Category: Eschatology

7 Reasons to Believe in the Afterlife

7 Reasons to Believe in the Afterlife

Is there life after death? Among all the different world religions, only Islam, Judaism, and Christianity believe that death is not the end.

In this post, we will look at 7 reasons why we believe in the afterlife.

1. An Eternal God

The Bible describes God as eternal (Psalm 90:2; 102:12); the source of immortality. We also read in the Scriptures that God created us in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27).

Sin and death entered humanity as a result of Adam’s rebellion (Romans 5:12, 17). But God did not just allow the human race to wallow in sin and live forever in rebellion. Rather, He began to unfold a plan to redeem them from the curse of death and hell.

By grace, we can have eternal life as a gift from God through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:21; 6:23). And eternal life for those who received Christ as Lord and Savior is not limited here on earth. God intended for His children to live forever with Him in heaven.

If there is no afterlife, God would not have promised His children eternity.

Psalm 90:2, NKJV

2. Old Testament Predictions

Many scholars argue that immortality is a New Testament concept. But the prophet Daniel spoke of a day when “those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake. Some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2).

In the 73rd Psalm, Asaph described how he almost lost faith in God seeing how evil people prospered while the godly suffered. Only after going into the sanctuary of God that he understood their final destiny. He then said, “Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. In an instant they are destroyed, completely swept away by terrors” (Psalm 73:18-19, NLT).

Asaph concluded that there is a glorious, eternal future awaiting those who belong to God. “Yet I still belong to You; You hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny” (Psalm 73:23-24, NLT).

3. Near-Death Experiences

A near-death experience (NDE) is an occurrence in which patients who have come close to death have memories of spiritual experience. Many of them claim to have encounters with bright lights, long tunnels, or angelic guides. Some claim they went to heaven while others to hell.

Near-death or out-of-the-body experiences are rare and it’s often hard to assess their significance. However, a new study claims they can offer an unbiased evaluation of people’s descriptions of their experiences.

We now know that there are enough of these kinds of experiences to create a sizable library on the subject. As people approach death, they sense that they are approaching the beginning of another journey.

Near-Death Experience: Evidence for Life After Death

4. Jesus’ Statements

Although some would accuse Jesus of being a false teacher, atheists and non-Christians usually refer to Jesus with respect. Yet, the Lord never spoke ambiguously about the reality of a continuing personal existence after death.

Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Also, in Luke 23:42-43, Jesus promised Paradise to the repentant thief. If there’s no life after death, the thief’s request and Jesus’ promise wouldn’t make sense.

According to Jesus, the most significant issue of life is facing the reality of life after death. He said in Mark 9:47 (NIV), “If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.”

5. The Injustices of Life

If happiness on earth is all there is to life, what hope do the poor and oppressed have to continue living? If we knew there was nothing beyond the grave, it would be difficult to believe that life is good.

While some people are destined for success and happiness, some are born into terrible relationships and circumstances. If there is nothing to offset the unequal distribution of suffering, cursing the day of your birth becomes valid (Job 3:1-3).

Revelation 21:4, NKJV

But knowing that there is life after death gives hope to everyone, especially the less fortunate. We may suffer the injustices of life here on earth but we have a promising future ahead of us.

The Bible promises faithful believers rewards in the afterlife (Matthew 5:12; James 1:12; Revelation 22:12; 1 Timothy 6:17-19, etc.). That is more than enough to keep us going in this life that we know is just temporary.

6. Longings of the Heart

Some people might think that happiness is found in what this world has to offer. But the human heart hungers for more. King Solomon said that God has not only made everything beautiful in its time. But He has also set eternity in the human heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV).

It might be difficult to know exactly what Solomon meant. But apparently, he was referring to an inescapable longing for something that this world can’t satisfy. This is an emptiness of the soul that no one, including King Solomon, could escape. For a while, he tried to fill this inner void with alcohol, work, and pleasure. He tried to satisfy his longings with music, philosophy, and sexual relationships. But it didn’t work.

It was only when Solomon returned to his confidence in a final judgment in the afterlife that he found satisfaction (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

7. Christ’s Resurrection

The greatest evidence for the existence of life after death is the resurrection of Jesus. Isaiah 53:1-12 and Daniel 9:26 predicted that a Messiah would come to defeat sin and death for His people. Jesus’s followers testified exactly that.

The predicted Messiah voluntarily gave His life and was buried in a borrowed tomb (John 19:41-42). Three days later, He rose from the grave and appeared to hundreds of people for 40 days before ascending to heaven. See Acts 1:1-11 and 1 Corinthians 15:3-8.

Jesus Rose from the Dead

Christ’s resurrection gives believers hope that they too will rise when Christ comes at the sounding of the last trumpet.

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ, all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when He comes, those who belong to Him” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23, NIV).

Conclusion

Nothing offers more courage than the confidence that there is a better life waiting ahead. Knowing that there is life after death is a source of optimism and spiritual betterment. Belief in the unlimited opportunities of eternity has enabled many followers of Christ to endure the trials they are going through.

It’s this reality that enabled Jesus to say in Matthew 16:26-27, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource:

Heaven, an Unexpected Journey: One Man’s Experience with Heaven, Angels, and the Afterlife (An NDE Collection) by Jim Woodford and Dr. Thom Gardner

Heaven, an Unexpected Journey: One Man’s Experience with Heaven, Angels, and the Afterlife by Jim Woodford and Dr. Thom GardnerWhen Jim Woodford died, he spent 11 hours in Heaven. When he came back, he was changed forever.

A successful airline pilot and businessman, Jim had it all—a loving family, substantial wealth, and all of the good things that come with it. But none of this was enough to satisfy the emptiness he felt in his heart. He always hungered for something more. And then he died.

Jim was never a religious man. When it came to matters of God and faith, he was ambivalent. But as he lay in the hospital bed, clinically dead for more than 11 hours, his consciousness was transported to the wonders of Heaven and the horrors of hell. When he returned to this world, he brought back the missing peace his soul had been longing for.

Join Jim Woodford on this unforgettable journey into the afterlife!

  • Awaken to the vivid sights, sounds, and sensations that you can enjoy in Heaven forever.
  • Be inspired by detailed descriptions of the “contrails of prayer” in Heaven’s skies, the “sticky love” of God, what it feels like to hug an angel, and more!
  • Encounter the chilling realities of hell and the sharp claws of destruction that threatened to pull Jim into eternal darkness.
  • Take comfort in the “six simple words” that led Jim into the presence of Christ.

Whether you need hope for tomorrow or strength for today, this story is your invitation to a radical transformation!

Appointed to Die Once

Appointed to Die Once

One reality that nobody could escape is death. The Bible says we are all appointed to die once and after that the judgment. There comes a time when Christians and non-Christians alike will give an account to God on how they lived.

Bible Verse: Hebrews 9:27

“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.”

I used to hear people ask, “What is something you know but at the same time you do not know.”

Tricky question, isn’t it? Think about it; you know for certain it will happen but you don’t know exactly when.

Psalm 90:10, NIV

Death and Judgment

To die once is a general rule for all mankind. There have been very rare exceptions. For instance, Lazarus died twice (John 11:43-44). Those, like Lazarus, who was raised from the dead by a miraculous act, died a second time.

