What happens next for us, after this life is over, what lies ahead, this is going to be so unspeakably beyond all that we could ask or think. The future seems so uncertain.
In one sense it is, but from a biblical perspective, nothing could be more certain. God's will, as laid out in scripture, will surely be fulfilled. And on this edition of the Truth Pulpit, Pastor Don Green shows us what that future looks like as he begins to answer the question, what happens next? Hi, I'm Bill Wright, and we're on the home stretch of a series titled Key Questions Answered. And Don is here now to prepare us.
Don? Well, Bill, today we're entering into a subject upon which many good men disagree. And so I think we'd be wise to have a position of humility and restraint as we come to God's Word today. We're going to try to get the big picture on end times.
And basically the big picture is this, the world as we know it will one day change because Jesus Christ is coming again. He will judge the living and the dead. Christians will be received into heaven forever. And unbelievers will be cast into hell. My friend, do you know Christ?
There is safety only in him as you look to the future and what happens next. Let's join our teacher right now as he teaches God's people God's Word from the Truth Pulpit. The title of this message is What Happens Next? What happens next? Here we are in the church age, as it were, and the question is what happens next? What's going to come next? What is God's purpose that he has revealed in Scripture for what is going to come?
And let me just give you a little bit of an overview statement here to start. Even Christians that differ with what we're going to say and the fullness of the message, what could we all agree on? Every true Christian should agree on this and have his heart set on the truth of what I'm about to say. What happens next? Jesus Christ will return to earth and bring human history to a close. He will raise the living and the dead and he will judge them. He will usher in an eternal state in which God will bless the saints and the saints will glorify God forever. The wicked he will cast into everlasting torment away from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power.
That's what happens next. Beloved, what we're saying is, what we're saying is, is the world as we know it, the only world that we have ever experienced, the only world that our children have ever known is going to come to an end. Jesus Christ is supernaturally going to appear and he is going to execute the plan of God and bring it to pass and there is nothing that the nations, the presidents, the kings, there's nothing that the world leaders can do to stop him because Christ is sovereign over all. Christ has his intentions for the world and for the church and he will most certainly bring them to pass. And what is coming, what is coming in a time that we cannot identify, because scripture says no man knows that hour, in a time that is coming that is certain in occurrence but the timing of which we don't know, Christ is going to appear and this world as we know it is going to come to an end. That's what comes next. Now, I think it's fair to say that Christians would agree on that broad outline, they would define some of the details differently and they would differ sharply on some of what fills it out, but in general I think that you would find Christians of all persuasions, you would have to agree that Christ is going to bodily return and he is going to usher in an eternal state that will be completely different from anything this world has known. We want to see the big picture and then dive into the details and that's what we see.
Let's say this before we go in any further. Beloved, fellow Christians, those born again by the Spirit of God, what this means for you and me, however you paint in the details of everything else that follows, what comes out of this is the fact that we as Christians have a bright hope and a glorious future. We do not have to fear and tremble at what we see going on in the world around us. You do not have to live in fear and discouragement and despair. You do not have to sink into the depths of discouragement and anxiety about life because the reality of what is certain to come triumphs over all of that. We are not living for this world.
We are pilgrims passing through. We're not ultimately about what we can achieve with our careers in this life. We're not ultimately about exactly how our family turns out.
We're not about seeing certain political things come to pass and our preferred candidates in office and the ones that we dislike defeated. That's not why we live. That's not why we exist. That's not what Christ saved us for. He saved us for that which is still future to us today. He saved us for an eternal dwelling place with him in the presence of God where we will glorify Christ for our salvation, where sin and wickedness will be permanently banished, and we will be in the blessed presence of God in all of his glory, perfected with all of the rest of the saints, never to sin again, never to suffer again, never to weep again, and to somehow dwell in the midst of eternal blessedness that will never end and will never get old.
That's what comes next. It's only when you see life from that perspective that you're going to set your heart affections where they need to be. These things change how you look at life and how you look at the world. Our disposition as Christians is optimistic, not pessimistic. We're sunny, not gloomy.
Our hearts are encouraged, not depressed. All because of what God has in store in the future. All because of what happens next. Not what happens next week, what happens next in the purposes of God. And so, it's with that perspective that we come. And I believe that the Scriptures teach a certain outworking of events in a sequence that will achieve the purposes of God which He established in the biblical covenants in the Old Testament, the Abrahamic, the Davidic, and the New Covenant. I believe that God is operating on a timetable. God is operating according to purposes that He established and began to reveal in the Old Testament and which carry forward through in the New Testament, and we're unchanged by subsequent revelation that the New Testament expands upon what God said in the Old Testament was going to happen.
