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The Rapture

1. The Promise of His Coming
July 26, 1971, was a memorable day when at 9:34 a.m. three
astronauts blasted off from Cape Kennedy. As they sped toward
the moon, newsmen made the incredible statement that the energy
expended to lift the gigantic ship from the launching pad equalled
the power of all streams and rivers of the nation, if harnessed.
What an achievement for those astronauts as they raced to the
moon.
Man's astounding venture into space is weak and insignificant,
however, in comparison to the space trip that Christians will take
when Jesus comes. Known as the RAPTURE, many believers
eagerly anticipate the return of Christ which could take place at
any moment. His coming will be secret and unannounced and all
believers will then be taken up into the air and will be forever with
the Lord.
Just think of this glorious fact! Jesus Christ Himself is literally
returning to reclaim His own. We read His own promise in John
14:2,3, "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
unto Myself: that where I am, there ye may be also.. 
Jesus said, "I will come again." But so many do not seem to
understand this blessed truth. Charles Spurgeon once said, "We
cannot see how a subject so clearly revealed in the Word, is so
seldom taught in the world 
Death is Not the Second Coming
There are some who tell us that the coming of the Lord tabes place
every time a believer dies. But this is not true according to the
simple teaching of the Bible.
First, the events of 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 do not take place at
death, "For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a
shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God:
and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and
remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to
meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
These events do not take place whenever a person dies and
therefore death is not the second coming of Christ.
It is also stated in these verses that those who are alive at His
coming "shall be caught up together with them in the clouds."
Therefore at least one generation will be alive when our Lord
returns. We also see this in 1 Corinthians 15:51, "We shall not all
sleep." If all are not dead then the second coming does not take
place at death.
Secondly, Christ definitely says in John 14:3, "I will come again.-
He is coming to us, but at death we go to Him.
Thirdly, we cannot substitute the word "death" in passages which
refer to the coming to our Lord. In Philippians 3:20 we read, "For
our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for" -
death? - No! "the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." Other passages
would be just as absurd if we tried to substitute death for the
second coming.
Pentecost is not the Second Coming
Some would have us believe that the prophecies concerning the
return of Christ were fulfilled at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit
came. This is not true to the Bible.
First, the events of 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 did not take place at
Pentecost. The Lord did not descend form Heaven with a shout,
the dead did not rise, and those who were alive did not go to be
with the Lord. No one was caught up in the air. Pentecost was not
the return of our Lord.
Secondly, if Christ s coming took place at Pentecost, why are there
so many new prophecies made after ter the descent of the Holy
Spirit concerning His coming, such as Philippians 3:20, 1
Thessalonians 4:16-18, and James 5:7,87 If Christ had come in the
person of the Holy Spirit these later promises would never have
been made. Christ has not come beck yet, but said, "I will come
again."
The Fall of Jerusalem Is Not the Second Coming
Others have taught that our Lord returned at the fall of Jerusalem.
But this is not true to the Word,
First, the events of 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 did not take place
during the destruction of Jerusalem.
Secondly, after Jerusalem fell in 70 A.D. the Church was still
looking for Him. John prayed in Revelation 22:20 after the time of
the fall of Jerusalem, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." Christ's coming
was still in the future. 
His Coming Prophesied
When we speak of the Lord's return, we refer to His personal
return to this earth. This is the testimony of the angels in Acts 1:
11, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this
same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall  so
come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." 
Notice the words, "this same Jesus." It is not the spirit of Christ
who is returning but this same Jesus whom the disciples saw going
up into heaven. He shall come in like manner— physically and we
shall know Him as the Son of God. The coming of Christ is not an
influence or a moral force but a personal, bodily appearing.
The coming of the Lord is not just a doctrine to store in our heads
or to confess with our mouths. Rather it is the blessed hope of
every believer. Titus 2:13, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the
glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. "
We are looking for Christ to return. While it is true that the
darkness surrounds us, and the night cometh, let us remember that
the morning comes also. This hope is to give us glad hearts as we
wait and pray, "even so, come, Lord Jesus."
