about false teachers that we
wonder why so much attention is given them (2 Peter 2:1-22). In 2
Timothy 4:3, we see that in the end times, people will actually seek
out false teachers who will tell them the things that they want to
hear, in place of the truth. Apparently these warnings against false
teachers are so numerous and emphatic so that we will have to give
constant attention to identifying them. They are subtle, and they will
easily deceive the unsuspecting (Romans 16:17-18). We will know them
because they preach a "different" gospel (2 Corinthians 11:4). although
they disguise themselves as apostles (2 Corinthians 11:13-15,23). We
are told that they speak arrogant words of vanity (2 Peter 2:18). We
will have an uneasy feeling towards them.
We are accountable to test the spirits (1 John 4:1-2). Even if an angel
preaches falsely, he is to be accursed (Galatians 1:8). When we
identify false teachers, we shouldn't even greet them or let them enter
our homes (2 John 10). We are to ask questions. Hiding behind our
confidence in a pastor or another priest will not suffice on judgment
day. We are accountable for ourselves, and if we disagree or don't
understand, we must ask questions--that is how we learn. However, we
can be confident to learn from those we know well and trust (2 Timothy
In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul describes an even which he calls being
"caught up" to be with Jesus Christ. Over the centuries, we have come
to refer to this event as the rapture. Jesus will come from Heaven, and
a trumpet will sound (1 Corinthians 15:52). The dead bodies of
believers will rise from the earth, whether they be in graves or
elsewhere, to unite with their souls which are already with Jesus. Then
the believers who are still living will also be raised to meet Jesus in
the air. The bodies of all of these believers will be transformed or
changed (1 Corinthians 15:51-52) into new glorified bodies (Philippians
3:21), in the same form as the body of Jesus Himself (1 John 3:1-2). We
are told that this whole company will ascend to Heaven with Jesus,
similar to the way that He ascended the first time (Acts 1:11). In
traditional dispensational theology, the rapture will mark the end of
the Age of the Church.
Some believe that the rapture will occur at the beginning of the
seven-year period of tribulation at the end of time, which is described
in the book of Revelation. This view is called the pre-tribulation view
of the rapture, and with this scenario, Christians would escape the
wrath of God during the tribulation period (1 Thessalonians 1:10,
4:18). This view is shared by dispensationalists. A pre-tribulation
rapture implies that the rapture is considered to be imminent, meaning
that it could now occur at any time, because all prophecies which the
Bible indicates must be fulfilled before the rapture have already
Others believe that the rapture won't occur until the end of the
tribulation period. This view is called the post-tribulation rapture
view of the rapture, where Christians would have to endure God's wrath
during the tribulation, just like everyone else.
Still others split the difference, citing the occurrence of the rapture
at the midpoint of the
seven-year tribulation. This view is called the mid-tribulation view of
the rapture, where believers would escape the worst of the tribulation
period (the last three-and-a-half years), but not the first
half of it.
However, most in the three camps above would agree that the rapture is
premillennial, meaning that it will occur before the millennium, the
thousand-year reign of Christ in His earthly kingdom. Yet another
variation on the teaching of the end times is that the rapture will
occur at the end of the millennium (post-millennial). Some who hold
this position would teach that there will be no specific and
spectacular rapture event, because it simply corresponds with the end
of time, where none of mankind is left on the earth.
The Judgment Seat of Christ
In John 14:1-3, Jesus prophesied this event as He explained that our
dwelling places await us in Heaven. Although the Bible does not specify
exactly when we believers will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ
to receive our rewards (1 Corinthians 5:10), it seems reasonable that
this judgment of believers will probably begin at this point,
immediately following the rapture, and continue through the period of
great tribulation and trouble on the earth. However, it seems somewhat
futile for us to try to comprehend and explain events of eternity in
The Tribulation Period
Many Bible scholars believe that the Great Tribulation described in the
books of Daniel and The Revelation will occur in the seven years
immediately following the rapture, although there is much disagreement
and speculation about the order of these end-time events.
Evil and trouble will be the norm for this period (Revelation 6-18);
the Antichrist will reveal Himself (Daniel 11-12, Revelation 13); and,
Russia and her allies will attack Israel, but they will suffer defeat
as Russia is destroyed by an earthquake (Ezekiel 38-39).
China and her allies will attack Israel at the Battle of Armageddon.
The Second Advent
However, just as it appears that Israel will be defeated, Jesus Christ
will return to earth--the Second Advent--and personally defeat Satan
and Israel's enemies in the most devastating battle of all time
(Revelation 19). The Second Advent is further described
in Psalms 22:19-31.
Some people believe that the kingdom is an actual earthly kingdom
(premillennialists and dispensationalists), but others believe that it
is only symbolic, or that we are already living in the kingdom today
(amillennialists). Those who believe in an earthly kingdom would argue that the kingdom on earth begins at the
Second Advent. Christ will reign as King over His earthly kingdom for
1000 years (Revelation 20). Satan will be bound during this period, but
at the end of the 1000-year period, Satan and his demons will be
released, they will retaliate, and finally they will be cast into the
lake of fire for eternity. Then all unbelievers will be judged at the Great
White Throne of God, and they will also be cast into the lake of fire
(Revelation 20, 2 Peter 3).
Then God will form a new Heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21), and
all believers will live in eternal paradise forever (Revelation 22).
This eternal blessing is possible because of Jesus's sacrifice on the
cross for our sins, and this blessing belongs to anyone who believes
that Jesus is his savior (John 3:16).
The future is bright for believers, and dismal for unbelievers.
Believers will spend it in paradise, and unbelievers in the lake of
fire, after much tribulation on earth. We should use what we
know of the end times as an encouragement and a witness until Christ returns.
Owen Weber 2009