[H]    LAST THINGS

H1.    Death -- detailed version (Question 73)

a. Definition: Death is the termination of physical life by the separation of body and soul.

b. Intermediate state (between termination of physical life and final judgment):

c. Beliefs not supported by the Bible: d. Meaning of death for Christians: e. Attitude toward our own death: f. Attitude toward death of Christian friends and relatives: g. Attitude toward death of unbelievers: H2.    Hell: eternal torment or annihilation of soul? -- detailed version (Question 75) a. Traditional teaching: b. Annihilationism: c. Alternate view: d. Meaning of eternal punishment: e. Reasons supporting annihilationism: (1) Eternal torment is contrary to Godís love. Objection: God loves but also fulfils His justice.

(2) Eternal torment is disproportional to the sins committed by non-believers in temporal time. The Bible says that God will judge people "according to what they have done" (Rev 20:12) which implies that the penalty inflicted will be proportional to the evil done. Objection: the immensity of the evil done when sinners rebel against God may be greater than what we can imagine.

(3) Eternal existence of the impenitent in hell would be hard to reconcile with the promises of Godís final victory over evil, particularly the following verses:

Objection: Those who support eternal torment have no good objection to this reason.
 
(4) The words used in the Bible to describe hell point to annihilation:
Objection: "Destruction" may only refer to the harmful and destructive effects.
 
(5) It is difficult to imagine that Christians can fully enjoy their eternal life with the knowledge that some of their closest relatives and friends are suffering unbearable torment at the same time. Moreover, according to the description of hell in Lk 16:23-25, those in heaven can see and hear and even talk to those in hell. Objection: Our inability to understand something should never be a reason for rejecting it.
 
f. Reasons against annihilationism: (1) Human soul is indestructible and eternal. Response: The immortality of soul is a Greek concept not a biblical concept. Only God possesses immortality in Himself (1Ti 6:16); He gives immortality to us through the gospel (2Ti 1:10).

(2) The following are Bible verses that seem to contradict annihilation and the responses. Response: All of them can be satisfactorily explained from the viewpoint of annihilationism.

Eternal Torment
Response (Annihilation of Soul)
Fire: eternal fire (Mt 18:8; 25:41; Mk 9:43), fire of hell (Mt 5:22; 18:9), unquenchable fire (Lk 3:17), lake of fire (Rev 19:20; 20:14-15; 21:8), furnace of fire (Mt 13:50) The main function of fire is not to cause pain, but to secure destruction, such as "burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire" (Mt 3:12; Lk 3:17).
Darkness (Mt 8:12), black darkness (Jude 13) Darkness symbolizes nothingness; also fire and darkness exclude each other.
Weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt 8:12; 13:50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Lk 13:28) It describes the expectation of the coming punishment. There is nothing about eternal weeping.
In the parable, the rich man was in torment and was "in agony in this fire" (Lk 16:23-24,28) It is the intermediate state after death and before final judgment. It is the soul that experiences torment.
"their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched" (Mk 9:48; Is 66:24) The verses do not mention everlasting pain. The worm will not die and the fire will not be quenched until presumably their work of destruction is done.
Torment forever, no rest day or night (Rev 14:10-11) Here, "torment" will be experienced "in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb", referring to the moment of judgment but not to the eternal state.
"smoke rises for ever and ever" (Rev 14:11; 19:3) Smoke is a symbol of the completed burning, an evidence that the fire has done its work; also Rev 19:3 refers to the wicked city of Babylon, not people
In the lake of fire, "they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever". (Rev 20:10) It refers to the devil, the beast and the false prophet. They are symbols of the world in its varied hostility to God. They cannot experience pain, nor can "Death and Hades" which follow them into the lake of fire (Rev 20:13). The imagery is that ultimately all enmity and resistance to God will be destroyed. Even if these refer to the persons of Satan and his accomplices, the verses do not refer to unbelievers.

H3.    Millennium -- detailed version (Question 78)

a. Latin millennium means "thousand years" (Rev 20:2-5). It refers to a period of perfect peace and righteousness on earth when Jesus will reign.

b. 3 theological viewpoints regarding the millennium:

(1) Premillennialism: second coming of Christ will occur before a millennium of 1000 years. This is held by most evangelicals.

