RESTORATION (END TIMES)
God has always investigated before taking action, demonstrating His willingness to forgive and giving each one of us a chance to be part of His plan. We saw this to be true with the Garden of Eden, the Tower of Babel, the exodus from Egypt and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Before Jesus’ Second Coming, He is investigating the entire earth, everyone who has ever lived, every choice every human being has made. God wants it to be clear to us, and to the watching universe, that not one person will experience a fate they did not choose.
Christ’s return is near, meaning the final judgment of humanity, the destruction of the wicked, the end of death and sin, and the redemption of those who accept the gift of God’s salvation. And that’s not the end of the story. We will enjoy a millennium in heaven and the restoration of our earth to the paradise it once was, for us to enjoy for eternity while communing face to face with God.
The following statements describe what the Seventh-day Adventist Church believes about the end times of the earth, and what’s in store for humanity as eternity unfolds.
24. Christ’s Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary
There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle that the Lord set up and not humans. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross.
At His ascension, He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and began His intercessory ministry, which was typified by the work of the high priest in the holy place of the earthly sanctuary.
In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days (as prophesied by Daniel), He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry, which was typified by the work of the high priest in the most holy place of the earthly sanctuary.
It is a work of investigative judgment, which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus.
The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection.
It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom.
This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent.
(Lev. 16; Num. 14:34; Ezek. 4:6; Dan. 7:9-27; 8:13, 14; 9:24-27; Heb. 1:3; 2:16, 17; 4:14-16; 8:1-5; 9:11- 28; 10:19-22; Rev. 8:3-5; 11:19; 14:6, 7; 20:12; 14:12; 22:11, 12.)
25. The Second Coming of Christ
The second coming of Christ is the blessed hope of the church, the grand climax of the gospel.
The Savior’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 near. The time of that event has not been revealed, and we are therefore exhorted to be ready at all times.
(Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Cor. 15:51-54; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 5:1-6; 2 Thess. 1:7- 10; 2:8; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; Titus 2:13; Heb. 9:28; Rev. 1:7; 14:14-20; 19:11-21.)
26. Death and Resurrection
The wages of sin is death. But God, who alone is immortal, will grant eternal life to His redeemed.
Until that day death is an unconscious state for all people. When Christ, who is our life, appears, the resurrected righteous and the living righteous will be glorified and caught up to meet their Lord.
The second resurrection, the resurrection of the unrighteous, will take place a thousand years later.
(Job 19:25-27; Ps. 146:3, 4; Eccl. 9:5, 6, 10; Dan. 12:2, 13; Isa. 25:8; John 5:28, 29; 11:11-14; Rom. 6:23; 16; 1 Cor. 15:51-54; Col. 3:4; 1 Thess. 4:13-17; 1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 20:1-10.)
27. The Millennium and the End of Sin
The millennium is the thousand-year reign of Christ with His saints in heaven between the first and second resurrections.
During this time the wicked dead will be judged; the earth will be utterly desolate, without living human inhabitants, but occupied by Satan and his angels.
At its close Christ with His saints and the Holy City will descend from heaven to earth. The unrighteous dead will then be resurrected, and with Satan and his angels will surround the city; but fire from God will consume them and cleanse the earth.
The universe will thus be freed of sin and sinners forever.
(Jer. 4:23-26; Ezek. 28:18, 19; Mal. 4:1; 1 Cor. 6:2, 3; Rev. 20; 21:1-5.)
28. The New Earth
On the new earth, in which righteousness dwells, God will provide an eternal home for the redeemed and a perfect environment for everlasting life, love, joy, and learning in His presence. For here God Himself will dwell with His people, and suffering and death will have passed away.
The great controversy will be ended, and sin will be no more. All things, animate and inanimate, will declare that God is love; and He shall reign forever. Amen.
(Isa. 35; 65:17-25; Matt. 5:5; 2 Peter 3:13; Rev. 11:15; 21:1-7; 22:1-5.)