We are naturally curious about the unknown. This is especially true with respect to the coming of the end of the world. We want to know what will happen. Unfortunately, many popular false teachings surround us, such as that there will be a millennium in which Christ rules visibly on earth for a thousand years before the end, and that there will be a rapture and two resurrections of the dead. The purpose of this lesson is to learn the truth about the last things, so we will be lifted up in our Christian hope about the future and not be misled by others.
Eccl.12:7 & Heb.9:27 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. . . And just as it is reserved for men to die once, and after this to face judgment, . . .
- The body, figuratively called dust, is buried, decomposes, and returns to the dust from which God had created it.
- The spirit, or soul, which is immortal, is separated from the body at death and returns to God for judgment.
2 Cor.5:8 . . . we are, then, of good courage, and we prefer rather to depart from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
- We Christians are of good courage and confident that when we die, our soul will leave our body and join the Lord in heaven.
- Those who believe in Jesus are taken immediately to heaven upon their death.
- The Bible says nothing about a purgatory. At death a person is judged. If he was a believer, his soul is received into heaven. If he was an unbeliever, his soul is condemned to hell, which the following passage verifies.
1 Pet.3:19,20 . . . he (Jesus) went and preached to those in prison, who once were disobedient, . . .
The Truth Is:
When a person dies:
1. His soul is separated from his body and returns to God for judgment.
2. If he was a believer in Jesus, his soul is immediately received into heaven.
3. If he was an unbeliever, his soul is condemned to hell.
Acts 1:11 11 “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, in this same way will come just as you have seen him going into heaven.”
- This verse and the two following verses promise that Jesus will come back from heaven visibly in the same way that he was seen going up into heaven.
1 Thess.4:16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven. . .
Mt.24:30 And they will see the SON OF MAN COMING UPON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.
The Truth Is:
The Bible has promised us that the Lord Jesus will come back from heaven visibly in the same way he went up into heaven.
Mt.24:3,14,29,30 Now while he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what is the sign of your coming and the end of the world?” . . . (the preceding signs are then given, which are discussed under the next question) . . .and then the end will come. . . Now immediately after the tribulation of those days, . . . (referring to the days of the preceding signs) . . . at that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the nations of the earth will mourn. And they will see the SON OF MAN COMING UPON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.
- The Bible says Jesus will return at the end of time, the last day.
1 Cor.15:23,24 But each in his own order (raised from the dead); Christ the first-fruits, afterwards those who are Christ’s at his coming, then the end, . . .
- Jesus will return at the end of time, at which time the dead will be raised.
The Truth Is:
Jesus will return at the end of time, the last day.
Mt.24:3-5,11 Now while he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what is the sign of your coming and the end of the world?” And answering, Jesus said to them, “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will deceive many. . . And many false prophets will arise and will deceive many.
- Within the visible church false Christs and prophets will arise.
- Many will follow the false Christs and prophets, bringing about false churches, religious sects and cults, and false religions.
Mt.24:24 & 2 Thess.2:9 For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and they will perform great signs and wonders, in order to deceive, if that were possible, even the elect. . . the one (the Great Antichrist) whose coming is in accordance with the working of Satan in all power and signs and lying wonders.
- Within the visible church false prophets will perform miracles by the power of the devil. The Great Antichrist will also appear, whose coming will be attended with lying wonders and miracles done by the devils power.
- The church of Christ will be persecuted and hated on earth.
Mt.24:10 & 2 Thess.2:1,3 And at that time many will fall away, and they will betray one another, and they will hate one another. . . concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . Not anyone should deceive you in any way, because that day will not come unless the apostasy should come first and the man of lawlessness (the Great Antichrist) should be revealed, the son of destruction, . .
- Many will fall from the faith, leave the church, and turn against the Christians within it.
Mt.24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole inhabited earth for a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
- The church’s carrying the gospel of Christ to all the world is not a tribulation, but it is also a sign that points to his coming on the last day.
Mt.24:12 And because of the multiplying of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold.
- Within society wickedness and lovelessness will abound.
Mt.24:6-8 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened. For these things must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes from place to place. But all these things are the beginning of birth pains.
- Within society there will be wars and rumors of wars. One nationality will rise up against another. One country will rise up against another.
- Within nature there will be famines and earthquakes.
- Vast segments of society will be devastated by pestilence, plagues, and disease.
- In addition to the famines and earthquakes within nature, the heavens will be marked by the streaks of falling stars and solar and lunar eclipses.
The Truth Is:
Signs that cause tribulation will point to the coming of Jesus:
1. Within the church.
2. Within society.
3. Within nature.
Mt.25:13 Jesus said, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
- Jesus said that the day or the hour of his coming at the end of time is not known by us.
