6.4.5 The church of Jesus Christ and the future

Belief in the future events of salvation is professed in 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 unto 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 church not only has a present, but also a future dimension. The church, which according to its own profession awaits the return of Jesus Christ, is also future-oriented. The praise of God and adoration of His majesty will never cease. His servants will serve Him "forever and ever" (Revelation 22: 3-5).

At the time of Christ's return, church will be manifest as it is, in all its salvation and also in all its deficiencies. A twofold life will be clearly revealed within the church, namely that of the bride of Christ and that of the "woman clothed with the sun" (Revelation 12). Whereas one part of the church of Christ will be caught up from the earth, another will remain behind on earth and will have to prove itself in a period of antichristian afflictions.

The future manifestation of the church also becomes clear in the promise that the firstlings who are elected to the royal priesthood will share in Christ's reign. In the kingdom of peace, they will be directly involved in imparting salvation (Revelation 20: 6), and will be ambassadors for Christ to all mankind who have ever lived.

The new Jerusalem described in Revelation 21 and 22 is an image for the church which has been perfected in all aspects as an expression of God's acts of salvation and new creation. In the new Jerusalem there will be eternal worship and unending praise of God.

SUMMARY

The church has a present and a future dimension. (6.4.5)

At the return of Christ the church will be revealed in all its salvation and all its deficiencies: part of the church will be caught up to God, and another will remain on the earth and will have to prove itself in a period of antichristian afflictions. (6.4.5)

The future manifestation of the church also becomes clear in the promise that the firstlings elected to the royal priesthood will be involved in imparting salvation in the kingdom of peace. They will be messengers of Christ for all human beings who have ever lived. (6.4.5)

See also