Rapture and The Second Coming

We are living in the final period of the time of the end, or the last days. As we approach the end of world history, the Book of Revelation teaches that God has sent a special message for the final generation.

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth—to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come; and worship Him that made heaven and earth, and the sea and the fountains of waters.’ ” Revelation 14:6, 7. This is an appeal to worship God as the Creator. God knew the theory of evolution that would be prominent in the last days and gave this warning.

The first angel’s message is described as being given by an angel flying in the midst of heaven (Revelation 14:6). The second angel announces, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, and has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Verse 8. These are followed by a third message which says, “And a third angel followed saying with a loud voice, ‘If any one worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture [or full strength], into the cup of His indignation. And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends for ever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.’ ” Revelation 14:8–11.

This is a most fearful warning that is given to the last generation living on the earth. The final verse in the third angel’s message says, “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12.

Here are pointed out two classes of people. The first class is the group who receive the mark of the beast, the mark of destruction, the mark of antichrist which involves the breaking of God’s commandments. The second class are the saints, or the holy ones of God, identified as those who keep God’s commandments.

The Book of Revelation pulls the curtain of mystery aside. Bible prophecy predicted that Christ would come to this earth twice. The first time He would come as a suffering servant. His visage would be marred more than any man (Isaiah 52:14) and He would be killed as a trespass offering for the sins of the world (Isaiah 53).

It is important to know exactly who Jesus really is. John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” John 1:1–3. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Verse 14. Jesus is the Word.

Paul says, “By Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on the earth.” Colossians 1:16. Jesus was with God in the beginning and He was the creator of all things. He created this world for a purpose, to be inhabited. This Jesus is the same One who came to this world to pay the price of my sins and your sins.

The Bible says the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and God’s law is so holy and so unchangeable, not only can it not be changed, even the penalty for breaking God’s law cannot be changed. When God’s law is broken, the penalty must be paid and Jesus was willing to give up His life in order for each person in this world to have life. During His trial, three times Pilate declared that he found no fault in Him (John 18:38; 19:4, 6). The Jews could not find any fault in Him. Nobody could find any fault with Him, but they crucified Him anyway because He said He was a king. Jesus was crucified for telling the truth. His innocent body was nailed to the cruel cross where He suffered an agonizing death to save man. It would do us all well to see Him on the cross more often than we do and contemplate why this had to happen. Was this the price for breaking God’s law?

The day of the crucifixion was the day the Bible describes as preparation day, preparation for the Sabbath. Jesus died in the middle of the afternoon on the day we call Friday. As the Sabbath drew on there was an urgency to prepare the body of Jesus for His burial. What did they do? “And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.” Luke 23:55, 56. From this Scripture it is very clear that the Sabbath, according to the commandment, is the day between Good Friday and resurrection Sunday—Saturday!

The next day after the Sabbath Jesus rose and said, “I am the resurrection, and the life.” John 11:25. In Revelation 1:18, Jesus said to John, “I am He who lives (or who is living), and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore. And I have the keys of the grave, I have the keys of death and the grave.” In some Bibles this is translated hell, which really means grave. There is only one person who has the keys to the grave, and He is the One you need to know if you should die and want to be resurrected to eternal life. That person is Jesus.

It was imperative that the sacrifice would occur, in order for my sins to be forgiven and to have eternal life. There had to be a blood offering for the price of sin to be paid. Without Jesus going to the cross and paying the price, I would have to pay myself, and that would mean the second death. If the price of sin was a ten-year prison sentence, you could pay the price yourself, but that is not what the price of sin is. Even in this world there are some crimes that the price is capital punishment which means death.

The strongest evidence that can be given to prove that the law of God cannot be changed is the cross of Christ. If the law could have been changed there would have been no need for Jesus to die. It says in I Corinthians 15:3 that, “He died for our sins.” And “sin is breaking the law,” I John 3:4. Jesus died because we broke the law. Jesus uplifted the law when He told His disciples, “Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day.” Matthew 24:20. Here Jesus was referring to an event that was going to happen many years after the cross and He instructed His disciples to continue to keep holy the Sabbath day.

