Questions on End of the World

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Please tell me WELS' beliefs on Rapture and the End Times. Thank you!

The false teaching of the Rapture is the idea that, prior to the end of the world, believers will suddenly be whisked out of this world to heaven.  The teaching is a gross misunderstanding of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.  That section of Scripture explains that on the Last Day Jesus will return visibly to this world, Continued.

My friend, a Christian, tried to explain to me how some will have another 7 years to repent after judgement day, and be saved. She says it states this in Revelation. Please help me understand where she is coming from and direct me on how I can help her interpret this message correctly.

Your friend is echoing ideas of something called dispensational premillennialism.  That is a false teaching that inserts numerous events prior to the end of the world.  One of those events is a so-called great tribulation of seven years.  Scripture does not teach a special period of seven years of tribulation at the end of time. Continued.

A business associate of my husband recently said he believes the weather will be extreme at the end of the world. Of course, I know there will be wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, other natural disasters, but extreme cold to extreme hot to tornadoes. Where might I find these "signs" in Revelation that will be backed up in other parts of Scripture?

In Revelation 6:1-17 we find a picturesque retelling of Jesus’ words in Mathew 24:1-14.  In both those sections of Scripture we hear that some of the end-time signs are famines and earthquakes.  Certainly, unfavorable weather conditions can lead to famines, but the cause for food shortages is not specifically attributed to vacillating extreme temperatures or Continued.

I was wondering about your position concerning the four blood moons over Israel that are falling over feast days in 2014 and 2015 and their remarkable alignments with the Jewish feast days of Passover and Feast of Tabernacles.

Behind the “four blood moons over Israel” is an approach called dispensational premillennialism.  Among other things, it maintains that the modern nation of Israel will play an important role in end-time events.  John Hagee, who authored the book, “Four Blood Moons:  Something is about to Change,” maintains that “God is trying to communicate with us Continued.

Who will come back with Jesus when he returns? Will believers also judge the world?

When Paul says that “God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (1 Thessalonians 4:14), he is referring to the believers who have died, but have been raised to life to witness Jesus’ return. See Daniel 12:2 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. Jesus refers to the 12 apostles judging the 12 tribes Continued.

I know that we as Lutherans reject the teaching of the rapture. There are many passages in the Bible that indicate that Christians will go through a tribulation period in the last days and these passages also confirm that the teaching of the rapture is false. Below I referenced some passages that seem to slightly contradict or maybe just alter the timeline of events that the Lutheran church teaches: Matthew 24:40-41 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. Also, I have read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 multiple times and from that it is difficult for me to understand that the day the Lord will gather believers to take us home and judgement day are not two different things. That section of Scripture seems like it is only talking about the Lord taking us home and does not mention judgement day. Also, when I read Titus 2:13 and Amos 5:18, it seems like these passages are indicating that there are two separate events. The first event is one we eagerly anticipate and the second event is supposed to be feared. To briefly sum up my understanding of all this I can put it like this: we Christians will go through the tribulation period (Matthew 24 makes this clear), then the Lord will gather his believers and take us home, and finally the unbelievers will be judged. If you could tell me if I'm on or off course with this line of thinking, that would be great.

Allow me to comment briefly on several points you made and Scripture passages you cited.  The “tribulation period” Christians go through in life is the Christian life in general, not any particular time in their life or in world history (Acts 14:22). Matthew 24:40-41 shows how believers and unbelievers will be separated on the last Continued.

On judgment day, as listed in Rev. 20:12, "the dead were judged according to what they had done." Will the Christian's life (both good and bad things) be reviewed before going into heaven?

God judges on the basis of faith or unbelief (Mark 16:16).  While faith and unbelief are matters of the heart, neither is invisible; there is evidence of faith and unbelief in daily life.  Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46) shows how the Lord will provide evidence for the judgment of the Continued.

When we die our soul either goes to heaven or hell. On judgment day why are the souls of the dead judged again?

You are correct in stating that a person’s death is a personal judgment day.  When Jesus returns visibly on the last day, he will separate all humanity into two groups:  his believers (sheep) and unbelievers (goats) (Matthew 25:31-46).  By doing that, Jesus will make public what judgment took place at a person’s death, and he Continued.

I see the question "If you knew the Lord was coming tomorrow, what would you do today?" posted on social media often, especially by non-Lutheran family and friends. My reply without hesitation is: "Nothing different, as I am ready." How, as a WELS Lutheran, do I answer the inevitable follow-up questions? Comments always range from "Pray" and "Get Ready" to "Spread the Gospel." Shouldn't we already be doing those things?

I am with you in how I would react to such (hypothetical) news. If we take seriously the Bible’s instructions to live each day of life soberly (1 Peter 4:7), with prayerful watchfulness (Matthew 25:13; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8) and an urgency to spread the gospel (2 Corinthians 6:2), then such news of the Continued.

I saw a bumper sticker once that said, "Everybody lives forever, one way or the other ↑↓" which seems to say that after resurrection and judgment, all people are eternal beings, whether in heaven or hell. Is this accurate? We believe with Job that "...after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes...". Are the damned resurrected to new flesh along with the faithful?

In the Apostles’ Creed we confess: “I believe in the resurrection of the body.” In the Nicene Creed we confess: “We look for the resurrection of the dead.” The resurrection of which we speak is not limited to Christians. That becomes clear when we use the words of the Athanasian Creed: “At his [Jesus’] coming Continued.

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