Mt.24:36 “About that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
- Jesus also said that no one knows, not even the angels, the day or the hour of his coming and of the end of the world.
Acts 1:7 (Jesus) said to (the disciples), “It is not for you to know the times or seasons which the Father has set by his own authority.”
- What is more, Jesus said it was not for his disciples to know the time his Father has set.
The Truth Is:
No one knows or can determine when Jesus’ return and the last day will occur. This knowledge is God’s secret, which we ought not to concern ourselves with.
Mt.24:37-39 “For just as the days of Noah were, so in this manner will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until that day Noah entered the ark, and they did not know what was coming until the flood came and took them all away, so will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
- Jesus will come when life in this world is proceeding normally without any unusual forewarnings, such as a preceding thousand-year rule of Christ on earth (a millennium) or a preceding rapture in which all Christians are whisked from the earth into heaven. People will live their everyday lives without any foreknowledge of Jesus coming and the end of the world.
Mt.24:44 “For this reason you also be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think he will come.”
- Jesus will come when the people of the world do not expect him.
1 Thess.5:1-3 Now concerning the times and seasons, brothers, you have no need for us to write you, for you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When people say, “Peace and safety,” then suddenly destruction will come upon them, like birth pains upon a pregnant woman, and they shall absolutely not escape.
- Jesus’ return will come unexpectedly and suddenly, while the people of the world feel they are safe and secure and have nothing to fear or worry about.
2 Pet.3:3,4,10 Know this first of all, that in the last days scoffers will come with their scoffing, conducting themselves according to their own evil desires and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue in this manner from the beginning of creation” . . . But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, . . .
- During the time preceding Jesus’ return scoffers will not believe Jesus is coming to destroy the world. But while they are scoffing at his return, he will come upon them suddenly and unexpectedly.
The Truth Is:
At the time of Jesus return:
1. Life will be proceeding normally with no unusual preliminary events, such as a millennium or a rapture, to arouse the people from their ignorance of what is coming on them.
2. He will appear suddenly and unexpectedly.
3. The world’s population will be feeling safe and secure, and scoffers will be ridiculing his coming and the end of the world.
Mt.24:29; Rev.6:12-14; 2 Pet.3:10 “Now immediately after the tribulation of those days, THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL FROM HEAVEN, AND THE POWERS OF THE HEAVENS WILL BE SHAKEN”. . . . there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood, and the stars of heaven fell to the earth, like a fig tree drops its late figs when shaken by a strong wind, and the heaven was split like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved from their places, . . . But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will disappear with a roar, and the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and the works in it will be burned up.
- On the last day the whole universe in its present form will be destroyed, with the sun turning dark, the moon ceasing to shine, the stars falling from the heavens, and the planets being shaken out of their orbits. The physical forces God established within nature to hold the universe together will cease, and it will then disappear with a tremendous roar.
- On the last day the earth in its present form will be demolished. Its atmosphere will disappear, and a gigantic earthquake of unprecedented magnitude will flatten every mountain and wipe out every island. Fire will then consume everything.
Lk.21:25,26 “And there will be signs in the sun and moon and stars, and there will be upon the earth anguish of the nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and rolling waves, people fainting from fear and expectation because of what is coming upon the inhabited earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
- When the nations behold the seas and oceans raging wildly, they will be worried, terror stricken, and wondering fearfully what is about to happen to them.
Mt.24:30 & 25:31 “And at that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the nations of the earth will mourn. And they will see the SON OF MAN COMING UPON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. . . When the Son of Man shall come in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his throne of glory” . . .
- The world’s population will see Jesus appear in his glory with all his holy angels. They will then mourn sorrowfully, for their judgment has come.
Rev.6:15-17 And the kings of the earth and the great men and the military commanders and the rich and the mighty and every slave and every free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
- When the world’s population beholds Jesus in his glory and is horrified by his coming judgment, the people will try to escape and will beg to be annihilated to avoid his wrath.
Acts 24:15; Jn.6:40 & 5:28,29; Rev.1:7 . . . there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. . . “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks at the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I myself (Jesus) will raise him up on the last day. . . Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out those who have done good deeds to a resurrection of life, but those who have committed evil deeds to a resurrection of damnation”. . . BEHOLD! HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see him, even every one who pierced him, and all the nations of the earth will mourn because of him. So indeed it will be. Amen.
- When Jesus returns in glory on the last day, by the power of his command to rise he will raise up all the dead at one time, believers and unbelievers alike. There will be but one resurrection of the dead, not two as some have taught.
- All people, those who are resurrected on the last day, together with those who are living on the last day, will see Jesus in his glory, even the soldiers who crucified him.