Another exception will be those who don’t die even once, but who will be caught up at the Rapture  (1Thessalonians 4:17). Then there’s Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) who did not die but were taken up alive.

The word judgment is a general term encompassing the judgment of all people; believers and unbelievers. Those who are in Christ will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). Unbelievers, on the other hand, will face God at the Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11-15).

The Uncertainty of Life

How many people know when they will die? Some die in an accident. Others die from a long-drawn-out illness. Still, others have their life taken from them.

Nobody knows how long we will live on this earth, hence the reason why life is uncertain. We do not know what a day will bring.

In James 4:14, the Lord’s brother exposes the presumptuous folly of the practical atheists he condemned. These people thought they knew what the future holds for them. But it’s God alone who knows what will happen tomorrow or the day after.

When James said, “life is like a vapor,” he is referring to either a puff of smoke or one’s breath that appears for a moment in cold air. It stresses the transitory nature of life. See James 1:10; Job 7:6-7; 9:25-26; 14:1-2; Psalm 39:5, 11; 62:9; 89:47; 90:5-6, 10.

James 4:14, NKJV

Preparing for Eternity

Are you prepared for eternity? How many people are prepared to meet God?

Since there is nothing more sure than death and taxes, how are you preparing for eternity? Or are you just wasting your time?

Every person has a finite amount of time. So, use it wisely. Don’t use your time to glorify yourself. Rather, use it to glorify God. God wants His creation to glorify Him. Sadly, most people in this world want to do their own thing.

Hence, the consequence of disobeying God is found in Hebrew 9:27.

No two people indeed disobey God the same way, but that does not mean anyone is good compared to God. Jesus said in Matthew 19:17 that none is inherently good except God. We are all sinners before God, hence the reason why we all face judgment after we die.

Have you taken care of that sin debt before God by repenting and asking for forgiveness through the finished payment of Jesus Christ? If not, why not now?

Closing Words

For those of us that are saved, are you spreading this glorious news that Jesus came to save sinners? Are we using our finite amount of time to glorify ourselves or God?

Jesus is coming. Can you honestly say that you are prepared to meet Him? Romans 12:1-2 says we are to sacrifice our will to do God’s will; are doing just that?

Too many Christians look at salvation as fire insurance rather than a lifestyle change. When we glorify ourselves over glorifying God, we are acting just like unbelievers.

Do you believe that is what God wants for us? Absolutely not! Jesus died to make us new as 2 Corinthians 5:17 says. Are we living like that is true?


Recommended Resource: 

Preparing for Heaven: What Dallas Willard Taught Me About Living, Dying, and Eternal Life by Gary Black Jr.

Preparing for Heaven: What Dallas Willard Taught Me About Living, Dying, and Eternal Life by Gary Black Jr.In his acclaimed books, renowned writer, speaker, and philosophy professor Dallas Willard explored the nature of Christian life in God’s Kingdom.

Yet one topic remained undisclosed: Willard’s understanding of heaven and eternal life. In the months before his death, Willard engaged in moving and insightful conversations about the meaning of life and the life to come with close friend and theologian Gary Black Jr.

These inspiring dialogues were steeped in biblical theology as well as practical wisdom grounded in the here-and-now.

In, Preparing for Heaven, Black reveals not only Willard’s profound and liberating vision of life after death, but he also deftly unpacks the implications these realities hold for our lives today.

Black shows how Willard understood our mortal lives as preparation for what comes next—that death is not the end of one life and the beginning of another, but rather a transition through which we continue the transformational work begun on Earth.

Informative, challenging, and poignant, Willard and Black’s conversations and insights challenge us to reconsider our beliefs—that perhaps the line separating the afterlife from this life is not as absolute as we think, and that there is work to be done both now and in the glorious life to come.

As a result, we will find that our faith is more vibrant—and eternal—than we have dared to imagine.

No One Knows the Day and the Hour

No One Knows the Day and the Hour

One biblical fact concerning the return of the Lord is that no one knows exactly when it’s going to happen. Proponents of the pre-tribulation rapture call this the “Doctrine of Imminency.”

The return of the Lord in the event known as the Rapture can happen at any moment without any warning. And this is not some kind of made-up argument; it’s the Lord Himself who said it. Thus, there shouldn’t be any question as to whether this is true or not.

Bible Verse: Mark 13:32-33 (NKJV)

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.”

The Return of the Son of Man

At the beginning of the Olivet Discourse, we see how the disciples are amazed by the beauty of Jerusalem. One of them said, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here” (Mark 13:1)? And they were astonished for good reasons. The Temple was remodeled by Herod the Great to be one of the magnificent structures of the ancient world.

But as great as the Temple was, Jesus said it was going to be destroyed. He said, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Mark 13:2).

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem
Photo Credit: Pinterest

Jesus’ statement caused His disciples to be anxious about the time of His return. They asked Him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age” (Mark 13:3)?

Even on the day of His ascension to heaven, they asked Him about the timing of things to come (Acts 1:6). But Jesus replied that God had not given them the timetable of His future works.

Jesus expressed this idea in Mark 13:32 in a way that some have found puzzling because of the way He refers to Himself. Doesn’t the Son everything that the Father knows?

No One Knows, Not Even the Son

If Jesus is God, how can He not know the exact day and time of His return? This statement of the Lord has caused some people to doubt His divinity. But this can easily be explained by His dual nature: divine and human.

Jesus as God knew exactly when He will be returning. But He voluntarily submitted to the Father and restricted His knowledge of this event. Jesus is saying that the Father has not published His timing to human beings, to angels, or even to the Son as the Savior and Mediator.

As the second Person of the Godhead, Jesus has always known the appointed time. However, His knowledge of this is not intended for men or angels, and it is not accessible to them. The Father did not intend for Son to reveal this knowledge to His disciples.

Keep Watch and Pray

From the fact that the day and time of His return are not revealed, Jesus draws an important conclusion: we are to “watch and pray” (Mark 13:33). The return of the Lord is certain. Jesus’s warning means that it is also imminent, that is, it could happen at any time.

Watching means living in an attitude of confident expectation (Luke 12:36; Romans 8:25). On the one hand, we must have a constant desire to see Jesus (Philippians 3:20; 1 Peter 1:8). On the other hand, we are to be patiently active in the life of good works to which He has called us (Ephesians 2:10).

The Day of the Lord Comes Like a Thief in the Night

At the same time, we need to remain in an attitude of prayer. This does not mean we must be on our knees 24/7 talking with God. Rather, we must be in constant fellowship with our Lord and always follow His lead. The enemy will work triple time to get our focus off of God. He will do everything to get us off track. The only way we will emerge victorious in the end is if we fix our eyes on the Lord.

Watchfulness prepares Christians, enabling them to see whatever signs may precede an event. And we must always pray, that we may be found worthy to escape those things that will come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).

The hope that we rely on as we wait must be our foundation for living day by day in obedience to the Lord.

Always be Ready

Jesus cautioned His disciples to be ready for an unexpected coming. He then went on to tell them how they should live while waiting for His return (Mark 13:34-36, NIV).

“It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. Therefore, keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back – whether in the evening, or at midnight, when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping!”

