What About The Future?
Carmichael Baptist Church
Lesson Text: John 14:1-4
Lesson Objective: To help give you a glimpse of the Biblical doctrine of the second coming of Christ; the future of the saved, the unsaved, and what the Bible speaks of as the „new Heaven and new Earth.”
Introduction: In I Corinthians 15:19, we find the statement that „If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” We do indeed have hope in this life in Christ but this life is not all there is. We do have an eternal future. For the saved that future is with God in heaven. For the lost the future is an awful one without God in hell. Within the Bible we can learn of our personal future. Within the Bible we can also learn of the future of mankind as a whole. This is where the Christian can derive great hope which will act as an „anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19). That anchor is Christ and His coming again for His elect. As we progress through this lesson be aware of the fact that this is a brief overview of Biblical Eschatology. Eschatology is defined as the study of the end times, or the doctrine of the last or final things. It is a lengthy study of the prophecies of the Bible that have been fulfilled, are being fulfilled, and are yet to be fulfilled. We will focus on only a portion of the future prophecies what will happen to the human race and this earth upon which we now live.
The Promise Of A Second Coming!
In preparing His disciples for His crucifixion and death, Christ anticipated their despondency. He had previously spoken to them about His death, how Peter would deny Him, that one of them was a traitor, and that Satan was at work against them all. From our text we can see His compassion for them when He said „let not you heart be troubled:” The word troubled, from the Greek language, means to be agitated. Much like a washing machine agitates the water. Christ knew these events He spoke and His death would shake up their faith and their hearts. His encouragement came from the facts of the future. He was going to prepare a place for them and then come back for them. This is a promise of hope for all the saved.
After the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ He appeared to over 500 brethren at one time, He ministered to them for 40 days. He spoke to them, commissioned His church, and left them with great hope. His disciples wanted to know if He would „at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6). This has reference to the Millennium, or 1,000 year reign which we will speak about later. He answered their question, and while the disciples were watching; „He was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight” Acts 1:9. Just after this we find Acts 1:11, which says that angels stood by and then spoke to them and said „Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
Look further at some additional verses concerning Christ’s Second Coming. Hebrews 9:28, „So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” In Matthew chapter twenty-four the disciples wanted to know of the signs of His coming and of the end of the world (Matthew 24:3). Christ then went on to tell them many things as in verse 30, „and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Today men still have an interest in knowing when Christ will return. We can know something of the signs of His coming but as Christ taught in Matthew 24:36, „But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” We know He is returning so we are to heed His words and „Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” Matthew 24:42. This is our encouragement to be faithful servants, hopeful servants, and watchful servants of our Lord.
In one of the greatest chapters dealing with the gospel, our resurrection, and Christ second coming, Paul, in I Corinthians 15:51-52 wrote „Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. Doesn’t this give you an exciting hope? Doesn’t this cause your heart to beat just a little faster knowing that Christ can come at any moment and we would be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye? The scriptures leave no room for doubt that Christ will return again. As we find in I Thessalonians 4:16, „for the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” This is a day of change and gives us a hope with which we can gain comfort and give comfort.
Understanding The Terms
In this brief overview we want to help you understand some of the terms you will encounter in Christian teaching and preaching before we proceed. Time and space will not allow us to go into the details necessary to understand each in it’s entirety. You may often hear, or have heard, of the „Rapture.” The word rapture means „an act of transporting or fact of becoming transported.” While this word is not found in the Bible it is a term used concerning the transporting of the saints, by Christ, to be with Him in the air. It is the „catching up” (I Thessalonians 4;17), or seizing of His saints still left upon the earth at the appointed time. This rapture of the saints precedes an event known as the tribulation that in turn precedes the Millennial reign of Christ.
The Bible separates the times of the end into three distinct periods. The church age, in which we are now living; the seven-year tribulation, or Daniel’s seventieth week; and the millennial kingdom, or 1,000 year reign of Christ. The tribulation period is known as Daniel’s seventieth week because of the prophecies in the book of Daniel, but is sometimes called the time of „Jacob’s trouble” taken from Jeremiah 30:7. This is not a normal time of tribulation. The Bible calls it the „Great Tribulation” (Matthew 24:21). The tribulation period is seven years in length. This time period completes the times of the Gentiles or the Church age. Within this time period we find the reign of the beast, the false prophet, and the man of sin. During this time God will pour out His wrath upon those who have taken the sign of the beast upon them. The man of sin is also known as the anti-Christ who will make a covenant with the nation of Israel. After a period of three and one-half years of mock peace, the man of sin will reveal himself and demand worldwide worship. He will do so by breaking the covenant with Israel and setting up an image of himself within the temple. Those who oppose him will be persecuted and killed, or forced to flee for their lives. The tribulation period will be terminated by the obvious appearing of Christ to the Earth for all to see. This coming will precede a gathering of nations against Jerusalem, and when the conflict is at its height Christ will suddenly appear, defeat the beast and the false prophet with their armies, and deliver Israel.
