What do Christians believe about the end times?
There are actually several theories concerning the end times that propose different timelines of the events of Christ’s return, the tribulation, and the millennium. However, even if all Christians do not agree on exactly how things will be ordered, all Christians believe several important things about the last days.
- Christians believe that Christ will return physically and that when he comes he will judge the world.
- Christians believe that the judgment will include believers and non-believers. The judgment of believers will be centered on reward. The judgment of non-believers will focus on the punishment of sin.
- Those who believe in Christ will receive a new physical body that can no longer be subject to death. Those who do not believe will be cast into Hell or the Second Death.
- All of creation will be reshaped into the New Heavens and Earth.
- Believers will live for eternity in the presence of the Lord.
What about the Tribulation and the Rapture?
- Some Christians believe that Christ will “rapture” believers (remove them from the earth) before a period of 7 years of harsh punishments that will be poured out on the earth.
- Some Christians believe that Christ will “rapture” believers 3 years into the 7 year tribulation.
- Some believe that believers will endure the tribulation on the earth. These believers either hold to a literal 7 year tribulation, or believe that the 7 year tribulation is a symbolic number. Those who hold the latter view believe that the tribulation has been going on since Christ first ascended back into heaven after his resurrection from the dead.
Those who believe in a rapture before the end of the tribulation see a difference between the rapture event and the Second Coming of Christ after the tribulation. Those who believe that Christians will endure the tribulation believe that there is no separate rapture event before the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the tribulation.
What about the Millennium?
- Some Christians believe that Christ will spend 1,000 years on earth after the tribulation reigning in a time of peace.
- Some Christians believe that the millennium mentioned in the Book of Revelation is symbolic and that Christ has been in his millennial reign from Heaven since he first ascended back into heaven.
What about Judgment?
- Some Christians believe that hell will be a place of eternal punishment following the judgment. In this belief, Hell is a conscious place where non-believers will remain.
- Some Christians believe that non-believers will be annihilated after the judgment. In this view, Hell is seen as the end. Those who are in Hell cease to exist.
What about the Eternal State?
Christians believe that the Eternal State or Heaven will be a place where Christians will live in the presence of God for eternity. It will be a time of worship, of productivity, of joy, happiness, truth, love, and light. In this place there will be no more suffering, no more sorrow, no more pain.
Why the differences in beliefs?
We have not yet lived through the events of the end, as a result, it is difficult to predict exactly how things will turn out. Some issues in the Bible are more clear than others, but the Bible does not give us exhaustive details about all the events leading to the end. It is ok for Christians to have multiple views on this subject, because it has not happened yet. But it is important to know what we each believe about the events of the end times.
This week think about what you believe and be sure to consult Scripture when determining your beliefs. Next week, I will post my specific beliefs concerning the end times based on what I believe the Bible most clearly teaches.