People have many different beliefs about what will happen at the end of time. Some think that the end of the planet will be the end of mankind. As far as they are concerned, there is no afterlife. Their view is that when a man dies, he is dead like Rover – dead all over!
Others believe in an afterlife but disagree on what it will be like and who will enjoy it. For example, some people believe in heaven but not in hell. Others believe that God will ultimately save everyone. Some believe that Christ will come back to earth and reign for a thousand years before eternity in heaven and hell begins. Some teach that a person must suffer for his sins after death (and be purged of sin) before going to heaven. Some teach that after one dies, he or she will return to earth and be reincarnated as another person (or some other creature).
What should we believe about “last things?” Concerning this subject, as with all the other topics, we must accept what the Bible teaches – “Christ will return, the dead will be raised, the earth will be destroyed, all will be judged, all things will be made right, and souls will then spend eternity in heaven or in hell!”
I. Is Jesus Christ coming again?
The theme of the Bible can be summed up in three expressions: “Jesus is coming; He came; Jesus is coming again.” The day He returns will be the greatest day in human history and is a great, thrilling and awesome teaching of the New Testament. In the 260 chapters of the New Testament, there are 318 references to the second coming of Christ – an amazing 1 out of every 30 verses. 23 of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event. The day Jesus returns will be Judgment Day for every single person who has ever lived:
Acts 17:31 – “…He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained…” NKJV
John 14:1-3: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” NKJV
Acts 3:21 – “For he must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through his holy prophets.” NLT
II. How is He coming again?
Acts 1:9-11: “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” NKJV
Revelation 1:7 – “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” NKJV
1 Thessalonians 4:16 – “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God…” NKJV
Have you ever wondered what that shout will be? I think the command that puts an end to the pains of the earth and initiates the joys of heaven will be two words: “No more.” No more loneliness. No more tears. No more death. No more sadness. No more crying. No more pain.
c) Unexpectedly – without warning
Some people have attempted to set times for Christ’s return – they have been proven false. Mr. William Miller and Mrs. Ellen G. White said the Lord was going to return on October 15, 1843. Thousands of people gathered in Pennsylvania to wait. They did not gather their crops, can fruits and vegetables, or much of anything else that summer. Many of them sold their farming tools or gave them away. They did not work; instead, they just waited around for the Lord to come.
However, they were very disappointed (and probably went hungry that winter), because He didn’t come. They then changed the date to 1844, but still no Jesus. There have been many others, and as we proceed further into the 21st century, we will probably hear more.
Beginning in Matthew 24:36, Jesus specifically talked about His second coming at the end of the world, and stated that there would be no signs, warning, or opportunity to flee. It will happen so unexpectedly that no one will understand what is taking place until it happens.
Matthew 24:36-44: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” NKJV
1 Thessalonians 5:2 – “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.” NKJV
2 Peter 3:10 – “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…” NKJV
“The day of the Lord” will come the same way the flood came and as a thief would come and it will catch most people completely unprepared.
Revelation 22:12 – “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” NKJV
When He said He was coming “quickly,” Jesus did not mean that He was coming “immediately,” but that His return was “imminent,” meaning that it can happen at any time!
Jesus also makes it clear that “when” He will come back is not the most important thing to know. The most important thing to know is whether or not you are ready for Him to come! If you are ready, it won’t matter when He comes. If you are not ready, being able to predict the date won’t help you. Since we do not know when He is coming, we need to be ready at all times.
d) With power and glory
Matthew 26:64 – “Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” NKJV
III. What will happen when Jesus comes back
a) The dead will be raised
John 5:28-29: “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” NKJV
1 Corinthians 15:51-52: “But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.” NLT
1 Thessalonians 4:16 – “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” NKJV
b) The world will be destroyed
2 Peter 3:10 – “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” NKJV
c) All will be judged
Matthew 25:31-32: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.” NKJV
Hebrews 9:27 – “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment…” NKJV
Revelation 20:12 – “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.” NKJV
Our judgment will be based on what we have done compared to what the Bible teaches: John 12:48 – “But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the Day of Judgment by the truth I have spoken.” NLT
IV. The state of the world at the end
The Bible does not point to physical signs like earthquakes and wars when it talks about the second coming of Jesus. However, it does talk about the moral and religious state of the world and very clearly teaches that it will get progressively worse, not better!
Luke 18:8 – “…when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” NLT
2 Timothy 3:1-5: “You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” NLT
2 Timothy 3:13 – “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” NKJV
The Bible says in Revelation 20:7-10 that the whole world will be in a period of spiritual decline at the end. Revelation 20:7-10: “Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” NKJV
These verses describe the final resurgence of evil just before the end of time. The battle is not among nations, but between good and evil – the church will get hounded and pounded and be completely surrounded by the forces of evil – but evil loses!
Jesus is coming back, maybe soon, maybe long after we are gone. Even though the state of the world leads us to believe it could be any time, we still don’t know when that time will be. So it is a waste of time to try and guess the date based on the things we see in the world.
In the past 2000 years, we have become earth-bound, we are no longer focused on heaven like we should be. Too many Christians have become oriented to this world and have settled into this life. We are not being challenged by the “imminent” return of Jesus, many no longer feel the urgency to be ready at all times.
The early Christians were profoundly affected by the belief that Jesus was coming back. It changed the way they looked at this life with all its sorrows. It challenged them to consider how they were living: 2 Peter 3:10-12: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!” NASB
If Jesus were to return right now, what would happen to you? What if we suddenly heard the sound of trumpets and the roof of this building were split down the middle? What if we looked up and saw Jesus and His angels in the sky?
What if people here and there in this audience began to rise up into the air? What if you didn’t? Will you be thrilled to see Him return, or will you be terrified?
If Jesus were to return right now, would you be welcomed into heaven as a faithful child of God, or would you be condemned to hell because you lived your life in rebellion and rejected Jesus? Jesus is coming soon – it may not be in the next five minutes, but it could be, and that should change everything for you!
Please don’t let judgment day be the next time you think about God and what He wants for you, don’t let today be the last time here on this earth you think about your life and whether or not you are ready and prepared for judgment day.
Now is the right time to make your life right with God – today is the day of salvation – tomorrow may be too late! It is time to take the Second Coming of Jesus and the coming judgment very seriously!
The most important thing we need to understand about the second coming – we don’t know when it will be! That’s why the time to make ready is now. It may be that God is waiting for you to get your life right with Him. When that day comes, it will be too late; your opportunity to accept the invitation of God will be gone! This may be the last warning you will ever get! I wouldn’t wait too long, though, because He won’t wait forever!
“Those who live in the Lord never see each other for the last time!”
“Christians never say goodbye – just ‘Until we meet again!’”
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18: “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” NKJV
Jesus is coming soon – are you ready?
“We talk all the time about the second coming, when half the world hasn’t heard about the first one yet!”
1 Timothy 1:15 – “This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” – and I am the worst of them all.” NLT