I believe the Scriptures clearly teach that Jesus' return will be in two phases. The first phase, called the rapture, is when He will suddenly appear IN THE CLOUDS ONLY to call His believers (bride) up to Him. We are told that when Christ appears, we will also appear with Him (Col. 3:4). The dead in Christ will rise first - their souls coming down from heaven to join with new imperishable bodies. After that, those who are alive and remain will instantly receive their new bodies and will all be caught up together with Christ in the clouds for that great meeting in the air (1 Thess. 4:14-17; 1 Cor. 15:51,52).
Then, just as Jesus has promised, we will be taken to heaven with Him to the place being prepared for us (John 14:2,3). Those raptured will only include the people who became believers during the period from the Day of Pentecost to the moment of the rapture. Sadly, the many with only a head knowledge of Him without having a true repentant heart and a changed life in Christ will not be a part of that great event.
Multitudes calling themselves "Christian", living what they perceive as the "Christian life" and having placed their faith in religion, its rituals, and their church, will not be called up in the rapture all because they have never entered by faith alone into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as the Savior, Lord, and Master of their life.
Every redeemed, repentant, born again, washed by the blood believer who by faith alone has a personal relationship with Jesus as their Savior and Lord will be caught up in the rapture. They will include all new believers, seasoned believers, on-fire believers, passive believers, and even backsliding believers. All are counted worthy in His sight because they all have believed on His Name and met Him at the cross where He purchased their salvation with His shed blood - paying the sin penalty for them in their place. Because of our sin nature, all believers sin regularly. However, believer's works whether good or bad, and believer's un-forgiven sins will be dealt with at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Cor. 3:10-15) in heaven, not for the gain or loss of our salvation, but rather for the gain or loss of crowns and rewards.
The rapture, or blessed hope (Titus 2:13), will occur before the seven devastating tribulation years begin on the earth. We know the rapture will happen before God's judgments begin here because believers are not appointed to suffer His wrath (1 Thess. 5:9). We will be rescued from the coming wrath (1 Thess. 1:10). We are kept FROM (not through) the hour of trial coming on the whole world (Rev. 3:10). When John was called up (Rev. 4:1) to preview and write those things that must happen (Rev. 1:19), the church (believers) is already there with rewards received from the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10), and isn't mentioned again until Jesus' return TO EARTH WITH HIS BRIDE (Rev. 19:14).
The Bible teaches that Christ's return at the rapture is imminent, it will be sudden, and without warning. The only way that could happen is with a pre-tribulation rapture. The event was imminent in Paul's day and is even more imminent today. There are no signs or prophecies that must be fulfilled before it can happen. No one can know or even speculate the day of rapture - only that it is very near, perhaps even today.
The second phase of Christ's return will happen at least seven years after the rapture, and is described as a totally different scenario, a different time period, and with a different purpose. At that time Jesus will return to earth in great power and glory bringing with Him the armies of heaven (raptured church) as recorded by John in Rev. 19:11-16.
Unlike the rapture, the exact day of His second coming to earth is clearly defined in Scripture for those who are there at that time. Anyone with knowledge of Scripture would be able to know the day. Jesus' second coming will be exactly 2,520 days (one week of years) from the day the first tribulation seal (Rev. 6:1; Dan. 9:27) is opened, or 1,260 days (Dan. 12:11) from the day (midpoint of the tribulation) the Antichrist defiles the Temple by declaring himself to be God.
On that day as recorded in Rev. 19:11-16, the heavens will open and Jesus will appear - ready for battle. The earthly armies will have gathered at Armageddon (Rev. 16:16), waiting for Him, and ready to make war against Him (Rev. 19:19). From Scripture, they would know the very day of Jesus' second coming to earth. Otherwise, why would they be assembled there, in that specific place at that time, and ready to make war against Him - if they didn't know when or if He would arrive?
Revelation 16:16 NKJV
And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.
Revelation 19:19 NKJV
And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.
Revelation 19:11-16 NKJV
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.
When Christ returns, an unimaginable display of power and glory will occur worldwide leaving no doubt that He is God. The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars will fall from the sky (Matt. 24:29). All those gathered to make war against Him, will be killed by the spoken Word of God coming forth from His mouth (Rev. 19:15,21).
He will stand on the Mount of Olives causing a great earthquake to split the mountain in two from east to west (Zech. 14:4). The Jewish remnant, who had been supernaturally protected for 3 years, will be delivered. Victorious over all, He will enter Jerusalem through the eastern gate to set up His millennial kingdom.
All people of the nations on the earth will tremble at His presence (Is. 64:1,2). Scripture promises that when Christ returns on that glorious day every eye will see Him coming with the clouds (Rev. 1:7), every knee will bow before Him (Phil. 2:19), and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:11).
Believers who are still alive when He returns will fall down to worship Him, for their long awaited Messiah and King had come. When Jesus' great power and majesty is displayed, the entire unbelieving, unrepentant world will finally realize the One who they had rejected is truly Almighty God and they will mourn, for their day of judgment had arrived.
Yes! The King is coming, and it will happen exactly as Scripture has promised. Are you ready for that day? You must be very sure, for it's coming sooner rather than later - perhaps today.
Praise God, I know the King is coming for me! Is He coming for you?
During retirement, my prayer is that I might serve the Lord by sharing the Gospel through my writing. As the Lord leads, my work will inform, challenge and encourage. I also enjoy Biblical theme woodcarving, Bible studies and Christian music. Watch, pray and keep looking up!
Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! Click here and TRUST JESUS NOW
Read more articles by Donald Mehl
Like reading Christian Articles? Check out some more options. Read articles in Main Site Articles, Most Read Articles or our highly acclaimed Challenge Articles. Read Great New Release Christian Books for FREE in our Free Reads for Reviews Program.
Or enter a keyword for a topic in the search box to search our articles.
The opinions expressed by authors do not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
Hire a Christian Writer, Christian Writer Wanted, Christian Writer Needed, Christian Content Needed
Find a Christian Editor, Hire a Christian Editor, Christian Editor, Find a Christian Writer