Intermediate Edition

I.  Jesus Christ’s Return and the Judgment


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Chapter 15  Part I

Jesus Christ’s Return and the Judgment

The history of the world as we know it will culminate in Jesus Christ’s dramatic and awesome return. Associated with this is God’s final judgment of all people, through Jesus Christ, in which the eternal destiny of each person will be pronounced.

Note that further events of the end times are discussed in The Persecution of God’s People. Although they are events that precede Christ’s second coming, they are still an aspect of the biblical teachings that are often referred to as ‘The Last Things’.

The Timing of Jesus Christ’s Return

Jesus Christ will return at an unexpected time, while people are living as usual

You know very well that the day the Lord comes again will be a surprise, like a thief that comes in the night.   1 Thessalonians 5:2 NCV™

No one knows when that day or hour will come—not the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father, 37because just as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be when the Son of Man comes. 38In those days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage right up to the day when Noah went into the ark. 39They were unaware of what was happening until the flood came and swept all of them away. That’s how it will be when the Son of Man comes.   Matthew 24:36-39 ISV

Jesus Christ’s return will be preceded by distressful events

And when you hear of wars and rebellions, do not be afraid. For these things must happen first, but the end will not come at once.” 10Then he [Jesus] said to them, “Nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11There will be great earthquakes, and famines and plagues in various places, and there will be terrifying sights and great signs from heaven.   Luke 21:9-11 NET

For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. 4He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God.   2 Thessalonians 2:3b-4 NET

This “man of lawlessness” (v. 3) appears to be a final antichrist, (cf. Revelation 13), instigating momentous “rebellion” (v. 3) against God.

Awesome cosmic events will occur just prior to Christ’s return

Immediately after the suffering of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. 30Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn.   Matthew 24:29-30a NET

Jesus Christ’s Return

Jesus Christ will return with his angels

He will do this when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven with his mighty angels, …   2 Thessalonians 1:7b GNT

Jesus Christ will come in great glory

Then they [people] will see the Son of Man arriving in a cloud with power and great glory.   Luke 21:27 NET

On Jesus Christ’s return his followers will be gathered to him

[Paul, to believers:] For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord.   1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NET

On Jesus Christ’s return evil powers will be crushed

But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him. 24Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he has brought to an end all rule and all authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.   1 Corinthians 15:23-25 NET

The Final Judgment (I): Its Scope and Outcomes

God will judge every person, for all they have done

For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.   Romans 14:10b NET

But remember that God will judge you for everything you do.   Ecclesiastes 11:9b NCV™

The dead will rise to be judged, and either rewarded with eternal life or be condemned

Many of those who sleep in the dusty ground will awake – some to everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting abhorrence.   Daniel 12:2 NET

The Final Judgment (II): The Process

God will judge all people through Jesus Christ

[Paul:] God will judge the secrets of human hearts, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus.   Romans 2:16b NET

On his return, Jesus Christ will judge and reward all people according to what they have done

For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.   Matthew 16:27 NET

Those who have believed in Jesus Christ will have eternal life

But these [miracles of Jesus] are recorded so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.   John 20:31 NET

Those who have rejected Jesus Christ will be condemned

But those who don’t believe are already condemned because they don’t believe in God’s only Son.   John 3:18b GW

This and the above subsections show that people will be judged according to their deeds and their response to Jesus Christ.

What people have known will be taken into account

For all who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.   Romans 2:12 NET

Gentiles without knowledge of the Mosaic Law, by nature have a grasp of its requirements (cf. vv. 14-15) and will be judged as such (v. 12a). Those who know the law have a clearer understanding of what God requires, and so they will be judged more strictly (v. 12b).

The Millennium

The prophecy of a thousand year reign of Jesus Christ

They [believers who had been martyred] came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were finished.) This is the first resurrection.   Revelation 20:4b-5 NET

Revelation 20:1-6 is critical to the concept of “The Millennium”. Each of verses 2-6 refers to a thousand year period – a millennium. This millennium is also arguably referred to by numerous OT passages (cf. God’s Plans for Israel) and possibly a few other NT ones.

The two most popular interpretations of this “Millennium” today are the Amillennialist and Premillennialist viewpoints. Amillennialists view the reign of deceased believers with Christ (cf. Revelation 20:4b ) to refer to a present reign in heaven. They see this reign as having been introduced by Jesus Christ’s first coming, with him being pronounced Lord of all. They believe that Jesus Christ will return, and then the general resurrection will occur, followed by the final judgment. Following this would be the reign of Jesus Christ over the new earth in the afterlife.

Premillennialists believe that Christ’s return will be followed by a first resurrection of believers, who will reign with Christ in a literal thousand-year rule of righteousness on earth. This would then be followed by the final resurrection and then the final judgment.

Pray for persecuted Christians