Immediately after the age, or period, known as the tribulation, we find the millennial age. This is a 1,000 year period in which Christ will bind Satan and remove his influence upon the earth. Revelations 20:2-3 states that „he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.” Christ will return to earth and rule with a rod of iron from Jerusalem. Christ will have complete and absolute authority to govern. Peace will be absolute, joy will be a distinctive mark, all needs will be meet, perfect justice will be administered, knowledge will be unparalleled, sickness and death will be removed, there will be no oppression, economic prosperity will be abundant, and God’s presence will be manifest and recognized. At the end of this 1,000 year reign Satan will be „loosed for a season.” He will gather together a large portion of the earth’s inhabitants, by deception, in order to lead a final revolt against the theocracy of God. One last great battle takes place, God is victorious, and Satan vanquished and sent into everlasting punishment.
Back To The Rapture
There is a twofold order to Christ return to the Earth. In the first order Christ’s coming will be secret and imminent; Revelation 16:15, „Behold, I come as a thief.” This is His coming for His saints. In the second order Christ’s coming will be public and visible to all; Revelation 1:7, „Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” This is His coming with His saints. These two events are separated by a seven year period known as the „Tribulation.” How does a thief come? He comes silently, suddenly, softly, he comes while no one is watching. He comes to take the treasure. The Lord will indeed come and take away His bride, the jewel of all jewels. He will come as a thief, but He will come to take only what is rightfully His. His coming will be as a thief, but He will not be a thief.
In Matthew chapter twenty-five we can see this two-fold coming. In the first part the Lord comes as a Bridegroom, in the second He comes as a King. In the first part He comes to meet virgins, in the second He comes to meet nations. In the first part He comes to a marriage chamber, in the second He come to a judgment throne. In the first part He comes to be married, in the second He comes to execute judgment. In the first part He comes at night, while in the second He comes in the morning hour. This chapter will help enlighten us as to the timing and events of this two-fold coming of Christ.
While there is minimal argument concerning the fact of His coming and the fact of a 1,000 year reign, there is argument among many Christians concerning the timing of His second coming. A careful study of related scripture will demonstrate that an interval of time between the translation, or rapture, of the saints and the coming of Christ to establish the Millennial kingdom is absolutely necessary. According to II Corinthians 5:10 „For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” All Christians will appear before a judgment seat of Christ. This is commonly called the „bema” seat of Christ that is taken from the Greek word used in this passage. This is not a judgment to determine our eternal abode, or punishment of sin. That type of judgment will take place at the „Great White Throne” (Revelation 20:11) and is reserved as a judgment seat for the lost, or those who were not found to have their names written in the book of life. The Great White Throne judgment belongs to the end of the 1,000 year reign of Christ. In conjunction with I Corinthians 3:13-15, We find that the „Bema” seat is a place where Christians will receive rewards of gold, silver, or precious stone. This is what Christ spoke of in Revelation 22:12 when He stated „And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
Additional evidence that there must be an interval of time between this two-fold coming is found in Revelation 19:6-8 where the „wife” of the Lamb is declared to be arrayed „in fine linen, bright and pure: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” This involves the marriage of the bride to the Lamb. The bride is the church, while the bridegroom is Jesus Christ. This marriage of the Lamb takes place in heaven apart from the events on Earth during the seven-year period known as the „tribulation.” The world will be no more aware of His coming for His bride than when He ascended in the clouds of heaven. In Luke 12:36 we read: „And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.” Notice the words „return from the wedding?” The wedding takes place immediately after the rapture of God’s elect. You can’t return from something that hasn’t yet happened if the rapture takes place after the time of tribulation.
A Brief Summary
Don’t worry if some of this seems a bit confusing. What you need to know and understand is that Christ is coming again. He is coming for you if you are born again. We also have assurance that those who have died in Christ will come with Him. We will be reunited with the loved ones we have lost. We have confidence from the Bible of a time of reward or loss of reward to every child of God. We must seek to work according to the commands of God so that our work will be gold, silver, and precious stone; not wood, hay, and stubble. The fires of God’s judgment will test them all. We also can be sure of Christ’s absolute rule upon this earth for 1,000 years after a terrible time of tribulation. Once all of this is completed we have an additional promise which should bring hope and comfort to all that believe in Christ. After the final judgment this old heaven and earth will be destroyed that it might be made new again. In Revelation 21:1, John records that he saw „a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” Upon this new earth will come the city of God and in this eternal abode there will be no more death, no more sorrows, no more crying, no more night, and no more sin, for God will be with us. In the end God wins!
- What was the encouragement Christ gave to His disciples prior to His death and his going away?
- When Jesus Departed who spoke to those who watched Him leave?
- What did they say about „this same Jesus?”
- Can we know the day and hour of Christ’s return?
- Who does know the day and hour?
- From Matthew 24:42 what are we to do concerning His coming again?
- What does the word rapture mean?
- What is the teaching of the rapture?
- When will the rapture take place?
- What time period follows the rapture?
- Name at least one event that takes place during the tribulation?
- What happens at the very beginning of the 1,000 year reign of Christ?
- At the conclusion of the 1,000 reign Satan will be loosed. Why do you suppose men would still join with him in a revolt against God?
- What event takes place in heaven while the tribulation is taking place upon earth?
- What is the „Bema” seat of Christ?
- Who is the bride of the Lamb?
- Look at I Peter 3:10-11 and tell what happens to this heaven and earth?