by Paul Benson
There are many theories being presented in this day concerning the Return of Christ and our gathering together unto him. Many conflicting theories! And this conflict has many members of the Body of Christ suffering from a mental fog, and has left them spiritually unsettled. Is there a viable cure for this malady? Very much so!
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 2Timothy 3:16
I love this passage of Scripture, and have used it many times in my writings. God gave us his Word to set a standard of truth upon which to base our belief system. I am a firm believer that our Christian beliefs, and the various facets of them, must have a solid and clear expression in the Bible or they have no business being presented as doctrine.
A Love For The Truth Demands Validation Of Beliefs!
You can speculate all you want (and I see nothing wrong with speculation if it is expressed as such), but if you are going to lift your voice and declare this or that as ‘Bible Truth’ it had better actually BE IN the Bible, or you are making a liar out of yourself! Nearly everyone claims their beliefs on the end-time scenario come right from the pages of the Bible. But can you actually SHOW the passages which expressly state the various elements of what you believe? I can; but a promoter of the pre-trib theory absolutely CANNOT!
Read on, and I will explain why this is.
One of the major reasons I rejected the notion of a pre-trib rapture over 35 years ago was the fact that in my earnest study of God’s Word I was not seeing the various elements of that theory which I was being assured were quite ‘biblical’. They were no where to be found, and boy was I looking!
I could find certain passages ambiguous in the sense of timing; but nothing that put our ‘catching away’ before the tribulation (or presented it as a secret, invisible coming; or as an instantaneous ‘poof we are gone’ event).
To calm my fears and suspicions I was, instead of being pointed to Bible text which really did teach those things, told I just needed to trust that those preaching this doctrine knew what they were talking about. But that did not set with me very well; and I kept on looking for confirmation of their claims in the Bible, but to no avail.
And in nearly 40 years as a believer I have not yet found support for the various notions they claim come from the Scriptures (a rapture before the tribulation, an imminent return, a secret invisible coming, the tribulation is God’s Wrath, an instantaneous disappearance, the Church removed from planet earth at the rapture, a wedding supper in heaven, two comings of Christ in the end-times, the Church is not God’s Elect today, the Church will not face the mark of the beast, and so on and so on!).
Implicit Reference Versus Explicit Statement
Something every Christian needs to understand (but sadly many do not) is the vast difference between teachings founded upon ‘Explicit Statement’ and those which are taught by means of ‘Implicit Reference’. In a nutshell ‘explicit statement’ means the concept is clearly and plainly expressed in the text of the Scriptures (the Bible actually says it); and the idea of ‘implicit reference’ means that certain text seems to ‘imply’ a concept (the Bible does not come right out and say it, the implication has to be read into the text).
FOOD 4 THOUGHT: It should be easily discernible to anyone that explicitly stated facts in the Scriptures are trustworthy. But, although many truths are certainly implied by various texts. the concept of implicit reference opens the door to private interpretation, and creates a great opportunity for error to run berserk! Over the centuries many a falsehood has been thrust upon the Christian Church through this unreliable method. Soul-sleep, annihilation, non-divine Christ, Purgatory, reincarnation, and a large host of other errors have all come our way through this practice of doctrine by implication.
Oh, and let’s not forget the beloved pre-trib rapture doctrine!
Even the theologians who promote that theory admit that it is NOT something expressly stated in the Bible. That it has to be received through implicit reference; that certain texts seem to imply the different facets of that theory. And because it is an ‘implicit’ doctrine one cannot show a clear solid ‘proof’ of the various facets of that doctrine expressly stated in the Bible. That fact should give a believer pause to wonder as to the correctness of ANY theory derived in such a manner.
Another troubling fact also is that, knowing full well it is a doctrine based upon implicit reference, nearly all promote the pre-trib rapture as something expressly stated in the Bible! Which is a flagrantly deceptive practice. A flat out lie!
This is why I have set a standard for myself that I, as much as possible, will demand a solid Scriptural foundation for my beliefs; or I relegate them to the category of mere speculation. And I do have many speculations, but try to always present them in that manner and not as doctrine.
The remainder of this article will be devoted to showing Scriptural foundation for what I believe, and teach, about the Return of our LORD, and our gathering together unto him.
I Believe In ONE Coming Of Christ – NOT Two!
I await the Second Coming of Christ (NOT a pre-trib rapture). Why? Because that is what I see plainly stated in the Bible! And, although a few others suggest Christ has already come in one manner or another, we yet await that event. The Bible tells me the event we are waiting for is the Coming / Revelation of Jesus Christ.
So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming (apokalupsis) of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Corinthians 1:7
The Revelation (apokalupsis) of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass. Revelation 1:1
apokalupsis: disclosure, appearing, coming, manifestation, be revealed, revelation.
The Coming of Christ we are waiting for and the Revelation of Jesus Christ are one and the selfsame event! You will not find in the Bible ONE passage of Scripture that plainly describes two comings of Jesus in the end-times. That concept is not from the Bible.