I remember an illustration given by Louis Talbot to present the
reality of this blessed hope. I quote from his sermon, When I left
Australia years ago, I said to my mother, 'Mother, if God spares
me, I will come back to see you.'For years she waited. Had anyone
said to her, 'Mrs. Talbot, what are you waiting for?' she would have
replied, 'My boy in America is coming back.' And suppose this
person said to her, 'Coming back? What do you mean? Surely you
don't expect a personal, visible, actual coming!' Yes,' she would
have replied, 'That's the way he's coming.' Possibly her friend
might have said, 'Did you ever get letters from him? Do you ever
receive gifts? Well, that is what he meant - he is coming in all
these things.' My mother would have answered, Why, that isn't
what he meant, for he said that HE would come back!'Some years
afterward, I did cross the ocean, walked down the gangplank from
the steamer, and said, 'Mother, here I am." 
Oh, friends, what a day it is going to be when Christ returns for His
own. He is coming! Horatius Bonar lived in the light of this
blessed hope and penned these immortal words:
I know not in what watch He comes
Or at what how He may appear,
Whether at midnight or at morn,
Or in what season of the year; 
I only know that He is near.
The centuries have come and gone
Dark centuries of absence drear; 
I dare not chide the long delay, 
Nor ask when I His voice shall hear;
I only know that He is near.
I do not think it can be long 
Till in His glory He appear;
And yet I dare not name the day,
Nor fix the solemn Advent year; 
I only know that He is near.
Our Saviour says, "Occupy till I come" (Luke 19:13). He bids
every believer, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel"
(Mark 16:15). "Ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem,
and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of
the earth" (Acts 1:8).
When I see so few believers witnessing for Christ and showing so
little concern for souls I cannot believe that they love the Saviour
and look for His return. There are so many still lost in sin who can
honestly say, "No man careth for my soul." We have lost the reality
of a lost soul, of Hell, and of the coming of the Lord.
If you knew the Lord would come tonight:
Is there something you ought to do today?
Then, do it now!
Is there some debt you ought to pay today?
Then, do it now!
Is there some quarrel you ought to make up?
Then, do it now!
Is there a sinner you ought to warn?
Then, do it now!
Christ is coming! Perhaps tonight!
2. THE CERTAINTY OF HIS RETURN
The New Testament proclaims three great certainties:
(1) Christ, the Son of God, has been to this earth and has gone away.
(2) The Holy Spirit has come down to this earth and is still here.
(3) The Son of God is coming back again to this earth.
These are the three great subjects unfolded in the New Testament
scriptures. We shall find that each of them has a double bearing:
they have a bearing upon the world, and a bearing upon the
Church; upon the world as a whole, and upon each unconverted
man, woman, and child in particular; upon the church as a whole,
and upon each individual member thereof, in particular. It is
impossible for anyone to avoid the bearing of these three great
facts upon his own personal condition and future destiny" (Papers
on Lord's Coming by C.H.M.).
Let us now consider these facts:
First, Christ came to this earth and has gone away. What a
marvellous thing! This world was visited by its Creator. His glory
was veiled when He took upon Himself the form of a slave. He
was made in the likeness of sinful men, yet without sin. He went to
the Cross when He was "delivered by the determinate counsel and
foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23). He "bare our sins in His own
body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24). Now Christ is absent. Why?
Because the world rejected Him: but the heavens received Him.
Men despised Him: but God highly exalted Him.
Secondly, God the Holy Spirit has come down to this earth and is
still here. God continued to deal with the world in mercy and
grace. Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound"
(Romans 5:20). The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and indwells
every believer. For the world, the Holy Spirit is here to convict of
sin - the sin of rejecting and crucifying the Son of God (John
16:8-11). For believers, the Holy Spirit takes the place of the
absent Christ. He is here to quicken (John 6:63), to teach (John
14:26), to comfort (John 16:7), and to empower. 
Thirdly, the Lord Jesus Christ is coming back again. The first
promise that was given to fallen man speaks of His return to bruise
Satan's head (Genesis 3:15). The last recorded words of our Lord
are "Surely I come quickly" (Revelation 22:20). From the
beginning of the Bible to the end we are presented with the fact of
His return. Every time we fellowship with the Lord around His
table we are reminded of His coming, "For as often as ye eat this
bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till He
come" (1 Corinthians 11:26).
