Summary: The rapture of the church is the topic of many theological discussions. I believe it is a reality and I’ll tell you why.
February 24, 2008
Text: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
Subject: The Return of Christ
Title: Jesus is Coming – I Promise (So Did He)
I would like to share with you today about a topic of much confusion in the church world – the second coming of Christ. Pre-millennialism, post-millennialism, Amillennialism, and all the other ism’s – what are you supposed to believe? I have a pre-millennial view of the second coming of Christ. Why do I say that and what makes me so sure that is right?
First, let me explain what the different views of the end mean. These are simplified explanations.
Post Millennialists believe that the church and the righteousness of God working in it will continue to have a major influence on the world to the point that the entire world will become good enough to bring the kingdom of God without Jesus returning. The church will get better and better and the world will enter a prosperous and dominant age and then Jesus will return to reign over it.
Amillennialists believe that there will be no literal millennial reign of Christ. They believe that there will be a final “general” judgment someday and that’s it. They believe that much of what the book of Revelation says about the tribulation has already happened in world events.
Pre-millennialists believe in the totality of the scriptures and accept them as truth and not just spiritual lessons given to help us become better people. We believe that the early church was a pre-millennialist church- waiting for the eminent return of Christ. The post-millennialists and amillennialists say that pre-millennialism only has come about in the last 150 years. We believe that Christ will come before the millennial reign to rapture the church, judge the world, defeat the enemy and prepare for that literal one thousand year reign on earth. We believe that there will be no peace on earth until the Prince of Peace returns and sets up His kingdom. Now, it is no wonder that there is much confusion among Christians concerning this subject.
So how do we decide what is the truth? It would appear that the only way is to see what the scriptures say about the subject and take them as literal unless they are obviously symbolic. Let’s look at what the Bible says about Christ’s return.
I. CONFUSION ABOUT THE END. (1-2) 1Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. First of all I want you to notice that Paul says Jesus is coming back and that the church will be gathered to Him. "1Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him… " Actually the differentiation between “the coming of the Lord” and “our being gathered to Him” implies that these are two separate stages of one event that takes place over a period of time. The Second coming of Christ is a seven year event initiated by the rapture of the church (those who have trusted Christ as Lord and Savior) and culminated with His return with the church to set up a thousand year kingdom here on earth. Paul had already given them instructions about this in his first letter. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, 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. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage each other with these words. Since Paul had already given instructions he tells them, “Don’t get worked up by false teachings saying that the day has already come.” To believe those false teachings you would either (1) have to believe that what Paul had said before was a lie, or (2) that the rapture had taken place and you had been left behind. Whatever had taken place or whatever teaching was now going around was serious enough to make them look past Paul’s teaching about the matter and to be seriously concerned about it. It’s possible that the church was going through such great persecution at this time that some equated their "tribulation” with the seven years of the “Great Tribulation.” But what he had taught them before clearly indicates that the rapture of the church is the event that signals the coming of the dreadful day of the Lord – the time of judgment on the earth – when mankind finally gains control of its own evil desires and sin reaches a climax. 18Therefore encourage each other with these words. What kind of encouragement would one receive from these words if it does not mean that we will be saved from the tribulation?