Article XIII – Eschatology – The Study of Last Things
Section 1 The Blessed Hope
We believe the next great event in the fulfillment of prophecy is when the Lord Jesus Christ returns for His church. The dead in Christ shall rise first, and then those in Christ who remain alive will be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air. This event is commonly known as the rapture of the church (1st Corinthians 15:51-52; Philippians 3:20-21; 1st Thessalonians 1:9-10; 4:13-5:10; Titus 2:11-14; 1st John 3:2). We expressly reject as unfounded the allegation that the word “rapture” does not occur in Scripture, noting Paul’s use of the word “harpageisometha,” the literal translation of which is “they shall be raptured,” or “they shall be caught up” in Paul’s detailed description of the rapture.
Section 2 The Tribulation
We believe the Rapture of the Church will be followed by the fulfillment of Israel’s Seventieth Week, a seven-year period of tribulation, the latter half of which is the time of Jacob’s trouble, the Great Tribulation (Jeremiah 30:7; Matthew 24:15-21; Revelation 6:1-17). We believe that a literal fulfillment of Daniel’s 70th week is the logical and necessary conclusion of the literal fulfillment of Daniel’s 69 week prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27).
Section 3 The Judgment Seat
We believe that during the tribulation period on earth, the lives of believers will be reviewed, at the judgment seat, which is also known as the Bema. This review will reveal the hidden counsels of the heart of each believer (Matthew 12:36-37; Luke 5:4-8; 12:1-3; 2nd Corinthians 5:10-11; Hebrews 4:12-13). The eternal rewards of believers from the church age, and their exaltation in our Lord’s kingdom will be determined at this judgment (1st Corinthians 3:8-15).
Section 4 The Second Coming
We believe that the climax of the great tribulation will be the pre-millennial return of the Lord Jesus Christ, who will make His enemies His footstool and set up His Kingdom on earth (Psalm 2; Zechariah 14:4-11; Matthew 24-25; Acts 1:11; 2nd Thessalonians 1:7-10; Hebrews 2:8; 10:12-13; Revelation 19:11-20:10).
Section 5 The Millennium
For a thousand years following His second coming, Christ will reign over the nations of the earth with a rod of iron in righteousness and justice with peace (Psalm 2; Revelation 20:1-10; Isaiah 9:6-7). Although we acknowledge that Jesus does currently reign in heaven as Lord of all creation (Hebrews 2:8-9), we deny that prophecies of the millennial reign of Jesus find their fulfillment in any reign or coronation that takes place prior to Jesus’ visible return to earth.
Section 6 The Eternal State
We believe the souls and spirits of those who have believed the gospel of Jesus Christ for their salvation will, at death, pass immediately into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. They remain there in conscious bliss until the resurrection of the body. The souls of unbelievers remain after death in conscious misery until the final judgment of the Great White Throne, after the close of the Millennium. Then, with soul and body reunited, they shall be cast into the lake of fire, not to be annihilated, but to be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power (Luke 6:19-25; 23:43; 2nd Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23; 2nd Thessalonians 1:2-9; 2:11-15; Jude 6-7; Revelation 20:11-15).