Let us notice that just as the first coming of our Lord was literal,
and just as the coming of the Holy Spirit was literal, as the second
coming of Christ will be a literal coming. So many want to take
these prophetic verses symbolically or figuratively; but Jesus said,
"I will come again."
The coming of our Lord will be in two stages. Unless we
distinguish these two stages of Christ's return there will be much
confusion in our study of the prophetic scriptures.
The first stage of our Lord's coming will be in grace: the second
will be in judgment. The first stage will be in the air: the second
will be to the earth. The first stage will not be seen by the world:
the second will be seen by every eye. The first stage will be Christ
coming as "the Morning Star" (Revelation 22:16); the second will
be His appearing as "the Sun of Righteousness" (Malachi 4:2). At
the first stage He comes FOR Hts saints: at the second He comes
WITH Hts saints (John 14:3: Jude 14). No signs remain to be
fulfilled before the first stage. Many signs are to be fulfilled before
the second stage. The first stage is Christ coming as our Saviour
(Hebrew 9:28): the second is Hts coming as King (Revelation
19:11,16). The first stage will be followed by the Judgment (Bema
or Reward) Seat of Christ, when believers will be rewarded
according to their works (2 Corinthians 5:10) the second will be
followed by the Throne of Glory upon which shall sit the Son of
Man to judge the nations of the earth. 
Actually, the first coming of Christ was also tn two stages. It was
at first secret and then public. The birth of Christ was seen and
known by few people like the shepherds, wise men, Anna, and
Simeon. The ungodly rulers and unbelieving people did not see
Him: but after thirty years He was publicly manifested. So it will
be when He comes again.
There are many types tn the Bible relating to the coming of our
Lord. There is the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). Primarily this
had to do with Israel but it is a type of the Church. Aaron, a type of
Christ, was there to offer the bullock sin-offering for himself and
for his house. Christ was so identified with His people that He was
made to be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21): and for His house
which is described in 1 Peter 2:5 as "a spiritual house". The two
goats picture the divine and human side of Christ's Cross-work, (a)
to provide salvation for lost sinners and (2) to vindicate God. The
blood was sprinkled ONCE upon the mercy seat and seven times
before it (Leviticus 16:14,15) which provided a perfect once-for-all
salvation.
However, the picture we want to see is that after the atonement
was affected, the high priest attired himself in robes of beauty and
glory and returned to the waiting congregation in the outer court
(vs. 23,24). Our High Priest, the Lord Jesus, has already made
atonement for our sins by the shedding of His precious blood. He
has passed through the veil into the Holy of Holies "now to appear
in the presence of God for us" (Hebrews 9:24). Soon He will take
off the sacrificial garments and attired in robes of glory and beauty
He shall come forth to His waiting people whose sins and
iniquities shall be remembered no more for ever (Hebrews 10:17).
We read in Hebrews 9:28, "So Christ was once offered to bear the
sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the
second time without sin unto salvation". This, indeed, is a
marvellous type of the coming of the Lord. 
In John 6:15-21 we have the miracle of Christ walking on the
water. After our Lord fed the 5,000 He went to a mountain alone.
The disciples started towards Capernaum in a ship. Then "the sea
arose by reason of a great wind." It was dark and Jesus came to
rescue them. He said, "It is I: be not afraid." And we read, "Then
they willingly received Him into the ship: and immediately the
ship was at the land whither they went."
Christ praying on the mountain pictures Him as our great High
Priest who lives today at the right hand of God to make
intercession for us. The restless sea speaks of the world's unrest in
opposition to God. The ship in the storm speaks of the attacks of
the Devil upon the Church as he tries to destroy its witness before
our Lord's return. The rowing disciples in the storm shows the
inability of the Church to clean up the mess of this old world's
system. The Church may pull the oars but it cannot still the storm.
We are not here to clean up this old world. The storms will
continue until Jesus comes. In the dark hour of the night our Lord
will come to still the storm and to deliver His people. He will
descend from Heaven with a shout of triumph to take the Church
out of the world unto Himself. Thus the journey will be over for all
believers. Conflicts will be ended. We shall have reached the
Harbour to be safe in Hts presence forevermore.
