The World to Come
Memory Verse: John 14:1-3
Key Verses: Ec. 12:7; 2Cor. 5:1-9; 1Thess. 4:13-18; Luke 16:19-31; Matt. 22:13, 23:33;
2Peter 2:17; Rom. 8:18; Mk. 9:44-48; Mal. 3:18; Matt. 25:46.
Section 1 - The Present state of the dead
Physical death is most commonly applied to that separation of soul and body which is caused by the penalty of sin (Rom. 5:12; Gen. 3:19). There is a death of the soul also, and that is something far more terrible than the death of the body (Deut. 30:15-19; Ez. 18:20; Is. 66:24). But this death of the soul is spiritual in its nature, and does not forbid the continued existence of the soul (Matt. 10:28). If man cannot kill the spirit, then physical death has no power to end the existence of the spirit (Lu. 23:46; Acts 7:59).
Man, like God, is a tri-partite or three part, being – Gen. 2:7
1. Each man is a soul - which once it comes into existence, never ceases to exist. The soul, which is what you are, lives on somewhere forever and ever and ever, never to not exist again.
2. Each man has a body - which comes into existence at the same moment as his soul - and we believe that to be the moment of conception. This body will one day die and go back to dust, never to exist again. A new body will be given to house the soul at the rapture or resurrection. It is this body which will live on eternally, either in Heaven or Hell.
3. Each man has a spirit - which comes into existence at the same moment as his body and soul. However, unlike the body and soul, the spirit of man is dead. It remains dead in him until the time God quickens it, or makes it alive. This is what is meant by the new or second birth.
To put this together - each man is a soul and he lives in his body while he is alive on earth. The spirit is that part of man by which he communes with God. John 4:24, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” This is why the unsaved man, one who has not experienced the second birth - that is, the re-birth of the spirit - cannot communicate with God. God is a Spirit, and the unsaved man has a dead spirit.
The saved man - one who has experienced the second birth - that is, the rebirth of the spirit - can communicate with God. This communication is on a spiritual level. Ephesians 2:6, “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
What Happened To Hell?
Before Jesus’ ascension into Heaven (Mark16:19: “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.”) those who died went to Hades (Hebrew, Sheol). Hades was the subterranean abode of all the dead. It was divided into two compartments; Paradise or Abraham’s bosom for the righteous, and Gehenna for the unrighteous. The two compartments were separate but visible from one to the other.
Luke 16:22-26: “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.”
When the thieves died, they both went to Hades - one thief to Paradise, the other thief to Gehenna. Luke 23:42,43 “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” When Jesus died, His spirit went back to the Father (Luke 23:46); His body went into the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea (Luke 24:1-4); His soul went straight down into Gehenna (Hell), and through it (to purge the sins of His sheep), and back out the other side into Paradise, where the second thief was waiting (Eph. 4:7-10; Acts 2:27).
When Jesus was in Paradise, in the heart of the Earth, He preached to those in Paradise. Remember, while they were in the Paradise compartment, they had never believed the Gospel of 1 Cor. 15:1-4, nor had they received Jesus as Saviour, but they were there because they believed God. They had trusted in the Old Testament sacrifices which were only temporary. That is why the Priests had to constantly repeat them. Jesus’ sacrifice was “once for all” (Heb. 10:10). Jesus preached to them so they could believe the Gospel and be redeemed. 1 Peter 3:18-19 tells us, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;” i.e. those in Paradise.
When Jesus ascended into Heaven, he took Paradise and all those therein with Him. Ephesians 4:7-10 “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)”
We see by 2Cor, 12:1-4 that Paradise is now in Heaven.
More than likely, after Jesus removed Paradise, Hades expanded to fill the entire center of the Earth. Isaiah 5:14 says, “Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.”
Today when a person dies, if he is unsaved he goes to Hades, the same place where the rich man of Luke 16 is, in the center of the Earth. If he is saved, he goes immediately to Paradise in Heaven where Jesus and Lazarus and Abraham and Peter, James and John and my mother and grandmothers, etc. are.
2 Corinthians 5:8 says, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” See also: Ps. 16:10; Matt. 27:52
The representation of death as sleep does not teach that the spirit sleeps, and is, therefore, non-existent. Sleep is purely a physical phenomenon. Death is sleep only by analogy; not actuality (Acts 7:60; 1Cor. 11:30, 15:6; 1Thess. 4:14). Spirits had existence after death (1Peter 3:19; Deut. 34:5-6; Matt. 17:3; Jude 7; Luke 16:19-31 ).
