The Rector’s Weekly Letter to the Congregation for Sunday, April 19, 2020
Events of the End of the Age II
In “Events of the End of the Age I”, we looked at different positions taken by godly men and women regarding the timing of the return of Christ and the millennium as well as the tribulation. We talked about premillennialists who teach that Christ will return before the millennium; postmillennialists who teach that he will return after the millennium; and amillennialists who teach that there will not be a millennium, a literal 1000-year period. We also discussed pretribulationists. These teach that Christ will return before the tribulation, midtribulationists who teach that Christ will return in the middle of the tribulation, posttribulationists who believe Christ will return after the tribulation and that the Church will face the full brunt of the tribulation period. And there are those who believe the tribulation already occurred in 70 AD when Rome violently attacked and ransacked Jerusalem bringing a temporary end to the nation of Israel.
Besides the above disagreements as to the timing of the return of Christ, there are other concrete events of the future on which there is general agreement among Christians. These are the second coming of Christ, judgment, the universe, and eternity.
The Second Coming of Christ:
Christ will come back to earth a second time. He himself said so on several occasions such as in Matthew 16:27; 24:42-44; Mark 13:24-27, and in many other texts from the gospels. In Acts 1:10-11, an angel told the apostles that Jesus would return to earth from heaven in the same way they saw him go. The apostles themselves taught that Jesus will return to earth. In texts such as 1Thessalonians 4:14 -17 and Hebrews 9:28. They assert that Jesus will return to earth. Peter says that in the last days there will arise scoffers who will mock the truth of the Second Coming. He says in 2 Peter 3:3-4, “knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For, ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation’” (ESV). The apostle was warning believers not to tire of waiting for the return of Christ. It will happen at God’s own time.
According to the Bible, the entire humanity, dead or alive, will appear before God for determination of their destiny in eternity. Second Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.” There will be four judgments: the judgment of the Nation of Israel (Mathew 25:1-30), the judgment of the Gentiles (Matthew 25:31-46), the judgment of fallen angels (Revelation 20:10), and the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15), which will be the final judgment. Revelation describes this final judgment in these words, “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (ESV).
The current universe as we have it will be destroyed and be replaced with a new one. This universe has been marred and disfigured by human sin. It has destructive forces in it. It is irreparable. It has to be totally supplanted and another one brought in. It will be destroyed by an apocalyptic cosmic action of God. Second Peter 3:12-13 says, “waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (ESV). In the New World order, righteousness will be the default mode for all human beings. The book of Revelation also mentions the new heaven and new earth. It says in 21:1, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more” (ESV).
There will be an eternity in which Jesus Christ will rule over the entire universe. Believers will be his vice-regents ruling over angels. Righteousness will be practiced as a way of life. Goodness and beauty will be the normal course of life. Life will be restored to the original form that God intended it to be in the garden of Eden. God will be glorified all day round forever. The best life we can imagine on earth dwarfs in the light of what life will be like in eternity. Everything we desire on earth will be available to us in Christ’s kingdom in the perfect form God intended it to be. Paul freely quotes Isaias 64:4 and says, “But as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’”. Eternity will be total bliss for believers.