(2) Postmillennialism: second coming will occur after a millennium of 1000 years.

(3) Amillennialism: There is no future millennium. The present Church Age is the millennium.
 

c. Premillennialism: [proponents: George Ladd, Millard Erickson, C.I. Scofield, Charles Ryrie] (1) Sequence of events:
(2) There are two different schools within premillennialism about the timing of rapture: (a) Classical (or historical) premillennialism: the rapture will occur at the end of the tribulation (posttribulational rapture). They will immediately come back to the earth with Christ.

(b) Dispensational premillennialism: the rapture will occur before the tribulation (a secret return of Christ). They will enjoy 7 years of celebrations in the air where there will be a judgment of believers for rewards. After 7 years of tribulation on earth, all believers and Christ will come back to the earth (a public return of Christ).

(3) Biblical support for premillennialism: (a) There are some OT passages describing a future period far greater than the present age yet not a perfect world like the new creation. This is probably the millennium (Ps 72:8-14; Isa 11:2-9; 65:20; Zec 14:6-21; 45-48; Zec 14:5-17).

(b) There are NT passages that suggest a future millennium (Rev 2:26-27; 12:5; 19:15; 1Co 15:23-25). This is to argue against opponents to a literal millennium based on the fact that there is only one passage in the whole Bible about the millennium. Objection: The evidence is not definitive.

(c) As an argument against amillennialism, the imprisonment of Satan in Rev 20:1-3 implies a far greater restriction than anything in the present age, this is a proof that the millennium is not what we now witness in this world.

(d) There are NT passages that refer to believers reigning with Christ over the earth (Lk 19:17,19; Rev 2:26-27; 3:21).

 
d. Postmillennialism: [proponents: Augustine, Charles Hodge, A. H. Strong, B.B. Warfield] (1) Sequence of events:
(2) Biblical support for postmillennialism: (a) Since Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth, and since He promises to be with us in the fulfilment of the Great Commission (Mt 28:18-20), we would expect that the gospel would change the world without hindrance and eventually triumph in the whole world. Objection: Christ may not use the full extent of His authority to bring about the numerical growth of the church.

(b) The parables on the gradual growth of the kingdom (Mt 13:31-33) indicate that it eventually will fill the earth with its influence. Salvation will come to all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues (Rev 7:9-10). Objection: The parables illustrate something very small will grow to something very large, but they do not indicate the growth will extend to the whole world. There are passages indicating that only "few" in contrast to "many" will be saved (Mt 7:13-14; Lk 18:8).

(c) By the power of God, the world is becoming more Christian as the church is growing and spreading throughout the world, even at the same time it is persecuted and oppressed. Objection: This contradicts the biblical prophesy of deterioration of the world (such as apostasy in the Church). Also, the world is clearly becoming more evil with the decline of morality, even among Christians. The future tribulation and antichrist indicate that there will be greater evil on earth. (Postmillennialists regard these passage as being symbolic only.)

 
e. Amillennialism: [proponents: Louis Berkhof, G. Berkouwer, Abraham Kuyper, Leon Morris] (1) Sequence of events:
(2) Biblical support for amillennialism: (a) There is only one passage in the whole Bible about the millennium. Some passages describe the breaking of Satanís power in the present age (Mt 12:28-29; Lk 10:18). Rev 20:4 appears to describe a scene in heaven. Objection: There are hints of a future earthly millennium in other passages (see above).

(b) The Bible teaches only one resurrection (Jn 5:28-29; Ac 24:15; Dan 12:2). Objection: There are other passages about first and later resurrections (Rev 20:4-6,13).

(c) It is difficult to understand how glorified believers and mortal sinners can live on earth together in the millennium. Objection: The same occurred to Jesus after resurrection.

(d) If Christ comes in glory to reign on the earth, then how could people still persist in sin? Objection: It is due to the rebellious nature of sinful people, such as Judas.

(e) There is no convincing purpose for a millennium. Objection: It is possibly to vindicate Godís righteousness, showing that rebellious nature of man is not due to evil society or bad environment. There may be other reasons that we cannot imagine.