Jesus said that He will come as a surprise. The Lord’s return for His saints happens at a time that nobody is expecting. Thus, readiness is the key for all end-time events. Anyone ready will not be caught by surprise. But people who aren’t prepared will fail.

Let us be reminded of the five foolish virgins who were not ready when the bridegroom came. Not only did they not have oils in their lamps, but they also fell into a deep slumber while waiting (Matthew 25:1-13).

Here’s a beautiful song to encourage you to be ready for the Lord’s return.

Final Thoughts

There are two aspects of the return of Christ: the Rapture and the Second Coming. The Second Coming, also called Second Advent, is understood to follow the Tribulation, while the Rapture is to come before it. The Rapture could happen at any time without warning. In contrast, the Second Coming will be preceded by certain prophetic signs, and to that extent, its timing will be known.

If you are a believer in Jesus, you are not waiting and preparing for the Second Coming; you’re waiting for the blessed hope. Our blessed hope is the rapture, which is the appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). The Lord will descend from heaven and we will be caught up to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

No one knows the day and the hour when this event will take place, thus, we must always be ready. We may not know the exact day and time but we know it is certain to happen.

Are you ready to meet your Lord and Master? Will you hear Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23)?


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource:

The Last Hour: An Israeli Insider Looks at the End Times by Amir Tsarfati

Avoiding sensationalism and date-speculating, respected Bible teacher Amir Tsarfati uses his unique perspective as an Israeli Christian to lead you through a fascinating modern-day description of God’s plan for the end of the world.

Grounded from start to finish in Scripture, the book reveals how the Rapture, the imminent rise of the Antichrist, and the tragic horrors of the Great Tribulation will play out in our world today.

He also helps you understand the roles – and fates – of Russia, Iran, Syria, Turkey, the European Union, the United States of America, and Israel in the end times, illustrating just how biblical prophecies are being fulfilled in our time.

But above all, he offers hope that amid chaos and horror, God is ultimately in control, and those who belong to Him will be safe with Him.

The First and Second Resurrection

The First and Second Resurrection

Whether or not there’s just one (general) resurrection of the dead is one of the hotly debated end-time topics. Some Christians believe that everyone will be raised on the same day. But others say the resurrection from the dead will not occur at the same time.

But what does the Scripture say?

Resurrection at the Last Day

Christians who believe that the bodies of all men will be raised at the same time often quote John 11:24. As Martha weeps for the death of her brother Lazarus, Jesus assured her that he will rise again. To which Martha replied, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

John 11:24, NKJV

But do the words “last day” (or last hour) literally mean one literal day? Those who reject one general resurrection for everyone argue that it refers to an undetermined period of time. And it could even stretch over a thousand years.

Indeed, the Greek word translated “day” can have the meaning of an indeterminate amount of time. The Greek word for day in the Greek Lexicon of the New Testament has the following entry: An extended period like the Hebrew word yom.”

The Two Resurrections

There is a serious misconception that there will only be one resurrection. Nowhere in the Scriptures are we taught that! While it is true that all the dead will be raised and judged, neither the place, time, nor the judgments are the same.

Several passages speak of a separate resurrection of believers and unbelievers.

John says there will be two resurrections for two classes of people. One will be raised to “eternal life” while the other to a “resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29).

Luke 14:14 also speaks of a “resurrection of the just.” Since everyone will be resurrected, there has to be a “resurrection of the unjust.” This concept of a separate resurrection of the just and unjust is repeated by Paul in Acts 24:15 when he testified before Felix.

And John makes a clear distinction between the two in Revelation 20:4-5. He says, “… I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and the word of God. They lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.”

Here, we have the souls of the believing dead waiting for their own resurrection. This takes place after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to the earth.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus

The First Resurrection

The resurrection of the believing dead; those who did not worship the beast and receive his mark is called the first resurrection (Revelation 20:4-5).

The fact that there is a first resurrection certainly implies a second resurrection. Furthermore, those who participate in the “first resurrection” are called blessed. On the other hand, those who do not experience this first resurrection will experience the “second death.”

The Second Resurrection

We are told in the same passage that “the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were finished.”

Let it be made clear that there is at least a one thousand year interval between the First and the Second Resurrection. The people who are raised one thousand years later will be judged and cast into the lake of fire. We read this in Revelation 20:11-15.

If these thousand years are literal, and the two resurrections described are each literal resurrections, then this seems to make two separate resurrections necessary. Consequently, not everyone can be raised and judged at once.

The Order of the Resurrection

In general, the Bible speaks of two future resurrections: the First Resurrection and the Second Resurrection. The former is the resurrection of life while the latter is the resurrection of death.

Three groups of believers will have been raised at different times at the culmination of the First Resurrection. But before looking at these participants, we must note that Jesus Christ is the first to be raised.

Jesus Christ, the Firstfruits

Jesus Christ’s resurrection was the first in God’s program, to be followed by believers. The apostle Paul wrote about this in his letter to the church at Corinth (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

“But now Christ is risen from the dead and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. Each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.”

Jesus is called the firstfruits of those who have died. Others will come after.

As Paul preached the gospel to the Jews and Gentiles, he said that Jesus the Messiah would suffer and die. He would be the first to rise from the dead (Acts 26:23); never to die again.

1 Corinthians 15:20

The Church Age Believers

The Rapture is when Christ comes in the air to “snatch away” the living believers and brings them to the Father’s house. But not many Christians realize that church-age believers who have died will also be resurrected.

“For the Lord, Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

It couldn’t be any clearer than this!

Two events will take place when Christ comes at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

  1. The resurrection of the dead in Christ
  2. The catching away of those who are alive and remain

Paul talks about this in greater detail in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

Christians who are alive at this time will be “caught up” (raptured) to meet the Lord in the air. As they are being caught up, their bodies will be changed.

The Tribulation Saints

The tribulation saints are those who come to faith in Jesus Christ during the Great Tribulation period. And they will be raised at the Second Coming of Christ.

Note: The Rapture and the Second Coming are not the same events. The former takes place before the 7-year Tribulation while the latter takes place at the end of the Tribulation.

Through the witnesses of the 144,000, multitudes of people will come to the saving knowledge of Christ. However, they will be killed because of their testimony of Christ and the Word of God. They would not worship the beast nor take his mark (Revelation 20:4-6).

These Tribulation saints will come to life just before Christ comes to earth to reign for one thousand years.

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The Old Testament Saints

Another group of believers who will be raised after the Tribulation period is over are the Old Testament saints.

We read this in Daniel 12:1-2 (NIV):

“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.

But at that time your people, everyone whose name is found written in the book, will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.”

After the tribulation period is over, Jesus Christ returns. He will then resurrect the Old Testament saints.

Consequently, every believer who has died, from the time of Adam until the Second Coming of Christ, will have been resurrected by this time.

The Wicked, Unbelieving Dead

The resurrection of unbelievers will take place after the thousand-year reign of Christ upon the earth. All the unbelieving dead who have ever lived will be resurrected and judged at this time.

This is the Second and Final resurrection that comes at the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).

