2.4.9 The Ninth Article of Faith

I believe that the Lord Jesus will return as surely as He ascended into heaven and that He will take to Himself the firstfruits of the dead and living who have hoped for and were prepared for His coming; that after the marriage in heaven He will return to earth with them to establish His kingdom of peace, and that they will reign with Him as a royal priesthood. After the conclusion of the kingdom of peace, He will hold the Last Judgement. Then God will create a new heaven and a new earth and dwell with His people.

The Ninth Article of Faith represents an eschatological clarification of the corresponding statements in the Second and Third Articles of Faith (the return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, life everlasting). The detail of this article demonstrates the great priority these future events are assigned in the New Apostolic faith.

The beginning of the article refers to Acts 1: 11: "This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." Beyond that, the article builds on the eschatological statements made in the Second Article of Faith.

Associated with the return of Jesus Christ is the fact that the Lord will "take to Himself the firstfruits of the dead and living who have hoped for and were prepared for His coming" (1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17). The "firstfruits of the dead and living" are provided with a spiritual body and caught up to the returning Christ. The "firstfruits" are those who have become God's property, have maintained a lively expectation of the returning Lord, and have allowed themselves to be prepared for the return of Christ.

The return of Christ is the central event upon which further eschatological events depend. The objective of the rapture of the "dead and living" is fellowship with Jesus Christ, which is symbolised by the "marriage in heaven". The "marriage in heaven" marks the start of direct fellowship of the Lord and the bridal congregation.

The "marriage in heaven" is of limited duration. After its conclusion, Jesus Christ–together with His own–will direct attention to all human beings who did not partake in this event. Then Jesus Christ will visibly appear on earth and establish "His kingdom of peace" (Revelation 20: 4, 6). As a "royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2: 9; Revelation 20: 6), the bridal congregation–whose figurative number is "one hundred and forty-four thousand" (Revelation 14: 1)–will share in the rule of Christ. The gospel will then be proclaimed to all human beings, both living and dead.

Only "after the conclusion of the kingdom of peace" will He "hold the Last Judgement". Then it will be made known to all of creation that Jesus Christ is the righteous judge from whom nothing is concealed (John 5: 22, 26-27).

The concluding sentence of the Ninth Article of Faith provides an outlook into God's future creation: "Then God will create a new heaven and a new earth and dwell with His people." Among other things, Revelation 21 and 22 refer to the new creation. This is the domain of the perfect presence of God. When it says that God will dwell with His people, this refers to a completely new existence with God, namely the "life everlasting" that is mentioned at the end of the Third Article of Faith.

See also