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The Second Coming and Rapture

Important Writings

THE RETURN, THE RESURRECTION, AND THE RAPURE
by Pastor Steve Swires
INTRODUCTION.
Those of us who believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God who was conceived of God and born of the virgin Mary, lived a sinless life and then died on the cross to pay for our sins, rose again the third day victorious over sin, death, hell and the grave, was seen of many witnesses and then ascended from earth in the clouds and went back to heaven, have a great and glorious promise that He will come again, at which time those of us who have died will be resurrected with eternal life and righteousness, and those of us who are still living will be instantly changed and caught up (raptured) to meet Him as He returns in the clouds to the earth.

“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?” (1 Corinthians 15:51-55)

“Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” (Philippians 3:21 )

“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 remain 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.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17)

“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” (Revelation 21:4-6)

This is a wonderful and glorious promise. We have here a very plain and straightforward promise that this resurrection and “catching up”, or rapture, of the saints will occur at the “last trump” when the Lord comes again to the earth. However, incredibly, most Fundamental and Evangelical Christians of today don't believe it will occur just as it is written. They believe it will occur before the 7 trumpets in the Revelation and 7 years before “the coming of the Lord”.

A WORD ABOUT INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE.
The Bible, being the Word of God, is the greatest book ever written. It has the greatest Author of anything ever spoken or written. No one else has ever or could ever write as precise or true a book, and no one could say more clearly what he meant than God did in His Word. God's Word says what it means and means what it says.
Since the serpent came to Eve in the garden of Eden and “explained” to her what God really meant when He said “thou shalt surely die” he has been telling men, whether common laymen or theologians, that God really meant something different from what a plain straight forward understanding of His words would lead them to believe. Keep this in mind: any time and every time someone says God's words mean anything other than what they plainly say, he is simply following the same old lie of the serpent. It is from following this lie that men can make the Bible say whatever they want it to say. The Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Roman Catholics, etc. use the Scriptures to support what they teach, but they do it by twisting the Scriptures to mean something other than what they obviously say. If we do the same thing, albeit to a lesser degree, we are no better than they are. So, be very careful and examine your motives and methods as you study what the Scriptures say regarding the return, resurrection and rapture.
Some argue that the Bible is too hard for common people to understand, or not clear enough for common people to understand what it really means, so we need theologians and “doctors” to interpret and explain it to us. That is just the same old lie of the serpent.
Of course, in our study of the Word of God we endeavor to come to an understanding of how the details fit into the bigger picture, but we face the danger of developing a “system” (such  as Catholicism, Dispensationalism, or Calvinism) that we feel describes the whole and then force individual passages to fit our system even if they contradict the system! For example, Calvinism says that Christ did not die for all men, so, those who hold to it have to reinterpret Scriptures that say that Christ died for all men to mean something else. Likewise, those holding to classical Dispensationalism including the pre-tribulation rapture of the church are forced to reinterpret Scriptures that plainly say the Rapture will occur at the “coming of the Lord” at the end of the tribulation to mean a different “coming of the Lord”, and Scriptures that say there will be one resurrection of all saints at the end of the tribulation to mean that there will be several resurrections of the saints at different times, etc. Whenever we are forced to deny the obvious meaning of Scripture in order to make it fit our system, we should change our system rather than deny the meaning of the Scriptures. I have personally had to do this, even though it has cost me dearly.
In this paper we will be very careful to take the words of God to mean what they say.

THE PROMISE OF THE RETURN OF THE SAVIOUR.
In the very early history of the earth Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were condemned for their sin, but God gave them a wonderful promise in Genesis 3:15 that the seed of the woman would one day bruise the head of the serpent (Satan).

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

What a wonderful promise! The world waited for thousands of years for this promise to be fulfilled, and although it seemed like it would never come, some four thousand years later, Jesus the sinless, virgin born Son of God and son of Mary died on the cross for the sin of Adam and all of his descendants, was buried, and then resurrected back to life victorious over that old serpent! He did come to the earth at one specific time just as God had promised!
While He was teaching His followers on earth before His death, Jesus made another promise: that He would go away from earth and prepare a place for his followers and then some day would come back to earth for them so that they could be with Him forever.

