The Church can be viewed in two ways:
- First, as the universal Church, which consists of all those who have been born again of the Spirit of God and baptized into the Body of Christ by that same Holy Spirit (John 1:13; 1 Pet 1:22-25; 1 Cor 12:13).
- Second, as the local church, which is any group of believers in Jesus Christ who are gathered in a local setting to celebrate their hope and salvation through Christ and to grow as disciples (Matt 18:20). Examples in Scripture include: the churches in Asia (Rev 1:4); in Galatia (Gal 1:2); in Corinth (1 Cor 1:2); in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1); at Ephesus (Acts 20:17); in homes (Acts 2:46,47); and many more.
Each local church is to reflect the character of Christ, the Head of the Church; each local church is to mature into fulfilling all of God’s will and purpose (Eph 4:1-16).
6. The Doctrine of Last Things
The “end times” is a large subject that is often controversial. There are many books, charts, plans and opinions one can study. The Bible does not tell us everything about the last days, and because of this there is much speculation about end-time events. However, the Scriptures do reveal very clearly truths that are without question, and that we know will happen.
These key truths are of great importance to us as Christians. They also have profound implications for those caught in false religions and cults.
For the purposes of this study, there are four very important and clearly revealed scriptural truths regarding the end times that need to be understood:
A. The Literal Return of Jesus Christ (The Second Coming)
The Bible makes very clear that Jesus Christ will come back to earth! Acts 1:9 records that Jesus (after His resurrection) physically went up into Heaven while His disciples watched. Suddenly, angels appeared to them and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, Who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10,11).
Jesus, during His earthly ministry, also promised His disciples that He would return (Matt 24:30; 26:63,64; Mark 13:33-36; Luke 19:11-27; John 14:3).
The first apostles taught extensively on the Second Coming of Christ. Peter preaches about Christ’s return (Acts 3:19-21); rebukes those who scoff at it (2 Pet 3:3,4); and stresses the unexpected nature of Christ’s return (2 Pet 3:8-10).
The Apostle Paul’s writings are filled with references to Christ’s Second Coming (1 Cor 15:51,52; Phil 3:20,21; 1 Thess 4:16,17; 2 Thess 1:7-10; Titus 2:13). James tells us to be patient for Christ’s coming (Jas 5:7,8). The writer of Hebrews refers to it twice (Heb 9:28; 10:37). John gives several references to Christ’s personal and public return ( 1 John 2:28; 3:2,3; Rev 1:7; 22: 12).
Scripture records that many events will take place in the final days. It is not stated, however, at what point during those events Jesus Christ will gloriously return to earth. Yet it is enough for us to know that Jesus Christ will return according to God’s perfect plan (Mark 13:32; Acts 1:7). Be assured that our Savior loves us eternally and has promised, “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3) and “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18)