The Scripture Is Our Guide
The second coming of Christ and subsequent events are of vital significance. There are many scriptures and prophecies concerning the end of time. “Theory and speculation amount to nothing with respect to future things” (D.S Warner). It is important that the scripture be the guide rather than intellectual and philosophical pursuits in understanding this subject. The scripture points forward to a time that Jesus will return. There will be a universal resurrection of the dead, a general judgment of all people, eternal rewards and punishments dispensed, and this earth will be destroyed.
Christ Will Return
Jesus informed his disciples that “I will come again” (John 14:3, 28). The angel of the Lord reaffirmed that truth as Jesus ascended to heaven following the resurrection (Acts 1:11). Jesus will return as a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2) when no man is expecting Him. Many so-called prophets have tried to give a date for the coming back of the Lord, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:32). It is for this reason that every individual should be watchful and stay ready, “…for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” (Luke 12:40).
Time Will Come to an End
It will be a glorious and awful day when Jesus returns and brings an end to this world. The righteous will rejoice and the unrighteous will cry for rocks and mountains to fall on them. Jesus will come breaking through the clouds and “every eye shall see him” (Revelation 1:7). “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God…” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). He shall come “in the glory of his Father with his angels” (Matthew 16:27).
The Dead Shall Rise
When Jesus returns in the sky, there will be a universal resurrection of the dead. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52). While many teach that only the righteous will be resurrected, the scripture teaches that “there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:15). “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28-29).
This Earth Will Be Destroyed
God’s Word clearly teaches that this world, will be destroyed (Matthew 24:35, Hebrews 1:10-11). “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7). When Jesus comes back to usher mankind to the judgment, the aerial heavens and this earth will pass away and be burned up. This world will be dissolved and the elements shall melt with fervent heat (2 Peter 3:10-12).
Everyone Will Stand Before God
On that last great day, the day of the Lord, Christ will judge the world. He shall “judge the quick [living] and the dead at his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:1). All people of every generation, of every kindred, tongue, and nation shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Each individual of every belief system and religion shall bow down and confess that Jesus is Lord (Romans 14:10-12). How wonderful and terrible shall this judgment be as everyone gives account of himself to God. All secrets will be revealed and nothing hidden (Ecclesiastics 12:14).
There Will Be One Final Judgment
A solemn scene of the judgment is portrayed in Matthew 25:31-46 and in Revelation 20:11-15. “And before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another” (Matthew 25:32). As all people stand before God, the book of life will be opened (Revelation 20:12) and each individual will be judged by the Word of God (John 12:48) and shall receive reward or punishment “according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
There Will Be Degrees of Punishment
Eternal reward and punishment will be dispensed at the final judgment. Our eternal destiny is based on the choices that we make in life. “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12). God will administer just judgment and will “render to every man according to his deeds” (Romans 2:6). The greater the understanding one has of God and truth, the greater the accountability and punishment if that truth is rejected. “And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes” (Luke 12:47-48). (See also: 2 Peter 2:21, Hebrews 10:26-29, Matthew 11:20-24).
The Unrighteous Will Go to Hell for Eternity
God has reserved the “unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (2 Peter 2:9). The punishment of the wicked will be in hell (Psalm 9:17). Hell is a place of everlasting, eternal destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:9). It is symbolically exemplified in Revelation 21:8 as a “lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.” At the judgment, Jesus will say to the sinner: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). It will be a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 24:51). In the absence of all that is good, there will be no escape from the eternal pain, misery, memories, and everlasting darkness.
The Saved Will Enter into Heaven Forever
While the unrighteous go away into everlasting punishment, the righteous will inherit life eternal (Matthew 25:45-46). There is “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven” (1 Peter 1:4). God hath prepared a heavenly city (Hebrews 11:6) that words of this life could not adequately describe (2 Corinthians 12:4). It is a celestial city of beauty and contains all that is good and right for the reward of the righteous. (See Revelation 21 and 22).