End of Days Part 3
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
June 15, 2003
Hebrews 9:24-28 (NLT)
Before I get into the
message this morning, I want to take a few minutes for kind of a
“sidebar” on this whole End of Days Series. This is our third week in
this series dealing with some of the Biblical passages in reference to
the End Times, and over the first two week I made a number of
references to different interpretations of prophecies and points of
debate, and I thought I’d take a few minutes to show you some of the
As I’ve said before, I don’t want to endorse any of these theories
because people smarter than me can’t agree on what the prophecies
actually tell us. And the Bible didn’t intend to tell us. The Bible
basically tells us that bad things are going to happen, but in the End
God wins. We don’t know the whole process that will take place. We know
of a few specifics but we can’t say exactly how they fit into the big
picture. We don’t even know when it will all begin, whether it be today
or a million years from now.
So let me show you some of the different theories. If this is something
that interests you, that’s great. If not, ask your neighbour to wake
you up when we’re done. If you start to glaze over, well, just stick
with us as best you can.
Various Theories Regarding the End Times:
Here’s a timeline of
A few terms you should be aware of:
We talked about this our first week of the series. It’s when Jesus
returns in all His glory to bring reward and judgment.
Last week we talked about this. It’s a seven year period of great
suffering and distress.
also talked about this last week and we figured out that Barney the
Dinosaur is the Antichrist. (If you’re confused, go online and read
that message on our website.) The Antichrist is the Big Bad Guy of the
End Times. The Antichrist will be a person or world power that rises to
a position of authority and will lead many people away from the true
God. At first it will seem like he’s doing some great things through a
series of peace treaties and unifying the world, but then he’ll break
those treaties and send the world into chaos. All that will happen when
the Abomination that Causes Desolation is found in the Holy Place.
Abomination that Causes Desolation.
The NLT calls this the Sacrilegious Object that Causes Desecration. We
don’t know what this will be, so we’ll have to wait and see.
also talked about the Rapture. It’s when God takes His Church… all the
people on earth who believe in Him, love Him, and live for Him… and He
takes them in an instant to be with Him.
Now we’ll get into some things that we haven’t discussed much before…
will be an extended period of peace under the rule of the Kingdom of
God. It may be a literal period of 1000 years, or it may be an
undefined length of time. In fact, some theories which we look at later
would say we’re already in the Millennium… the Church Age.
the end of the Millennium, you’ll find the Judgment. The fact that
there will be a final judgment of humankind is one area that is
generally not debated by Christians. Jesus Himself will be the Judge.
Those whose names are found in the Book of Life will enter into
eternity with God; those whose names are not found there will be cast
into the Lake of Fire (hell). We’ll be talking about this more a bit
then we have Eternity. You and I will spend eternity in one of two
places: Heaven or Hell. Which one it is depends on how we come through
the Judgment. We’ll be talking more about Heaven and Hell next week
when we wrap up this series by discussing Final Destination: Eternity
in the Balance.
Okay, so in the theory of Historic Premillennialism, You have the
Antichrist appearing and kicking the whole thing off. His appearance is
followed immediately by the seven-year Tribulation with the Abomination
that Causes Desolation showing up half way through. At the end of the
Tribulation, the Rapture and the Second Coming will happen
simultaneously and a millennium of peace will be ushered in. At the end
of this time we’ll all face the judgment and then on to eternity.
That’s the first theory.
This was the teaching of the early church for the first 300 years. And
it taught that believers would spend eternity not in heaven but on a
new earth. This theory was ruled as heresy when Christianity became
official religion of Roman Empire.
Dispensational Premillennialism, Pre-Tribulation
This is a revised form
of Historic Premillennialism, emerging around 1830. And I would say
that at least here in Western Society it seems to be the most common
viewpoint. The main thing about this one is that the Rapture takes
place at the beginning of the Tribulation and eternity is spent in
heaven or hell.
The main objection is that this theory contradicts passages which seem
to refer to Christians being present during parts of the Tribulation.
Dispensational Premillennialism, Post-Tribulation
This one is pretty much
the same as Historic Premillennialism. The chief difference is that
eternity again would be spent in heaven or hell, plus there are a few
other minor revisions we’re not getting into this morning.
A problem with this theory is that the Bible talks about the Second
Coming being an unpredictable event. And since some of the events
during the Tribulation will be well-defined dates, it could make the
timing of the Second Coming predictable.
Dispensational Premillennialism, Mid-Tribulation
The big thing here is
that the Rapture takes place halfway through the Tribulation, at the
time that the Antichrist send the world into complete chaos. Again, the
problem here is that the Second Coming could become predictable based
on well-defined dates.
Dispensational Premillennialism, Pre-Wrath
This is a newer theory.