He didn't reverse it. That's what I believe. That's what we teach from this pulpit. And so, in the purposes of God, what happens next?
Number one, I'm going to lay out six things for you. What I believe the Scriptures teach happens next is, first of all, the rapture. The rapture. And if you'll turn to 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4.
1 Thessalonians, chapter 4. The rapture refers to the time when Christ Jesus will come from heaven for His people, and Christians will be raised to meet Him in the air. This is an event that it could occur at any time. It's an event that could occur before I finish this sentence. But it didn't. But it could happen before I finish this sentence.
But it didn't. 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4, verse 13. We are looking for, we are waiting for Christ to do what Paul described here in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4.
Verse 13. He said, We do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again. Even so, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
A metaphor for death. Those Christians who had died. Verse 15. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord... You see, Paul was writing as though it could happen in his lifetime. We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then, we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Verse 18.
Therefore, comfort one another with these words. I believe that that's the next thing that happens in God's eschatological plan, is that Christ is going to come from heaven, and with a glorious shout, the dead in Christ will be raised first. Those who are alive and are Christians at the time will follow them, and we will be joined together in the air with Christ.
I want to tell you something. Whatever else you think about the rapture, whatever else you think about the timing of it, whatever else you think about happens before or after, let me say that Scripture teaches this aspect of it clearly, and he says that we are going to be raised to meet Christ in the air. And do you know what that moment is going to be like? That is going to be glorious.
That is going to be victory. We are going to be part of a supernatural work of Christ that translates us out of this world and into his presence where we will thus always be with him. I have no idea what the details of that are going to be like, and I think a lot of foolish things have been written about what happens exactly at the moment of the rapture.
But beloved, look at verse 17 there with me again. Those of you who are Christians, this is what the future holds for us. We will be caught up with the saints in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and we will always be with the Lord.
You know what? Nothing about the most pressing things in your life today, the most discouraging things that are happening in your family, in your career, none of that is going to be significant when this great moment occurs. The glory of this moment, the glory of being with Christ in the air is so totally going to dwarf anything that has happened in life that anything difficult that has happened in life is going to seem like a small price to pay to be a part of that great glorious moment with Christ in the air. That is going to be glory. That is going to be a time of victory.
And I can't wait. What Christ has ahead for us, He's going to come for us, like He said in John 14. If I go away, I'll come back.
I'll come for you. We have a certain word from our Lord Jesus Christ that He is not going to leave us like orphans. He is not going to abandon us.
He would never leave us under the sore afflictions that this life brings and leave us under those in a permanent state of being. No, He's going to come for us, and in a supernatural moment of glory, we're going to be with Him. And everything that preceded that is going to pale into insignificance by comparison to the fact that we're here. We're a part of this. Everything that Scripture said is beginning to come true.
That's what comes next. Now, turn over to 2 Corinthians, if you would. 2 Corinthians 5.
Somehow, as part of Christ's coming for His people, there will be a time of accountability for us before our Lord. 2 Corinthians 5, verse 10. And one day when we teach through the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7, we'll go into a whole lot more detail about this, but that's quite a ways away. 2 Corinthians 5, verse 10 says... Actually, let's back up to verse 8. We looked at that verse last week, but I want to back up to verse 8 so that you can see that he's talking about believers in this context. In verse 8, he says, We are of good courage, I say, and we prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore, we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. He's talking about Christians here.
And then he draws an inference out of that by the word for. He's still talking about Christians, about believers here in verse 10 when he says, For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Scripture says that what comes next, what lies ahead for us as believers is this, is that there is coming a time for us, even as believers, where we are going to stand before Christ and give an account to Him for what we have done in our body. Now, let me hasten to say that this is not a time where Christ is going to call out our sins. He's already dealt with our sins at the cross.
He's not going to bring them up again and chastise us for our sins at this judgment seat. Rather, if you look at verse 10, this is a time of recompense. This is a time of reward. This is a time where Christ rewards us for what we have done in the body.
Here's the way I think we should think about this. Christ is going to evaluate our lives to set the reward that we receive for our faithfulness to Him. This is a time of reward, not a time of judgment. And those that have been faithful to Christ will be greatly rewarded. Somehow, beloved, this judgment seat of Christ is going to affect our eternity, not in the sense of whether we go to heaven or whether we go to hell, but somehow the extent of blessing that we enjoy in eternity, somehow the extent of what we're able to do in eternity is going to be set by Christ at this judgment seat as He looks on us with grace, with mercy, and yet with perfect wisdom and clarity of mind, He's going to say, here is your reward for your service to me. Now look, that should have a pretty sanctifying effect on us to realize that as a Christian is not a throwaway session. Your life as a Christian is not something that you just casually toss away on the latest worldly entertainment or the latest worldly thing that you want to do. We need to be living life in conscious recognition of the fact that there is a day of accountability coming for each one of us. We're going to stand before Christ, and He is going to recompense us for how we've lived our lives. Wow!
