Category: end times


  A study of “the eternal state” is rightly seen as a subdivision of the greater study of eschatology, or the doctrine of last things. It must be admitted first that the only sure word of testimony regarding this subject is the Holy Bible; no other “holy book” or philosophy is as trustworthy or as informative as the Bible.

The Greek word most often translated “eternal” in the Bible is aionos, from which we get our word eon. Essentially, this word denotes having no beginning and no end, or having a beginning but no end, with respect to time. The exact meaning is always determined by the context. When this word is combined with “life” (Greek zoe), it denotes not only life without end, but a certain quality of life that is distinguished from mere biological life.

We know that all believers will receive resurrected bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42). Thus, we will not exist as disembodied spirits, but we will possess glorified bodies especially suited for an existence in the eternal state.

The Bible gives few details of what that state will be like. Scripture says that God creates a new heaven and a new earth, and the New Jerusalem descends from God to the new earth (Revelation 21:1-2). In this new creation, “the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3). “So, we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Our existence in the eternal state will be markedly different from what we are used to now: “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). The curse that came with sin will never hold sway again (Revelation 22:3). We can hardly imagine a world without pain or sorrow, but that’s what God promises—a reality beyond imagination. “As it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’” (1 Corinthians 2:9; cf. Isaiah 64:4).

Neither will our existence in the eternal state be marred by bad memories of the old earth. Joy will swallow up all distress: “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind” (Isaiah 65:17).

The eternal state will involve serving the Lord (Revelation 22:3), seeing God face to face (verse 4), and living in perfect health (verse 2) and holiness (verse 5). Second Peter 3:13 says that the new heaven and earth will be “the home of righteousness.” Sin will not cast its shadow anywhere in that realm.

From the beginning of creation, it has been God’s plan to bring His redeemed ones to this place of completion and glory (Romans 8:30; Philippians 1:6). No more sin, no more curse, no more death, no more good-byes—all because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. In the eternal state, God’s perfect plan will be brought to glorious realization, and mankind will accomplish its chief end, “to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

  Revelation 17:1-2 tells us, “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, ‘Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.’” Revelation 17:5 goes on to say, “And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” Who is this “whore of Babylon” and what is “mystery Babylon”?

Revelation 17:3 gives this description: “Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.” The beast mentioned in this verse is the same beast as in Revelation chapter 13:1, “And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name.” The beast in Revelation chapter 13 is understood to refer to the Antichrist, the man of lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Daniel 9:27). So, the whore of Babylon, whoever it is, is closely affiliated with the end-times Antichrist.

The fact that the whore of Babylon is referred to as a mystery means that we cannot be completely certain as to her identity. The passage does give us some clues, however. Revelation 17:9 explains, “This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits.” Many commentators link this passage with the Roman Catholic Church because in ancient times, the city of Rome was known as “the city on seven hills” because there are seven prominent hills that surround the city. However, verse 10 goes on to explain that the seven hills represent 7 kings or kingdoms, five of which have fallen, one that is and one that is to come. Therefore, the “whore of Babylon” cannot refer exclusively to Rome. Revelation 17:15 tells us, “Then the angel said to me, ‘The waters you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.’” The whore of Babylon will have great worldwide influence over people and nations. Verses 10-14 describe a series of eight and then ten kings who affiliate with the beast. The whore of Babylon will at one time have control over these kings (Revelation 17:18), but at some point the kings will turn on her and destroy her (Revelation 17:16).

So, can the mystery of the whore of Babylon be solved? Yes, at least partially. The whore of Babylon is an evil world system, controlled by the Antichrist, during the last days before Jesus’ return. The whore of Babylon also has religious connotations – spiritual adultery with the beast being the focus of an ungodly, end-times religious system.

The seven seals (Revelation 6:1-17, 8:1-5), seven trumpets (Revelation 8:6-13; 11:15-19), and seven bowls/vials (Revelation 16:1-21) are three succeeding series of end-times judgments from God. The judgments get progressively worse and more devastating as the end times progress. The seven seals, trumpets, and bowls are connected to one another. The seventh seal introduces the seven trumpets (Revelation 8:1-5), and the seventh trumpet introduces the seven bowls (Revelation 11:15-19, 15:1-8).

