Prophecy FAQ

Prophecy FAQ

We are closer to the End Times than ever before. While that might be an obvious statement, many who don’t believe in the Bible acknowledge that the world will end and that we are getting closer to that day. It’s a reality that is both fascinating and frightening. One of the best ways to come to terms with earth’s final days is to study biblical prophecy. If you wonder about the End Times, renowned prophecy expert and Bible teacher Dr. David Jeremiah invites you to join him for an exploration of frequently asked questions about the End Times.

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Prophecy FAQ

1. What is prophecy?

The English word prophecy derives from prophéteia, which means “the gift of communicating and enforcing revealed truth.”1 A prophet is one who possesses that gift. He or she is responsible for declaring God’s Word with absolute fidelity (Jeremiah 23:18-22).

Exodus 4 provides a beautiful illustration. When Moses objected to speaking before Pharaoh because of his own insecurities, God appointed his brother, Aaron, to be his prophet. “So [Aaron] shall be your spokesman to the people. And he himself shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be to him as God” (Exodus 4:16). Likewise, God supplies His prophet with what needs to be said, but the prophet is the one to say it. A true prophet appointed by God takes no credit for his words, recognizing that his revelation is God’s and not his own.

2. Are we living in the Apocalypse?

No. Before God’s judgment falls, I believe Jesus will take to heaven those who have placed their faith in Him as Savior. Seven years later, Jesus will return to end the world as we know it and establish His Millennial Kingdom.

But signs of the End Times are beginning to manifest today. These issues will only deepen and recur more frequently as we get closer to the end. In Matthew 24, Jesus gives us a glimpse of some of these signs:

The Sign of Deception. People will cry desperately for leaders to deliver them, and they will seek mystics and religious leaders who claim to have hidden knowledge. Many false teachers will claim to be the Savior. Jesus is the only salvation for this world, and we must be vigilant against counterfeits.

The Sign of Disputes Among Nations. Conflicts, border skirmishes, race wars, national battles, and general unrest will escalate.

Signs of the End Times are beginning to manifest today.

The Sign of Devastation. There will be widespread famine and disease, as well as “earthquakes in various places” (Matthew 24:7).

The Sign of Deliverance Into the Tribulation. Just before Jesus returns, there will be an explosion of antagonism toward God’s people. Christians will experience persecution. Many will pay a high price for proclaiming the name of Jesus in our world.

These signs regularly appear in the news today. While we cannot know the date or time of the Rapture, we know these issues will exponentially grow when it does happen.

3. What are the four horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Many movies and TV shows deal with apocalyptic circumstances, and references to the four horsemen are not uncommon. Hollywood uses the concept of the horsemen for its own purposes, but Scripture provides the only reliable description of the apocalyptic figures.

In Revelation 6:1-8, John describes Jesus opening four of the seven seals of judgment to begin the Tribulation. The first four seals are the horsemen, who are released from heaven to usher in various judgments on the earth.

White Horse. “And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.” Revelation 6:2

The rider on the white horse is the Antichrist. After working with Satan to unite the world under the guise of peace, the Antichrist will later wage open war against God’s people. His white horse is a direct imitation of Jesus’ return later in Revelation (19:11-16). Satan’s purpose has always been to counterfeit the work of Christ, and the Tribulation will be no different.

Red Horse. “Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.” Revelation 6:4

The fiery red horseman represents nation rising against nation and individuals fighting each other. It ushers in the war, murder, and bloodshed that characterize the Tribulation.

Black Horse. “So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.’” Revelation 6:5-6

The Bible often associates black with famine. In the early days of the Tribulation, food will be in short supply, so people will have to work all day to get enough food to eat—a denarius was the standard daily wage for ancient laborers. However, the luxuries of the wealthy (“oil and wine”) will remain untouched.

Pale Horse. “So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.” Revelation 6:8

Death is the pale rider followed by Hades (or hell). Together, they will kill with the sword, hunger, disease, and wild beasts—the four judgments the Lord said He would send in Ezekiel 14:21.