Here, Jesus will sit in the righteous judgment of all who refused to acknowledge His Messiahship and Saviourhood. From every part of the earth, the bodies of the wicked dead are raised to receive their final sentence. God will banish them permanently from His presence and they will suffer eternal punishment in the lake of fire.

Closing Words

The Bible teaches that everyone who has ever died will eventually be raised from the dead.

Job 19:25-26 (NIV) says, “I know that my redeemer lives and that in the end, He will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh, I will see God.”

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the confirmation of the resurrection of the human body and future judgment.

“And if Christ has not been raised … those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).

If you die in your sins, the judgment is sure. So, if you do not have a relationship with God through Christ, would you accept His gift of salvation today? Confess that you are a sinner and trust Jesus to save you.


Reference: Resurrection and Judgment by Don Stewart

Recommended Resource:

What Happens After Life?: 21 Amazing Revelations About Heaven and Hell by Ron Rhodes

What Happens After Life?: 21 Amazing Revelations About Heaven and Hell by Ron Rhodes

Do you wonder what happens when you die? If so, you’ll love these short, inspirational explanations of the Bible’s most encouraging teachings about heaven.

Trusted Bible teacher Ron Rhodes combines his rock-solid scriptural insight with illustrations from leaders throughout church history.

Each chapter is short enough to read in one sitting and zeroes in on a single encouraging truth. You will quickly find your fears and doubts replaced with confidence in these truths:

  • Death is a transition into a wonderful life, not a fearful end.
  • You will enjoy eternity in a wonderful new body.
  • You will be reunited with Christian loved ones.
  • Sin, sorrow, sickness, and pain will be no more.
  • Best of all, you will enjoy face-to-face fellowship with God.

Bypassing philosophical arguments and contentious debates, this reassuring look at the clear teaching of the Bible will empower you to embrace the future with hope and joy.

Who is the Great Harlot in Revelation?

Who is the Great Harlot in Revelation?

Revelation 17 talks about “the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters” (Revelation 17:1). But who is this prostitute that John is referring to in this passage? Is it possible to come up with the correct interpretation without being labeled a bigot and an extremist?

Religious Idolatry on the Rise

A harlot or prostitute is an individual who has been unfaithful in her wedding vows. In Revelation 17, John portrays an apostate church. Although it professes loyalty to Christ, it cleaves to idols and a false religious system. The Bible calls this spiritual idolatry.

God tells John that the influence of this apostate church is worldwide. “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues” (Revelation 17:15). Indeed, the great harlot is a worldwide false religious system.

In Revelation 17:2, we discover that this “great harlot” seduces “the kings of the earth,” not just the general population. They are stupefied and mesmerized by this worldwide religious system centered in Babylon.

The Ancient City of Babylon
Photo Credit: Learnodo Newtonic

Revival of the Roman Empire

John further writes, “So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns” (Revelation 17:3).

Going back to Revelation 13:1, we read, “Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.”

What we see in Revelation 17:3 and Revelation 13:1 is the same. The great harlot sits upon the revived Roman Empire or the nations represented by the European Common Market.

A Deadly Beauty

In Revelation 17:4, John describes the apparel of the great harlot. “The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls.”

She has the outward appearance of royalty; she is wearing gold and precious stones and pearls. This means she has unlimited wealth. In her hand is “a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication.”

Outwardly, the great harlot is beautiful, but the contents of her cup are poison to the nations of the world.

John identifies the great harlot in Revelation 17:5. “And on her forehead, a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”

Babylon is the “Mother,” which means the source, or the polluted fountain from which all spiritual prostitution flows.

The word “mystery” in the New Testament does not refer to something mysterious. Rather, it refers to some truth not previously presented by God to men. The “mystery” is in the last days, there will be a great worldwide apostate church that will reject Christ and dishonor God.

Worldwide Confusion

Nimrod's Tower of Babel This identification of Babylon as the source of spiritual unfaithfulness takes us back to the Tower of Babel, where it started.

Nimrod, who was the arch apostate of the post-diluvian world, built the Tower of Babel. He was four generations after the flood and is recorded as “the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel” (Genesis 10:8-10).

Nimrod’s generation built the Tower of Babel to cast God and His influence out of the earth. They proposed to build a great tower that would reach into heaven so that they could have the benefits of God without submitting to Him.

God’s reaction was, “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So, the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. Therefore its name is called Babel because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth” (Genesis 11:7-9).

Here’s the critical point: the first organized, idolatrous, religious system in the history of the world was introduced at Babel. John calls Babylon “the Mother of Harlots” because it was the birthplace of spiritual adultery.

One day, the great religious system that began after the Flood will return to the forefront. Man will again organize in rebellion against the Creator just like at the Tower of Babel.

Judgment of the Great Harlot

How will it all end for the great harlot? Revelation 17:16-17 reads, “And the ten horns which you saw on the beast, these will hate the harlot, make her desolate and naked, eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to fulfill His purpose, to be of one mind, and to give their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled.”

In essence, Joh is saying that in the middle of the 7-year Tribulation, the European Common Market will realize that they are mere puppets of the great harlot. They will then turn on her and destroy her with a vengeance.

Conclusion

Revelation 17 focuses on Babylon’s religious character, climaxing in a world religion during the first 3 ½ years of the Tribulation. The major indictment against Babylon is the city’s spiritual idolatry (Revelation 17:4-5).

Millions of Christians will disappear at the Rapture. Meanwhile, the church institution left on earth (void of true believers) will quickly fall into the hands of opportunists. Arnold Fruchtenbaum says this of the prostitute in Revelation 17:

“Babylon the Harlot that represents the one-world religious system will rule over the religious affairs during the first half of the Tribulation. She rules over the nations of the world fully controlling the religious affairs and has the reluctant support of the government. The headquarters of this one-world religion will be the rebuilt city of Babylon, the mother of idolatry, for it was here that idolatry and false religion began.”

Robert Thomas also says, “She leads the world in the pursuit of false religion whether it be paganism or perverted revealed religion. She is the symbol for a system that reaches back to the Tower of Babel which extends into the future when it will peak under the regime of the beast.”


References:

  1. NKJV Prophecy Study Bible edited by John Hagee
  2. The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days by Mark Hitchcock

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource: Revelation (The John Walvoord Prophecy Commentaries) by John F. Walvoord

What's the Book of Revelation About?The book of Revelation has long fascinated and even confused readers and students of the Bible. Yet the Bible is written to be understood, and Revelation is no exception.

Who better to help you understand the seals, trumpets, vials, woes, and plagues than John F. Walvoord, one of evangelicalism’s most prominent leaders, and Mark Hitchcock, today’s leading Bible prophecy expert?

In this first in a renewed series of commentaries from Dr. Walvoord, he points out that much of the book’s symbolism can be interpreted literally.

At key points, different views and approaches to interpretation are explored. Walvoord devotes special attention to textual and doctrinal issues while avoiding technical language.

Refined, updated with the English Standard Version (ESV), and streamlined, this classic text is set to help you interpret the last book of the Bible and gain a better grasp of current trends and the climax of history!

How Do I Know I’m Going to Heaven?

How Do I Know I’m Going to Heaven?

The Bible says that after we die, we will spend eternity in one of two places: heaven or hell. But can anyone be certain where they’re going? Do you know if you’re going to heaven or hell?