In the end, there is going to be a group of people ready and waiting for Jesus to come. They are described in Bible prophecy in Revelation 14:12: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15. Jesus not only created the world, but He is the One who spoke the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai. He also wrote them with His own finger in tables of stone. Christ died to save us from our sins, our law breaking. It says in Titus 2:14, “He gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous of good works.”

Today, probation has not closed yet and the invitation for salvation is still being given to the whole world. Jesus died on the cross once and He is coming back again for those who are waiting for Him and ready to meet Him. Just before He left this world to go back to heaven again, He told His disciples what they were to do. As He was ascending, the angels came and told the disciples that, “This same Jesus will come as you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11. In other words, He would come back the same way. It says, “A cloud received him out of their sight.” Verse 9. There are several places in the Bible that says when He comes back He will be coming with clouds.

Bible prophecy predicted that Jesus would come the first time as a suffering servant and would sacrifice His life to save sinners (Isaiah 53), thereby establishing the kingdom of grace whereby sinners could be saved from the guilt and power of their sins. Prophecy also predicted that Jesus would come the second time, not as a suffering servant to pay the price for our sins, but as a conquering Prince. The first time He came was to bear our sins and to pay the price for our sins. The text says that, “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many.” Hebrews 9:28. The last part of the verse says, “And to those who eagerly await for Him He will appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation.”

Jesus is the rightful owner of this world for two reasons. First, He created it and second, because He paid the price on the cross to redeem it. Jesus warned us when He was here that before He would come again there would be a tremendous effort by Satan to deceive the whole world concerning His return. Notice what Jesus said about these deceptions that were going to come:

“For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ, and will deceive many.’ ” Luke 21:8. Not every deceiver would claim to be Christ; some would just claim to be His prophets. “False Christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Mark 13:22. There are going to be a lot of miracles worked in the last days which will be very impressive. Your faith needs to be in the Word of God if you are not going to be deceived because the devil and his agents are going to work a lot of miracles in the last days. Jesus said, “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.” Matthew 24:26. In other words, do not believe anybody who comes along teaching about a secret coming of Christ.

Jesus told His disciples the night He was betrayed, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:1–3. He said that He was going to come back and when He came back He was going to take His followers with Him to heaven.

Fact One—Literal Event

Christ’s coming is a literal event. He is going to come in the clouds and He is going to take His people, His children, with Him back to heaven. Notice what the apostle Paul wrote about this. He said, “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.” Titus 2:13.

Fact Two—Personal Event

Christ’s coming is a personal event. When Jesus left, while the apostles were looking up and watching, the angels said to them, “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11. Notice, He will come the same way you saw Him go. The disciples witnessed His ascension and just so, His modern disciples will see Him return.

Fact Three—Visible Event

Christ’s coming is a visible event. “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him.” Revelation 1:7. It is going to be the most exciting thing you have ever seen if you are one of His children. Most of the people living at that time will not be rejoicing at all. Notice these words of Christ Himself: “Then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn.” Matthew 24:30. Why will they mourn? In the last days there is going to be a tremendous religious controversy over the subject of worship. Are you going to worship the Creator or are you going to worship the beast? How many people are going to worship the beast? Revelation says, “And all who dwell upon 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.” Revelation 13:8.

The greatest deception of all time will be practiced on the people of this earth in the last generation. The dragon will deceive the whole world (Revelation 12:9). As a result, the whole world will marvel and follow the beast from the sea. The earth is then deceived by the beast from the earth. He deceives those who dwell on earth by those miracles which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast from the sea, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast. After the earth is deceived by the dragon, the beast from the sea and the beast from the land, the earth is deceived by spirits who they think are spirits from God in heaven.

The majority of people are going to mourn when Jesus comes because they have been deceived. They will realize too late that they have been worshiping the antichrist they thought was the real Christ. Incidentally, the word antichrist originally meant, somebody who stands in the place of Christ. The deceived will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory and they are going to mourn. Revelation 6:14–17 says, “Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who shall be able to stand?’ ” Revelation 6:15–17.