The first four of the seven seals are known as the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. The first seal introduces the Antichrist (Revelation 6:1-2). The second seal causes great warfare (Revelation 6:3-4). The third of the seven seals causes famine (Revelation 6:5-6). The fourth seal brings about plague, further famine, and further warfare (Revelation 6:7-8).

The fifth seal tells us of those who will be martyred for their faith in Christ during the end times (Revelation 6:9-11). God hears their cries for justice and will deliver it in His timing—in the form of the sixth seal, along with the trumpet and bowl judgments. When the sixth of the seven seals is broken, a devastating earthquake occurs, causing massive upheaval and terrible devastation—along with unusual astronomical phenomena (Revelation 6:12-14). Those who survive are right to cry out, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:16-17).

The seven trumpets are described in Revelation 8:6-13. The seven trumpets are the “contents” of the seventh seal (Revelation 8:1-5). The first trumpet causes hail and fire that destroys much of the plant life in the world (Revelation 8:7). The second trumpet brings about what seems to be a meteor hitting the oceans and causing the death of much of the world’s sea life (Revelation 8:8-9). The third trumpet is similar to the second, except it affects the world’s lakes and rivers instead of the oceans (Revelation 8:10-11).

The fourth of the seven trumpets causes the sun and moon to be darkened (Revelation 8:12). The fifth trumpet results in a plague of “demonic locusts” that attack and torture humanity (Revelation 9:1-11). The sixth trumpet releases a demonic army that kills a third of humanity (Revelation 9:12-21). The seventh trumpet calls forth the seven angels with the seven bowls of God’s wrath (Revelation 11:15-19, 15:1-8).

The seven bowl/vial judgments are described in Revelation 16:1-21. The seven bowl judgments are called forth by the seventh trumpet. The first bowl causes painful sores to break out on humanity (Revelation 16:2). The second bowl results in the death of every living thing in the sea (Revelation 16:3). The third bowl causes the rivers to turn into blood (Revelation 16:4-7). The fourth of the seven bowls results in the sun’s heat being intensified and causing great pain (Revelation 16:8-9). The fifth bowl causes great darkness and an intensification of the sores from the first bowl (Revelation 16:10-11). The sixth bowl results in the Euphrates River being dried up and the armies of the Antichrist being gathered together to wage the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:12-14). The seventh bowl results in a devastating earthquake followed by giant hailstones (Revelation 16:15-21).

Revelation 16:5-7 declares of God, “You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve. … Yes, Lord God Almighty, true and just are your judgments.”

The Bible prophesies of many events that will occur in the end times. These events can be categorized as natural signs, spiritual signs, sociological signs, technological signs, and political signs. We can look to what the Bible says about these things, and if the signs are present in abundance, we can be certain that we are, in fact, living in the end times.

Luke 21:11 lists some of the natural signs that will occur before Jesus’ Second Coming: “There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.” In 13 years, between 1991 and 2004, the United States alone has experienced 5 of its costliest hurricanes in history, 3 of its 4 largest tornado swarms in history, and 9 of the 10 greatest disasters as determined by FEMA. We have recently seen Hurricane Sandy, which some have called the “perfect storm.” There is a huge upswing in the prevalence of sinkholes. As for great signs from heaven, we’ve seen the Chelyabinsk meteor, which exploded over Russia, emitting a powerful shock wave. All of these events seem to be a warm up to what is coming next—“birth pangs,” as Jesus called them (Matthew 24:8).

The Bible lists both positive and negative spiritual signs. In 2 Timothy 4:3-4 we discover that many people will follow false teachers. We see now an increase in cultic groups, heresy, deception and occultism, with many choosing to follow new age or pagan religions. On the positive side, Joel 2:28-29 prophesies that there will be a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16), and we are still seeing the effects of that outpouring in revivals and Spirit-led Christian movements, worldwide preaching of the gospel message, and the emergence of Messianic Judaism.

