The Return of Jesus and Various Beliefs
While we agree the Nations are Rushing to Armageddon, there are differing beliefs about the End Times and the Return of Jesus. The reason is we have an incomplete picture… a jigsaw puzzle with some essential pieces missing. John was given a vision of the End Times. He recorded it in what we know as the Book of Revelation. Chapter 11 tells us he saw and heard something that the Lord told him not to write down. “When the seven thunders spoke, I was about to write. But I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Keep secret what the seven thunders said, and do not write it down” Revelation 10:4.
John did not know all the details about the Return of Jesus. And some of what he did know, he was not at liberty to share. That is why we cannot be adamant about our opinion. If believers disagree, let it be in love and humility.
Brief Summary of the Main Viewpoints concerning the Return of Jesus
Bible Teachers generally hold to three basic views about the Return of Christ.
- Those who hold an Amillennial view of Christ’s Return do not believe in the Rapture of the Church. They believe there is no “millennial” (thousand-year) reign of Christ. between the end of the present age and the final judgment of the human race. According to their theology, the language of Revelation chapter 20 is merely figurative. The reign of Christ with His saints on earth refers to the Gospel Age.
- They believe the Nation of Israel is no longer in covenant relationship with God and has no prophesied national future. All the Old Testament prophecies and promises about the covenant with Israel have already been fulfilled. Those which have not been fulfilled are to be interpreted as spiritual and refer to the Christian Church and the Gospel age.
- There is no place for Israel as a Nation in their theology. .Amillennialists do not believe in the “Great Tribulation” at the end of the present age. Nor do they believe in the Rapture of the Church. Scriptures which appear to refer to these events are spiritualized. History as we know it will culminate with the return of Jesus Christ to earth.
Believers who hold to the Mid-Tribulation Rapture believe in the Return of Jesus. They accept the Millennial Reign of Christ and the Great Tribulation reign of antichrist. They teach that the Church will be Raptured, but only midway through the tribulation.
Pre-Tribulation Rapturists believe:
- Christ is returning for His Church at the beginning of the seven-year reign of antichrist. Genuine Christians will meet Christ “in the air” before He returns to the earth. This is the first phase of His Return.
- Israel is in covenant with the Lord and will ultimately acknowledge and accept Him as their Messiah.
- We will return with Christ at the end of the Great Tribulation when He stands on the Mount of Olives. He will defeat His enemies, ushering in the thousand-year reign of peace. This is followed by the Great White Throne Judgment and the final destruction of evil.
- A number of significant signs and prophetic events prophesied in the Scriptures will take place prior to the Return of Jesus. While we do not know the exact day and hour, we do know the season.
- The “Last Days” were described by Jesus as being like the “Days of Noah” with all its attendant evils and moral perverseness. It is interesting to note that Noah and his family were in the Ark for seven days before the floods came and the earth was destroyed according to Genesis 7:7-10. We believe this is symbolical of the Rapture of the Church. Believers will be safe with Christ while the last seven years of world history take place on earth under the reign of antichrist.
- There are many signs prophesied in the Bible as happening prior to the Return of Jesus Christ. Most of them have to do with the second phase of Christ’s Return when “every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2.11). The Rapture takes place seven years before the reign of antiChrist and there are no specific signs prophesied. All the signs point to the nearness of this event. It could happen at any time.
Some Differences between the Rapture (Blessed Hope) and the Glorious Appearing of the Lord
There are essential differences Between the First and Second Phases of Christ’s Return. Scriptures hint at two phases of the Lord’s Return. “As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately.“Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3. ″
The Blessed Hope is the expectation of Christians. We are looking for His appearance to meet us “in the clouds” with eager joy. The Glorious Appearance will be the day all people see Him as He returns to stand on the Mount of Olives with His Church in order to deal with evil once and for all (Jude v.14,15).
Absolutely not. Christians won’t escape the trouble coming on the world as events escalate before the Return of Christ. Of course, as troubles build in our world, Christians will suffer much and be persecuted, but the Lord will keep His Hand on His own until the Day the Trumpet sounds and we meet Him in the air. then trouble will explode for the inhabitants of the earth. Read the Book of Revelation for more about that.
Take courage, Christian, when the Storms of Life come… call on His Name for strength and courage. On That Day it will be worth it all.
- Christ comes back FOR His Church and we meet Him “in the clouds.”
Christ comes WITH His own to earth and stands on the Mt. of Olives (Jude v23,24, Zech. 14:4). Unbelievers are still on earth, suffering the dreadful consequences of antiChrist’s reign, the subject of Revelation chapters 6 onwards. Notice that the Church is no longer seen on earth after Revelation chapter 4.
- The Church (all genuine believers) meets the Lord in that great meeting in the air. No unbeliever is Raptured… they all remain on earth.
- There are no specific signs preceding the Rapture. There are many signs preceding the second phase of Christ’s Return, a clear warning to Christians of the imminence of the Rapture.
- There is no mention of satan in connection with the Rapture of the Church.
When Christ returns to earth, satan is bound for 1,000 years and the Millenial Reign of Christ, together with the saints, follows. (Revelation 20:1-6).
- All believers appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ after the Rapture to answer for the “deeds done in the body.” (2 Cor. 5:9,10, 1 Cor. 3:11-15)
All unbelievers appear before the Great White Throne Judgment after His return to earth (Revelation 3:11-14).
- The Church celebrates the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. (Rev. 19:9)
Immediately after the Rapture, the 7-year reign of antiChrist begins.
- Christ promised to keep His Church from the time of trouble coming upon the WHOLE world (Revelation 3:10). After the Rapture, the Tribulation Period of 7-years under antiChrist will usher in an “hour of trial” never before experienced in world history.
Our Response to the Prophesied Return of Jesus: Watch and Be Ready
“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.
Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” Matthew 24:42-44.
Amen, Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!