Fact Four—Audible Event

The coming of Christ back to this earth will be an audible event. It is literal, personal, visible and audible. There is going to be a lot of noise when Jesus comes back. It says in Revelation 16, “And there were noises and thunderings and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake. Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.” Revelation 16:18, 20. Paul says, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.” I Thessalonians 4:16. When that shout occurs, the graves are going to open up with that mighty earthquake and God’s children, who have been sleeping in death, are going to be raised up. Paul continues on to say, “And the dead in Christ will rise first.” I have often asked, Lord, if it’s all right with You, when it is the day of the resurrection, I would like to be at a cemetery. I would like to see the graves open up. I think it will be the most exciting thing that has ever happened.

At that trumpet sound when the graves open up you will be reunited with your loved ones who have been torn from you in death, never to be separated from them again. There is not going to be any sorrow or any pain attached to it; the resurrection does not hurt. “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” I Thessalonians 4:17.

Meaning of Rapture

The word rapture is not found anywhere in the Bible. It means to catch up or snatch away something. When Jesus comes, His people are going to be taken out of this world; they are going to go up in a cloud with Jesus to heaven.

Christ’s coming is described in one or two Bible verses as a thief. This, however, does not refer to how He comes, but when He comes. To those who are unprepared, it will be unexpected and a surprise. When a thief enters a house, he may tie the people up and there may be even gunfire and all kinds of noise, but he does not want anyone to know when he is coming. The coming of Jesus is described over and over as a surprise to this world. That is the way of a thief. It is going to be a surprise. “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 will be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” I Corinthians 15:52. The word mortal means that you are subject to death. Immortal means that you are not subject to death. The second coming is described as literal, personal, visible, and audible (I Thessalonians 4:16, 17).

But, what about the text about two being in the field (Luke 17:36)? The Bible does not teach that those left are left alive. The wicked are destroyed with the brightness of his coming. “For the great day of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 6:17. It says, “They hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!’ ” Revelation 6:15, 16. How many are going to be left alive? Nobody!

The Bible says, “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse [Jesus] and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and the false prophet who worked signs in His presence by which He deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worship his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.” Revelation 19:19–21.

When Jesus comes again, one of two things is going to happen. Either you will be saved, or you will be lost; there is no middle ground and there is no second chance. Each person, by then, will have made his/her decision for eternity. Jesus said that time will be like it was in the days of Noah. For one hundred and twenty years while Noah was building the ark he preached to the people what had been told him that the world was going to be destroyed by a flood. The masses did not believe him and scoffed at his message. Jesus said it will be the same in the last days. People will scoff at the soon coming of Christ and the judgment.

The people scoffed at Noah and even though they saw the animals go into the ark guided by an unseen hand, they still considered Noah a fanatic and crazy, refusing to go in. Only Noah and the seven other people in his family went into the ark. The nonbelief of the scoffers did not stop the flood. The time came when the rain, something they had never seen before that time, started to fall, eventually covering the whole earth. The Bible says the water covered the tops of the highest mountains (Genesis 8:20). People, terrified, climbed to the highest places, but when they got there it was just a temporary reprieve. They saw the ark floating on the water knowing that Noah and his family were safe inside and they were lost. Once the door of that ark was closed, they did not have a second chance.

Those who listened to God’s warning and entered the ark were saved. The people who were skeptical and scoffed, not believing, had no second chance. The flood came and all were destroyed. Jesus said when I come again it will be the same. There are many people today who have not studied history carefully enough. The idea of a rapture followed by a second chance is a relatively new doctrine. Jesus, as well as the apostles, taught that there would be no second chance after Jesus returns and there is no mention of a rapture. Read Matthew 13 or II Thessalonians 1 and 2.