The premise is that believers will have to endure the Wrath of Satan,
but God will not require them to endure His wrath. According to this
theory, the Rapture will take place close to the end, not at the end of
the Tribulation, before the battle of Armageddon.
Dispensational Premillennialism, Partial Rapture
According to this
theory, there will be two parts to the Rapture. At the beginning of the
Tribulation, all the existing believers will be raptured and spared
from going through the Tribulation. Through the course of the
Tribulation, several other people will become believers. Perhaps they
would be familiar with the Bible but had always written it off as a
fairytale. Well, they would become convinced and would experience a
second phase of the rapture, either mid-trib, post-trib, or pre-wrath.
According to this
theory, our world will move more and more toward social perfection
until a massive spiritual revival takes place, the entire human race
converts to Christianity, and a millennium of peace and righteousness
is the result. This theory emerged early in the 1800’s, and really was
sparked in response to the Wesley revivals sweeping throughout Great
Britain and North America at the time. John Wesley, who incidentally
the Wesleyan Church is named in honour of, was a preacher in the Church
of England who was the most influential man of his time in the English
speaking world. Over a span of 40 years he would ride an average of
8000 km per year on horseback, travelling throughout England preaching.
In fact, the revival that swept through England under his ministry is
credited with keeping England from experiencing the same violent
revolution that France went through.
Anyway, with this huge revival sweeping throughout the world, it seemed
that society was approaching a level of perfection. So this theory
arose that we would gradually move toward a social perfection until we
entered into the Millennium. And after the Millennium is when the
Rapture, Second Coming and Judgment would occur.
Of course, this theory seemed pretty good until society took a nosedive
again and entered into two World Wars. Plus, this theory ignores
critical part of the End Time Prophecies.
One more theory…
This theory states that
most of the events prophesied in Matthew 24 and in Revelation have
already happened or are to be regarded as merely figurative or
symbolic. The Millennium, the Church Age, and the Kingdom of God are
all synonyms meaning the same thing, and are merely references to the
existence of the Church, the presence of the Holy Spirit with His
Church, and the access we have to the Word of God, the Bible. So
according to this, we’re already in the Millennium and will someday
experience the Rapture and the Second Coming, face Judgment, and then
to Eternity and beyond.
This belief was present in the early days of the church, but was
popularized by Augustine around 400 A.D. It became the formal belief of
the church and remained essentially unopposed until the 1800s. In fact,
it still remains the dominant belief of the Roman Catholic Church and
is also promoted by some Reformed theologians and Baptists.
There are some other theories, too, but from what I can see they
largely ignore sections of the Bible that describe the End Times. But
those are eight different views.
So maybe that helps you understand my reluctance to endorse one view
over another. There are just so many theories out there that no one
seems to be able to agree on, and I’m just not going to contribute to
Besides, it’s not like choosing an Ice Cream flavour. You can’t just
look at all the options and choose the one that’s the most palatable
for you. Because when the End Time comes, it’s not going to be on our
schedule and in all likelihood it’s not going to happen the way we
expect it to.
But remember two things:
1. Bad things are going to happen.
You may or may not have to go through them, but bad things are going to
happen. Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.
2. You can spend eternity with God.
But it’s a choice you make now to accept the life He is offering you,
to love Him, to live for Him, to be faithful to Him no matter what, and
to trust Him to fulfill every promise He has made to you in His Word.
Okay, that took a bit of time. But that’s okay because what we’re going
to talk about this morning won’t take that much time.
How many of you saw Canadian Idol this week? You know, we have some
pretty good talent in Canada, and I’m glad that the people who tried
out were brave enough to do it because I enjoy watching it.
But How about you? Would you want to be a contestant on Canadian Idol?
What do you think would be some of the fears you would have?
One of the big things for me is that I wouldn’t want to face the
judges. And the reason I wouldn’t want to face them is because I know I
wouldn’t get through. But there will come a time when we will all have
to stand before a Judge, whether we want to or not. And it’s not going
to be the Canadian Idol judges, Judge Wapner, Judge Judy, Judge Mathis,
Judge Dredd or Judge Reinhold. The Judge will be Jesus Christ and He
will judge everyone.
Listen to this:
Acts 10:42 (NLT)
“And he ordered us to preach everywhere and
to testify that Jesus is ordained of God to be the judge of all--the
living and the dead.”
Three Facts about the Judgment:
1. The Judgment
Will Be Fair.
There will be no appeal,
because you will know you have not been unjustly judged. There will be
no influencing the judge and no giving of bribes. Only the truth will
be taken into consideration. And there won’t be any cover-up.
1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT)
“The LORD doesn't make decisions the way you
do! People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at a
person's thoughts and intentions.”
There’s no hiding from a judge who knows your inner character, your
thoughts, and your motives as well as your deeds. And the truth is that
no matter how good we try to be, we have all failed at one time or
another to live up to the standards of God.