H4.    Rapture: Timing -- detailed version (Question 80) a. Different viewpoints on the timing of the rapture (1Th 4:15-16; Mt 24:40-41): (1) Pre-tribulational rapture: rapture before the 7-year tribulation

(2) Mid-tribulational rapture: rapture at the midpoint of the tribulation

(3) Post-tribulational rapture: rapture at the end of the tribulation

b. "Pre-trib" or "Post-trib"? (a lesson in the pitfall of subjective biblical exposition: first try to study the entire first column before studying the second column)
Pre-tribulational rapture
Post-tribulational rapture
(1) Nature of the second coming
(1a) imminent and sudden return:

The second coming is imminent and sudden (1Th 5:3), before any clear events such as tribulation.

Imminent return is still possible as all signs may have been fulfilled, though not likely.

(1b) unpredictable return:

The second coming is unpredictable because some of the signs will be fulfilled in tribulation.

If rapture is 7 years before the visible second coming, then everyone would be able to predict exactly based on the time of the rapture.

(1c) secret return:

2Pe 3:10 describes Jesusí return as "like a thief". Rapture is a secret event that unbelievers will not notice until later.

Rapture can never be a secret event as Mt 24:31 and 1Th 4:16 describe the voice of the archangel and loud trumpet call. The phrase "like a thief" simply describes the unexpected nature of the event, especially for those who are not watchful.

(1d) two returns:

The different words used to describe the second coming show that there are two returns. The first one is a secret return when rapture occurs, described by the word parousia (presence or arrival) or "coming for" the saints (Jn 14:1-2). The second one is a visible, public, triumphal return when Jesus appears in the sky, described by the word epiphaneia (revelation or appearing) or "coming with" the saints (Mt 25:31).

A careful study of all verses about the second coming shows that the two Greek words are used interchangeably. For example, in 2Th 1:7-10 the revelation in v.7 synchronizes with the parousia in v.10. In Tit 2:13, the two words refer to the same thing as "the blessed hope and appearance". Even pre-trib theologians admit this. There is also no support for differentiating "coming for" and "coming in". There is nothing in the NT to support the two-stage return of Christ. Heb 9:28 describes one second coming.

(2) Nature of the Tribulation
(2a) nature of the church:

Believers should not be under the wrath of God (Ro 5:9). Since the tribulation is the result of the wrath of God, believers must not be in the tribulation. That is why Rev 3:10 says that saints will be "kept from the hour of trial".

The same Greek phrase (tereo ek) in Rev 3:10 is used only used one other time in the Bible in Jn 17:15. Here, the "kept from" means kept from harm even the first part of the verse says "not take them out of the world". The saints can live in tribulation and can still be kept from Godís wrath (Rev 9:4). Moreover, past saints withstood tribulation (Mt 24:9; Jn 16:33; 1Th 3:3-4); why should we be saved from tribulation? 

(2b) object of teaching on tribulation:

The teachings (Mt 24:1-13; Lk 21:36) are not for the Church but for Jews only as Jesusí disciples represent the Jews. The tribulation is intended only for Israel, not for the church (Jer 30:6-7, "trouble for Jacob").

Jesus addressed His disciples and warned them of the persecution and suffering to come (Mt 24:1-4). Though the disciples were Jews, they were also believers. NT does not support a distinction between Jewish and gentile believers.

(2c) anology with Noah and Lot:

Lk 17:26-30 shows two examples of salvation before tribulation.

The destruction of the unbelievers was on "the same day" that the believers were saved.

(3) Timing of events
(3a) resurrection:

Response: The resurrection in Rev 20:4-6 is for the Israelites during tribulation.

The first resurrection (Rev 20:4-6) is just before the millenium but after the tribulation. "First" means there is none before.

(3b) judgment:

In the parable of wheat and weeds (Mt 13:24-29,36-43), the weeds were clearly separated out to be burnt while the wheat is taken to safety.

The parable describes the judgment "at the end of the age". The wheat and the weeds are to be left growing together until harvest. Moreover, the weeds are the one to be taken out first.

(3c) last trumpet:

Response: The last trumpet in 1Co 15:52 is the trumpet for the end of the church era only while the trumpets in Rev are different. [This is a poor argument.]

Rapture will occur at the last trumplet (1Co 15:52); but there are many trumpets during tribulation (Rev 11:15). It is likely that the trumpet is the same one for gathering the elect (Mt 24:31), rapture (1Th 4:16), and transforming living believers (1Co 15:51-52).