3. THE RAPTURE
There are two threads running through the word of God; the red
thread of the blood atonement and the gold thread of the second
cowing of our Lord. Both of these truths are absolutely essential to
our eternal hope.
One often hears the comment these days, "I wonder what the world
is coming to." The Bible leaves us in no doubt. The present age
will be brought to an end by the return of the Lord Jesus Christ
from heaven. In the light of this blessed hope we see the
swift-moving events of our day falling into place and the story of
history more and more becomes "His Story."
A small group of Red Indians, newly converted to Christianity,
came to a missionary in northwest Canada with the request, We
are always hearing what God has done, now we want to know what
He is going to do." This was a reasonable request and the answer is
that Jesus Christ is coming again. The Bible teaches over 300
times in the New Testament alone that the Lord is coming again. I
know this truth is seldom taught and little believed in our day but
the fact remains that this is what the Bible says.
The Bible is full of Divine SHALLS that must be fulfilled: "The
Lord SHALL descend from heaven." "The dead ln Christ SHALL
rise." "We SHALL all be changed." "We that are alive SHALL be
caught up." "So SHALL we ever be with the Lord."
The first word dealing with the Second Coming of Christ is the
word parousia which means arrival or presence. Paul uses this
word in speaking of "the coming of Stephanas". (1 Corinthians 16:
I 7). He urges the Philippians to be as obedient in his absence as
they were during his presence with them. But parousia is used in a
special way to describe the second coming of Christ (Matthew
24:3,27,37,39 I Thessalonians 2: 19; 3: 13; 4: 15; 5:23; 2
Thessalonians 2:1,8; James 5:7,8; 2 Peter 1:16; 3:4,12; 1 John
2:28).
The word parousia is a technical word for the arrival of an
emperor, a king; or some famous person. When such a visit was
anticipated great preparations were made to receive the one who
was coming. Often new coins were struck to commemorate the
famous visit. But Christ's coming is far more important and
significant and certainly all believers should be ready to meet Him
in that day.
Another word used in relation to the second coming of Christ is
the word epiphany which means appearing or manifestation. Paul
speaks of this in 2 Timothy 4:8: "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."
The third word used is the word apokalypsis which means
revelation. This event takes place after the rapture of the Church
when our Lord comes WITH His Church to judge the world's
ungodly system.
The first great event then will be the rapture of the Church. Let us
read about this in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, "But I would not have
you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep,
that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we
believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which
sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you
by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and reman unto
the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with
the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the
dead In Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain
shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the
Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
Then in 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 we have the same truth presented,
"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall
all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last
trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised
incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must
put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So
when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this
mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass
the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O
death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting
of death is sin: and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to
God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know
that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." 
I want you to notice that in these days of denial of the miracles of
God's Word that the second coming of Christ will be brought about
with three outstanding miracles of all time.
First, the coming of the Christ will bring about the miracle of life
out of death for the dead in Christ "shall rise first." From all over
the world the bodies of believers will be brought forth from their
graves. It is estimated that three million believers were buried in
the catacombs of Rome. Think of the bodies of believers in the
sea, on the mountain side, in lonely graves, in unmarked tombs.
But the Lord knows where the bodies of the saints are, "and the
dead In Christ shall rise first."
Secondly, like Enoch and Elijah, all the believers living when
Jesus comes will be changed, translated, and will not pass through
death. "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a
moment, in the twinkling of an eye." We shall be given new
resurrection bodies - from weakness to power, from mortality to
immortality, from humiliation to glory, from our natural bodies to
be fashioned "like unto His glorious body" (Philippians 3:21).
What if it should be that this is the generation for our Lord's
return? What a hope to be numbered among the deathless ones
"who are alive and reman unto the coming of our Lord." No death,
no funeral, no grave, no earthly separation, no "earth to earth,
ashes to ashes, dust to dust."
We shall not all sleep, but WE SHALL ALL BE CHANGED." The
bodies of the dead saints which are "corruptible" cannot enter
heaven until they have "put on incorruption."The bodies of the
living saints which are "mortal" will be changed by putting "on
immortality" without seeing death. "In a moment" we shall be
changed.
Thirdly, we have the exciting, blessed hope of being raptured and
"forever with the Lord." "When Christ, who is our life, shall
appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory" (Colossians
3:4).