4. What does 666 mean?

666 is the mark of the Beast. During the Tribulation, the Antichrist’s accomplice, the False Prophet, will introduce the mark to bolster the Antichrist’s one-world rule. According to Revelation 13:16-17, “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”

Bearing the mark will be the only way to function in society. Those who refuse to take it will go bankrupt or starve.

Why 666? Revelation 13:18 tells us it is the number of man. We see this affirmed throughout Scripture. In Genesis, God created man on the sixth day. The Old Testament Law required men to work six out of every seven days. A Hebrew could only be held as a slave for a maximum of six years. And after six consecutive years of sowing a field, the law required its owner to let it lay fallow.

Another way to think of it is that the number 666 represents the ultimate in human ingenuity and competence. The Antichrist is the epitome of man’s last attempt at ruling the world before Jesus overrules all those who oppose Him once and for all.

The original text used the Greek word charagma for “mark.” In antiquity, this word was always associated with the Roman emperor. It often contained the emperor’s name, his image, and the year of his reign. It was necessary for buying and selling and was required to be affixed to documents to attest to their validity.

5. What is the Tribulation?

The sign of the four riders will usher in the Tribulation period. During the Tribulation, evil will flourish. God’s wrath toward the wicked will be revealed. Signs of His coming judgment will loom. It will be a terrible time. But in His goodness, God has not left us unaware. The Bible describes various signs, disasters, and circumstances of this future event and how we can prepare for it.

Things will be far worse than today (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Completion of the Rapture will usher in the seven-year period described in Revelation 6—18. For the first 3½ years, conditions will worsen; God’s anger will burn against the wicked; and signs of Christ’s coming will appear. During the last 3½ years, the “lawless one”—the Antichrist—will be empowered to sit at the center of the Tribulation’s evil as he personifies Satan.

The good news is that Christians will be in heaven during the Tribulation. God will be seated on the throne, surrounded by a rainbow of emerald greens. Twenty-four elders representing the church-age saints will sit around the throne. Before the throne will be a sea of glass. Around the throne, there will be four living creatures, singing praise to the One on the throne. All heaven will worship the glorified Christ, the Creator of the world. God’s judgment of the physical earth will soon follow, but before He does, the Church will worship earth’s Creator in heaven. Thunder, lightning, and voices proceeding from the throne will signify the impending judgment (Revelation 4:5).

6. What is the Battle of Armageddon?

The Battle of Armageddon is the final battle between the forces of evil and good, with Jesus as the Victor.

Six world powers will converge in the final campaign: the revived Roman Empire, the northern confederation (Russia and her allies), the kings of the East (Asia), the kings of the South (Africa), the Lord and His armies, and the nation of Israel.

Israel will be at the center of the conflict with all the other earthly nations gathering against Jerusalem. But according to biblical prophecy, these nations will band together and fight against the Lord when they see Him coming with the angels and believers who were raptured into heaven.

The Battle of Armageddon is the final battle between the forces of evil and good.

Christ Jesus will descend to the battlefield in all His power and majesty as the King of the universe. In the words of Revelation 19, “His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns.… Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations.… He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (verses 12, 15, and 16).

Christ Jesus will slay the nations with the sword as His armies stand together watching. He will conquer without sustaining any losses. All the powers of evil will be no opposition to His strength. In one dramatic moment, He will throw the Antichrist and the False Prophet into the lake of fire. The Battle of Armageddon will end as soon as it begins.

The resulting bloodshed, according to Revelation 14:20, will spread over a 200-mile area (approximately the size of Israel) and reach a depth of four feet (the height of a horse’s bridle). “All the birds” will be “filled” with the flesh of the battlefield (Revelation 19:21), and it will take seven months to bury the dead and seven years to rid the earth of all the weapons which gathered by the nations (Ezekiel 39:8-16). The bloody battlefields will be the remains of all those who rejected Christ Jesus.