Along with the signs in the natural and spiritual realms, there are signs in society. The immorality rampant in society today is a symptom of mankind’s rebellion against God. Abortion, homosexuality, drug abuse and child molestation are proof that “evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse” (2 Timothy 3:13). We are now living in a hedonistic and materialistic society. People are lovers of themselves – “looking out for number one” – and doing what is right in their own eyes. All these things, and many more, can be seen around us every day (see 2 Timothy 3:1-4).

The fulfillment of some end-times prophecies seemed impossible until the advent of modern technology. Daniel 12:4 foretold an increase in knowledge. Some of the judgments in Revelation are more easily imagined in a nuclear age. In Revelation 13, the Antichrist will control commerce by forcing people to take the mark of the beast, and, given today’s advances in computer chip technology, the tools he will use may very well be here already. And through the internet, radio and television, the gospel can now be proclaimed to the entire world (Mark 13:10).

And there are political signs. The restoration of Israel to her land in 1948 is the single most impressive fulfilled prophecy proving that we live in the end times. At the turn of the 20th century, no one would have dreamed that Israel would be back in her land, let alone occupying Jerusalem. Jerusalem is definitely at the center of geopolitics and stands alone against many enemies; Zechariah 12:3 confirms this: “On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.” Matthew 24:6-7 predicted that “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” “Wars and rumors of wars” are definitely characteristic of this present age.

These are just a few of the signs that we are living in the end of the age. There are many more. God gave us these prophecies because He does not want anyone to perish, and He always gives ample warning before pouring out His wrath (2 Peter 3:9).

Are we living in the end times? The rapture could occur at any moment. God will deal with sin either by grace or by wrath. John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” Those who do not accept Jesus Christ as their savior will remain under the Lord’s wrath.

The good news is that it’s not too late to choose eternal life. All that is required is acceptance, by faith, of God’s free gift of grace. There is nothing you can do to earn grace; Jesus has paid the price for you (Romans 3:24). Are you ready for the Lord’s return? Or will you experience His wrath?

Some Bible interpreters believe that there will be absolutely no chance for salvation after the Rapture. However, there is no place in the Bible which says this or even hints to it. There will be many people who come to Christ during the Tribulation. The 144,000 Jewish witnesses (Revelation 7:4) are Jewish believers. If no one can come to Christ during the Tribulation, then why are people being beheaded for their faith (Revelation 20:4)? No passage of Scripture argues against people having a chance to be saved after the Rapture. Many passages indicate the opposite.

Another view is that those who hear the gospel and reject it before the Rapture cannot be saved. Those saved during the Tribulation, then, are those who had never heard the gospel before the Rapture. The “proof text” for this view is 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11, which says the Antichrist will work miracles to deceive “those who are perishing” and that God Himself will “send them a powerful delusion” to confirm them in their unbelief. The reason given is that “they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (verse 10). Granted, those who are hard-hearted toward the gospel before the Rapture are likely to remain so. And the Antichrist will deceive many (Matthew 24:5). But “those who refused to love the truth” does not necessarily refer to people who heard the gospel before the Rapture. It could be anyone who wholly rejects God’s salvation, at any time. So, there is no clear scriptural evidence to support this view.

Revelation 6:9-11 speaks of those martyred during the Tribulation “because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained.” These martyrs will correctly interpret what they see during the Tribulation and will believe the gospel themselves and call on others to repent and believe as well. The Antichrist and his followers will not tolerate their evangelism and will kill them. All of these martyrs are people who were alive before the Rapture, but who were not believers until afterward. Therefore, there must be opportunity to come to Christ in faith after the Rapture.

The concept of ultimate reconciliation—the idea that God will ultimately reconcile every soul at some point so that they willingly spend eternity with Him—once again caused quite a stir in the theological world with the March 2010 release of Emergent Church leader Rob Bell’s book Love Wins. Decrying the historical theological position of a literal and eternal hell, Bell writes, “A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better. It’s been clearly communicated to many that this belief is a central truth of the Christian faith and to reject it is, in essence, to reject Jesus. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.”

