Jesus will be returning to the Earth. 

The reality of our King Jesus coming back to the earth in a flesh in blood reality  is somthing held by all orthodox churches across all differing denominations. The reality of his Bodily coming to the earth is an essential maintained since the beginnig. “This hope was an essential element of the “rule of faith”, as Irenaeus attested to the belief of the church in christ’s future “manifestaion from heaven in the glory of the Father.” (Irenaeus -against heresies,1.10.1 in ANF, 1:330 and Historical theology -gregg allison). This is a truth that all true churches enjoy together.

But there is much disagreement on how we see the scriptures describing what the season will look like concerning what the bible describes as “ The day of the Lord”. A Day that not only has within its scope His coming to earth, but also how He brings very real and disaterous judgments to the nations of the earth because of their wayward,unjust, cruel, idolitrous and sensuel practices, and a culture that is  promoted as virtuous at the end of the age. This paper is a detailed position of my biblical world view, based on my study of the Word of God and my dialogue with those within the community of the faith. In this paper I will communicate why I believe that, contrary to other positions, I believe the church of God will not be taken from the earth before the last hour, but  will remain and endure as not only a city on a hill and a light on a lampstand, but will be a source of torment and judgment to those who are perising and have choosen the way of cain.

”[being] not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God”. “To the one [those who are perishing]we are the aroma of death leading to death(phil1:282 Cor2:16,). 

I believe there is purpose not only for the church affecting the world around her, but for the world around her to be used in perfecting the future Bride of Christ, who for two millenia has had bridal preperations by the Holy Spirit, to make her ready for the greatist moment in human history, the wedding of the Lamb.

When He comes is where we disagree

Though we agree that He is coming back to the earth, there is much disagreement on how or when He will return. I am going to focus on a school of thought called premillenism and the 4” sub groups that fall under it. All of these camps believe the bible speaks of a period in history known as “the great tribulation” which is said to be 7 years long. The idea of the great tribulation is only adimently shared by those who hold to a premillenial view. This is taught to be the worst period of human history that the earth has ever seen. During this time there will be a man who will rise to power over basically the whole earth, and will persecute the saints of God, imposing that everyone worship him as god. We as premillenials believe that Jesus is going to come back to the earth around this 7 year period. There are 4 differening views about when He will come. The first is Pre-trubulational. This is the view that Jesus will come to “catch up” His church before the great tribulation. The second view is a Mid- tribulational view, which states that christ will rapture His church in the middle of this Tribulation. The third is called the Pre-wrath position, which, in variations, hold that Jesus will come sometime between the middle and the end, right before God pours out His wrath on the earth to its fullness. And the fourth is called the Post- trib view, which, you may have guessed it, believes that He will come at the very very end. There are scholars on all different sides of the spectrum, which has really led me to an understanding that a scholar does not nessisarily keep the scorecard or edge on docrinal authority. I believe that while we are called to “study to show ourselves approved”(2 Tim 2:15), in the midst of scores of different doctrines, we must remember that our teacher of the truths of God is the Holy Spirit, who teaches us all things (1 John 2:27), and that we must not seek to wholly lead on the learned and those who hold positions of authority, but like the Beareans, searched the Scriptures daily in community, to find out whether the things that paul (both scholar and apostle) taught were really true.

I believe in the Physical, literal and visible coming of Jesus of Nazerath, who is Gods messiah that was sent to the Earth, the earth that He Himself created, will inagurate the  end of this present evil age and give way to the age to come, and age which He will personally rule over all the nations that survive. Just as His disciples and followers saw Jesus physically ascend into the literal heavens, the angels that stood with them made clear that He would come back in the same way saying: “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”(acts1:11) 

Jesus also made it apparent that “as lighning flashes from the east to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”(Matt 24:27). He is painting a picture that His coming will be seen by everyone, and that it will not be seen by only an elect few. The apostle john also speaks of His coming as “ coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him.”(rev1:7). This is heard by the lips of Jesus Himself who stated “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.”(matt 24:30)

I do not believe in the “any-moment” rapture theory, which teaches that Jesus will come for His church “any-time”, with no indication or sign that His coming is near. In light of this idea though, I do believe we should as christians live as though we are living on borrowed time because “knowing the time, that now it is high time [that our appointment with Him personally is very near] to awake out of sleep [the course of our old way of life which is patterned after this present age]; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.(rom 13:11). We are called by our Lord to look for Him at His coming in the midst of a world system that will hate us. We are not promised to be taken out of this world, but to be protected from the evil one in it. ”I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.(john 17:15) This may have been a direct thought of Jesus concerning the church who would face the anti-christ’s regime in the end.

The passages of scripture that led me to the conclusion against the “any momentism” view, is found in the book of Mark, 1st Corinthians, and 1&2 Thessalonians. I hold to at least 4 things that must take place before His Coming for the church.