This life is full of separations - separations that have been caused
by death, separations caused by distance and circumstances,
separations that have caused broken families and broken hearts.
But in that day, every Christian shall be with the Lord for ever.
Christ the Lord will come again,
None shall wait for Him in vain: 
I shall then His glory see; 
Christ will come and call for me.
Then, when the archangel's voice 
Calla the sleeping saints to rise, 
Rising millions shall proclaim 
Blessings on the Saviour's Name.
This is our redeeming God! 
Ransomed hosts will shout aloud;
Praise, eternal praise, be given, 
To the Lord of earth and heaven.
People sometimes ask, "Shall we know our loved ones in that
day?" Of course we shall. We remember that scene on the Mount
of Transfiguration when the disciples saw two others with the
Saviour and they recognized them. Nobody told Peter and the
others that these were Moses and Elijah. No, the moment they
looked at Moses and Elijah they recognized them.
The Bible also says that we shall know even as we are known (1
Corinthians 13:12). How wonderful to be with the Lord forever
and to know one another there. This is the blessed hope of every
believer. We are here but a short time for this world is not our
home. But while we are here we are to lay up treasures in heaven.
We are to witness to the glorious Gospel of Christ. We are to enter
into Christ's main plan for this age - the building of His Church.
4. WILL THE CHURCH GO THROUGH THE GREAT
TRIBULATION
There are various schools of thought regarding the Rapture, the
Great Tribulation and the Millennium.
The premillennial view of our Lord's coming teaches the existence
of a literal, earthly Millennium of 1,000 years, and that the rapture
of the Church precedes it.
The postmillennial view teaches that the Millennium will result
from the spread of the Gospel and the salvation of large numbers
of the world's population, with Christ returning to the earth at its
conclusion.
The amillennial view denies the existence of a literal 1,000 year
reign of Christ. It sees the millennial promises as being fulfilled in
a spiritual kingdom. Some teach that this kingdom is Christ's rule
over His Church here on earth. Others believe lt is God's rule over
the saints in Heaven.
The pretribulation view holds that the rapture of the Church will
not only be premillennial but pretribulational. The rapture will
occur before the beginning of the great tribulation and the Church
will not experience this awful time of suffering and Judgment.
This is the view we hold and will seek to prove from the Word of
God
The post-tribulational view agrees that the rapture will be
premillennial but teaches that lt will take place after the great
tribulation. According to them the Church will go through the
tribulational period.
Premillennialists do not believe it is the mission of the Church to
civilize the world or to convert the world or even to change the
world. The ministry of the Church is to evangelize the world. Our
Lord is building His Church and calling out of the world a people
for His Name (Acts 15:14). We do not look for any great
improvement in the world. "In the last days perilous times shall
come" (2 Timothy 3:1). "Evil men and seducers shall wax worse
and worse" (2 Timothy 3:13).
We believe there will be no Millennium until Christ comes to
earth, takes its government upon His shoulder, and reigns in power
over it. We do not believe there can be any real moral
improvement on earth until Satan is judged. 
It is true that the Church will always experience tribulation upon
earth. "In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer;
I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). The Church has suffered
much down through the years but the "great tribulation" of
Revelation 7:14 (the literal translation is "the tribulation the great
one") has reference to a particular period in history not to the
present tribulation of believers.
The Church will not pass through the great tribulation because our
Lord has promised to deliver us from that awful hour. "Because
thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from
the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try
them that dwell upon the earth" (Revelation 3: 10). Philadelphia
represents the true Church at the end of the age and our Lord has
promised deliverance from the "hour of temptation, which shall
come upon all the world." It will be a worldwide trial and the
Church will be kept from that "hour" which is the whole
seven-year period of tribulation.
The Church will not pass through "the tribulation the great one"
because the Church is not appointed to wrath. "For God hath not
appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus
Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Paul is speaking of the wrath that is
coming upon the unsaved at the end of the age. In 1 Thessalonians
4 and 5 Paul taught by inspiration that the rapture would be God's
method of escape from the wrath of the tribulation. God saved His
people in Old Testament times from Hts wrath. He saved Rahab
out of Jericho before Judgment fell upon the city (Joshua 6:25). He
saved Lot from Sodom before the fire and brimstone fell (Genesis
19:12-25). Enoch was translated (a type of the rapture) before the
Judgment of the flood (Genesis 5:24). At the rapture the true
Church will be saved from the great tribulation.
