The Person of Christ - 33 - The Rapture

 

Chapter 33 - The Second Coming of Christ

The Rapture

Harold S. Paisley

 

The coming of our Lord Jesus into the world, His lowly birth, His holy pathway, His shameful death, His glorious resurrection and wondrous ascension to the Father, are foundations of our Christian faith. The question now before us is, ?Will He come again?? The reply is reliable, for one Book and one alone can rightly answer this question. To this grand old Book we turn as the only authority upon such an important matter.

 

THE PROMISE OF HIS COMING

 

The Lord Jesus must return or His Word will be unfulfilled and His promise broken. He said Himself He would return. The precious words are well known to every child of God. They form part of the upper room ministry of the Lord and reveal truth hitherto unknown, ?If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also? (John 14:3).

 

There are no words that have been of greater comfort and encouragement to the Lord?s people through the centuries. These are the words of Him who cannot lie. He is the Truth; He promised to return; He has not come; He must return to keep His promise and to fulfill His own words.

 

THE TWO STAGES OF HIS COMING

 

The careful reader of the New Testament will discover that the coming of the Lord is in two distinct stages. The first is for the church, the second is largely with the nation of Israel in view. When He comes for the church, He will return to the air, over the earth (I Thess. 4:17). When He comes to Israel, He will descend to earth and His feet will stand upon the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4). The first stage is called the rapture, from the words ?caught up?. The second stage is called the appearing. Unless these two distinct phases or stages are understood, confusion will reign in the minds of saints.

 

COMPARING THE STAGES

 

The ?rapture? is the Lord Jesus Christ coming for His church as the Son of God and is a mystery unknown to the saints of former ages and is not found in the Old Testament.

The ?appearing? is the Lord Jesus coming with His church as the Son of Man and is foretold in the Old Testament prophecies. The rapture is first mentioned in John?s gospel (11:25-26; 14:1-3). He is the Morning Star who will come in the twinkling of an eye (I Cor. 15:51-53; Rev. 22:16). The appearing is found in the synoptic Gospels and He is the Son of Righteousness who will be seen by every eye when He is manifested (Mal. 4:2, Rev. 1:7).

 

The rapture is an event which may take place at any moment. There are no prior signs. It is independent of times and happenings on earth. The appearing can only take place after the removal of the church and following the great tribulation and the end of Daniel?s 70th week. It is dependent upon times and signs.

 

EVENTS AT THE RAPTURE

 

Will any of the saints of this age be left at the rapture? Will any of the church pass through the great tribulation or part of it? These are great questions and demand answers today. At the rapture, all who are Christ?s will be removed, taken out of the world, caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Those who have fallen asleep, the dead in Christ, will be raised from among the dead, then the living saints will be changed and together the whole church of this age will be translated into the air. ?So shall we ever be with the Lord? (I Thess. 4:16-18). This going up to be with Christ in Glory is a matter of grace alone. There is no indication that our faithfulness in service or witness will give us a share in the rapture. We are all going to be there on the grounds of the redeeming blood. Not one, however feeble or ignorant, will be left behind, otherwise the body of Christ would be incomplete and the bride not ready for the marriage. When the rapture takes place, the church will be complete, the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth, the Gospel of God?s grace will be heard and offered no longer, and all who have rejected the message will be shut out of Heaven forever.

 

God?s future witness and the new outpouring of the Spirit of God (Joel 2) will include none who have heard and refused the Gospel in this age. They will be subjects of the delusion of the antichrist and will never be saved.

 

THE LORD HIMSELF IS COMING

 

It is a source of great comfort to realize that the Lord Jesus will return Himself. He will not send an angel for us. He will descend personally from Heaven to the air with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God. The personal coming of the Lord and the personal reunion of all saints around Him in the air is the blessed hope of the church.

 

The coming of the Lord is foreshadowed in the Lord?s supper. We remember Him and proclaim His death every Lord?s day until He comes. The proper place given to this hope in our hearts will have a purifying effect upon our lives, will fill us with desire to walk and to please God, and will cause compassion and concern for the salvation of the lost.

 

Will He come in our day? It may be so. The last message of Christ is. ~Surely I come quickly? (Rev.22:20). Can we all respond, ?Even so come, Lord Jesus?? The rapture is the distinctive and special hope of all Christians. We watch and wait for His words ?Come up hither.?

 

I can almost hear His footfall

On the threshold of the door

And my heart, my heart is longing

To be with Him evermore.

The Second Coming of Christ