Eschatology – How It Ends

Eschatology, the doctrine of end times, is one topic that many Christians long to have clarity about. We have a war going on between Israel and Hamas, with other Palestinians threatening to join. It has attracted many prophecies; individuals see this as a sign of the end of times and take an interest in eschatology. Various churches have approached the subject of eschatology differently. Some believe Christ will come before the millennium (Revelation 20:1-5), others think there is nothing like the millennium, while others are convinced he will come after the millennium. Despite the above differences, Christians altogether agree that Christ will eventually return which in itself makes eschatology, the end times, important for us to know.

What We Agree On

As a Christian, you must understand that it is the sin that Adam and Eve committed in the Garden of Eden that affected the entire human race (Romans 5:12, Genesis 3:1-19). We further agree on the means of salvation: by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8). We all have also been called to reach out to non-believers and disciple God’s people (Matthew 28:18-20). We all believe we are called to be like Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29), and we should all look forward to the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 1:10-11) in the manner described in the Scripture. We all believe that Christians will spend eternity with Christ while sinners will be doomed to hell forever. This is important to remember because we may not all agree on the how of the second coming of Jesus, but it is not as crucial as the things I’ve listed above. 

When and How Will Jesus Return?

The Bible has given us the details of what to expect on the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have heard many individuals, even in our country, Kenya, calling themselves Christ (Matthew 24:5). Some self-proclaimed prophets have even mentioned the dates of the second coming of Christ. Some claim to have come up with the dates by either doing calculations of times in the Bible or receiving a word from God. But what does the Bible say about when and how Christ will return? 

A Sudden, Personal, Visible, and Bodily Return of Christ

Sudden

You also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44). This helps to dispel the misleading notion that you can always get right with God later in life or when close to death. This is a lie from Satan, so you never let Christ rule over your life. We only know about our today and the present time we have. Tomorrow is entirely in God’s hands. Therefore, the time for salvation is now because Christ’s hour of return is indeed unknown (2 Corinthians 6:1).

Personal

He said, “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3). The visual description of the second coming in related scriptures implies that the coming of Christ is a personal event whereby Christ comes from heaven to the earth. The words of the angels in Acts 1:11, where His second coming is compared to His ascension. 

Visible/Bodily return

Immediately after Jesus had ascended into heaven, two angels said to the disciples, “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Zechariah 14:4 refers to the fact that “his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east.” This would undoubtedly confirm a bodily return.

Eager Longing

Christians are not just to sit and wait for Jesus’ return to happen. True Christianity trains us “to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12–13). Our eyes need to be set on heavenly blessings rather than focus on material things. Paul says, “Our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

Uncertainty about the return of Christ

I can imagine the repercussions of knowing the day of our death or the day Christ would return. This could provide a leeway for people to live in sin and wait until the last minute for them to come to Christ. This would, in turn, not be a genuine coming to faith. People would only turn to Christ out of fear and self-preservation, not love for the Saviour. Fortunately, the Bible talks of the Son coming at an hour we do not expect (Matthew 24:44). We are called to watch and pray as we don’t know the day or the hour (Matthew 25:13). Jesus said, “But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come” (Mark 13:32–33).

Consensus about the Return of Christ

Regardless of the differences on the above issues, all Christians who have the Bible as their final authority believe that Jesus Christ will return, bring judgment to sinners and award believers with eternal life in the new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1-8). God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will rule and be worshipped in an eternal kingdom without sin, sorrow, or suffering (Revelation 21:3-4).

Do Signs Show When Christ Could Return?

One of the significant areas of disagreement is whether Christ would return at any time. We do have passages of Scripture that encourage us to be ready because Christ will return at an hour we do not expect (Matthew 24:42–44, Matthew 25:13, Mark 13:32– 33, Luke 12:40, 1 Thessalonians 5:2 and 2 Peter 3:10). On the other hand, several passages speak of certain events that will happen before Christ’s return. Among them include the gospel first being preached to all nations (Mark 13:10, Matthew 24:14). Second is the fact that we shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, but the end will not yet have come (Mark 13:7–8, Matthew 24:15–22, Luke 21:20–24). There will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation which God created until now and never will be. And if the Lord had not shortened the days, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. (Mark 13:19–20). Many false messiahs and prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders to lead many astray (Mark 13:22, Matthew 24:23– 24). 

How can we reconcile the passages that warn us to be ready because Christ could suddenly return with passages indicating that several essential and visible events must occur before Christ can return? The signs and the warnings have been given for two main reasons. First, The signs are presented so that, when we see them, they will intensify our expectation of Christ’s return. Jesus said, “Now when these things begin to take place, look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). Second, the warnings are also given to keep believers from going astray, following false messiahs (Mark 13:5-6, 21). Finally, they all prepare us for the sudden return of Christ. 

In conclusion, the hope of the Christians shall never be cut off. Jesus indeed went to prepare a place for his people. It is either we are on his side or against him. The life we all desire, which has no pain, sorrow, tears, or death, only exists in eternity with Jesus Christ (Revelations 21:3-4). Unfortunately, the far some people will go is just hearing that such life exists, but due to the hardenness of their hearts, they will still reject Christ. However, our merciful Savious has given us all equal time and chance to know him. No one will have an excuse. Why sit there and wait for the worst? Click Receive Christ now and join the family of God.  

References

  1. The Return of Christ: When and How – Chapter 54 | Truth Story. https://truthstory.org/blog/the-return-of-christ-when-and-how-chapter-54/
  2. Doctrine of Eschatology (Systematic Theology 2) – Logos Sermons. https://sermons.faithlife.com/sermons/932514-doctrine-of-eschatology-(systematic-theology-2)?sso=false

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