7. What will happen at the Great White Throne Judgment?

The Great White Throne Judgment will be the final judgment of all “small and great” who have rejected Christ (Revelation 20:12). Many “good people” who were admired by their peers will be there—even many who held offices in the church and appeared to be Christians. But anyone who has sincerely placed their trust in Jesus and accepted Him as their Savior will not be present.

As Jesus sits on His great white throne, He will summon every person who has rejected Him. Their bodies will rise from the grave and sea to accept their final judgment. Books of judgment will expose every word, action, and thought of the defendants.

Romans 3:20 says, “By the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight.” The Great White Throne Judgment will attest to that. Matthew 7:22-23 says, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Their fate will be sealed when their names are not found in the Book of Life. After each one stands trial, they will be cast into the lake of fire, the final and forever hell.

Is your name written in the Book of Life? Have you placed your trust in Jesus and accepted the eternal salvation He openly offers to you? If you haven’t, I urge you to make the decision today!

8. Is the Antichrist alive today?

The Antichrist could be alive today, but we can’t know for sure. The Bible says that his identity will not be revealed until after the Rapture because the Holy Spirit will no longer be restraining the work of evil on earth (2 Thessalonians 2:5-12). Only when the Antichrist is prepared to take leadership will the world know who he is. Since the Rapture could happen at any time, he may be alive today.

While we cannot know who he is, we know details about him. He will be the incarnation of Satan, the great deceiver. Second Thessalonians 2:4 describes him as one “who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” Not only will he present himself against Christ but also instead of Christ. He will be the consummate counterfeiter.

We know that the Antichrist will be a charismatic leader who will sway the masses with his speaking ability. Daniel 7 says he will have “a mouth speaking pompous words…. He shall speak pompous words against the Most High” (verses 8, 25). “And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies” (Revelation 13:5). Captivated by his eloquence, the nations will unite in a one-world government with him as the supreme leader.

In all of this, God will remain in control. Revelation 13:7 says that “it was granted to [the Antichrist] to make war with the saints and to overcome them.” He will send a strong delusion into the minds of the unsaved people to believe the lies of the Antichrist, “that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12). The Antichrist will come in great power, but only in the power that God allows him. And he will not be revealed until Jesus raptures all believers into heaven.

9. Will everyone hear the Gospel before Jesus returns?

This can be a tricky question. Before Jesus returns to earth in the Second Coming, everyone will hear the Gospel, but not necessarily before the Rapture of the Church occurs. When Matthew 24:14 says, “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come,” it means that the Gospel will reach all people before the end of the Tribulation period.

10. Is there a second chance at salvation after the Rapture?

Yes, during the Tribulation, many people will choose to believe in Jesus and be saved. Most of these new believers will become martyrs for their faith because of intense persecution. Revelation 7:9-14 portrays these new believers accumulating in heaven after the Rapture:

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” … Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

How will these people discover the truth of the Gospel after the Rapture? According to Revelation 7, 144,000 Jews—twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel—will be chosen and sealed as witnesses to the Gospel before Christ returns. The Holy Spirit will provide them with power and protection to preach the Gospel during this time. With the promise of God’s protection, they will be fearless. No one will be able to harm them until their job is complete. Then, they will ascend to heaven.

Revelation also mentions two men who will prophesy for nearly three-and-a-half years of the Tribulation (Revelation 11:3). Then, after the 144,000 enter heaven, an angel will proclaim the Gospel “to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water’” (Revelation 14:6-7). This bold preaching of both angels and men will be a testament to the strength of God’s character; it will demonstrate His graciousness and justice. When His judgment is on display, His mercy is just as real and present.

Although multitudes will receive salvation during the Tribulation, no one should use it as an excuse to put off accepting Christ. If you haven’t already, I urge you to surrender your life to Jesus today.

11. What is the difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming?

This is one of the most common misconceptions about prophecy. The Rapture and the Second Coming are often confused, but they are two different events on God’s prophecy timeline.

