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Last Things (Eschatology)

We believe and teach that the study of eschatology is to have primarily an ethical effect on the people of God (1 John 2:28-3:3; 2 Peter 3:10-14). This effect is manifested in a heart that longs for the appearance of our blessed hope (Titus 2:13), a spirit that seeks to encourage the brethren with these truths (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18), and holy lives that reflect the values of the knowledge that this present world is passing away and will give way to eternity (2 Peter 3:11-14). Although it is difficult to organize and interrelate the biblical references to many eschatological events (i.e., resurrections and the various judgments etc.), there are several overarching facts which are transparently clear and agreed upon by most evangelicals.

We believe and teach that personal conscious being is not interrupted by physical death (Luke 16:19-31). For the believer his soul/spirit is ushered immediately into the presence of Christ at physical death (2 Corinthians 5:1-8). The souls/spirits of the unregenerate at physical death also continue, but in conscious torment until the Day of Judgment (Revelation 20:13-15). All men will experience a bodily resurrection, the saved to eternal life and overwhelming joy, and the unsaved to eternal separation and everlasting punishment (Daniel 12:2-3; Matthew 25:31-46; John 5:19-29; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-11).

We believe and teach that the Lord Jesus Christ will return in glory as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Acts 1:11). His second coming is presented in the New Testament as being near or imminent, although its timing is unknown to men (Mark 13:33-37; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11). The two elements of His Final Coming, normally designated as Rapture and Revelation, are most often mentioned side-by-side without clear distinctions in New Testament contexts (1 Thessalonians 2:19; 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 8; 2 Timothy 4:1; Titus 2:13). Furthermore, as clear as the fact of the Rapture is, its timing in relationship to the Tribulation remains open to at least four theological interpretations (i.e., pre-, mid-, pre-wrath, and post-tribulation), each exhibiting some strengths and some weaknesses.

Within the broader spectrum of orthodox teaching on last things, we believe and teach that although significant spiritual dimensions of the kingdom have been inaugurated in conjunction with the first coming of Christ (Colossians 1:13), the King will return again to fulfill God’s many promises regarding the nation of Israel. Christ will come to earth to occupy the throne of David (Matthew 25:31; Luke 1:31-33; Acts 1:10, 11; 2:29-30) and establish His Messianic kingdom for a thousand years on the earth (Revelation 20:1-7). The kingdom itself will be the fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel (Isaiah 65:17-25; Ezekiel 37:21-28; Zechariah 8:1-17).

After the closing of the millennium (Revelation 20:7-15), the saved will enter the eternal state of glory with God, after which the elements of this earth are to be dissolved (2 Peter 3:10) and replaced with a new earth wherein only righteousness dwells (Ephesians 5:5; Revelation 20:15; Revelation 21, 22). Following this, the saints will enjoy forever fellowship with God and one another (John 17:3; Revelation 21, 22).

Our Lord Jesus Christ, having fulfilled His redemptive mission, will then deliver up the kingdom to God the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24-28) that in all spheres the triune God may reign forever and ever (1 Corinthians 15:28).

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