Wow! That means that this life is serious, that what we do matters, that there's more than simply avoiding hell and somehow going to heaven, that Christ is going to look at us and evaluate our lives and give us recompense in judgment. Again, not in a sense of eternal judgment in hell for our sins. That's not what Paul's talking about here. Remember, he's talking to Christians, and he said already that to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord.
He said that thus we will always be with the Lord, and so He's not going to send us out of His presence, those of us that truly know Christ. He's going to evaluate you. He's going to evaluate me.
You're going to stand before Him face to face, and you're going to stand before Him to give an account for yourself. And beloved, I want that day to go well for you. I want that day to go well for you. I want you to hear Christ say, Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Well done, you were faithful to my word. You were faithful in what I called you to do.
I want that to go well for you. And the only way that that day is going to go well for you is if you set your priorities according to Scripture, not according to your worldly affections and desires. And the only way that you're really going to be motivated to do that seriously is to realize that this day of accountability is coming. Oh, beloved, take it seriously now so that you're blessed then. Your life matters.
What you choose to do with your time and the patterns and the habits that you establish, these things matter. We're living out what we're going to give an account for. And so, it should humble us, it should sober us, and yet, as I said, it should fill us with hope and with glory and victory because I want you to understand that Christ is going to judge us in sympathy as well.
He's not going to stop being gracious in how He deals with us. And those of you that have experienced isolation because of your faith in Christ, Christ is going to remember that and honor you for your faithfulness to Him in it. Those of you that have wept tears because the Christian life has proven to be difficult for you and you've clung to Christ when there was no light that you could see, so to speak, speaking metaphorically. But you clung to Christ and you persevered in the midst of it.
Those of you that wept, that know what it's like to weep at the tombs of your loved ones and say, Oh, Christ, this hurts so much. This moment at the judgment seat of Christ is when Christ is going to look at you and He is going to bless you and reward you and say, I saw it all. I saw how you clung to me and now, my beloved, I bless you, I reward you for your simple faithfulness when it was most difficult to do.
This is wonderful. Those of you that have known isolation, those of you that have been rejected because of your faithfulness to Christ, payday is coming. And the payday is going to be great and it's going to be glorious and it's going to be generous because Christ will never forget your faithfulness to Him. And so, as we contemplate what happens next, when we contemplate the fact that Christ will make everything right in the end, it motivates us to be holy, it motivates us to persevere, it motivates us to be optimistic. Christ will be with me. Christ will reward me in the end.
And therefore, I will persevere with renewed hope. Secondly, after the rapture, once Christ has removed His people from the world, a time of trouble is about to come upon the remaining inhabitants of the earth. And Scripture refers to this as the tribulation period. Point number two, the tribulation period.
The tribulation is the time when God will pour out His judgment on the unbelieving world and much of the world's population will perish as God pours out His wrath upon men. Revelation 16 is giving you a preview of what lies ahead for you with what happens next. I tremble at the thought of it.
I pray to God that you would tremble too. Verse one, then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God. So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth and it became a loathsome and malignant sore on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped His image. The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea and it became blood like that of a dead man and every living thing in the sea died. Then the third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the water saying, Righteous are you who are and who were, O holy one, because you judge these things. For they poured out the blood of saints and prophets and you have given them blood to drink.
They deserve it. And I heard the altar saying, Yes, O Lord God the Almighty, true and righteous are your judgments. The sheer terror that is about to fall upon the world when God pours out His judgment is going to be horrific. It is going to be frightening.
And it's going to be beyond their power to stop. This is what judgment is going to be like. A frightening time of the wrath of God being poured out upon the world. We'll have to pause there for today, but Don Green will have the conclusion of this message titled What Happens Next on the next edition of The Truth Pulpit. Plan now to be with us as Don shows us four more stages of the future according to scripture. You know, you can hear any part of this series again at your convenience when you visit our website thetruthpulpit.com.
You can download podcasts or find out how to receive CD copies for your personal study library. Plus, you'll find the link Follow Don's Pulpit. That'll take you to Don's full-length weekly sermons, not subject to the time editing we need for radio broadcasts. Again, that's all at thetruthpulpit.com. And by the way, may we also say thank you for your support of this ministry. Without you, this program would not be possible. Well, now for Don Green, I'm Bill Wright, inviting you back next time as Don continues to teach God's people God's word from The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-06 04:55:17 / 2023-02-06 05:04:30 / 9