First, the Rapture will be the day when Christ takes every Christian to heaven with Him, including those who have died. This is the event Paul describes in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

Some argue that the Tribulation period will begin before the Rapture. However, Scripture says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1), and I believe the Church will not experience the judgment that God has planned for that time.

I believe the Church will not experience the judgment that God has planned for that time.

At the end of the seven years, Jesus will return, marking the Second Coming. Unlike His first appearance, He will emerge as the victorious King of the universe, surrounded by His saints. He will gain victory at Armageddon and establish His kingdom on earth.

At the Rapture, Jesus comes for His saints. At the Second Coming, He comes with His saints.

At the Rapture, Jesus doesn’t come to earth. At the Second Coming, His feet touch down on the Mount of Olives, and He will reign on earth.

At the Rapture, Jesus comes with a blessing for His saints. At the Second Coming, He brings judgment for those who have rejected Him.

The Rapture can happen at any moment, but we know the Second Coming will happen seven years later.

12. Will today’s believers be on earth for the Millennial Kingdom?

Not only will believers today be on earth for the Millennial Kingdom, but they will also rule with Jesus!

After the Tribulation, raptured believers will join Jesus and His armies of angels and return to earth: “The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean” (Revelation 19:14, NIV). Jesus will gain victory at Armageddon, and believers will receive authority to reign with Him for one thousand years. Several passages in Scripture point the role of believers in the kingdom:

Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. Jude 14-15

Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 1 Corinthians 6:2

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. Revelation 20:4-6

Today’s believers are rulers in the making. God is preparing us not only for heaven but also for administrating the Millennial Kingdom. During this time, God will establish the first genuinely righteous leadership. As our righteous King, He will never make one mistake—He will always make the right decision.

13. Will God destroy the earth?

Pop culture leads us to believe that one day a giant explosion will destroy the earth. But God is not going to destroy the planet, He is going to purify it.

Second Peter 3:10-12 says, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up…. The heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat.”

It’s understandable how this passage can lead some to believe in the apocalyptic explosion theory. But when we look at the original Greek, the word translated “burned up” more accurately conveys the idea of being uncovered or laid open. God will not burn the earth down to a heap of ashes; He’s going to refine every element and atom down to the earth’s core. He’s going to renovate the earth to a quality we haven’t experienced. The beauty we enjoy today is barely a taste of the vibrancy we will experience when God purifies His creation.

Revelation 21:1 says, “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” But God will not create a new earth from scratch like He did in Genesis. He will renovate His creation and remove all the evidence of sin, decay, and disease. The world will not be new in composition but in quality—perfectly refurbished to its core.

Then the New Jerusalem—the city of heaven we hear so much about with streets of gold and pearly gates—that city will come out of the clouds, and there all believers will reside with God for eternity.

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:2-4

14. Why isn’t America in Bible prophecy?

For many, Scripture’s silence about America raises serious concerns. It is worth noting that a host of other world powers do not appear in the Bible either. The only modern nations cited in prophecy date back to antiquity—Syria, Israel, Persia, and the like.

That aside, theories about America’s absence from prophecy abound. Based on the cultural and historical connections between the United States and Europe, some have speculated that the U.S. will become part of a revived Roman Empire (Daniel 2:41-43). Others have suggested that invaders or another outside force will weaken America. One theory surmises that America might not play a significant role in end-time events because it will lose so many Christians in the Rapture—I hope they are right! Others worry that America will crumble from the inside due to moral decay.

Over the years, America’s wealth, technology, and scientific advancements have surpassed all previous civilizations. I believe our nation has enjoyed God’s blessing because many Pilgrims and our Founding Fathers sought the counsel of God’s Word as they forged our national identity (Psalm 33:12). Drawing from this heritage, the United States has propelled world missions, befriended the Jewish people, and promoted liberty and justice.

Critics of Christianity can try to rewrite our nation’s heritage, but they will fail. America’s identity is bound up in its faith.