We all want to know exactly where we are going after we die, right? I mean, who wouldn’t want to know where they will be spending eternity? But can we really know? The answer is yes!

The Word of God makes it clear that we can indeed know where we will go after this life is over.

The Choice is Ours to Make

Going to heaven or hell is a choice each of us has to make.

Man is destined to hell because of sin. But God so loved the world that He sacrificed His only Son to redeem us. Jesus suffered and died so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Notice that one still needs to trust in Jesus to be saved from eternal condemnation in hell. Jesus’ sacrificial death has opened the way to heaven for everyone. However, this does not mean everyone automatically goes to heaven when they die. We can either accept God’s promise of eternal life or reject it.

Choose Life Not Death

Eventually, the choice we make in this life will determine where we will spend eternity.

If you haven’t accepted God’s gift, would you do so today and be assured of spending eternity in heaven with God? 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

We Can Know Our Final Destination

If we place our faith in the Lord, we can know that we will go to heaven when we die. In 1 John 5:12, we read God’s promise.

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”

We can know that we have eternal life if we put out faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. By the way, we need to know that eternal life is something that belongs to believers only. While it’s true that unbelievers will exist for eternity, they will not have eternal life.

Those who willfully reject God will be eternally separated from God; they will be in a state of eternal death. This is in direct contrast to the future of those who have trusted the God of the Bible.

The Scripture also says that “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16). The moment we confessed Jesus as our Savior and Lord, God gave us the right to become His children (John 1:12).

And if we are God’s children, we can know for sure that we are going to heaven when we die.

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Believers Already Have Eternal Life

Christians know they have eternal life because God has promised it in His Word. But eternal life is not something believers will possess only in the future. We discover that we have eternal life now.

Jesus said this in John 5:24 (NIV).

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”

We have already gone from death to life.

Contrary to what some teach and believe, we can get to enjoy eternal life the moment we trusted in Jesus. We don’t have to wait for “eternal life” because it’s not something that starts when we die. The focus of eternal life is not on our future, but on our current standing in Christ.

Eternal life is ours right now!

Eternal Life is Knowing God

On the night that Jesus was betrayed, He prayed to God the Father on His way to the Garden of Gethsemane.

“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3).

What is Eternal Life

Here, Jesus defines eternal life for us. Eternal life is knowing God; it’s a relationship with God the Father through the Son, Jesus Christ. The great news is that it never ends; it is indeed eternal!

Do you know the only true God? Do you have a relationship with the Father through His Son? Enjoy eternal life now and be assured of going to heaven by accepting God’s gift of salvation.

Know the Person You Trust

The apostle Paul said he knew whom he had trusted or believed in (2 Timothy 1:12).

“For this reason, I also suffer these things. Nevertheless, I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”

We too can know in whom we have believed. Christians are assured of going to heaven because they can trust in the promises of Christ. Our God who promised is faithful, even when at times we’re not.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).

As evident in the New Testament, we can have eternal life by trusting Christ as Savior. The moment we professed our faith in Him, we can be sure that we are going to heaven.

Final Words

Death is real, so are heaven and hell. And the Bible is very clear of who gets to enter heaven; it is limited to those who have trusted in Jesus as their Savior.

Jesus said there is only one way to reach the one God who is in heaven; it is through Him and Him alone (John 14:6).

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Nobody gets to heaven by their good works. Contrary to what many people think, a person does not go to heaven because they’re good. First of all, no one is good enough (Romans 3:10; Psalm 14:1-3).

Also, no one is kept out of heaven because they’re bad. Whoever gets to heaven goes there because of God’s grace, not their own good deeds (Ephesians 2:8-9).

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Our salvation from sin, our eventual entrance into heaven, is a “gift” from God. Have you accepted God’s gift?


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource:

Heaven: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything the Bible Says About Our Eternal Home by Randy Alcorn

Heaven: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything the Bible Says About Our Eternal Home by Randy Alcorn We all have questions about what Heaven will be like, and after twenty-five years of extensive research, Dr. Randy Alcorn has the answers.

In the most comprehensive and definitive book on Heaven to date, Randy invites you to picture Heaven the way Scripture describes it―a bright, vibrant, and physical New Earth, free from sin, suffering, and death, and brimming with Christ’s presence, wondrous natural beauty, and the richness of human culture as God intended it.

This is a book about real people with real bodies enjoying close relationships with God and each other, eating, drinking, working, playing, traveling, worshiping, and discovering a New Earth. Earth as God created it. Earth as he intended it to be.

The next time you hear someone say, “We can’t begin to image what Heaven will be like,” you’ll be able to tell them, “I can.”

Are the Soul and Spirit Eternal?

Are the Soul and Spirit Eternal?

There’s an ongoing debate among Christians as to the immortality of the soul and spirit. Are the soul and spirit eternal? Do they become extinct upon death?

The Bible teaches that man is made up of material (body) and immaterial (soul and spirit) components. Life begins when they are united and life ends when they are separated.

Is the Soul Immortal?

Both the Old and New Testaments teach that humans have an immaterial part that will last forever. Thus, we should not see life and death as existence and non-existence. As Dr. Frank Turek often says, “When we die, we don’t cease to exist; we simply change location.”

Death is a transition to a different mode of existence. Therefore, life and death should be viewed as two different states or existence.

Death means Separation of the Body from the Soul and Spirit

What the Old Testament Teaches

The foundational biblical teaching on the subject of the immortality of the soul is the Old Testament.

When Adam sinned against the Lord, it was his body that was judged to go back to its original elements (Genesis 3:19). Adam’s spirit, however, was not judged to return to dust because it was breathed by God into him. Adam’s body became dust but his spirit went elsewhere.

The Bible never teaches that the spirit can be annihilated or become extinct at death.

We read in Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV) that humans have been made for all eternity. Our soul and spirit will live forever; death is not the end.

Scriptures make a distinction between the body and the spirit and it implies a continual life of the spirit after the body dies (Ecclesiastes 12:7, ESV). In effect, the spirit will continue to exist but the body does not.

In addition, Isaiah 14:9 (NIV) speaks of Sheol – a place where the dead exists; not utterly annihilated. So, there is an actual place where the dead will reside and do not go out of existence.

Not Everyone Died

Two Old Testament characters did not die but rather went to heaven without dying; Enoch and Elijah.

Genesis 5:24 says this about Enoch, “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” Of Elijah, 2 Kings 2:11 tells us, “… suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”

Since Enoch and Elijah did not die, what happened to their bodies? Where did they go? We can’t tell for sure but one thing is certain, there is existence beyond the grave. The immaterial part of humans is not destroyed; it survives beyond this life.

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What the New Testament Teaches

Like the Old Testament, the New Testament also has much to say about those who have died. For one, Jesus promises eternal life to those who put their faith in Him.

In a conversation between Jesus and Martha recorded in John 11:25-26, we read the following:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

We see that Jesus is speaking of life after life. He couldn’t be talking about physical death when He said those who believe in him shall never die. Everyone dies, for sure! Yet, there is a part of each of us that will never die.