What biblical support does Bell offer for ultimate reconciliation? Bell cites Matthew’s statement of Elijah coming who “will restore all things” (Matthew 17:11), Peter’s sermon in Acts 3 that states there will be a “period of restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21), and Paul’s statement about the Father using Christ to “reconcile all things to Himself” (Colossians 1:20). Bell also argues that God, being omnipotent, should be able to get what He wants, and the Bible clearly says that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Bell implies that God would not be loving and great if He was unable or unwilling to save everyone: “How great is God? Great enough to achieve what God sets out to do, or kind of great, great most of the time, but in this, the fate of billions of people, not totally great. Sort of great. A little great” (Love Wins, pp. 97–99).

Is God going to ultimately save everyone as Bell asserts? Does the Bible teach an ultimate reconciliation of all created beings at some point to the Creator? These questions can be answered by first examining the debate from a historical perspective, then understanding the concepts of mercy and justice in God, and finally making a tour through Scripture to see what the Bible has to say on the subject.

Ultimate Reconciliation – A Look Back at History
Although the doctrine of ultimate reconciliation has been championed by a variety of individuals down through history, there are two that stand out. The first is Origen of Alexandria (185-254 A.D.). The African theologian, who took an allegorical approach to Scripture and was heavily influenced by Greek philosophy, did not believe in the eternal suffering of sinners in hell. For Origen, all created beings, even demons and the devil, would eventually achieve salvation, no matter how long it took in the current life or in the life to come. He reasoned that because God’s love is so powerful, it will eventually soften even the hardest heart. This thought is echoed by Bell who says, “No one can resist God’s pursuit forever because God’s love will eventually melt even the hardest hearts” (p. 108).

Origen saw the church as the great “school of souls” in which erring pupils are instructed and disciplined, but for those who do not choose God in this life, they would continue their ‘tutelage’ in the next through an atoning and sanctifying process of purging fire. Origen believed that hell cannot be permanent for any soul because God could not abandon any creature. Since God respects human freedom, the process of winning over His created beings may take a long time in some cases, but God’s love, Origen believed, will ultimately triumph. Or as Rob Bell puts it, love wins.

Origen’s restoration of all beings, known as apokatastasis, is the Greek word used in Acts 3:21 for ‘restoration, and can be traced back to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who stated that “the beginning and end are common.” Origen’s belief in ultimate reconciliation was eventually refuted by Augustine and condemned in 543 A.D. in a council at Constantinople.

The second major personality in history contributing to the teaching of ultimate reconciliation was an Italian theologian named Laelius Socinus and his nephew Faustus, who lived in the 16th century. Together, they revived the fourth century heresy of Arianism—officially condemned at the council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.—and taught that the trinity was a false doctrine and that Christ was not God. In that sense, they were “Unitarian” in their teaching.

But Socinus went further and said that some of God’s attributes (e.g. His omniscience, immutability, etc.) were optional and not necessary, meaning He didn’t have to manifest them if He chose not to. Socinus claimed that God’s justice was optional, but His mercy is mandatory. In other words, God always had to be merciful, but He didn’t always have to be just toward offenses committed against Him. Therefore, the logic of Socinus progressed as follows: if God’s justice is optional, but His mercy is mandatory, and if God loves all the world and Christ died for everyone who would ever live, then all people will be saved by God. In this respect, Socinus and his nephew were Universalists.

Both Origen and Socinus’ teaching preceded Rob Bell by centuries, but the text contained in Love Wins echoes their conclusions perfectly. The question becomes, then, how can such a thing occur from a practical standpoint? How can all souls be reconciled to God? This is where Bell and his predecessors greatly err in their theology; they misunderstand and misconstrue the Scripture’s teachings on God’s mercy and His justice.

Ultimate Reconciliation – Understanding God’s Mercy and His Justice
It is important to understand that the concepts of mercy and justice are understood in a unique fashion in Christianity. In every other religion in the world that holds to the idea of a supreme deity, that deity’s mercy is always exercised at the expense of its justice. For example, in Islam, Allah may grant mercy to an individual, but it’s always done at the expense of his justice. In other words, the offender’s punishment that was properly due him/her is brushed aside so that mercy can be extended. Islam’s Allah, and every other deity in every other non-Christian religion of the world, lays aside the requirements of the moral law in order to be merciful. Most people would have a major complaint against any human judge who acted in such a fashion.