1)The Gospel must be preached to all nations. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”(Matthew 24:14) How much plainer then this can jesus get?!

The great falling away.” Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day (His coming and our gathering together unto Him) will not come unless the falling away comes first…”(2 Thess 2:3 )

The Anti-Christ revealed. “and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition” [who is the anti-christ]”(2 thess 2:3)

The sounding of the seventh (last) Trumpet.” 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.(1 corinthians 15:52) “ 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.”(1 thess 4:16). “ Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Rev 11:15).

I believe to say the Lord will come before at least these 4 things happen is very misleading and totally not in accord with my view of clear scripture. He gave us these signs (and more)  to show the time of His coming is near. These things were given for the benifit of the church who would remain on the earth to witness the “great and terrible Day of the Lord”.

I do not believe that this will be a quiet or secret coming as some say. It is very apparent that the idea of every tribe seeing Him coming from the sky, and mourning because of what they are seeing, is hardly secret. “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him.” (rev1:7). 1 thess 4:16 describes His coming as Jesus Himself “descending from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God”, of which rev.billy bob bolin states that “paul does not convey a clandestine hushed experience, but an earsplitting ruckus” (bill bolin, end-game, 2012)

2 peter 3 describes the Lords personal appearing, which in greek is called “parusia”, as being a cataclismic event in which “ the heavens and earth will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” This is in reference to Him coming like “a theif”, an idea that those who hold to a “secret rapture” hold as a key idea to Jesus “slipping in and slipping out as a theif would.” A shout? A great noise? Every eye observing? Every tribe mourning? Hardly anything short of a public great and terrible day.

But there are some, who try and make distinctions between the rapture and the second coming. One method of this is through the 6 greek words that are rendered “Coming, appearing, revealing, Manifesting,ect”. But a detailed study would show these words are used interchangably and do not convey a cut and dry differing reality concerning Christs Return to Earth. they are differing shades of meaning describing the same event. The two words “Parusia and apokolipsis” for example are proported to be describing two different events. Paursia, the secret rapture, and apokolipsis, His visible second coming for all to see. An example of how short this equation holds up is found in 2 peter 3 where the promise of His Parusia (coming), will be accompanied with the heavens and earth passing away with a great noise, while 1 cor 1:7 exhorts christians to wait for the apokolipsis (revelation) of Jesus Christ.

We are to told to Watch and be prepared for His coming.

Jesus repeatedly told us to watch for His coming. In fact the theme of watching

for His return is a threaded theme which is stressed over 10 times. If we are not watching or waiting for Him and His return, we are not prepared or making preperations for the most important moment of our lives. But an important verse that others may not make much of is who Jesus tells to watch. It is not only His own disciples that He tells to watch, but to everyone.

Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—  lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (mark 13:37)

Jesus warned not only for His disciples to watch, but for everyone who would have ears to hear. Because His coming was not to be a secret one exclusive for His people only, but rather a world wide event for both christians and non-christians He in essence was saying: “spread the word! I will return. Let this be in your message to all the world.” Believers should always live with expectancy in their heart to His coming in their lifetime. I believe every believer will see the Lord in their life time whether “ in the sky” or “ when they die”. There should never be the lifestyle or value system where we are not looking for our Master. James describes this kind of culture in very practical every day terms that frankly many people would like to cut out of the scriptures. “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”…..whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.” (Jas 4:13)

A Major conversation and doctrine among the church.

This reality of Jesus returning to the earth and the age to come was not some pheriphrial side doctrine like tithing, (of which in my opinion we see very little in apostolic message compared to today being one of the cardinal doctrines in alot of churches, and also in my opinion is distiguished between New testement giving) but is evidenced as a “Major doctrine and conversation” between Jesus and His disciples, the Apostles themselves after Jesus had ascended, the early church, and really in most recent history. We see the writer in Hebrews 2:5 speaks about the world to come, which Jesus will bring with His coming. It is described as something “of which we speak”. The “we” is not only what the church members in general happened to be talking about in that given season, but actually the apostolic message itself, the faith that was once for all delievered to the saints (jude1:3).

Gods Wrath and Tribulation not the same. 

While we know well the scriptures that speak of christians as not being appointed to wrath (1 thess 5:9) and that we are exhorted to “to wait for His Son (Jesus) from heaven….who delivers us from the wrath to come”, many seem to mix the idea of wrath and tribulation together. Those who protest to the idea of the church remaining through the great tribulation echo the idea that if christians are here on the earth, during the great tribulation, then they too will share in the wrath of God, which is explicitly against, at the least, the verses above.  While I agree with the point that christians will not be the targets of Gods percise aimed and controlled wrath (there are no bi-standers who accendely get “hit” in the line of Gods fire), there are passages that cause this premise for an absent church during the great tribulation to faulter.

