OVERVIEW OF THE FUTURE
It is recommended that the reader take the test found in appendix one
to see where they are in their knowledge of the future. This will give
you some idea of how you are in your eschatological prowess.
This section is designed to give the reader a quick over view of all
that we will be looking at as we move through the study.
Don't get worried if you become a little overwhelmed or confused in
this section. You can come back to this section as you read the other topical
studies and refresh yourself concerning the topic and where it belongs
in the big picture.
We will cover items of interest in chronological order beginning with
God before He created.
Before there was time, Lucifer, man, earth or anything else the Trinity
conceived of a plan to bring glory to themselves. The plan was complete
in its totality. This is important to the position that will be presented.
It becomes important when Christ comes to earth as the Messiah of the Old
Testament and was rejected by His people the Jews. Some view the events
that follow the cross as something new and unique. This study will submit
a position that states the church is a continuation of God's continuing
program and not a new program.
I will submit to you that it was not a new program, but rather a continuation
of that original plan that was set by the Trinity in eternity past. The
church was an integrated part of that plan from the beginning.
At a point in eternity past, God specified that creation would occur.
He created through the Son and by the power of the Spirit. Creation began
with the angels and beings of the heavenly scene. Lucifer and his followers
fell in this period before the creation of the heavens.
THE FALL OF MAN:
God created heaven and earth for the next step in His overall program.
On the earth He placed Adam and Eve who soon after their creation fell
into sin. The sin separated them from their creator.
Over time God worked with different men and women. These people followed
the revelation that they had from God and found favor with God through
a sacrificial system that is depicted in the early part of the book of
Genesis and later in the law.
God made a covenant with a man by the name of Abraham and made several
promises to him. These promises were not conditional on Abraham's obedience.
Abraham followed God's program through his life by faith in what God had
told him. Abraham was the basis upon which God built the people of Israel.
Israel was blessed through their father Abraham until the nation turned
against Him in the time of the kings.
After many years of God dealing with His through the priestly system
and leaders like Moses and Joshua, the Jewish people decided they needed
a king to rule over them. This was because everyone else was doing it.
All the nations around them had rulers so they decided they must have one
also. God allowed Saul to be named king over Israel.
Saul's successor was David. David was not a prime example of purity
in his life, yet he pleased God. God blessed David's ministry to His people.
David's son became king and ruled for many years. Under his reign the
people become dissatisfied and ultimately his two sons became the kings
of the divided kingdom. The ten tribes of the north went their direction,
and the tribes of Judah and Benjamin went theirs.
The two peoples had a series of kings that ultimately brought the peoples
to destruction. The northern tribes were taken captive by the Assyrians
and the southern tribes fell into the hands of the Babylonians later.
Prior to the fall of these two peoples God sent messengers to His people
to warn them of coming tragedies if they did not change their ways. He
gave them fair warning to turn back to Godly ways or reap the consequences.
These men preached their message until the fall of the peoples. Even after
the captivities God chose to speak to his people through prophets.
Throughout the Old Testament the thought of a savior or Messiah is given.
These prophets proclaimed the Messiah and the kingdom that He would set
up here on earth. That kingdom was the desire of the Jewish people.
THE BIRTH OF CHRIST:
When we move into the New Testament John the Baptist is on the scene
preaching repentance for the kingdom of heaven is near. The kingdom that
he was preaching about was that Old Testament kingdom that the Jews were
Christ began preaching the same kingdom when He started His ministry.
The message was not acceptable to the Jews and as a result they rejected
THE DEATH OF CHRIST:
Ultimately the Jews killed Christ on the cross. This was not a mistake
or a glitch in the plan of God, but rather something that the Trinity had
planned beforehand. Some theologians suggest that the fall of man was a
surprise party for God and that He dreamed up the plan of salvation to
salvage something from His creation. This is not true in any manner. All
that has gone on in time is according to the plan that was set before the
foundation of the world.
THE PLACE OF DEPARTED SPIRITS:
In the Old Testament period when a person died they were transported
to the place of departed spirits, called Sheol.
This place is mentioned and defined in Luke sixteen in the account of
the rich man and Lazarus. In short it was a two compartment area with a
great chasm between that no one can cross. There has been much confusion
as to why this place of departed spirits existed. Why would God send the
saints there and then transfer them to heaven? What is the place for? Is
It seems that the best explanation of all this is that before the cross
there could be no regeneration, thus no salvation as such. Yes, the Old
Testament saints could please God by faith. Yes, they were eternally saved,
however the provision was not made as yet. In God's eyes they would be
in eternity with Him, yet there was the need of the death of Christ to
make the provision. At the time of the cross all departed spirits were
in Sheol. The lost were in the side of torments and the saved were in the
side with Abraham. This place was temporary for the righteous until their
salvation could be completed by Christ.
This was accomplished through His death on the cross for their sin.
The Old Testament saints sins were covered so there was fellowship with
God, but they needed Christ's blood to cleanse those sins.
After Christ died, He ascended to the heavenly tabernacle, according
to Hebrews, and offered His blood once for all. He then proceeded to Sheol
to empty it of the believing saints, to take them to be with the Father
until the culmination of time.
At the time of the Great White Throne judgment the departed lost in
Sheol will be brought forth to face their judgment and then they well be
cast into the lake of fire for eternity. (Rev 20:11-15)
The church is God's people in this age or dispensation. We are not something
new and special, we are just a continuation of God's program and kingdom.
The church is the gathering of all of God's people in this age, as Israel
was God's people in the age of the Law.
At the end of the church age the Lord will remove His people from the
world and prepare the earth and Israel for the final stages of prophecy,
the tribulation and the events that will follow.
The tribulation is a seven year period of great destruction and judgment
upon the earth and the lost. During the tribulation Israel will turn to
God nationally ending the great separation between God and His nation.
