Future Things to Come
Many may believe and think we all should steer clear of such a “tricky” subject as the “end of the world.” But intelligent people shouldn’t ignore what the Bible says about prophecy because Jesus Christ had a great deal to say about the future. God has a plan for the future, which includes the end of the world, as we know it and the creation of a new heaven and a new earth.
When we are thinking through future things, we have to focus on what we already know.
- We know that God is in charge.
- We know that He created the heavens and the earth, and that He is in the process of working out His eternal plan for all things.
- We know that all three Persons in the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are involved in the human history from Creation to completion.
The focal point of God’s future plan is the Second Coming of Christ, which will happen unexpectedly (Matthew 24:44).
Consider these facts about Jesus:
- Jesus is the Source of all Creation (John 1: 1-3)
- Jesus holds Creation together (Colossians 1:17)
- Jesus is the Redeemer of sinful man (Ephesians 1:7)
- Jesus will bring to resolution God’s plan for human history (1 Corinthians 15:24)
Things and Questions both believers and non-believers may ask:
Are Hell and Lake of Fire the same place?
The Bible says more about the condition of the dead than about their location. In the Old Testament the souls of all the dead are spoken of as going to sheol, which is translated grave, hell, or pit: “You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay” (Psalms 16:10).
Sheol is a place of sorrow. “The snares of death [sheol] confronted me,” said David (2 Samuel. 22:6). Hades, translated hell and grave, is the New Testament equivalent of sheol.
The Bible says that the lake of fire “means the second death.” (Revelation 20:14; 21:8) The first kind of death mentioned in the Bible resulted from Adam’s sin. This death can be reversed by resurrection and will eventually be eliminated by God. 1 Corinthians 15:21, 22, 26. The lake of fire represents a different, or second, kind of death.
The final destiny of the wicked is hell. This awesome place is described in various ways. It is a place or state of everlasting fire (Mark 9:43; Matt. 25:41). It is spoken of as a lake of burning sulfur (Revelation 20:10). Hell is conceived of as outer darkness (Matthew 8:12). It is described as a place of eternal torment and punishment (Revelation 14:10-11)
Judgment and eternal life in hell await unbelievers (Revelation 20:15). All those who have believed in Jesus Christ will spend eternity in heaven, which Jesus is preparing for us (John 14: 1-3).
What will happen to non-believers or atheists, if they don’t believe in God? Does all this matter?
Yes. Without faith it is impossible to please God. “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Hebrews 11:6.
Not only is faith required to believe in God, faith is also required to not believe in God. If we stop believing or never believed there is a God, God doesn’t cease existing. God exists whether we believe in Him or not.
If Christians truly believe that Jesus is coming back unexpectedly, why do they not act like it most times?
The unhappy truth about sin is that the seeds of evil in the world seem to be planted in everyone’s heart. According to the Bible, sin has existed on earth since the first man disobeyed God. Man and woman were created just the way God wanted them to be. And God’s one rule: Genesis 2:16 “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
But they chose to believe Satan’s lies rather than to believe and obey God’s rule. The eating of the fruit itself was relatively unimportant. Adam and Eve’s great offense was the act of deliberate disobedience. This darkest day in the history of mankind has been known ever since as the “The Fall”. It was the day on which the sin virus invaded the world and infected mankind with deadly consequences. Because of Adam’s sin, we are sinners in two critical ways: (1) We inherit a sin nature. The sin nature is inherited at birth and passed from one generation to the next. Psalm 51:5. ( 2) We carry a sin debt. Sin is directly charged against us because Adam was a representative of mankind in the garden. As our representative, when he sinned we sinned. Romans 3:23
Are people like Hitler considered “antichrists”?
While not “The” Anti-Christ, in many ways, Hitler’s life and exploits almost match perfectly with how the Bible says “The Antichrist” will be when he arrives on the scene in the days after the Rapture of the Church. The Anti-Christ will be a powerful speaker with a fierce countenance – Daniel 8:23,24; He will be all alone when he finally comes to his inglorious end, Daniel 11:45; He will receive worship as if he were The Messiah, 2 Thessalonians 22:4; He will use women but does not regard them in any meaningful or natural ways, Daniel 11:37; Will be a military genius and hold himself in high regard Daniel 8:25, Revelation 13:4; The antichrist’s number is 666, Revelation 13:18.
Before this person appears, the “spirit of antichrist” will be seen. In fact, his presence was noted already in apostolic times; “Dear children, this the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it the last hour.” 1 John 2:18
So while these individuals are not “The Anti-Christ” they have the spirit of antichrists.
What happens when you die? Where are people’s souls?
Where are the dead before the resurrection? And what is the condition of the dead believers before they are resurrected?
The Bible says more about the condition of the dead than about their location. Some have inferred that the soul is without a body and that believers are in a condition of conscious joy. Others note that God is timeless, and therefore to be present with God is to be out of the timeline as we know it. Regardless, Paul was willing “to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8) He said, referring to death, that he preferred “to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23). Dead believers are at rest: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord…they will rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.” (Revelation 14:13)
The Scriptures affirm the conscious existence of both the wicked and the righteous after death and before their resurrection, but give few details. Unbelievers, however await the resurrection in a state of suffering. (Luke 16:24)
The consciousness of the unrighteous dead is also clearly taught. They are in prison (1 Peter 3:19) which would be unnecessary if they were unconscious. The story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), whatever else it may or may not teach, shows that the unrighteous dead experience conscious suffering and punishment.
Will we see our loved ones again?
Scripture implies that we will know our loved ones in heaven both before and after resurrection. All the redeemed will maintain their identity forever, but in a perfected form. The New Testament indicates clearly that our identities will remain unchanged. While sharing the Passover meal with His disciples, Christ said, “Take this [cup] and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes” (Luke 22:17-18). Christ was promising that He and His disciples would drink the fruit of the vine together again—in heaven. Elsewhere Jesus makes a similar, but even more definite, promise: “Many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11).
Furthermore, Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. Even though it had been centuries since Moses died and Elijah was taken to heaven, they still maintained a clear identity (Matthew 17:3). Peter, James, and John evidently recognized them (v. 4), which implies that we will somehow be able to recognize people we’ve never even seen before.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 was written to believers, some of who had lost a believing loved one. They were concerned about how death would affect those believing loved ones who had died before the Lord returned in person. In Paul’s answer to this he gave a revelation that concerned several things: the rapture of living saints and the resurrection of believers who had died, but he also speaks of a reunion not only with the Lord, but with all believers.