Sometimes it is not easy to account for the death of the righteous. As he has been redeemed by Christ he is no longer liable to the penalty of sin. But, while death may not be legally necessary, it may subserve many purposes in the gracious providence of God. Ordinarily, it is the best way for the Christian to attain the “change” for which he is destined. After we are saved, God leaves us here for a purpose, and that, to glorify Him in our lives, which should be used to bring others to Christ. Death is a blessing to the Christian as we look forward to being with the Lord (2Cor. 5:6-8; Phil. 1:23).
The soul of man is immortal, as we receive our souls from God (Gen. 2:7). The cases of Enoch and Elijah gave proof of another world than this into which even men might enter (Gen. 5:24; 2Ki. 2:11; Job 19:25-27; 2Sam. 12:23). This future life is the lot of the wicked, as well as of the righteous; teaching that it is one of happiness to the latter, and of condemnation and misery to the former (Mt. 25:46). The wicked dead are in conscious fiery torment (Lu. 16:19-31). There is no probation or purgatory after death (Catholic teaching). The place where the wicked are confined is called a prison (1Pet. 3:10). They are condemned criminals waiting in prison until the time of their being placed in God’s eternal penitentiary, the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15 after the great white throne judgment).
Section 2 - The Second coming of Christ (Phase one)
Memory Verse: Titus 2:13
Key Verses: Job 19:25-26; 1Thess. 4:13-18; 1Cor. 15:50-57; Rom. 8:22-25; Acts 1:11;
Matt. 24:27-41; 1Thess. 5;1-4; 2Thess. 1:7-10; Rev. 19:11-21; Mal.4:l-2.
The second coming of Christ (in two phases) has been the crowning expectation, of the people of God since the promise of His coming was communicated to them. It has cheered, strengthened, and encouraged them in the darkest hours. Christ and the apostles implanted in the hearts of early believers the fact of Christ’s coming and its imminence as a motive for godly living and faithful service.
The second coming of Christ:
· Is foretold by the prophets (Jer. 23:5-8; Dan. 2:44, 7:13-14; Is. 9:6,7; Ps. 2:6-9; Ps. 72;1-20; Is. 2:1-4; Is. 32:1-4,15-20; Zech. 14: 16-21).
· It was alluded to by John the Baptist (Lu. 3:3-6).
· Promised by Christ Himself (John 14:2,3).
· Declared by angels (Acts l:10-11).
· Taught by the apostles (Matt. 24:37,42,44; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27; 1Jn. 3:1-3; James 5:7; 1Pet. 1:7,13; 1Thess. 4:15-17; Jude 14).
The first phase of Christ’s coming will be into the region of our atmosphere (1Thess. 4:15-17). All believers (not just the church) will be caught up (raptured) and changed to meet the Lord in the air (Jn. 11:25-26; 1Cor. 15:51-57). The Rapture will be a surprise, Matt. 24:42-44. We can know the signs of His coming but not the exact date. He will come as a thief. The thief leaves much more than he takes. So the Lord at the Rapture will leave the wicked and the great mass of the heathen behind. The Rapture will be “Elective.” It will not only separate the saints from unbelievers, but it will separate husbands from wives, brothers from sisters, friends from friends, (Lu. 17:34-36). This shows that the Rapture occurs all over the earth at the same time (Matt. 24:27). The world will have to realize that a great number of the finest and best people (and all small children and babies) are suddenly gone. Many professing Christians and preachers will be left behind to try and answer the questions of a confused and grieving populace. Following the believer’s Rapture, those who were in the True Lord’s Church and faithful in service, will be in the Bride of Christ (Matt. 25:1-10; Rev. 19:7-9; 2Cor. 11:2).
At His first coming, Jesus was a prophet (Matt.13:57). At present, He is a Priest (Heb. 4:14). At the “Second Phase” of Christ’s Second Coming, the “Revelation,” we shall behold His “Glory” when at the close of the Great Tribulation; the Lord Jesus Christ will come as a King, with His saints following (Rev. 19:11-16; Matt. 24:30). Following the “Revelation” will be the “Battle of Armageddon”, and then Christ will sit upon the “Throne of His Glory” and judge “The Nations”, (Matt. 25:31-46), after which He will set up His “Millennial Kingdom”.