- A great moan of sorrow and weeping will rise up from the unbelievers who had done evil, for the time of their judgment is at hand.
Mt.25:32,33; 13:49,50; 24:31; & 1 Thess.4:16,17 . . . all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them from one another, just as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. . . So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and separate the wicked from among the righteous, and cast them into the furnace of fire. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. . . And he (Jesus) will send his angels with a loud trumpet, and they will gather together his elect from the four winds from one end of the heavens to the other. . . For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a cried out command, with a voice of an archangel, and with a trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are living, who are remaining, will be carried away into the clouds at the same time with them to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord.
- All the people from every age will then stand before Jesus in the final judgment.
- The angels will separate the wicked unbelievers from the righteous believers. The wicked will be cast into hell where they will be tormented forever and ever.
- The angels will gather up all the elect believers and take them to heaven. Those believers who are resurrected, together with those who are living on the last day, will ascend into heaven, where they will be with the Lord Jesus forever.
Ro.14:11; Rev.5:13; Phil.2:9-11 For it is written, “ ’As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God.’ ”. . . And I heard every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, saying, “To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power forever and ever!”. . . that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
- On the last day all people will praise and glorify God and Jesus Christ his Son. Those who rejected him during their earthly life will then have to confess Jesus is truly Christ the Lord and praise him. Those believers who were saved by him will sing his endless praise with joy and thanksgiving.
The Truth Is:
When Jesus returns on the last day:
1. This earth and the entire universe will be destroyed.
2. The earth’s population will be terror stricken over what is about to happen to them.
3. The earth’s population will see him appear in the clouds with all his holy angels.
4. The earth’s population, horrified, will mourn and seek to escape from his wrath and judgment.
5. All the dead, the unbelievers as well as the believers, will be resurrected at the same time by the power of his command to rise, and all will see him in his glory.
6. All people will stand before Jesus in the final judgment. The angels will cast the unbelievers into hell and will gather the believers into heaven.
7. All people, the unbelievers as well as the believers, will praise him and confess he is Christ the Lord.
Rev.21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold! The tabernacle of God is among men, and he will dwell among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be among them, and will be their God.
- In heaven we will enjoy the close communion that had existed between God and the human race in the Garden of Eden but which had been destroyed by the fall into sin.
Rev.22:3,4 And there will be nothing accursed any longer. And the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his bond-servants will serve him, and they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
- In heaven we will see God in his glory.
Rev.22:5 . . . they will reign forever and ever.
- In heaven we will reign with God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ps.17:15 Indeed I, in righteousness, I will see your face; I will be satisfied with your likeness when I awake.
- In heaven we will be righteous like the Lord is and free of our present sinful nature.
- In heaven we will be fully satisfied, happy, and content with our being righteous.
Ps.16:11 In your presence is fullness of joy; At your right hand are pleasures for evermore.
- Being in the presence of the Lord in heaven will fill us with joy and happiness.
Rev.22:3; 21:4 And there will be nothing accursed any longer. . . And he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death, nor will there be any more mourning or crying or pain; because these earlier things have passed away.
- In heaven we will be free of all the consequences of sin, and we will never suffer them again. We will enjoy everlasting life and happiness.
Phil.3:20,21 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body into conformity with his glorious body according to the power that enables him to even subject all things to himself.
- Like Jesus, we will shine like the stars in brilliance.
Rev.7:9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one was able to count, from all nations and tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, . . .
- In heaven we will be united with the believers of all ages in the church triumphant.
The Truth Is:
In heaven we will be blessed with:
1. Seeing our Savior God, with whom we will reign forever, and enjoying his fellowship.
2. Being righteous and holy and forever separated from the sin which infects and contaminates us now.
3. Being fully satisfied, content, and happy in the presence of God and in our holy condition.
4. Being free of all the consequences of sin which hurt and trouble us now and enjoying everlasting life and happiness.
5. Being glorified like Jesus is.
6. Being united with all our fellow believers in the church triumphant.
Acts 16:31 Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.
- Until Jesus returns in glory, we should believe in him for our salvation.
Rev.2:10 Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
- Until Jesus returns in glory, we should remain faithful and continue believing in him.
Mt.24:42 Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
- Until Jesus returns in glory, we should keep watching for his coming.
Mk.16:15,16 Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. The one who believed and was baptized will be saved; but the one who did not believe will be condemned.
- Until Jesus returns in glory, we should spread the gospel to others, so they also may be saved.
The Truth Is:
Until Jesus returns in glory:
1. We should believe in him and remain faithful to him.
2. We should be alert and watch for his coming.
3. We should share the gospel with the people of the world so they too may be saved.