If we allow this foundation to erode, it will come at a steep cost. The history of world powers like Babylon, Greece, and Rome suggests that the greatest threats to America’s future lie within. Previous empires have followed a lifecycle something like this: they moved out of bondage to spiritual faith; from faith to courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to complacency; from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependence; and from dependence back to bondage.2 It is not hard to trace America’s history on that path. I would say we have passed the midpoint and are somewhere in the second half of that cycle—barring a change in course.

Though Scripture makes no mention of the United States, it seems that God has had a plan for this nation in redemptive history. Our country has not been perfect, but its blessings are undeniable. Proverbs 14:34 says, “Godliness makes a nation great, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (NLT). America’s future will depend on how closely it follows this blueprint for success.

Although we cannot know the prophetic future of America, each of us can make a difference by choosing to obey God today.

15. Will babies and young children experience the Rapture?

We have it on the authority of Scripture that God judges a child differently than He judges an adult. Those too young to understand the consequences of their choices are considered innocent and will be spared from judgment—whether at death or the Rapture.

Here are three reassuring reasons for believing Jesus will rapture babies and young children with mature believers.

God's Character. One of God's names in the Bible is "Father" (Romans 8:15). This title gives us an indication of how He regards the helpless and innocent among us. In the book of Deuteronomy, we find the Lord preventing an unbelieving generation of Israelites from entering the Promised Land while their children were exempt from that penalty (Deuteronomy 1:39). Other verses refer to young children as "innocents," indicating God treats their naïve sinful desires differently from the willful sinfulness of mature individuals (Jeremiah 2:34, 19:4).

As Psalm 145:9 says, "The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works." God's goodness and mercy will not allow Him to hold someone responsible for a decision they cannot make. The blood of Christ will cover children who are too young to understand the Gospel message.

Salvation's Condition. God's plan of salvation is a gift that we choose to accept or reject. Anyone who recognizes right from wrong has reached the age of accountability, meaning God will hold them responsible for their actions. Small children do not understand what they must do to be saved (Acts 16:30-31), so they are protected from judgment for sin by the blood of the Lord.

Think of it this way: When a teenager defiantly says "No!" to his parent, the result will be discipline. But when that teen's two-year-old sister says "No!" the consequences will be different. Instead of punishment, the two-year-old will receive patient correction and instruction; her parents will teach her about having respect for their authority—something a teenager should already know. In other words, there is a difference in accountability between a young child and an older child or adult.

The age of accountability varies from person to person. Until a child understands what Christ's sacrifice on the cross means to them personally and realizes their sin and guilt before God, the blood of Christ covers them. This principle also applies to those who, while they are mature physically, have never matured mentally. They may be in an adult's body, but their mind is comparable to a child's.

Christ's Compassion. In the Gospels, Jesus' love for young children is evident on more than one occasion. When Scripture refers to His interactions with children, it often uses "little" to highlight His tender compassion toward little ones (Matthew 19:13-14; Mark 10:13-14; Luke 18:16). Indeed, His declaration to "Let the little children come to Me" refers to the infants and babies people brought to Him.

The most emphatic statement appears in Matthew 18:14, where Jesus says, "Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." It could not be clearer: Jesus is not willing for little ones to be lost. When the Lord raptures His Church, He will carry the babies and young children to heaven.

16. Can I be raptured if my body was cremated?

In First Thessalonians, the apostle Paul says, “The dead in Christ will rise.” This refers to the bodily resurrection of believers at the moment of the Rapture. The spirits of believers will be united with their perfect and complete resurrection bodies. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

Paul provides an illustration that helps us understand the transformation of our physical body into a spiritual body. He writes, “And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body” (1 Corinthians 15:37-38).

The body that will come out of the grave on the day of resurrection will be different from the body that went into the grave.

If you put a kernel of corn into the ground and let it grow, the green stalk that comes out of the ground is not the kernel. It’s part of the kernel; it represents the kernel, but it’s not the same as the original kernel. In other words, the body that will come out of the grave on the day of resurrection will be different from the body that went into the grave.

