Theme: Great Bible Themes – The Last Things
What will the end of the world be like? The end of time? What about Jesus’ promised return? What will happen to all of humanity? Living and dead? What about judgment? Will there be a heaven and hell?
The questions about the last things are as weighty as they are numerous. Theologians have a name for all of this (of course they do); it’s eschatology. It means a study of last things.
It’s no surprise that this is a subject of immense popular interest. Also of no surprise is the fact numerous theories, ideas, teachings, and movements have been spawned over this subject and its many related parts. Neither should it be surprising that much of what is taught, believed, and embraced among the masses of believers is despite what Scripture actually says, not because of it. Such has always been the modus operandi of Satan; God says one thing, he says another. It really is that simple.
The linchpin event of it all is Jesus’ return. No promise of the Bible is any more certain. He said Himself, quite plainly, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself” (John 14:2-3). Then, when He did leave this earth, the angels present assured the apostles who witnessed the event, “This Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
Readings and Introductory Comments:
Matthew 24:32-51; 25:1-13; 14-30
Matthew 24 is a challenging passage. In it Jesus is answering His disciples’ questions prompted by His own assertion that the temple would one day be completely destroyed (24:1-3). They thought that surely this could only happen in the cataclysmic end of time. Jesus assured them that there were actually two days of which they needed to pay particular attention. The first was that which would result in the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple (vv. 4-31). They were to observe the warning signs and escape the city.
The second, for which there would be no signs, was His own return at the end of time. For this day there would be no signs and therefore the primary need was for readiness. To emphasize this point Jesus gave two parables, that of the wise and foolish virgins (25:1-13) and that of the talents (25:14-30).
John 5:25-29; 1 Corinthians 15:1-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11
Incredibly, when Jesus comes the dead will rise. Jesus promised that such would occur (John 5) and Paul goes to great lengths to discuss and prove the validity of this unique event. First Corinthians 15 is the classic text on the resurrection. Our hope and assurance that death is not our final state is based squarely upon Jesus’ own resurrection.
Matthew 25:31-46; Acts 17:30-31; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Revelation 20:11-15
Jesus will return. When He does, the dead will rise and all will be judged. The final judgment of all humanity is the next in this series of amazing events. It’s hard to imagine all humanity, from the beginning of time, passing before the judgment seat of Christ, but so it shall be. Eternal destinies will be pronounced. The time of man’s opportunity to exercise free will, to make choices and act upon them, will forever end. Final and eternal consequences follow.
2 Peter 3:1-18
All that we have known, and what since the creation itself has been known, will come also to an end. Humanity’s physical existence and its abode will cease to be. This terrestrial home, all that God created as the dwelling place for man made in His image, will have served its purpose and will, as such, be destroyed.
Eternal destinies are heaven and hell. Having already read of the place of eternal punishment, the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14-15; also referenced in this reading, 21:8), this reading focuses on the glories of the eternal reward, our heavenly home.
- Who knows of “that day and hour”? (v. 36)
- When will the Son of Man come? (v. 44)
- Who is the “sensible and wise servant” (vv. 45-46
- Based on this parable, why must we “watch”? (v. 13)
- In light of Jesus’ return, what will happen to us based on the use of our talents? (v. 29)
- To what will the dead respond when they rise? (v. 25)
- Who will raise to a resurrection of life? (v. 29)
1 Corinthians 15:1-58
- What is one proof of Jesus’ resurrection? (vv. 5-8)
- What would render our faith completely vain? (v. 14)
- What will Jesus do at His coming—that is, the end—relative to His reign over the kingdom? (vv. 23-24)
- What present experiences and realities give credence to the validity of the resurrection? (vv. 36-37, 39, 40-41)
- What cannot inherit the kingdom of God? (v. 50)
1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11
- What will be the order of those who meet the Lord in the air? (4:15-17)
- What is the coming of the day of the Lord likened to? (5:2)
- Who will be gathered before Jesus on His glorious throne? (v. 32)
- To whom will He say, “Come,” and why? (vv. 34ff)
- Because God has appointed a day of judgment, what should all men do? (v. 30)
- What assurance has been provided for Jesus as judge? (v. 31)
2 Thessalonians 1:7-10
- What will happen when Jesus is “revealed from heaven”? (vv. 7-8)
- What will happen on that day relative to His saints? (v. 10)
- Based on what are the dead judged? (v. 12)
- Who is thrown into the lake of fire? (v. 15)
2 Peter 3:1-18
- What is God’s ultimate desire for all people? (v. 9)
- What will happen on the day of the Lord? (v. 10)
- What should happen since all these things will take place? (v. 11)
- How should we view God’s patience? (v. 15)
- How is the beauty of heaven described? (v. 2)
- What will be absent from heaven? (v. 4)
- Why is there no temple in heaven? (v. 22)
Why is our ignorance of the time of Jesus’ return so important?
Why do you think many people find the events of the end of time as depicted in Scripture difficult to believe?
Scripture teaches us to long for and pray for Jesus’ return (Php. 3:20; 2 Pet. 3:11-12). Do we? If not, why don’t we?
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:3)