Christianity is different. In Christianity, God exercises His mercy through His justice. The Christian doctrine of penal substitution states that sin and injustice were punished at the cross of Christ, and only because the penalty of sin was satisfied through Christ’s sacrifice does God extend His mercy to undeserving sinners.

And while Christ did indeed die for sinners, He also died as a demonstration of God’s righteousness. The Apostle Paul makes this clear when he says, “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:24-26). In other words, Paul says that although God didn’t immediately punish the sins of those who lived before Christ and extended mercy to them, He did not forget about justice. Instead, His righteousness (i.e. His justice) was demonstrated by Christ’s death on the cross. So God’s mercy was and is exercised through His justice.

While this teaching is beautiful and gives God glory, it can be misconstrued by some to mean that everyone will be saved through Christ’s death on the cross. In addition to the scriptures mentioned by Bell in his book, some Universalists point to verses such as: “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2), and: “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

The problem with such thinking is that there is enormous biblical evidence that leads in the opposite direction. Instead of echoing Origen, Socinus, and Bell’s conclusion that everyone will eventually turn their heart toward God and be reconciled to Him, the Bible states conclusively that most will experience eternal separation from God and only few will be saved because not all will believe and embrace Christ as their savior.

Ultimate Reconciliation – The Biblical Case for Hell
While some theologians may struggle to ascertain whether Jesus believed in a literal hell, a number of atheists experience no such difficulty. The skeptic Bertrand Russell wrote, “There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and it is that He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment. . . . one does find repeatedly a vindictive fury against those people who would not listen to His preaching. . . . I must say that I think all this doctrine, that hell-fire is a punishment for sin, is a doctrine of cruelty.”

A plain reading of the text shows that Russell is right in his conclusion that Christ believed in hell. Consider Jesus’ discourse found in Luke 16: “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. “And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us’” (Luke 16:19–26).

Bell believes that hell is a “period of pruning” and “an intense experience of correction” (pg. 91), and yet verse 26 of the passage above speaks of a chasm so great that none who are in hell may cross over. In other words, hell is permanent. Perhaps this is why Jesus spoke more about hell in the Gospel accounts than He did heaven.

Consider Jesus’ other statements about eternal punishment and how the unsaved will experience God’s wrath:

• “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13–14)
• “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’” (Matthew 7:22–23)
• “And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day” (Matthew 11:23)
• “So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness” (Matthew 13:40–41)
• “So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:49–50)
• “Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’” (Matthew 22:13)
• “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Matthew 23:15)
• “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?” (Matthew 23:33)
• “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;” (Matthew 25:41)
• “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46)
• “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire” (Mark 9:43)
• “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:5)
• “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36)
• “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29)
• “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death’” (Revelation 2:11)

Notice that Revelation 2:11 has Jesus speaking of a “second death”, which is important to remember. This term is used three other times in the book of Revelation to speak of the fate of those who are unbelievers:

• “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6)
• “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14)
• “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

In Scripture, death denotes separation, oftentimes referring to the passage of life from a human body or the division of spiritual life from the soul of a person. In these verses, the author speaks to the fact that unbelievers are born once, but die twice; first they lose their physical life and then they lose their hope for eternal life with God.

There is no second chance, no matter how much Origen or Rob Bell wish it were otherwise. The writer of Hebrews plainly states, “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

Reconciling God’s Mercy with the Biblical Case for Hell
In arguing for ultimate reconciliation, Rob Bell asserts that God would not be great, loving, or merciful if He assigned people to hell. But nowhere does God’s justice ever factor into Bell’s thinking. While God’s justice is portrayed and is present throughout the entire Old and New Testament, what is absent in the Bible is Bell’s belief in a post-mortem evangelistic campaign that eventually reconciles those dying without Christ in this life to God in the next life. This reversal of scriptural support proves to be Bell’s theological Achilles’ heel.

