For reasons I must admit I do not completely understand, there continues to be much misunderstanding concerning the differences between the Rapture of the Church, and the Glorious Appearing or Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The only conclusion I can come to for this misunderstanding is that quite simply people are not following Paul’s admonishment to Timothy. In 2 Timothy 2:15 Paul wrote; “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” “Be diligent,” the King James Version says “study,” but unfortunately too many who call themselves Christians today never bother to open the Word of God, let alone study it. Today we will begin to do so.
First of all the Rapture is imminent, it can and may happen at any moment, there is no prophecy that yet has to be fulfilled before the Rapture of the Church takes place. Paul taught in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 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.”
Paul’s teaching here is for the Church, the Bride of Christ. Paul makes it very clear that he believed in the imminent return of Christ. In verse 15 of this chapter he says, “We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord.” Paul believed that the Lord Jesus Christ could come in his lifetime. He did not say or believe that He would come in his lifetime, but he said that He could come. Christians should have an expectant attitude toward the Rapture. Because it is imminent and could happen at any time believers should be continually looking forward to and waiting for that event.
There are three things that we can be sure of because we do not know the exact day or time of the Rapture of the Church.
• Because we don’t know what amount of time might transpire before the Rapture, we need to continually be prepared.
• We cannot say the Rapture will be soon, though it may happen soon it does not have to be soon in order to be imminent.
• Because it is imminent we cannot set a date for Christ to Rapture His Church.
Secondly we need to know that the Glorious Appearing or Second Coming of Christ happens after the Tribulation. This is described in Matthew 24:29&30 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
The description of Christ’s return is given in Revelation 19:11-16 “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.” Here in this passage, spelled out in language that is easy to understand, is a description of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ with His Church in judgment on the world.
In the Rapture, Christ comes for His Church and at His Glorious Appearing or Second Coming, He comes with His Church. Notice verse 14: “and the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen white and clean, followed him on white horses.” By rightly dividing the Word we can know that these armies are those described in Revelation 19:7&8 as the Bride of Christ, His Church.
We will continue discerning the differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming as we continue this study. Until then, remember to be listening for the shout for Jesus to Rapture His Church because it is imminent, and the Tribulation will follow, because;
Jesus is Coming Soon!