And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 1 John 2:28
His Appearance, his Revelation, and his Coming are the same event! And THAT is when his faithful followers will appear unashamed before him, NOT before. Again, I believe in one return of Christ because that is what is plainly shown in the Bible.
I Believe Only In A Visible Coming
I believe the Return of Christ will be a completely visible event! His Coming will be seen by all. There is NO secret or invisible coming of Jesus detailed anywhere in the Bible.
Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. Revelation 1:7
And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Mark 14:62
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. 1 Peter 5:4
When the Scriptures speak of the Return of Jesus Christ there is a reoccurring theme which is quite evident. The plain truth that his Coming will be out in the open, and visible to all, is taught in a great number of places! That is the ONLY description given in the Scriptures, and therefor that is what I believe!
The Coming of Christ And The Catching Away Take Place After The Great Tribulation
I believe that we (the Church) will be caught up to meet Christ AFTER the tribulation, as this is what is quite evidently taught in the Bible.
But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, 25 And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. 26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his *elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. Mark 13:24-27 (*Who the Bible clearly teaches these elect are will be addressed in a later section)
This is a clear portrait of the catching away at the Second Coming. This is the precise timing given us on this event – AFTER the tribulation! There is not one place the Bible that describes a different timing of the catching away.
Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. 4 He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. 5 Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. Psalms 50:3-5
This is another clear description of the catching away at the Second Coming. It is completely in sync with Paul’s description in 1Thess 1:7 of when Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance and granting rest to the persecuted Church. The Word of God directly ties the catching away to the Second Coming after the tribulation. There is no other timing given. This is the timing I choose to believe.
We Can Know The Season Of Christ’s Return By The Signs He Gave
Many falsely claim there are no prophesies or signs that must yet be fulfilled before Jesus can return for his Church. I don’t buy that as the Word of God declares otherwise. In his teachings Jesus gave us many things to look for which would indicate the ‘season’ of his return (the season, NOT the day or hour). Also he strongly warned of those deceivers who would come with a false message of an impending (imminent) return!
And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. Luke 21:8
The Lord Jesus taught we are NOT to follow those who preach an imminent return! I know those words are an offense to many, but they are the absolute truth! How much clearer could the words ‘go ye not therefor after them‘ possibly be? Paul also taught this same thing. Addressing the issue of the day of Christ and our catching away being ‘at hand’ (imminent) he clearly said; ‘let no man deceive you by any means for that day shall not come except…’ (2Thess. 2:2-4). I have chosen to embrace and obey those words of Jesus and Paul (have YOU?), and will not follow those deceivers who preach the doctrine of the ‘imminent return’ of Christ. It is not from the Scriptures!
What I have chosen to follow are the plain and clear words of Christ which say WHEN YOU SEE THESE THINGS you will know the day of my return is NOW at hand (Matt. 24:33). That was the true purpose of the Parable of the Fig Tree. To point out indicators we are to watch for that herald this wonderful event. I have examined the words of Christ closely to tabulate that list of things I am to watch for. (I will discuss that list in a separate article)
Quite a few of those things have come to pass, or are in the process of fulfillment, and some are not yet fulfilled. This tells me the lateness of the hour, but also that the day of his return is not quite yet. But we definitely have entered that season.
The Reward Of The Believer Is At The Second Coming
And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. Revelation 22:12
I don’t know of any Christians who are not expecting to be rewarded by Jesus when he comes. And we should expect it, as he clearly taught he was bringing that reward with him! But I know quite a few who are mistakenly expecting to receive this reward as part of a pre-trib rapture. A pre-trib coming would surely bring the Christian’s reward, but I am looking for a rewarding in line with the Word of God.
There are many places in the Bible which clearly show this reward is given at the Second Coming which takes place AFTER the tribulation. Part of this reward is the promise of entering into rest from the trials, troubles, and persecutions of this life.
Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus 2Thessalonians 1:6-8
Upon his Second Coming Jesus will, according to this above passage (and others), reward the righteous. It is contrary to Scripture to expect this reward to be given in a previous event.
For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Matthew 16:27
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. 2Timothy 4:8
15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever… +18 …and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. Revelation 11:15+18
The kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of Christ at the Second Coming. When reading the Bible, if you watch for it, you will only see the reward of the believer associated with the Second Coming, and never with a previous event.
Much More To Come!
As this article is already getting a bit long I will show more of the Scriptural foundation for my beliefs and teachings on the Return of Christ in a second installment. Let me leave you now to ponder the question I posed at the beginning.
I can show where the different elements of what I teach about the Return of Christ and our catching away are plainly stated in the Bible. Can you? Or are you merely taking someone’s word for it that the various facets of their theories are in fact ‘Bible Truth’, and not just the wayward teachings of man?
Until next time, may God’s blessing be upon all those with a love for the truth;
This article is continued in part 2. You can find it HERE.
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