At the heart of ultimate reconciliation is the difficulty over reconciling God’s mercy and the reality of hell is a lack of understanding of God’s antecedent and consequent wills. God indeed antecedently desires all to be saved, but He consequently wills the sinner to experience His punishment. Or as Thomas Aquinas explained it: “Hence it may be said of a just judge, that antecedently he wills all men to live; but consequently wills the murderer to be hanged. In the same way God antecedently wills all men to be saved, but consequently wills some to be damned, as His justice exacts.”

Redefining hell as Origen and Bell do (a place of temporary correction before entering eternal life with God) does every person who hears and accepts their teaching an incalculable injustice, and in a very real sense makes them irrelevant as theologians and teachers. On an American troop ship, the soldiers crowded around their chaplain asking, “Do you believe in hell?” “I do not,” replied the chaplain. “Well, then, will you please resign, for if there is no hell, we do not need you, and if there is a hell, we do not wish to be led astray.”

Unlike false shepherds like Rob Bell, the Bible-believing Christian needs to heed the command given to Ezekiel, which applies to us today: “Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself” (Ezek. 3:17-19).

Charles Spurgeon paraphrased Ezekiel’s words this way: “If sinners be dammed, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”

Ultimate Reconciliation – Conclusion
It is sobering to remember that the first doctrine to be denied in Scripture is judgment. The Bible records Satan saying to Eve, “You surely will not die!” (Genesis 3:4). Unfortunately, many Universalists feel the same way and deny that an eternal separation from God is a reality for anyone who refuses Christ as their savior. But simply put, those who reject Jesus Christ in this life will have their request honored also in the next.

The doctrine of ultimate reconciliation or universalism may be appealing to human sensibilities, but it is simply wrong and unbiblical. Scripture teaches that beyond this life, there are no second chances. Instead, the Bible declares, “Today is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Love does indeed win for those who turn by faith to Christ in this life and embrace Him as Savior. Those who don’t and dismiss the concept of hell will find out eternity is an awfully long time to be wrong. As writer Os Guinness puts it, “For some, hell is simply a truth realized too late.”

Every time there is a conflict in or around Israel, many see it as a sign of the quickly approaching end times. The problem with this is that we may eventually tire of the conflict in Israel, so much so that we will not recognize when true, prophetically significant events occur. Conflict in Israel is not necessarily a sign of the end times.

Conflict in Israel has been a reality whenever Israel has existed as a nation. Whether it was the Egyptians, Amalekites, Midianites, Moabites, Ammonites, Amorites, Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, or Romans, the nation of Israel has always been persecuted by its neighbors. Why is this? According to the Bible, it is because God has a special plan for the nation of Israel, and Satan wants to defeat that plan. Satanically influenced hatred of Israel—and especially Israel’s God—is the reason Israel’s neighbors have always wanted to see Israel destroyed. Whether it is Sennacherib, king of Assyria; Haman, official of Persia; Hitler, leader of Nazi Germany; or Rouhani, President of Iran, attempts to completely destroy Israel will always fail. The persecutors of Israel will come and go, but the persecution will remain until the second coming of Christ. As a result, conflict in Israel is not a reliable indicator of the soon arrival of the end times.

However, the Bible does say there will be terrible conflict in Israel during the end times. That is why the time period is known as the Tribulation, the Great Tribulation, and the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7). Here is what the Bible says about Israel in the end times:

There will be a mass return of Jews to the land of Israel (Deuteronomy 30:3; Isaiah 43:6; Ezekiel 34:11-13; 36:24; 37:1-14).

The Antichrist will make a 7-year covenant of “peace” with Israel (Isaiah 28:18; Daniel 9:27).

The temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem (Daniel 9:27; Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 11:1).

The Antichrist will break his covenant with Israel, and worldwide persecution of Israel will result (Daniel 9:27; 12:1, 11; Zechariah 11:16; Matthew 24:15, 21; Revelation 12:13). Israel will be invaded (Ezekiel chapters 38-39).