The tribulation will be a time of preparation for the kingdom which is
the next event in God's timetable.
THE RESURRECTION OF OLD TESTAMENT SAINTS:
At the end of the tribulation the Old Testament and Tribulation saints
will be raised from the dead, and will enter the Millennial kingdom.
THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM:
The saints of the kingdom will live for one thousand years with Christ
ruling on the throne of David in Jerusalem. During the kingdom the Lord
will rule the entire earth, and Satan will be bound. There will be peace
in the kingdom until near the end, when Satan is released and will gather
his forces for one final rebellion.
THE GREAT WHITE THRONE:
The final preeternity act of God concerning his creation will be the
Great White Throne. This will be the time when all the lost will appear
before God for their final judgment.
THE LAKE OF FIRE:
The lake of fire is the final abode for all the lost, the Devil and
all of his coworkers. This is not a time when they are destroyed, as in
annihilation. They will be in eternal permanent torment which will not
Eternal life, or eternal existence with the Trinity is the future of
the believer. This existence will take place in the abode that He has prepared
for the believers.
The overview that we have just had is called the pretribulational view
of eschatolgy. We need to look at some terms that will become commonplace
in our discussion.
Pretribulationalism teaches that the church will be raptured or taken
out of the world before the tribulation. There is no reason for God to
allow His people to go through a time of judgment so will remove them to
the heavenlies. During this time the judgment seat of Christ will take
place. This is when the believers works not their souls will be judged.
The marriage feast of the Lamb will probably take place at this time, though
we have no text which really tells us this. Some feel that the marriage
feast would fit well in the Millennial kingdom when the Old Testament saints
are present, and others place it at the beginning of eternity when all
the lost are taken care of and all believers are eternally with their Lord.
Where you place this occasion depends on your view of who the bride
it. Most theologians follow the traditional thought that the bride is the
church, while a few theologians suggest that the bride is Israel. Does
that suggest a good topic of study for you? I trust that some of these
suggested topics of study will tweek your interest and that you will dive
into these areas as you have time.
This teaching holds that the church will go through part of the tribulation
sees the church raptured at the middle of the tribulation, just before
the Great Tribulation begins. There is indication that the first half of
the tribulation will be bad, but the last half will be Great. The Great
tribulation will be much worse than the first half.
There is a similar teaching called partial rapture which sees the righteous
believers taken out before the tribulation, however the not so righteous
are left to go through part of the tribulation for purification. Those
purified are either taken out all at once during the tribulation, or they
are removed individually as their time of purification ends.
Some feel that the church will go through the entire tribulation and
will be raptured out at the end.
The next item to consider is the teaching that we have given in this
brief overview. Premillennialism teaches that the rapture and tribulation
are before the Millennial kingdom.
Postmillennialism would teach that the rapture and/or the tribulation
will occur after the Millennial kingdom.
Ammillennialism teaches there is nor literal, real 1000 year kingdom. This teaching holds there is either no kingdom at all, or that the kingdom is going on at this time. The Devil is bound in this age and this age is not confined to a specific
Those holding to covenant theology believe that God has and will operate
with man through the Old Testament covenants. The covenants were set, and
we are still under them. Sometime in the future the Lord will tie all things
People holding to this position mix all the teachings and promises of
Scripture and apply them to believers in this age. In other words there
is no difference between Israel and the church. All believers of all times
are the same, and the promise to one is the promise to all.
The method of interpreting Scripture that is called allegorical sees
all of Scripture as a series of information that really has no valid meaning
as it is, but we must look into the "real" message of the passage. The
Scripture text itself is only a vehicle to carry the real message of God.
Nothing in Scripture can be taken for face, literal value. You must find
the spiritual meaning. Some view a text in more than one level of information.
The recorded level which was for the man that recorded it and then there
is the level that has the "real" spiritual message for us.
The other method of interpretation is called literal because that is
how you interpret. The passage means what it means in plain, easy, literal
reading. There is no "hidden" or "spiritual" message behind the literal
message. We will look into interpretation as we go along in the study.
Kingdom theology is a newer system of thought which appears in many
different forms. The common thread of these new lines of thinking is that
the church has the responsibility for getting the world back into a condition
that would be conducive to the Lord's return. In short, Christ cannot come
back until we get a specific job done.
This thinking is seen in some of the modern missions efforts. The thought
of reaching the world by a certain date is based on the need to evangelize
the world so the Lord can return.
The system of eschatology that is opposite to Covenant Theology is dispensationalism.
Dispensationalism sees a difference between Israel and the Church. The
premillennialist will be a dispensationalist.
Dispensationalism teaches that God deals with man in different ways
in different periods of time. We will look into this teaching in more detail
later, however to prove that God deals differently in different periods
of time is seen in the fact that the Old Testament saint was required to
bring animal sacrifices for his sin, while we in the church age only have
to confess and repent.
The dispensationalist will not apply the promises given to Israel to
the church age saint. This system comes out of the literal interpretation
In thinking of many of these terms a list might help to solidify things
in your mind. Normally if the person is premillennialist he will be those
things listed below, and if a person is an ammillennialist he will be those
things listed below that position.
PREMILLENNIALISTS AMMILLENNIALISTS LITERAL INTERPRETATION ALLEGORICAL INTERPRETATION DISPENSATIONALIST COVENANT THEOLOGIAN ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH DIFFER BLEND ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH
We trust that this overview will be helpful in placing the following
studies into some perspective. It is similar to writing. If you have an
outline to follow you know where you have been and where you are going.
The information coming in can be placed where it belongs in time.
Reviewing this overview from time to time might be helpful for the newcomer
to eschatology. It also might help the old timer to review what he has