Part four of the Come Lord Jesus series on the final return of Christ at the end of time.
Jesus promised to always be with His people (Matthew 28:20), and He promised to return and take those faithful followers to live with Him, in heaven, forever. But, we do not know when Jesus will return.
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” John 14:1 – 4
The return of Jesus to claim His own is more certain than tomorrow’s rising of the sun. While Jesus set no date, the promise to return is unquestioned.
Some have been lured into thinking that Jesus would make two trips to reclaim the faithful. First, a secret “rapture” of the righteous followed by a very public return to lead his people against the armies of evil. After that victory, Jesus will rule for a thousand years, and only then will he take the righteous to eternal glory. This claim, this system, is most curious and quite fanciful. But it clashes with clear and unambiguous Bible teaching. Simply, we don’t know when Jesus will return.
One Life, One Return
The Rapture idea is dangerous. His return is no longer about judgment and eternal life or condemnation. According to Rapture adherants, his first return (Rapture) is about avoiding a defined period of tribulation, which lasts seven years. Logically then, the time of Jesus’ final return is knowable because the period of tribulation has a defined ending, after seven years.
But what does the Bible say?
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. Matthew 24:30
Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. Matthew 24:42
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Matthew 25:13
For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 – 4
The passage from 1 Thessalonians is especially instructive. Notice that Jesus returns at a time when people do not expect Him. He comes at a time when people are saying “[T]here is peace and security.” There is no tribulation, only “peace and security.” It is at this time that “sudden destruction” comes upon them. It is not the beginning of destruction that takes seven years, but sudden or immediate destruction. There is no reason to take the word “sudden” to mean anything other than what it usually means.
So what shall we say about any teaching that slows or delays the Christian’s preparation for Jesus’ return? As Jesus said in Matthew 24, “stay awake.” Because we do not know when Jesus will return.