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye 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 unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.  And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.”  (John 14:1-4 )

This is a second wonderful promise: that the Saviour would come again. Notice the promise that when He comes the second time, it will be to “receive you unto myself”.  This receiving of His saints unto Himself will be the heart and reason for His coming again. The coming again and the receiving of His saints to Himself will be inseparable. Although in other Scripture He revealed that His coming will involve judgment, that negative side to His coming would only be a necessary part of receiving His saints unto Himself.
This future coming of the Lord is such a grand and glorious specific event that from the time of this revelation of Jesus of His future coming, it is repeatedly referred to with the definite article “the” as “the coming of the Lord” (not comings of the Lord), leaving no room for doubt or confusion as to which coming or how many “comings” there will be. There is only this one future “coming of the Lord” referred to in the Scriptures!
To better understand the importance of the use of the definite article “the” consider this verse:

“And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16)

If the definite article “the” allows for more than one specific object or event, then in the above verse “the Christ” can be understood to mean “one of several Christs” and “the Son” can mean “one of several sons” and “the living God” can mean “one of several living gods”, but of course, we know that is not true. The definite article here is a great statement that there is only one Christ, only one begotten Son, and only one living God! The same is true of verses referring to “the coming” of the Lord: they are a statement that there will be one and only one future coming of the Lord!
I emphasize this point because in order to make the Scriptures fit their system, most dispensation-alists try to argue that the resurrection and rapture will occur 7 years before “the coming of the Lord” at the end of the tribulation. They then have to twist the Scriptures and say that there are two future comings of the Lord, and that the first one doesn't count as the 2nd coming of the Lord because He supposedly doesn't set foot on the earth. It is therefore “the coming of the Lord” but it is not the 2nd “coming of the Lord”. The problem is that this is a direct denial of the plain and obvious meaning of the words of the Scriptures. The one passage (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17) that clearly mentions the “catching up” or rapture also clearly and plainly says that it will be those who are “alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord”. It could not be any more clear or plain! The use of the definite article “the” here is a great statement that there will be one future coming of the Lord. If there were any room for more than one future “coming of the Lord” or if there were a future “coming of the Lord” in the air and a “coming of the Lord” to the earth it would not make sense to say “the coming of the Lord”, because it would not be clear which one “the” referred to.  Let's then take a thorough look at what the Scriptures have to say about “the coming of the Lord” and see if it was wrong to use the definite article “the” in 1 Thessalonians 4, and the Scriptures actually refer to 2 future “comings of the Lord”.

THE EARTH WILL BE AS THE DAYS OF NOAH AT THE COMING OF THE LORD.
We have several verses of Scripture that describe what the earth will be like when He comes:

Matthew 24:37 “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be...39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
Luke 17:26 “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man....30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. 31  In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. 32  Remember Lot’s wife. 33  Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. 34  I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. 35  Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 36  Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”
Luke 18:8 “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”

In these passages we are told that the people of the earth will not be ready, that it will be as it was in the days of Noah up until the flood came, and that faith will be scarce, but there is no indication here that there will be two different comings of the Lord. These passages clearly refer to the one future coming of the Lord.

THE COMING OF THE LORD WILL BE IN CLOUDS AFTER THE TRIBULATION.
One favourite argument for two different comings of the Lord is that one will be in the clouds, and not to the earth, and one will be to the earth, so there must be two different comings, but there is no Scripture that says or implies such a thing.

Matthew 24:30 “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
Matthew 26:64 “Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
Mark 13:26 “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”
Mark 14:62 “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.”
Luke 21:27 “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
Acts 1:9 “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10  And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11  Which also said, 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.”
1 Thessalonians 4:17 “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.”
Revelation 1:7 “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 14:14 “And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. 15  And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. 16  And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.”
Notice that the references to the Lord's coming in the clouds is clearly stated to be after the  tribulation in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and in The Revelation 14. None of these verses give any indication that there will be two comings, one in the clouds before the tribulation and a different one to the earth after the tribulation. Some men try to argue that the coming in the clouds must be a different coming than the coming when He will stand on the earth because of the two different locations. However, this is nonsense. Consider the Ascension: it involved two locations in the one ascension. He was standing on the earth, and then ascended into the clouds. There is NO reason to believe that His coming cannot be the reverse order to His Ascension as the angels said it will be: He can most certainly come in the clouds, meet the resurrected and raptured saints in the air, destroy the armies of the earth with the sword (word) of His mouth, and then set foot on the earth. What is so hard to understand about that?
There is no indication in any of these verses that there are two different future comings of the Lord. Instead, the Scriptures make it clear that the idea that the coming of the Lord in the clouds will be before the tribulation is nothing but a fabrication.

THE COMING OF THE LORD WILL BE AS LIGHTNING WITH POWER AND GLORY.
The common view of the coming and rapture is that it will be in the clouds and hidden and invisible to men on earth. However, when we look at what the Scriptures say, we find that there is no hidden or invisible coming, but only a glorious and powerful coming in the clouds like lightning.

Matthew 24:27 “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
Luke 17:24 “For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.”
Matthew 16:27 “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 25:31 “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:”
Matthew 26:64 “Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
Mark 8:38 “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”
Mark 13:26 “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.:
Mark 14:62 “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.”
Luke 9:26 “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.”
Luke 21:27 “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”
2 Thessalonians 2:8 “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:”

Notice that His coming will not be hidden or a “sneak attack”, but that it will be plain and obvious to all men. No indication of a hidden or invisible coming here. According to Scripture, when Jesus comes again to resurrect and rapture the saints it will be a glorious coming with great power!
Glory is connected to brightness.