(3d) day of the Lord:

Response: The "day of the Lord" is a period of time which begins with the rapture and ends with the millennium.

The "day of the Lord" is the day of the second coming (Joel 1:15; Ac 2:16-21; 1Th 5:2; 2Th 2:1-2). OT saints will be resurrected only in the Day of the Lord (Isa 26:19) which occurs after the tribulation (Isa 24:16-25:9).

(3e) Antichrist:

Response: There is no good answer to this problematic verse. As a result, some put the beginning of the day of the Lord at the midpoint of the 7-year tribulation.

The second coming will not occur until the rebellion of antichrist occurs (2Th 2:3). This will occur only after the midpoint of the 7 years.

(3f) necessity of interval:

The 7-year interval is needed to accommodate the wedding of the Lamb and judgment of the saints before the mercy seat of Christ (Ro 14:10, 2Co 5:10).

If all saints are to be judged consecutively in 7 years, the average time per person will be less than one second.

(3g) immediate return:

If the rapture happens after the tribulation, then what is the reason for a rapture if all saints will return immediately? The term "meet in the air" (1Th 4:17) necessarily imply some duration between rapture and return.

The term "meeting" (Gr. apantesis, also Mt 25:6) is used uniquely in reference to the coming of a king or magistrate to visit a city. It was the custom to go out of the city to meet him and then escort him immediately on the final stage of his journey.

(4) Church at end time
(4a) absence of the Church:

The word "church" can not be found in Rev 4-18 so it is obvious that rapture has happened.

However, "saints" were mentioned during tribulation (Rev 13:7,10; 17:6).

(4b) persecution of saints:

2Th 4:15 shows that some believers still live at rapture but Rev 13:7-8,16-17; 20:4 indicate that all believers will be killed. Thus rapture cannot happen after tribulation as no believers will live.

Rev 13:10 calls the believers to have patient endurance and faithfulness, indicating not all believers will be killed.

(4c) the restrainer:

The restrainer ("the one who holds back") will be taken away (2Th 2:7-8) before the antichrist is revealed. The restrainer is commonly interpreted as the Holy Spirit indicating that rapture will happen before the rebellion of the antichrist.

The meaning of the restrainer is not clear. It may refer to the system of government or human institutions that restrain the lawlessness of the antichrist.

(4d) twenty-four elders:

The 24 elders in Rev 4:4 represent the church because of their crowns (1Co 9:25; 1Th 2:19; 2Ti 2:12; Rev 2:10; 3:11) and their white robes (Rev 19:8); also elders were appointed to represent church (Tit 1:5). They were in heaven indicating that rapture of the church has happened.

The number 24 is equal to the number in the chorus of the Leviticus priesthood. The song they sing (Rev 5:9-10) uses the 3rd person "them" not "us". In any case, the symbolism is not definitive.

(5) History of the doctrine
(5a) appearance of the doctrine:

The doctrine of pre-trib rapture did not appear until 1830 (proposed by Darby in England and Irving in Scotland). The reasons for this "late discovery" are: (1) the Middle Ages were dark ages, (2) progressive revelation of Godís plan.

The historical church believed the Christians will pass through tribulation, including theologians such as Calvin, Knox, Luther, Tyndale, John Wesley. The progressive revelation principle does not apply because there was never such a doctrine before 1830.

(5b) proponents of the doctrine:

This doctrine is widely accepted in the 19th and early 20th century, supported by wellknown theologians including Chafer, Feinberg, Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsey, Oral Roberts, Ryrie, Torrey, Walvoord, Jerry Falwell.

In the past few decades, there are more and more theologians turning back to support the post-trib position which is supported by a much larger group of wellknown theolgians including Berkof, Bruce, Jonathan Edwards, Finney, Carl Henry, Hodge, Leon Morris, A.B. Simpson, Oswald Smith, Spurgeon, Strong, Warfield.

c. The above comparison shows that biblical support for the post-tribulational position is much stronger.

d. For the mid-tribulational position, the strongest support is that the last of the 7 trumpets occurs near the midpoint of the tribulation.

e. This is a non-essential doctrine. However, if post-tribulational rapture is what God planned, Christians need to be prepared to pass through the tribulation at end time with patient endurance and faithfulness (Rev 13:10).