Romans 3:23 (NLT)
For all have sinned; all fall short of God's
We have all missed the mark and let Him down. We have all rebelled
against Him in one form or another. And because of that we all deserve
But take a look at this. We’ve already looked at Acts 10:42… let’s look
at it again with verse 43.
Acts 10:42-43 (NLT)
“And he ordered us to preach everywhere and
to testify that Jesus is ordained of God to be the judge of all--the
living and the dead. He is the one all the prophets testified about,
saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven
through his name.”
He is our Judge, but He has also provided a way for us to be forgiven.
He has already served the penalty in our place by dying on the cross,
and all we need to do is turn to Him, accept that He did that for us,
and choose to live for Him. But that’s a choice we have to make now.
It’s not one we can put off until we’re standing before Him on the Day
Steve Winger from Lubbock, Texas, writes about a final exam he took in
a logic class at the university he attended. The professor was
well-known for his difficult finals. Winger writes, “To help us on our
test, the professor told us we could bring as much information to the
exam as we could fit on a piece of notebook paper. Most students
crammed as many facts as possible on their 8 ½ x 11 inch sheet of
paper. But one student walked into class, put a piece of notebook paper
on the floor, and had an advanced logic student stand on the paper. The
advanced logic student told him everything he needed to know. He was
the only student to receive an ‘A.’” At our final exam at the last
Judgment, we are allowed to bring with us Someone who will answer the
questions on our behalf. We could never pass the exam on our own, but
we have someone who will stand in for us.
His Judgment will be fair. In fact, it can be more than fair, because
He has provided a way for us to get off much better than we deserve.
The second thing about the Judgment is…
2. The Judgment
Will Be Full.
Everyone will be judged…
the living and the dead, great and small, rich and poor, good and bad…
no one will avoid the judgment. And Jesus will take all things into
account… nothing will be passed over.
Luke 8:17 (NLT)
For everything that is hidden or secret will
eventually be brought to light and made plain to all.
Hebrews 4:12-13 (NLT)
For the word of God is full of living power.
It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost
thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are. Nothing in
all creation can hide from him. Everything is naked and exposed before
his eyes. This is the God to whom we must explain all that we have done.
Karl Barth, a Danish theologian, says;
“Whether the achievement of a man’s life is great or small, significant
or insignificant, he will one day stand before his eternal judge, and
everything that he has done and performed will be no more than a mole
hill, and then he will have nothing better to do than hope for
something he has not earned: not for a crown, but quite simply for
gracious judgment which he has not deserved. That is the only thing
that will count then, achievement or not.”
~ Karl Barth
I know some of you have questions about how those who are too young
will be judged, or how those who are mentally disabled will be judged,
or how those who have never heard about the forgiveness Christ offers
will be judged. I don’t know, and I’m glad I’m not the one who has to
figure all that out. But I do know the character of Jesus, and from
everything I know I would say He’ll take all of those things into
3. The Judgment
Will Be Final.
You won’t have any more
chances. There’s no such thing as a reincarnation where you get to come
back and try again until you get it right. The Bible says:
Hebrews 9:27-28 (NLT)
And just as it is destined that each person
dies only once and after that comes judgment, so also Christ died only
once as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come
again but not to deal with our sins again. This time he will bring
salvation to all those who are eagerly waiting for him.
Let me ask you a question. What are some things that you tend to put
off until the last minute?
A poll I read about ranked the top five things that people put off…
1. House chores / yard work (47%)
2. Holiday gift shopping (43%)
3. Making doctor / dentist appointments (35%)
4. Calling relatives (31%)
5. Changing oil in the car (29%)
Something I’m pretty sure the poll didn’t cover but a lot of people put
off is this: they put off getting ready for the Judgment.
We will all face the Judgment once, and the ruling will be final. We
will either go through the Judgment and enter into an eternity with God
in Heaven because we have established a relationship with Him now, or
we will go through the Judgment and enter into an eternity apart from
God in Hell because we have rejected His forgiveness and have chosen to
live apart from Him.
Now, I’m not a big fire and brimstone preacher. I don’t want to scare
you into making a decision to live for Christ. I’d rather you respond
to His love and the life He’s offering you. But you need to understand
the stakes are high. And there’s no escaping it. We will all face the
Judgment. Are you ready?
I want to give you a
moment right now in silent prayer to express yourself to God. If you’re
living inside a relationship with Him and have received His
forgiveness, thank Him for that and rejoice in the assurance you have
of an eternity with Him. If you haven’t experienced His forgiveness and
you have rejected the life He has offered, why not make today the day
you enter into a relationship with Him? Simply express that you’re
sorry for the times you have rebelled against Him and have hurt Him,
accept the forgiveness He’s offering you, and start living for Him