It’s a busy news day, and I’d rather use today’s blog to retort Obama’s tone-deaf statement that Israel should return to pre-1967 borders. Yet a group of misguided Christians are claiming that Christ is returning tomorrow, and this is, after all Biblical Conservatism, I feel I must dive into this issue instead. (I’ll get after Obama for his Israel speech on Monday.)
As a Christian myself, I believe it would be wonderful if Jesus did return tomorrow, and I do believe that Christ is returning for His Church soon. That being said, I’ve also read the Bible. First some reference verses dealing with Rapture of the Church:
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:51-54
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. Therefore comfort one another with these words. – 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. - Revelation 3:10-12
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. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. – Matthew 24:29-31
Yes, I believe the Rapture is an established Biblical truth and that Jesus Christ will one day return for His Church. I also believe He will come BEFORE the Last Days, also known as the Great Tribulation, to remove His followers from the Earth so that they would be protected, (Revelation Chapters 4-19) which is prophesied in Revelation. Believe me, no one would LOVE to think that Jesus is coming back tomorrow more than me. Yet I also know the entire Bible, in context, of these scriptures. Specifically.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. - Matthew 24:36
And again in Mark:
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. - Mark 13:32-33
Nobody knows the day or the hour. That is the Biblical truth of the timing of the Rapture. In fact, Mark’s Gospel states that even Jesus Christ Himself does not know when He will return for His Church, but only the Father! According to the Bible, Jesus is in Heaven waiting for the Father to tell Him “time to go get Your Church.” The Bible states unequivocally that it nobody knows the day or the hour that Christ will return.
Claiming to know the date or year of Christ’s return is not new. Author Edgar C. Whisenant (1) wrote a book called 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988. When the rapture didn’t happen in 1988, the next year he published The Final Shout: Rapture Report 1989. Guess what? No rapture either year (duh). If the rapture had been in 1988, we’d be in year 16 of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom on Earth (Revelation 20:1-6) or year 15 of Christ’s Millennial Kingdom if the rapture happened in 1989. Whisenant then waited another four years before proving how full of it he truly was by releasing 23 Reasons Why a Pre-Tribulation Rapture looks like it will Occur on Rosh-Hashanah 1993. At least that time he hedged his bets and went with “looks like” instead of making a full prediction.
Now please don’t misunderstand me: It’s not impossible that Christ could return Saturday, May 21, 2011. I would no more assume that it wasn’t any particular day than I would assume it was certainly a particular day. Again, no one knows the day or the hour! It is not for me or for you to know. Here is what is for us to know. For the Christians, we have an assignment.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. - Matthew 28:19-20
Don’t worry about the actual date of Christ’s return. We have a job to do. I believe the signs of the End Times surround us. There are many around us who don’t know the Lord. We have been blessed to know the truth. We are commanded to spread the Good News of the wonderful gift of salvation we’ve been given!
To those who do not know the Lord, well, I have something to say to you as well. I was once in your shoes. I was lost in my own sin. And every one of us has sinned. As the Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and, “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10 ) Unfortunately, as the Word says, “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 5:8a) Wages. Wages are the deserved payment for ones actions. In our employment, wages are our deserved reward. In life, the wages of our sin is death. Every single one of us has failed. Jesus Christ, the Creator of the Universe, is a just God. He is holy, and cannot allow sin into His presence.
If the story ended here, it would indeed be a sad story. We as humans are imperfect, we are incapable of not sinning on our own. Perhaps you think you aren’t a sinner, that you are a good person, because you have never killed anyone or cheated on your spouse. The Bible tells us otherwise. Ask yourself this: Have you ever stolen anything? Even something small? Even if you’ve once took a cookie from the cookie jar when your parents said no, you’ve broken the 8th Commandment by stealing. By God’s standard, that makes you a thief. Have you ever lied? If you’ve ever lied, you’ve broken the 9th Commandment by bearing false witness. By God’s standard, that makes you a liar. Here’s the really tough one. The Bible says that a person who looks upon a woman (or a man) with lust in their eye, they have committed adultery in their heart. If you’ve ever lusted after another person, you have broken the 7th Commandment and committed adultery. By God’s standard, that makes you an adulterer. So by God’s standard, you’re a thieving, lying, adulterer.
I’ll be very honest with you. I’ve done all three of those things, more than once. Before Jesus saved me, I was lost in my sin too. I have some very good news for you though…even though you are unable to stop sinning, and even though you are unable to pay the debt owed for your sin, someone else already paid for your sin for you! Jesus Christ, the Son of God and your Creator, came to Earth and He took your penalty upon Himself. Jesus went to the cross and was crucified for your sin and for my sin so that, as the most famous verse in the whole Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Jesus took our penalty. He paid for our sin by coming to Earth, living a sinless life, and then allowing Himself to be crucified as a sacrifice for our sin.
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. – Romans 5:6-11
I encourage you, if you have not been saved by the free gift of the blood of Jesus Christ, the gift is being offered to you. Put your faith in Jesus and accept the free gift of salvation He is offering you! As the Word says:
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. – Romans 10:9-10
It’s that simple. Believe in your heart that Jesus is the Christ that He died for your sins and rose again as He promised He would and confess it with your mouth, you will be saved! Just believe and receive, then follow Jesus. Come to Jesus, I implore you. The Bible says that no one knows the day or the hour that Christ will return, but He is returning for His Church and I believe soon. Whether I’ve met you or not, I want to see you in Heaven, and more importantly, Jesus Christ who died for your sins on the cross, loves you and wants to spend eternity with you! Run to Him, and He will save you. The gift is free, if you’ll just say yes!
That, my friends, is the Gospel of truth. Jesus Christ is coming back for His Church. It might be tomorrow…it might be in ten years. It might be in a hundred years. You may live to see it, and I pray you see it as a Christian, that you might be one of those who Jesus comes back for before the Tribulation. If you don’t live to see the return of Jesus, still, you will have the blessed assurance that, though your earthly body may die, your soul will be with Jesus in Paradise and He will raise you up on the Last Day. Jesus is calling you. He wants to save you. Will you let Him?
(1) Edgar C. Whisenant
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.