Israel will finally recognize Jesus as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10). Israel will be regenerated, restored, and regathered (Jeremiah 33:8; Ezekiel 11:17; Romans 11:26).

There is much turmoil in Israel today. Israel is persecuted, surrounded by enemies—Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, etc. But this hatred and persecution of Israel is only a hint of what will happen in the end times (Matthew 24:15-21). The latest round of persecution began when Israel was reconstituted as a nation in 1948. Many Bible prophecy scholars believed the six-day Arab-Israeli war in 1967 was the “beginning of the end.” Could what is taking place in Israel today indicate that the end is near? Yes. Does it necessarily mean the end is near? No. Jesus Himself said it best, “Watch out that no one deceives you. . . . You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come” (Matthew 24:4-6).

Four Blood Moons

What’s Coming in 2015? | Mark Biltz: an end time prophetic message surrounding the events occurring between April 15, 2014 (Passover) and October 1, 2015.

The four horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in Revelation chapter 6, verses 1-8. The four horsemen are symbolic descriptions of different events which will take place in the end times. The first horseman of the Apocalypse is mentioned in Revelation 6:2: “I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.” This first horseman likely refers to the Antichrist, who will be given authority and will conquer all who oppose him. The antichrist is the false imitator of the true Christ, who will also return on a white horse (Revelation 19:11-16).

The second horseman of the Apocalypse appears in Revelation 6:4, “Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.” The second horseman refers to terrible warfare that will break out in the end times. The third horseman is described in Revelation 6:5-6, “…and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!’” The third horseman of the Apocalypse refers to a great famine that will take place, likely as a result of the wars from the second horseman.

The fourth horseman is mentioned in Revelation 6:8, “I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.” The fourth horseman of the Apocalypse is symbolic of death and devastation. It seems to be a combination of the previous horsemen. The fourth horseman of the Apocalypse will bring further warfare and terrible famines along with awful plagues and diseases. What is most amazing, or perhaps terrifying, is that the four horsemen of the Apocalypse are just “precursors” of even worse judgments that come later in the tribulation (Revelation chapters 8–9 and 16).

The main passage in the Bible that mentions the “mark of the beast” is Revelation 13:15-18. Other references can be found in Revelation 14:9, 11, 15:2, 16:2, 19:20, and 20:4. This mark acts as a seal for the followers of Antichrist and the false prophet (the spokesperson for the Antichrist). The false prophet (the second beast) is the one who causes people to take this mark. The mark is literally placed in the hand or forehead and is not simply a card someone carries.

The recent breakthroughs in medical implant chip and RFID technologies have increased interest in the mark of the beast spoken of in Revelation chapter 13. It is possible that the technology we are seeing today represents the beginning stages of what may eventually be used as the mark of the beast. It is important to realize that a medical implant chip is not the mark of the beast. The mark of the beast will be something given only to those who worship the Antichrist. Having a medical or financial microchip inserted into your right hand or forehead is not the mark of the beast. The mark of the beast will be an end-times identification required by the Antichrist in order to buy or sell, and it will be given only to those who worship the Antichrist.

Many good expositors of Revelation differ widely as to the exact nature of the mark of the beast. Besides the implanted chip view, other speculations include an ID card, a microchip, a barcode that is tattooed into the skin, or simply a mark that identifies someone as being faithful to the Antichrist’s kingdom. This last view requires the least speculation, since it does not add any more information to what the Bible gives us. In other words, any of these things are possible, but at the same time they are all speculations. We should not spend a lot of time speculating on the precise details.

The meaning of 666 is a mystery as well. Some have speculated that there was a connection to June 6, 2006—06/06/06. However, in Revelation chapter 13, the number 666 identifies a person, not a date. Revelation 13:18 tells us, “This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is man’s number. His number is 666.” Somehow, the number 666 will identify the Antichrist. For centuries Bible interpreters have been trying to identify certain individuals with 666. Nothing is conclusive. That is why Revelation 13:18 says the number requires wisdom. When the Antichrist is revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), it will be clear who he is and how the number 666 identifies him.