Authority, End Times, Eschatology, Faith, Last Things, SBC doctrine, Systemic Theology

The Last Things – Eschatology

Eschatology studies the last things or the end of time when Christ will return.

The Baptist Faith and Message states, “God, in His own time and His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness.”

The Bible reveals a sequence that contains a past, present, and future. Time is a concept that exists for us while on this earth, but God is not controlled by it. From the beginning, time was not intended to be permanent, and we are promised that one day time will cease to occupy our days. The Bible talks about how we must live in the present and focuses on what will happen in the future. Studying the end times gives the Christian a future goal to live for. Believers are to live in anticipation of Christ’s coming in absolute assurance that God will consummate all things accomplished for His purposes.

God created a beautiful place for us to live, but due to the fall of mankind, sin entered the world, and it became a dangerous place to live. As we live and witness this fallen world, we look forward to a new heaven and earth.

“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” (Isaiah 65:17 NIV)

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.” (Revelation 21:1 NIV)

Believers differ on the details of the Last Things because the New Testament speaks broadly about it. For instance, scholars disagree on the number of comings, resurrections, judgments, and the millennium. One’s position on the details has never been a test of orthodoxy (generally accepted theory) among Baptists.

The doctrine of Last Things focuses on the return of Jesus Christ. He will return to earth personally, visibly, and gloriously. It is referred to as the Second Coming. It will be different from the First Coming. Jesus was humbly born in a stable as a vulnerable baby. Although there was nothing majestic about the birth of Christ, the Shepherds saw God’s glory in the baby’s weakness (Luke 2:1-16). At the Second Coming, it will be quite different. He will come as a conquering King, and all will see Him.

Paul tells the Philippians, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” (4:16-17 NIV)

Luke also explained, “At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (Luke 21:27 NIV)

Polls and surveys tell us that most Americans believe in heaven and hell, and most believe that they will go to heaven. It is a popular misconception of heaven that it will be a place of unlimited leisure and enjoyment. In addition, most Americans believe they will go to heaven because they are as good as or better than their neighbors. They miss the point that they have to believe in Jesus Christ and His shed blood for the remission of their sins to gain entrance to heaven. Heaven is the eternal dwelling place of believers in God’s presence and in the saints’ company. (John 14:2-3; Phil. 3:20) Take comfort in that God will come for us, and in the end, we will be with Him for eternity.

Jesus tells us, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3 NIV)

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