Section 3 - The Judgement Seat of Christ
Memory Verses 2Cor. 5:10
Key Verses: 2Jn. 8; Matt. 6:19-21; 1Cor. 11:32; 1Cor. 3:11-15, 15:58; Rev. 3:11;
Rom. 14:10-12; 2Tim. 4:8.
Many people believe that there is to be but one General Judgment. Actually the Bible tells of seven judgments, five of which are still future.
1. The judgement of sin at Calvary.
2. The daily self-judgement of the believer after he is saved.
3. The judgement seat of Christ (which we are concerned with in this lesson).
4. The Great White Throne judgement of the unsaved.
5. The judgement of the Jews during the Tribulation.
6. The judgement of the nations
7. The judgement of the angels
Some time after the Rapture when we as believers are in heaven, we are to be judged as to our works. This will not be a judgment in the sense of a “trial” to see whether the judged are innocent (saved) or guilty (lost), for it is a judgment of the saved only. It will be like the judges stand at a Fair, or Race Track, where rewards are distributed to the successful contestants. Paul describes such a scene in 1Cor. 9:24-27. The result of this Judgment is “reward” or “loss”. All our bad and dead works, represented by the words “wood, hay and stubble,” will be consumed, and only our “good works” shall remain (1Cor. 3:12-15).
For those who deserve a reward it will be the crowning day. After the Grecian games were over, the runners, wrestlers, and successful contestants assembled before the “Bema”, or Judges’ stand, which was an elevated seat on which the Umpire sat, and the winners received a “corruptible crown” of “laurel leaves”.
The N.T. speaks of Five Crowns the Child of God can receive:
1. The Crown of “LIFE” (James 1:12; Rev. 2:10).
· For those who endure temptation and love the Lord, and those who are faithful unto death.
2. The Crown of “GLORY” (1Pet. 5:2-4).
· For faithful Pastors who feed the flock.
3. The Crown of “REJOICING” (1Thess. 2:19-20, Phil.4:1).
· For Soulwinners
4. The Crown of “RIGHTEOUSNESS” (2Tim. 4:8).
· For those who have kept the faith and love His appearing.
5. The “INCORRUPTIBLE” Crown (1Cor. 9:25-27).
· For those who strive for mastery and are temperate in all things, or possibly a further definition of the first four.
Section 4 - The Marriage of the Lamb
Memory Verse: 1Cor. 4:2
Key Verses: Heb. 10:25-29; 1Cor. 4:2,5; Matt. 25:1-10; Rev. 19:7-9; 2Cor. 11:2.
The marriage of the Lamb will be a wonderful occasion which will happen after the Judgement Seat of Christ. While one can be certain he has eternal life (1Jn. 5:10-13), no one can be certain he is in the Bride of Christ until after the Judgement Seat of Christ. We can hope our church is a true church of Christ by its doctrine and practice, and the knowledge of the right foundation, but we ourselves must be faithful to the church to have a hope of being in the Bride of Christ.
The Bride of Christ will be made up of all the faithful members of all the true New Testament Churches of Christ from the time of the Church at Jerusalem until the Rapture. All the other children of God from Old Testament days, as well as all the saved from the church age who were not faithful members of a true New Testament Church of Christ will be guests at the wedding. All the saved from all ages will be at the wedding, but not all will be in the Bride.
1Cor. 4:5 tells us that the Lord is going to bring to light the hidden things. Paragraph two of our Church Covenant tells us we are to sustain the worship of this church. That means to be faithful to its services. I believe, as our Pastor Emeritus said when he preached for us in April 2001, if a person claims to be a member of this church, and is not faithful to the services (unless they are providentially hindered), they will not be in the Bride. That may sound harsh, but 1Cor. 4:2 says, “...it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” Not “requested,” but “required.”
This church, as all New Testament Churches, has two ordinances. You cannot be a member in good standing if you do not submit to scriptural baptism. You cannot be a member in good standing if you cannot participate in the Lord’s Supper. And in like manner, you cannot be a member in good standing if you are not faithful in attendance to the services. If you miss a service, or if you don’t attend Sunday School, you should have an excuse that will be acceptable to the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s not the pastor who will pass judgement on your excuse, it’s the Lord Jesus Christ.
After all these things come to pass, the Lord will return to Earth with all his saints, visibly. Then will be the Battle of Armageddon and the end of the Great Tribulation, followed by the Millenium, the Great White Throne Judgement, followed by Eternity. But all that’s for another lesson.