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

Likewise, in His dialogue with the Sadducees, Jesus spoke of the existence of those who had previously died. Matthew 22:31-32 records Jesus saying these:

“But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have long been dead when God spoke to Moses. But God said to him, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” God did not say, “I was their God.”

Jesus was saying that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were still living though they had died physically. Their physical death did not end their existence. This is an early biblical reference to the fact that the dead do not go out of existence. The body dies but the soul and spirit live on.

I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

Moses and Elijah

When Jesus appeared at the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared with Him. Matthew 17:13 records the following.

“And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.”

This gives further testimony to life after death. Moses had been dead for over a thousand years. Elijah had been taken up in a whirlwind to the presence of the Lord hundreds of years earlier. Yet here they were with Jesus.

Obviously, they survived beyond the grave.

Everyone Will be Judged

In John 5:28-29, Jesus spoke of a judgment of the human race.

“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”

If the dead are going to be judged when the graves are opened, then obviously life does not end with physical death. There must be some type of existence beyond the grave if the human race is going to be judged.

Annihilation of the Soul and Spirit

There is a popular teaching among some Christian denominations that the wicked will not suffer eternal torment. Instead, they will be annihilated and will cease to exist.

However, the Scriptures teach that the soul and spirit cannot be annihilated. While the body will die, the soul and spirit will live on. Thus, death is not the end of conscious life. Death is the separation of the body and spirit.

The body returns to dust where it came from and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7). The body is just the temporary residence of humans (2 Corinthians 5:1).

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Jesus also made a very powerful statement in Matthew 10:28.

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

The word “destroy” has the idea of punishment, not annihilation. The destruction of the soul means separation from the life of God. Although living, the soul of the unbeliever has no connection to God whatsoever.

The Souls Under the Altar

The book of Revelation speaks of the souls of the dead under the altar.

“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held” (Revelation 6:9).

These people still existed after their physical death. This is a further indication that physical death does not end our existence. We will live on after death, all of us.

The Second Death

There is a second death mentioned in the book of Revelation. If death were the end of existence, then why does the Bible speak of the second death of unbelievers?

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death” (Revelation 2:11).

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

The idea of a second death for unbelievers is another indication that physical death is not the end of existence. A second death assumes there will be a “first death.” Therefore, there can be another death after physical death.

The Immortality of the Soul and Spirit

Nothing Can Separate Us from God

Finally, the Word of God says that nothing will separate the believer from the love of God, not even death.

In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul wrote (Romans 8:38-39, NLT):

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Nothing means nothing! Not even death! The believer cannot be separated from God. Not now, not ever. Nothing can keep us apart. Therefore, from the totality of Scripture, it is clear that the immaterial part of us, the spirit or soul, survives death.

Conclusion

While death may end our relationships and plans here upon the earth, it is not the end of us. Death is never seen as extinction, nonexistence, or annihilation. Indeed, it is always separation.

Therefore, physical death is the separation of the spirit or soul from the human body. The spirit or soul can never be destroyed. It will live on for all eternity. The body lies in the grave but the spirit lives on.

This is the message of Scripture from the first page to the last!


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Note: This article is an excerpt from the book “Living in the Light of Eternity” by Don Stewart.

Living in the Light of Eternity by Don StewartIn this first of a five-volume series, best-selling and award-winning author, Don Stewart, explains the all-important subjects of death, dying, and the afterlife in easy-to-understand language.

Don will answer such questions:

  • Why is there death and suffering?
  • What sin will keep people out of heaven?
  • What about claims of people who say they have died and gone to heaven or hell?
  • What hope does God’s Word give to the dead?
  • Burial or cremation?
  • What does the Bible say about suicide?
Rapture Versus Second Coming

Rapture Versus Second Coming

Many Christians reject the pre-tribulation rapture due to a lack of understanding that the return of Christ occurs in two stages. Although the Bible seems to present only one event, an in-depth study of these passages shows that they describe two separate events.

On my YouTube channel, I posted a short video of Pastor John MacArthur differentiating between the Rapture and the Second Coming. Almost immediately, people started attacking the pre-tribulation rapture view. They strongly argued that nowhere in the Bible does it teach a pre-tribulation rapture.

In this post, I would like to present the differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ.

The Terminology Used

To bolster their view that the coming of Christ is one event, post-tribulationists point to the word used about the said event. They reject any attempt to separate this event into two stages because the same terms appear to be used interchangeably for Christ’s coming.

The three main Greek words used in the New Testament about Christ’s coming are parousia, epiphaneia, and apokalupsis

Parousia means “coming,” “arrival,” or “presence.” This word is found fifteen times in the New Testament, including Matthew 24:27, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 4:15, and 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

Epiphaneia is used about the second coming five times. It means “manifestation.” Among other passages, we find this word in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, 1 Timothy 6:14, 2 Timothy 4:8, and Titus 2:13.

Apokalupsis occurs five times and means “revelation” or “unveiling” (1 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7; 1 Peter 1:7; 4:13; Revelation 1:1).

Arguments and Responses

A proponent of the post-trib view, George Eldon says, “The Parousia, the apocalypse, and the epiphany of our Lord are the same event. Christ’s Parousia is His return; His return is His coming; His coming is His second advent. The word used for our Lord’s return lends no support for the idea of two comings of Christ. On the contrary, it substantiates the view that the return of Christ will be a single, indivisible glorious event.”

This might well be a fair argument but it’s not a convincing one. There is biblical precedent for one event to unfold in several stages. For one, there were multiple aspects or phases of Christ’s first coming: His birth, His life, His death, His resurrection, and His ascension. These were all part of the first coming and were separated by periods of time.

What is the difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming

In the same way, there are two aspects of the Lord’s second advent: the rapture which takes place in the air, and the return which begins in the air but ends with a return to earth.

Likewise, the Day of the Lord came upon Judah and various Gentile nations in the Old Testament, and the final Day of the Lord won’t come until the end times. Even in the end times, the Day of the Lord will be divided into a judgment phase (the Great Tribulation) and a blessing phase (the Millennium).

Differences Between the Rapture and the Return

There are three main rapture passages in the New Testament: John 14:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:51-55, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Among the principal second coming passages are Zechariah 14:1-21, Matthew 24:29-31, Mark 13:24-27, Luke 21:25-27, and Revelation 19:11-21.

The differences between these two groups of passages are striking. They are so striking that they clearly point to two separate contexts.

Certainly, there are some similarities between the rapture and the return. Both events mention a coming, and both mention clouds, symbolizing a heavenly role in both. Yet, the differences demonstrate that these are two distinct stages of the second coming.

John Walvoord notes, “While it is evident that there are some similarities in the two events, these do not prove that they are the same. There are similarities also between the first and the second coming of Christ, but these have been separated by almost two thousand years.”

Below are some of the more significant differences between the rapture and the second coming of Christ as they are described in Scripture.

1) The Signs Given for Each Stage

Before the rapture, there are no signs that must take place. The rapture can happen at any moment. It’s a signless event. None of the rapture passages contain any mention of preceding signs. Believers are enjoined to be constantly looking for the rapture and “to wait” for it (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Before the second coming, specific signs come to pass before Christ will return to earth (Matthew 24:4-28). The same event cannot logically be both signless and yet portended by numerous signs. That is clearly contradictory.