H5.    Final Judgment -- detailed version (Question 81) a. The certainty of Judgment Day is supported by many Bible passages (Rev 20:11-15; Mt 10:15; 11:22,24; 12:36; 25:31-46; Ac 17:30-31; Ro 2:5; 1Co 4:5; Heb 6:2; Jude 6).

b. Objective: to display the declarative glory of God in a formal and magnificent act, which magnifies on the one hand His holiness, righteousness and justice, and on the other hand, His grace, mercy and love.

c. There will only be one judgment for all beings. However, dispensationalists believe there will be 3 judgments: (1) judgment of the nations (Mt 25:31-46) to determine who enters the millennium, (2) judgment of believersí works after the rapture (2Co 5:10), (3) Great White Throne judgment for unbelievers (Rev 20:11-15). This position cannot be derived clearly from the Bible.

d. Different types of beings to be judged:

(1) Unbelievers (Rev 20:12; Ro 2:5-7).
(2) Believers (Ro 14:10,12; 2Co 5:10; Ro 2:6-11; Rev 20:12,15) (3) Angels (rebellious ones) (2Pe 2:4; Jude 6; 1Co 6:3)
 
e. The Judge: Jesus (2Ti 4:1; Ac 10:42; 17:31; Mt 25:31-33; Jn 5:26-27)
f. Effects of knowing the certainty of judgment: (1) It satisfies our inward sense of a need for justice in the world (Col 3:25).

(2) It enables us to forgive others freely (Ro 12:19; 1Pe 2:22-23).

(3) It provides a motive for righteous living (Mt 6:20).

(4) It provides a great motive for evangelism (Eze 33:11; 2Pe 3:9).

H6.    Different eschatological schemes based on millenialism
     
    Amillennialism
    Postmillennialism
    Historic Premillennialism
    Dispensational Premillennialism
    Second coming of Christ Rapture and Second Coming simultaneous; introduces eternal state. Rapture and Second Coming simultaneous; Christ returns after Millennium. Rapture and Second Coming simultaneous; Christ returns to reign on earth. Second Coming in two phases: Rapture of church; second coming to earth 7 years later.
    Resurrection Resurrection of believers and unbelievers at second coming of Christ. Resurrection of believers and unbelievers at second coming of Christ. 2 resurrections: (1) believers at beginning of Millennium; (2) unbelievers at end of Millennium. 3 resurrections: (1) Church at Rapture; (2) OT/Tribulation saints at Second Coming; (3) unbelievers at end of Millennium.
    Judgments General judgment of all people. General judgment of all people. General judgment of all people OR 2 judgments: (1) believers at Second Coming; (2) Unbelievers at end of Millennium. 3 judgments: (1) believers at Rapture; (2) Jews/Gentiles at end of Tribulation; (3) unbelievers at end of Millennium.
    Tribulation Tribulation is experienced in this present age.  Tribulation is experienced in this present age.  Posttribulation view: church goes through Tribulation.  Pretribulation view: church is raptured prior to Tribulation. 
    Millennium No literal Millennium after second coming. Kingdom present in church age. Present age blends into Millennium because of progress of gospel. Millennium is both present and future. Christ is reigning in heaven. Millennium not necessarily 1,000 years. At Second Coming Christ inaugurates literal 1,000-year Millennium on earth.
    Israel & the Church Church is the new Israel. No distinction between Israel and church. Church is the new Israel. No distinction between Israel and church. Some distinction between Israel and church. Future for Israel, but church is spiritual Israel. Complete distinction between Israel and church. Distinct program for each.
    Proponents L. Berkhof
    O.T. Allis
    G.C. Berkhouwer
    Charles Hodge
    B.B. Warfield
    W.G.T. Shedd
    A.H. Strong
    G.E. Ladd
    A. Reese
    M.J. Erickson
    L.S. Chafer
    J.D. Pentecost
    C.C. Ryrie
    J.F. Walvoord
H7.    Eternal State -- detailed version (Question 82) a. It is Godís new creation (a new heaven and a new earth) where we will live our eternal life in (Heb 12:26-27; 2Pe 3:10; Rev 21:1). b. Description of the new Holy City of Jerusalem (Rev 21:10):