The Church will not pass through the great tribulation because the
Church is not mentioned where the tribulation is portrayed. Our
Lord Himself divides the Book of Revelation into 3 distinct parts
(Revelation 1:19): (1) "Write the things which thou hast seen"
(chapter 1): (2) "the things which are" (chapters 2 and 3); (3) "and
the things which shall be hereafter" (chapters 4-22). The word
"church" is mentioned 7 times in chapters 1-3. The word
"churches" is mentioned 12 times in chapters 1-3. But neither word
is mentioned in chapters 4-19 where the great tribulation is
described. The Church is seen in Revelations 4 as being in Heaven,
represented by the 24 elders.
The Church will not pass through the great tribulation because the
Church is to watch for the imminent return of her Lord. The word
"imminent" means any moment and all believers are to expect
their Lord to return at any moment. It implies a state of
expectancy. We are not to be looking for the world to get better.
We are not to be looking for the great tribulation. We are to be
looking for our Lord.
A casual study of the New Testament will reveal this truth. 1
Corinthians 15:51,52, "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not
all deep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the
twinkling of an eye, at the last trump." Philippians 3:20, "For our
conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the
Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 1:9,10, "...ye
turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to
wait for His Son from heaven." James 5:8, "Be ye also patient;
stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh."
Revelation 22:20, "He which testifieth these things saith, Surety, I
come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
If the Church must go through the great tribulation, what hope is
there for the imminent return of our Lord? The posttribulation
view robs the believer of the imminency of our Lord's coming. The
Bible does not teach that we are to look for the great tribulation, or
for Antichrist, or for persecution and martyrdom, or for death; but
for the imminent return of our Lord.
The Church will not pass through the great tribulation because the
Church is to be Judged and married between the rapture and the
tribulation.
The Bible teaches clearly that the Church is to appear before our
Lord at the Judgment (Bema or Reward) Seat of Christ. This is not
a judgment for sins but a judgment of works after salvation with a
corresponding gain or loss of crowns and rewards. Then comes the
Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
Some post-tribulation writers think that all of this will take place
on the same day that Christ returns, probably only a few moments
apart. We believe these important events will take longer than that.
While only a little is written of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb
there is much teaching on the Judgment Seat of Christ. ALL of this
could not take place in just a moment of time. Read l Corinthians
3 and other references to crowns and rewards.
One writer has said, "A quick review of the nature of the Church
and the character of the Tribulation, of promises which exempt the
Church from any wrath poured out by God, of the shift of
viewpoint from earth to Heaven at Revelation 4:1 revealing
crowned and glorified elders who worship Christ and sing the song
of the redeemed; such a review should convince any candid mind
that the place of the rapture in the chronology of the Revelation
and tn the order of prophetic events is clearly pretribulational"
The Church will not pass through the great tribulation because the
Church must be removed before Antichrist is revealed.
In Paul's day some were teaching that the day of the Lord or day of
Christ had already come (2 Thessalonians 2). Paul writes to show
them that the day of the Lord follows the rapture of the Church. He
says inverse 3 that this day will not come until there come a
"falling away (apostasy) first, and that man of sin (Antichrist) be
revealed, the son of perdition." He then speaks of one who is a
restrainer, one who "withholdeth" (verse 6), and who will be
"taken out of the way" (verse 7).
Who is this restrainer? Some say it is the Roman Empire, or the
Jewish State, or human government, or Satan, or the Church, or
Paul himself. But nearly all prophetic Bible scholars believe the
restrainer to be the Holy Spirit. He has been responsible for
restraining evil all through human history. He has done this
through His own people who in this age form the Church, the Body
of Christ. At the rapture the Church will be removed and in that
sense the Holy Spirit, who indwells every believer, will be
removed. Then Antichrist will be revealed, and will make his
covenant with Israel. This will occur during the great tribulation
period which is identified with the Seventieth Week of Daniel's
Prophecy. 

From The Peoples Gospel Hour

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