The simplest harmonization of these two different events supports a pretribulation rapture (which is signless and could happen at any moment). The many events taking place during the tribulation are best understood as signs leading up to the second coming.

2) The Place Christ Will Meet Believers

At the rapture, Christians will meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Jesus never sets foot on the earth in any of the rapture texts.

At the second coming, Christ will come to earth with His saints, descending upon the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:2-4; Revelation 19:14).

3) Who Removes People from the Earth

At the rapture, Christ Himself comes and takes believers out of the world. He comes for His saints (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

At the second coming, Christ sends His angels to gather His elect on earth (Matthew 24:31).

4) Who Gets Taken and Who is Left

At the rapture, believers are taken from the earth while unbelievers are left behind (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

At the second coming, living believers on earth are left to enter the messianic kingdom while unbelievers are taken away to judgment (Matthew 13:41-42, 49-50).

5) When the Judgment Takes Place

At the rapture, no mention is made of God’s judgment or any distress taking place. Only promises of blessings and salvation are referenced.

At the second coming, tribulation, distress, apocalypse, and judgment are everywhere (Zechariah 14:2-4; Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 19:11-21).

6) Timing of the Resurrection of the Dead

At the rapture, the resurrection of the dead occurs during Christ’s descent from heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

At the second coming, a resurrection of believers who died during the tribulation takes place after Christ has descended on earth.

Note these order of events in Revelation 19:11-21; 20:1-5.

  • The descent of Christ
  • Christ slays His enemies
  • The Antichrist (the beast) and the false prophet are cast alive into the lake of fire
  • Satan is bound and thrown into the pit
  • The resurrection of the saints

7) The People Involved

At the rapture, only believers see Christ and are involved (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

At the second coming, all people will see Jesus coming and are involved (Revelation 1:7; 19:11-21).

8) The Rapture of Living Believers

In the rapture passages, the focus is on the snatching away of living believers on earth to meet Jesus in the air.

In the second coming passages, none of them contains a clear indisputable reference to the rapture. Also, no second advent passages, even the most detailed ones in Matthew 24 and Revelation 19, clearly mention a catching up of living believers to meet Jesus in the air. This omission is inexplicable if the rapture and second coming are supposed to happen simultaneously.

9) The Changes on Earth

At the rapture, all the relevant passages are silent about any topographical changes taking place on the earth.

At the second coming, massive changes in and on the earth result from Christ’s return (Zechariah 14:1-11).

Conclusion

While both the rapture and the second coming describe a return of the Lord and the same terms are used to refer to both, the dramatic differences in the various passages indicate they are describing two unique events that occur at separate times. The dissimilarities are too substantial to merge these two into a single event.

Jesus is coming again. On this point, all Christians agree. But that He is coming before the Tribulation without any warning, to take His bride to heaven is such great comfort.

Let us live looking for His return!


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Reference: Can We Still Believe in the Rapture? By Ed Hindson and Mark Hitchcock

Can We Still Believe in the Rapture? Paperback – January 2, 2018Is the rapture Christian fiction or biblical fact?

Today, the hope that all believers on earth will be “caught up” in heaven is being challenged by new waves of criticism. Is the rapture really taught in the Bible? Can we really expect Jesus to gather up His followers before the Antichrist is revealed?

In this well-reasoned and thorough defense, prophecy authors Mark Hitchcock and Ed Hindson examine the concept, context, and consequences of the important and long-expected event known as the rapture.

Discover the answers to such questions as…

  • What is the rapture—and is there any historical precedent for it?
  • Why do some believers object to the idea of a rapture?
  • Does the timing of the rapture really make a difference?

As you explore what Scripture says about the end times, you’ll get a grander glimpse of your glorious future and the deepest hope of every follower of Jesus.

Is John the Baptist “The Elijah?”

Is John the Baptist “The Elijah?”

Believers and non-believers alike have heard about John the Baptist. He is not only known to be the cousin of Jesus; he’s also the forerunner of the Messiah. But why do some people say that John is the “Elijah” that is to come?”

John the Baptist: Spokesman for God

John is one of the most prominent figures in the Bible. He was the first prophet called by God some 400 years after Malachi. John fulfilled the prophecy given in Isaiah 40:3.

The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for God.”

John the Baptist in the Spirit of Elijah

Some biblical prophets, including Isaiah, had prophesied a new exodus, by which God could gather His people from exile (Isaiah 11:16; Jeremiah 23:7-8; Hosea 3:14-15). He would establish a way through the wilderness, as He had led His people through the wilderness of old.

John was a herald preparing the people for this event and for the coming of “the Lord” by which the Hebrews text of Isaiah referred to God Himself.

A Voice from the Jordan

It was down the hills of Jordan that curious people from Judea came to hear “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” (Luke 3:4). John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, the long-awaited Messiah, by preaching sermons of judgment against sin (Luke 3:7-18). He also baptized in the Jordan River those who heeded his message and repented (Luke 3:2).

Have you ever asked why John started preaching in the wilderness? Accordingly, the wilderness was one of the few places where prophetic figures could safely draw crowds, but of course, it lacked the amenities of civilization.

A first-century Jewish historian, Josephus, also reports that John baptized people in the wilderness, inviting them to spiritual transformation. Josephus, however, adapts his description of John to appeal to Greek readers, as he depicts the “sects” of Judea (Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes).

The Gospels, however, portray John in a way more in keeping with authentic Judean prophets, a preacher of the imminent new era of God’s reign.

John the Baptist in the Spirit of Elijah and Elisha
Photo Credits: Aleteia.Org

In the Spirit of Elijah

John the Baptist ministered in the spirit and power of Elijah, for he was the Elijah-to-come spoken of by Malachi 450 years earlier (Malachi 4:5-6; Matthew 11:2-15; 17:9-13). Like Elijah, John the Baptist wore rough clothing (2 Kings 1:8; Mark 1:6; Luke 7:25) and ate what he could from the land.

More important, like Elijah, he stood unwaveringly before unjust religious and political authorities. He was also bold to judge them according to God’s standards (Matthew 3:7-9; 11:7; Luke 3:19-20). (Note: See 1 Kings 17:1; 18:21-40 for further reference.) Yet, Jesus, Himself was even greater!

As Elijah departed for heaven, his successor Elisha, received a double portion of his spirit (2 Kings 2:9-15). As if in confirmation of this fact, the writer of the biblical books of the Kings records twice as many miracles performed by Elisha than by Elijah.

Similarly, Jesus’ ministry far surpassed that of His predecessor, John the Baptist (Luke 3:15-17).

In the Spirit of Elisha

Most Christians appreciate the prophetic ties which connect Jesus to both John the Baptist and Elijah. The ministry of Jesus, however, can also be compared to that of Elisha, with John the Baptist playing the key intermediate role. The diagram below shows this:

John the Baptist Like Elijah

Both Elisha and Jesus moved about the towns and villages of Galilee and Samaria, doing good among the common folk by healing lepers (2 Kings 5:1-27; Luke 17:11-19). They have multiplied loaves of bread for hungry multitudes (2 Kings 4:42-44; Luke 9:12-17) and raised the dead (2 Kings 4:18-37; Luke 7:11-17).