One is that I do not believe that the word tribulation equals the word wrath.  We are not destined for wrath…..but we are destined for tribulation. “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation…”(John16:33). This is a tribulation (which means trouble) that comes from soceity because we are christians, and seeing that the world hates Christ, it naturally follows that we also shall be hated because of His righteousness. It also comes from the effects of Gods temporal (as opposed to eternal) judgments on the earth. As God raises the pressure on the earth to get people to repent and look to Him, it becomes a trouble to live in a geographical area that God has struck with circumstances that are the opposite and absence of what we would call His “blessing”. It can also be a great trouble to see a world that has been given over to its own sinful desires, which is also a form of judgment (rom 1:18-28).  But something to ponder: Can Gods people get hit by Gods judgments? Why does God call His people to leave a geographical area (wherever Babylon is located), lest they share in the judgments of destruction that is to be poured out on Babylon? While I believe that Babylon represents a spiritual system, I also believe this is geographical in nature, otherwise if it was strickly spiritual, how could they be called “His people” who are “ in Babylon”, while His people are “ in the world and not of it? This could be a call to repentance for those who are in sin or engaging in a sinful practice, but one could say “ they have not yet shared in Babylons sins but are on the verge of it.” So then if Babylon is strickly spiritual, you might think that that would be the sin itself;to just be in her. This leads me to think it may also be a future geographical reality that forces its residents to sin against God, and hence a call for Gods people to cut off the right hand so to speak, that could cause them to sin, and thus be subjects of Gods judgments.

Another is the concept of God’s protection over His own people from His wrath. In Zephaniah 2:3, the prophet tells the people to “Seek righteousness and humility because God may hide us in the day of His judgments.” Goshen is an example of a geographic area that was protected from God’s wrath during the plagues on Egypt in the days of Moses (Ex. 9:26, 10:23). We also read in Isaiah 26:20  “Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past.” Reading this passage in the full context cannot hardly seem to describe anything else but Gods people being protected by Gods wrath, which interestinly enough, it also seems to hint around the resurrection of the dead.

The Great falling away

I believe that part of the falling away is actually going to be in a small or great way tied to….. not only real believers falling for lying signs and wonders because somewhere they choose to not love the truth (2 Thess 2:11) , but also because they become offended at Jesus. Many believers will abandon their once loved faith in Jesus. I believe the doctrine of imminence will help contribute to this, especially in the west. Those who believe the Lord will Rapture the Church before the Great Persecution will be more open to being offended…..because they have their heart set, not on enduring till the end, but escaping it. Why would He give us, the 21 century church the book of Revelation if we are not going see what is written in its pages? I believe to prepare us that we might be those who know what God is doing and not be offended….but rather be bold. Corrie Ten Boom wrote a powerful article on this very subject:

“In China, the Christians were told, “Don’t worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated – raptured.” Then came a terrible persecution.  Millions of Christians were tortured to death. Later I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly, “We have failed. We should have made the people strong for persecution, rather than telling them Jesus would come first. Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution, how to stand when the tribulation comes, – to stand and not faint.”

I feel I have a divine mandate to go and tell the people of this world that it is possible to be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are in training for the tribulation, but more than sixty percent of the Body of Christ across the world has already entered into the tribulation. There is no way to escape it.

We are next.” (Corrie Ten Boom – 1974)

I believe the Rapture in the first resurrection are the same thing.

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” (1 Thess. 4:16) For a Pre- millenialist, there are two resurrections. The first one is synonymous with His coming to the earth agian. One coming; one resurrection of the saints. The Rapture includes both dead and living saints, of which the dead rise first. We see this resurrection also described in Revelation 20:4-6 “they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” The second resurrection will take place after the 1000 year reign of christ on the earth. But we know that this will not be when those who are in chirst will rise, because “the dead in christ will rise first” at His parusia. The living will not be raptured before the dead in Christ are raised from the dead. And we can see that many believers will face the beast and his persecution against the church in the great tribulation.

“Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir,  you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev7:13)

The church will be on the earth during the reign of the beast as a  witness to Jesus and for the word of God, many of which will face martyrdom. “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (Rev20:4) Those who died during the reign of the beast and did not deny the Lord, is it not clear in scripture that they are apart of the first resurrection (which is really the same thing as the Rapture).

So what am I saying?

Every Believer is told to watch and pray, letting Jesus be our focus in life……looking forward to His Return in which He will save us and restore all things, but that we will “endure till the end” that we might be saved.(Matt10:22,Matt 24:13) This will be a common conversation among believers especially when the beast is allowed to take over and it is illegal to be a christian world wide.

“He (the anti-christ) shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints (us) of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints (us) shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.” (3 1/2 years)(Daniel 7:25)

“And he (the beast)was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months(3 1/2 years). Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.  All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.  If anyone has an ear, let him hear.  He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity; he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.” (Rev 13:5)