Whether we have a body in a grave to be resurrected or our body is to be destroyed by disaster or cremation, an incorruptible body will be resurrected to join with Christ in the air on that great day. It won’t matter if our body was healthy or diseased, beautiful or uncomely, whole or broken. The same power that raised Jesus from the grave will raise every man, woman, and child who is in Christ! Cremation does not, in any way, prevent us from experiencing the fullness of heaven.

17. If I die, will I go directly to heaven, or will I wait until the Rapture?

Before the Ascension of Christ, the souls of believers went to an intermediate heaven called “Paradise” when they died. But when Jesus ascended after His death, He went into Paradise and took its inhabitants—all the Old Testament saints—with Him to the third heaven (Ephesians 4:8-10). In other words, believers no longer pass through the intermediate heaven upon death. The soul and spirit of today’s believers go immediately to the third heaven because Paradise is now with God (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).

Our bodies are a different matter. When a believer dies today, their corpse enters the grave and “falls asleep” as their soul goes to Paradise (Philippians 1:23; Luke 23:43). In Scripture, “falling asleep” refers to the believer’s death. For instance, when Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers, he said, “I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). Paul wasn’t talking about the falling asleep we do each night. He was describing the death of Christians.

The body goes to sleep, awaiting its resurrection at the Rapture, while the soul immediately arises to join our Lord in heaven.

In the New Testament, “to fall asleep” comes from the Greek word koimao, which means “to recline.” The same term could describe someone who slept in a hotel for a night and continued their journey the next day. This definition gives us a beautiful image of what happens to a believer’s body when they die. The body goes to sleep, awaiting its resurrection at the Rapture, while the soul immediately arises to join our Lord in heaven.

When Jesus returns in the clouds to call His people home, the spirits of all who ever confessed Him as Lord and Savior will reunite with their bodies—recreated, incorruptible, and whole—as the Lord created them to be (Romans 8:23; 1 Corinthians 15:52-53). Our flesh and spirit will join together to spend eternity in the Lord’s presence, untainted by sin (Revelation 21:4-5; 22:1-5). That is every Christian’s hope: to be transformed into the image of Christ! “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).

18. Are there modern-day prophets?

I have the name of a prophet, but I am not a prophet. I have never met one in the predictive sense of the word, nor do I expect to meet one. Scripture’s 66 books provide all the information we need to understand who God is, how we can know Him, and what He will do in the future. In fact, the Bible declares a curse on anybody who tampers with it: “If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18). God’s revelation is complete, lacking nothing. The Revelation of Jesus Christ marks the end of God’s predictive prophecies.

Since the canon of Scripture is complete, there is no need for God to communicate new messages about the future. Why, then, would the apostle Paul encourage us to pursue the gift of prophecy by saying, “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy”? (1 Corinthians 14:1) The gift of prophecy still exists in our world, but it does not involve foretelling future events. Today, “The one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” (1 Corinthians 14:3, ESV).

Contemporary prophets are evangelists, teachers, and educators who have a unique ability to bring God’s Word alive and apply it to the culture. First Corinthians 14:24-25 explains, “If all of you are prophesying, and unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your meeting, they will be convicted of sin and judged by what you say. As they listen, their secret thoughts will be exposed, and they will fall to their knees and worship God, declaring, ‘God is truly here among you’” (NLT). Chuck Swindoll is one man who, I believe, possesses the gift of prophecy. He brings God’s Word to life by making it relevant to a particular situation in a specific context.

It takes a uniquely gifted person to confront the culture for the cause of Christ—to speak out against racism, materialism, immorality, and all the issues of the day with wisdom from God’s Word. Our world is constantly at war with Christ and His Church. We need men and women who will examine their hearts to see whether God has given them this gift. If you have a heart to serve the Lord in that way, He will honor that desire and equip you. In the truest sense of the word, you can be a prophet for our times, a forthteller of God’s truth.

1“Prophéteia,”, accessed on December 27, 2018.

2Herbert C. Hoover, Current History (Philadelphia: Events Publishing Company, October 1951), 256.

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