Nain, where Jesus raised a dead boy was less than two miles from Shunem, where Elisha did the same, prompting the residents of Nain to exclaim, “A great prophet has risen up [again] among us” (Luke 7:16).

Was John the Baptist Elijah?

The Bible calls John the Baptist “the Elijah to come” because he came in the spirit and power of Elijah. But he was not Elijah in a literal sense. John was the New Testament forerunner who pointed the way to the arrival of the Messiah, just as Elijah filled that role in the Old Testament.

John did not only deny that he was the Christ, he also specifically denied that he was Elijah (John 1:19-21).

Now, this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then, are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.”

John identified himself as the messenger of Isaiah 40:3, not “the Elijah” (Malachi 3:1).

One other thing, Elijah himself appeared with Moses at the Mount of Transfiguration after the death of John the Baptist. This would not have happened if Elijah had changed his identity to John.

Conclusion

John the Baptist is not Elijah. Scriptures such as Mark 8:28 and Mark 6:14-16 show that both King Herod and the people distinguished between Elijah and John the Baptist.

But how do we reconcile the teachings that Jesus identified John as Elijah and John the Baptist denying that identification? We must not overlook the key phrase that Jesus used. He said, “And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come” (Matthew 11:14).

Jesus’ identification of John the Baptist as Elijah did not rest on the premise that John was the actual Elijah. Rather, it hangs on the people’s response to his role. If the people willingly believed in Jesus as the Christ, John functioned as Elijah. But if they rejected Jesus, as the Pharisees did, John did not perform this role.

John the Baptist is a type of Elijah. As he announced the first coming of Jesus, the prophet Elijah announced the Second Coming of the Lord. Malachi 4:5-6 says Elijah will return before the Tribulation.


Reference Materials:
  1. The Transformation Study Bible (Edited by Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe)
  2. NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible
  3. NKJV Prophecy Study Bible (Edited by John Hagee)

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource: Systematic Theology, Second Edition: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem

Systematic Theology by Wayne GrudemThis new edition of Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem may be the most important resource you can own for helping you understand Scripture and grow as a Christian.

The most widely used resource of the last 25 years in its area, Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem has been thoroughly revised and expanded (all 57 chapters) for the first time while retaining the features that have made it the standard in its field: clear explanations, an emphasis on each doctrine’s scriptural basis, and practical applications to daily life.

If you are someone who thinks theology is hard to understand or boring, then this new edition of Systematic Theology will likely change your mind.

The Rapture Mystery Revealed

The Rapture Mystery Revealed

The Rapture of the church was a mystery in the Old Testament but was revealed to the apostle Paul. It is the next event in God’s prophetic program. Israel is reborn and Jerusalem is no longer controlled by the Gentiles. The federated states of Europe are coming together and will soon present the Antichrist to the world.

If you listen closely, you can hear the thundering hoofbeats of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse racing toward the Battle of Armageddon.

The Dead Will Rise

The resurrection of the dead is an Old Testament concept. Job writes, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:25-26).

Isaiah also writes, “Your dead shall live, together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead” (Isaiah 26:19).

Furthermore, we read this in Daniel 12:2, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.”

Resurrection of the Dead

The Two Resurrections

Daniel is saying in the above-mentioned verse that there are two resurrections: the resurrection of the just, and that of the unjust.

Jesus taught the same truth saying, “Do not marvel at this, for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29).

The resurrection of the just is in three waves. The first was at Calvary when the dead rose from their graves when Jesus was crucified (Matthew 27:50-53). The second wave will be the Rapture of the church before the Tribulation (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52). The third wave will be at the end of the Tribulation and will consist of Old Testament saints and Tribulation saints.

Note: Tribulation saints are those who were saved during the Tribulation and were beheaded by the Antichrist.

The resurrection of the unjust occurs at the Great White Throne Judgment at the end of the Millennial Reign of Christ.

The Mystery Revealed

Jesus promised “I go to prepare a place for you and come again to receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3). Jesus gives His followers His guarantee that they will be together again after His death.

Some scholars believe that the mystery of the rapture was revealed to Paul while he was in Arabia (Galatians 1:15-17). He writes in 1 Corinthians 15:51, “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall n0t all sleep, but we shall all be changed.”

When the word mystery is used in the Bible, it does not refer to something mysterious or difficult to understand. Rather, it refers to something that God has never revealed to man before. The “mystery” revealed is that of the Rapture.

Paul says that when this happens, “the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).

Victors in Christ

The Rapture: Don't Be Deceived Paperback – October 31, 2016 by Billy Crone“At the last trumpet” is a phrase that has reference to that moment in time when God will close the dispensation of grace. It will be that moment in time when the last soul has been saved and has been baptized in water. It will be when the gospel has been preached to the ends of the earth (Matthew 24:14).

The apostle Paul then continues by saying, “We shall be changed.” This means that our physical body shall be changed into an incorruptible, supernatural body of absolute perfection. In God’s tomorrow, no tone physical body will have the slightest, physical defect.

Hallelujah, even so, come, Lord Jesus!

In the Thessalonian church, some believers became concerned that their loved ones who had died would miss the rapture. Others were worried that they would miss some benefits of the Rapture or would have an inferior place in glory.

Thus, Paul writes, “if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” (See 1 Thessalonians 4:14.) These words of comfort assure us that not a single believer will be left in the grave when Jesus comes. Since He is Victor over death, hell, and grave, believers are victors with Him.

Christ Descends, Christians Ascend

Paul concludes the teaching on the Rapture by saying, “For the Lord, Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with a voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

The “shout” here is the word used by a military commander giving a direct order. It is the command of the Lord Jesus Christ for the grave to surrender the bodies of the redeemed. The phrase “the voice of an archangel” is used because angels are God’s messengers and those who execute His will.

The phrase “the trumpet of God” is to announce the appearance of royalty. Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Paul confirms that both the dead in Christ and the living will be instantaneously raptured together in the clouds to meet the Lord. It is not a temporary relationship – it is forever.

Our relationship is eternal in mansions of splendor created by the Architect of the ages for those who love Him.

Concluding Words

The Word of God is clear that every man is appointed to die once and faces judgment afterward (Hebrews 9:27). However, Paul taught, by the revelation of the Rapture mystery, that not all believers will die (fall asleep).

At the coming of the Lord for the church, there will be Christians who are alive at that time. When the last trumpet sounds, they will be “caught up” alive along with the “dead in Christ.”

The bodies of believers who had died (physically) will be rejoined with their spirits. But those who are alive will not die; their bodies will be changed into incorruptible bodies.

On a gravestone in London for a man named Solomon Peas reads:

Revealing the Mystery of the Rapture

This epitaph captures the truth of the physical for a believer. The “peas” shell out and go to God, while the “pod” stays behind and is buried.

Do you long for the Lord’s appearing (2 Timothy 4:8)? Are you living soberly, righteously, and godly while waiting for the glorious appearing of our Lord and Savior (Titus 2:12-13)?

Are you rapture-ready?


References:

  1. NKJV Prophecy Study Bible (General Editor: John Hagee)
  2. The End, A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days by Mark Hitchcock

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.