Prays Together: Christ’s Coming and the Rapture
By Christopher Scott
As we recently celebrated the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ on December 25 I want to share a few thoughts about the future return of Christ that could occur at any moment.
Often we hear people say, “Christ could come at any moment,” or “I’m ready for Christ to come back.” Yet, what does that mean about our beliefs about Christ’s return and the end times? Doesn’t the book of Revelation describe seven years of tribulation of plagues, sores, earthquakes, hail, fires, and other events that indicate judgement which all occur before Christ returns in Revelation 19:11?
While there are various views on the return of Christ, here are six reasons I believe Christ will return for his people before the seven years of tribulation begins as described in Revelation 6-19.
First, the church is absent in Revelation 4-19. The Greek word for church, ekklesia, is used nineteen times in Rev 1-3, zero times in Revelation 4-19, and one time in Revelation 20-22. While it is not good to argue from an “absence of evidence” it does strike me that if the church was on the earth during the time of the Tribulation (Revelation 4-19) there would be mentions of it. But, there are none in Revelation 4-19.
Second, there are two events of Christ’s second coming. The rapture appears to be the first of two events of Christ’s second coming. Christ comes first for his church to escort her to the Father: “When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am” (John 14:3, NLT, emphasis added). Later, after the seven years of Tribulation, Christ comes with his saints from heaven to reign on earth (1 Thessalonians 3:13; Revelation 19:11, 14).
Third, the church is exempt from the wrath of Revelation 4-19. “Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown.” (Revelation 3:10–11, NLT, emphasis added)
Fourth, the removal of the restrainer—the Holy Spirit—described in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-8 seems to match the absence of the church in Rev 4-19. The restrainer is the person that keeps the Devil at bay during the period of the church (which is the time we live in now).
Fifth, the Bible describes Christ’s second coming as something that could happen at any moment (Philippians 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; James 5:7-9; Revelation 3:11 and many other passages).
Sixth, the rapture is described as a blessing and a hope (Titus 2:13). In John’s Gospel he records Jesus’s words about the rapture, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. . . When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” (John 14:1–3, NLT)
Celebrating Christ’s birth this past season has been fruitful and encouraging. But, perhaps more encouraging is the assurance that Christ will return again soon!
Christopher Scott is small groups pastor at Rocky Hill Community Church in Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-730-1906.
Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.