Chapter Twelve - The Return of Christ
The Lord Jesus Christ is coming back again. The New Testament speaks of His coming in two ways. First He will come to take His church out of the world. His coming for the church is called the Rapture because the church is to be caught up. Then He will come and reveal Himself as a might King to the whole world, which is called the Revelation.
COMING OR RAPTURE
Several wonderful New Testament passages refer to this first aspect of His coming. "When I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:3). Jesus made this promise before He was crucified. Later the Apostle Paul reminded the believers in Thessalonica about the rapture. "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall 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 so we shall always be with the Lord." (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; see also 1:10; 2:19; 3:11-13; 1 John 3:1-3).
When He comes all who have trusted in Him as their personal Savior will be taken up to heaven. All who have His nature will go to be with Him. In chapters six and seven we have already seen how to receive this divine nature. It is given to us by the miracle of the new birth when we receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. (John 1:12,13; 3:5-8).
After Christ has taken away those who believe in Him, there will be a time of very great trouble in the world. When the Lord Jesus described it He said, "For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall" (Matthew 24:21). It will be a time of such suffering that unless the days were shortened, no life would survive (Matthew 24:4-28; Mark 13:5-23; Revelation 6:1-19:21).
At the time of the Rapture the Lord Jesus will come and the church will meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). He will not come to earth then, but at the time of the Revelation He will come to earth to reign. (Zechariah 14:4).
The time of trouble will end when Jesus Christ comes down from heaven in power and great glory (Matthew 24:31; 25:31; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; 2:1-12). He will appear as a conquering King. He will destroy His enemies and judge those who obey not the Gospel. Christ will then reign on earth for a period of a thousand years (Revelation 19:11-21; 20:6). His 1,000 year reign is called the Millennium, a word meaning one thousand (Isaiah 11:6-9; 32:1; 35:1-7; 65:17-25).
Following Christ's 1,000 year reign all unbelievers will be judged at the Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11-15).
The earth will be destroyed (2 Peter 3:10-13). There will be a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1-8).
For believers the rapture is the next event to occur in God's plan. The Bible teaches we should live holy lives in view of His coming for the church. "Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." (1 John 3:2-3).
Before the coming of Christ people will sin more and more. Some will even give up what they believe. "But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding to a form of godliness, although they denied its power; and avoid such men as these. But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons (2 Timothy 3:1-5; 1 Timothy 4:1).
Are you saved? Would you be ready if the Rapture took place today? If you are a believer, are you living a life of holiness and fellowship with the Lord?
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