Mat 24:3 Later, Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives. His disciples came to Him privately and said, "Tell us, when will all this happen? What sign will signal Your return and the end of the world? "
Before we talk about the signs of the End of the World as stated by Jesus, I thought we might tackle the question posed by the disciples first. Why are the disciples asking the question? Why do we ask the question? What motivates us to seek signs for the end of the world?
What motivates us to seek signs for the end of the world?
Personally I think there is an inner part in all of us that intuitively knows that this world is not supposed to work this way. We sense that things are out-of-whack; that sin is wrong and that suffering, death, disease and all other maladies this world has to offer are not how we were intended to live. Even the Atheist strives to avoid the consequences of sin, though he may not give them the name "sin". It is that sense of "wrongness" that drives us to find answers and to seek a source of comfort. It is our sense of self preservation kicking in and God respects that. He gives us signs of the end of the world so that we will have a road map to guide us through the treacherous terrain of life and history. But, all of this begs the question, will the world really end?
Will the world really end?
I am a firm believer, especially since watching this video sermon by Philip Sizemore, that satan has a counterfeit for every truth that God has established. So let's consider the truth that the world will end. Do we believe that? How do we handle this statement as men of belief? Let's look at some of the apocalyptic teachings of denominations and see if they agree with the idea that the world will end.
LDS - Mormons[from their website]
"We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory."
Now that is a definitive answer! Unfortunately, it doesn't completely gel with what the bible says about the second coming and the end of the world. In fact, I believe that the LDS are the most susceptible to the final deception of satan impersonating Christ, because they believe that Jesus is coming to setup His Kingdom on this sinful planet. For more on satan impersonating Jesus, and creating a false second coming, visit this link.
Catholicism[I couldn't find a definitive official statement] I tried to find a statement that made sense from the Catholic church which would clearly show what they thought on this matter, but apparently what they believe about the end of the world is very ambiguous and ethereal so as not to have to make a clear statement at all. I believe this is because they ARE the Beast power spoken of in Daniel and Revelation so every belief that they have on the matter must avoid this clear interpretation. Thus they come off as vague and undecided. This link should help to clear the "why" of this up if you want to do more study.
United Methodist Church[I couldn't find a definitive official statement] Again, I had a hard time finding anything that was clear about how the Mehodists believe about the end of the world. It almost seems as though they just avoid the idea that Jesus did give signs of the end and He did want us to be ready and watching. Not worrying...but ready and watching. I wonder if the Methodists avoid this topic because the study of prophecy might lead their people to seek a different church?
If there is a clear definition out there from the Methodist, I would be happy to post a link to it in this blog if someone can point it out to me. Here is all that I could find that came close to some kind of statement: LINK
"...But the church is here by God's design to proclaim the good news of God's love by word and deed until God's loving reign is made real throughout God's world."
Presbyterians believe in being ready for the end times while not being fearfully anxious about them. Presbyterians believe that God's purpose for the world is that loneliness, pain, poverty, sickness, injustice, even death, no longer mar creation. Presbyterians believe God is as concerned with the redemption of society as of individuals and therefore actively seek to demonstrate God's purpose here and now until it is fully realized in God's good time."
I like what the Presbyterian's have to say until we get to this part..
" ...God is as concerned with the redemption of society as of individuals and therefore actively seek to demonstrate God's purpose here and now until it is fully realized in God's good time."
This seems to skirt the fact that the world WILL end. Societies of today and of the future do not get better. As defined by the bible, they get worse. Wickedness runs rampant in the last days and the thoughts of men "are continually evil". God is not coming to take over a partially happy and completed society, but instead is coming to save those who are His and then destroy every part of this sinful planet with fire. Sin always gets worse without the intervention of God...always. He has told us that He will cleanse the earth with fire, and I believe Him.
Baptists [from their website] [visit site]
Article XVII. - Of The World To Come: "We believe that the end of the world is approaching; that at the last day Christ will descend from heaven, and raise the dead from the grave to final retribution; that a solemn separation will then take place; that the wicked will be adjudged to endless punishment, and the righteous to endless joy; and that this judgment will fix forever the final state of men in heaven or hell, on principles of righteousness."
The Baptists take a good line on the end of the world. They define it clearly and biblically. They see the judgement taking place at the very end and everyone either goes to heaven or hell based on the principle of righteousness. Their end result is off when they say "eternal punishment", but they do believe in an end to this world.
Second Coming of Christ: The second coming of Christ is the blessed hope of the church, the grand climax of the gospel. The Saviour's coming will be literal, personal, visible, and worldwide. When He returns, the righteous dead will be resurrected, and together with the righteous living will be glorified and taken to heaven, but the unrighteous will die. The almost complete fulfillment of most lines of prophecy, together with the present condition of the world, indicates that Christ's coming is imminent. The time of that event has not been revealed, and we are therefore exhorted to be ready at all times. (Titus 2:13; Heb. 9:28; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9-11; Matt. 24:14; Rev. 1:7; Matt. 24:43, 44; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 1 Cor. 15:51-54; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; 2:8; Rev. 14:14-20; 19:11-21; Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; 1 Thess. 5:1-6.)
Seventh-day Adventist also have a very clear and concise definition of how the world will end. They give excellent scriptural references as well. I also noticed that they had 3 other entries under this one that help to more clearly define their end of the world doctrines. They were titled "Death and Resurrection", "Millennium and the End of Sin", and "New Earth". Being a denomination that proclaims the "Advent" of Jesus Christ as coming soon, I would expect nothing less. They believe in the literal cleansing of the earth and that it will be made new along with the complete wiping away of sin.
So, back to our original question...
Will the world really end?
Yes! There is your definitive answer and there could be no other. It is actually our greatest hope as Christians. Sin will be completely and utterly destroyed, never to raise it's ugly head again. God has promised this.
So don't run away from the idea of the end of the world. Don't be afraid of it. Stop, consider and recognize it as a good thing. The end of sin and satan is the end of the world. God wants to save everyone He possibly can. He loves us all unconditionally..and He respects our free will. He will not force you to join Him in heaven, but why would you choose anything else?
Dear Father in Heaven,
I wish I was with You there now, but I know we have work to do. Can you help me to please find a way to teach people; a way that really let's them see You? I'm so feeble in my attempts..I need Your wisdom and strength. Today I ask for the Holy Spirit to indwell me. I want to have the Mind of Christ and I thank you that through Jesus Christ I am made righteous. I praise You for this fact! Please help me to follow in the footsteps of Christ. I come boldly to Your throne now and ask for this promise to be granted today. I love You Lord. Amen.