The idea of the end of the world or the invasion of Planet Earth by extraterrestrial beings has repeatedly been the topic of popular films. Fear, confusion, and uncertainty are common feelings associated with thoughts on Jesus Christ’s second coming. We have heard so much about signs and wonders that will lead up to Christ’s second coming that its easy to get confused as to what the Word of God actually tells us. Another common difficulty is that when thinking about Christ’s second coming, it’s easy to be caught up in ideas about how it will take place. One can imagine Jesus as if in an old western movie where the damsel in distress is tied up and placed upon the railroad tracks while an approaching train whistle is heard in the distance. Just then, with seconds to spare, Christ is seen riding on a white horse and comes down to us and sets us free right before the locomotive goes steaming by. But is this an accurate depiction?
There are so many views on what is going to happen, when it’s going to happen, and in what order it’s going to happen, that we can get lost. Terms like “premillennialism” and “rapture” are so commonly used by our society today that most think they are fundamental Christian views of the end times. Premillennialism is a belief that Christ will return and establish His 1000 year reign here on earth. Following this reign the “rapture,” which they believe will be the collection of all living and dead believers, will occur. The problem with this view is that it’s not grounded in the Word of God. Jesus said that His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36), and this view misreads the meaning of the book of Revelation. In contrast to the above, the less common postmillennial view places Christ’s second coming after (post) the 1000 year reign, which they believe we are in now and just don’t realize it. They also view this 1000 year reign as an age of progress and they assume that the world is getting better and better as we near the return of Christ. This belief came about with the industrial revolution and before WWI, The Great Depression, WWII, the Holocaust, the attacks on the World Trade Center Towers, and this current economic recession. This view again misreads the book of Revelation and forgets that the wages of sin are death and decay (Romans 6:23).
Download a PDF of Apologia: What Lutherans Believe about the End Times.