Neither the Roman Catholic Church, nor any of the Protestant churches, had heard of or knew of this doctrine even fifteen hundred years after Christ in the days of Martin Luther, as this doctrine had not yet existed. The doctrine of the rapture was invented later in the sixteenth century and not until about a hundred years ago did it become popular in Protestant churches.

What is going to happen when Jesus comes? It says, “And to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ (IIThessalonians 1:7, 8), whom the Lord will consume with the brightness of His coming (II Thessalonians 2:8).” Are they going to get a second chance? No. When Jesus comes again, you will either be saved or lost and that is the end. The Bible says you will either go up to heaven with Jesus, or you will be destroyed by the brightness of His coming.

God’s elect will say, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.” Isaiah 25:9. In this world, not only is it the unbelievers, but Christians also suffer grief, trouble, trial and bereavement. When Jesus comes, that experience will be over. At last we will be reunited with our loved ones. The graves will be opened up and God’s children will awake and rise from their dusty beds and go up on the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

Fact Five—Glorious Event

Jesus said His return would be a very glorious event. He said, “And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Matthew 24:30. It will be seen all over the sky. The Bible says, “As the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Verse 27.

Fact Six—Climactic Event

The second coming of Christ brings the climax to this world’s history. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True. And the armies in heaven, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations.” Revelation 19:11, 14, 15.

Fact Seven—Decisive Event

Christ’s coming is a decisive event. Jesus is coming as a conquering king with ten thousand of His holy ones to execute judgment upon all and to convict all who are ungodly of their ungodly deeds. Jesus said, “Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Revelation 22:12.

The prophets and the apostles wrote about what was going to happen to both the righteous and the wicked when Jesus returns. The angels will come forth to separate the wicked from among the just (Matthew 13:49). “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.” Luke 13:28. At that time no one will want to be on the outside looking in and not be able to go in. Everybody in the world will then want to go in that place with an inexpressible desire for salvation and eternal life. Jesus said, “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” Matthew 16:26. What does it profit?

Heaven is a good place, a place you want to go and where you want to live. Jesus loves you and has done everything possible that you will be welcome there. Will He be able to welcome you in? He says, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every man according to his work.” Revelation 22:12. What reward is He bringing for you? Is it the gift of eternal life because you have accepted His invitation and washed your robes in His precious blood or are you one of the scoffers enjoying the pleasures of this world that will soon come to an end? Remember your eternal destiny will be decided before Jesus comes back and there will be no second chance. The Bible says in Revelation 22:11, 12, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every man according as his work shall be.”

Jesus is coming soon; He is waiting for you to accept His invitation to be one of the people who is looking for Him anxiously waiting to meet Him. Or will you be one of the group looking for a place to hide because, “The great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 6:17.

Heaven is a good place where,

“ ‘They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,’ says the Lord.” Isaiah 65:25. There will be people there from all countries of the world. Jesus said, “And I say unto you, many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down … in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 8:11.

Isaiah described heaven: “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth. The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying. They shall build houses and inhabit them. They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain.” Isaiah 65:17, 19, 21, 22, 25.

Heaven is a good place, one to be desired. Today, without delay, ask the Lord to write His commandments in your heart that you will find His law a delight and be governed by the principles of heaven. “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 66:23.

In comparison to the world population, very few people are accepting the invitation of Jesus. Do not be alarmed to find yourself in the minority. When the flood came, Noah and his family were in the minority inside the ark. Though they were few, they were glad to be in safety and not drowning with the majority. “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And whoever desires, let him take of the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17.

This world is full of exclusive places with signs saying, “Keep out,” where the common people are not welcome but right at the end of the Bible God has hung up a sign; He says, “Come in!” Now is the time to accept the invitation and say, Lord, I am choosing to commit my life to You. I am not just going to profess to be a Christian and then go on living like the devil. Give me a new heart and live out your life in me so I can be obedient to all of Your commandments. I want to follow You all the way and be ready when Jesus comes to take me home with Him. I am tired of playing games and I give You my whole heart.

Pastor John Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: historic@stepstolife.org, or by telephone at: 316–788–5559.