1 Corinthians 15:41 “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.”
Revelation 21:23 “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”

The coming of Christ will be as bright and visible as lightning or the sun.

THE COMING WILL BE AS A THIEF IN THE NIGHT AFTER THE TRIBULATION.
Some argue that the resurrection and the rapture must occur before the tribulation because it will happen suddenly like the coming of a thief. However, the Lord clearly says in The Revelation chapter sixteen that He will come as a thief after the tribulation. We are also told in 1 Thessalonians that that day will not overtake believers who walk in the light as a thief.

Revelation 16:15 “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”
1 Thessalonians 5:2 “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night...4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.”
2 Peter 3:10 “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”
Revelation 3:3 “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”

There is no indication in any of these verses that there are two different future comings of the Lord.

RESURRECTION WILL OCCUR AT THE COMING.
The resurrection is a great and glorious promise for which most saints are waiting, and we are clearly told that it will occur at the coming of the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:21 “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23  But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 24  Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.”
1 Thessalonians 4:14 “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16  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: 17  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.”
1 Thessalonians 5:23 “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Thessalonians 2:1 “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,”
Revelation 20:5 “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”

The timing of the resurrection is an important point. The clear understanding of the Scriptures referring to the resurrection lead us to conclude that it will occur at the second coming of the Lord after the tribulation, but because it is said that it will occur before the rapture, and men want to believe the rapture will be before the tribulation, they insist the resurrection will be before the tribulation. If that were true, there is another problem that we would have to answer. There will clearly be millions of saints martyred during the tribulation.

Revelation 7:9 “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10  And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11  And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12  Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. 13  And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14  And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

Not only does the context indicate that this will be during the tribulation, but in the only other reference in Scripture to “great tribulation” Jesus made it clear that it begins in the middle of the tribulation when the “abomination of desolation” is set up.

Matthew 24:15  “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16  Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 17  Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18  Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19  And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20  But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21  For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

The question then is this: if the resurrection occurred before the seven years of tribulation, when and how did these millions of saints accept Christ and when will they be resurrected? Will there be a great awakening of the lost with mass evangelism and multitudes saved after all of the saints leave the earth? The Scriptures make it plain that there will not be many saved during the tribulation.

2 Thessalonians 2:8 “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9  Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10  And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12  That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Matthew 24:24 “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”
Revelation 13:8 “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
Revelation 9:20 “And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:”
Revelation 16:9 “And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.”
Revelation 16:11  “And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.”

What we find in Scripture is that rather than strong conviction and wooing of the Holy Spirit to repent and trust Christ, God Himself will send a STRONG DELUSION that they will not be able to overcome and they will believe the lies of Satan and the Antichrist. They will NOT repent! The only ones we have a statement indicating that they might be saved are the 144,000 virgin Israelite men (Revelation 7), but they may well have been saved before the tribulation began, and the Israelites that God will especially deal with during the tribulation (Romans 11:26).
While there clearly will not be many if any saved during the tribulation, there are several more passages that indicate there will be many saints from many nations martyred during the tribulation.

Revelation 13:7 “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.”
Daniel 7:21 “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;”
Daniel 7:25 “And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.”
Daniel 8:24 “And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.
Daniel 11:33 “And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.”
Daniel 11:35 “And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed.”

In the passage in Revelation 20, we have a clear direct statement that the resurrection of the saints that occurred after the tribulation is the first resurrection, not the second. If we take this for what it says there is no problem, but it does not fit the notion of a pre-tribulation rapture.  In order to try to make it fit men argue that there must be a second resurrection of all the saints martyred during the tribulation, although we have no Scripture that says it.

There is no indication in any of these verses that there are two different future comings of the Lord.

CHRIST WILL COME WITH HIS SAINTS
Some try to argue that there must be two different future comings of the Lord because He must come “for” the saints one time and then come “with” the saints the second time. However, we find that the Scriptures indicate that He will come “with” the saints when He comes to resurrect the dead in Christ and then rapture those that are alive and remain.

1 Thessalonians 3:13 “To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”
1 Thessalonians 4:14 “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16  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: 17  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.”
Jude 1:14 “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,”

There is no Scriptural statement of two separate comings: one “for” and one later “with” the saints. It is only a catchy phrase invented by men. All references say He will come “with” his saints when He comes again. 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 makes it totally clear with no room for argument. It plainly says that He will bring the saints “with” Him when He comes to resurrect the dead and rapture the living saints. To insist it teaches two separate comings, one “for” and one “with” the saints is to deny the direct statement of Scripture.

CHRIST WILL COME WITH HIS ANGELS
Not only will He come with His saints, He will also come with the angels. There is a question as to whether the armies that come with Him are angels or saints. They are said to be clothed in “fine linen clean and white” and we know that the saints will be clothed in white raiment which is described as their righteousness which was given them by Christ, but we also have clear declarations that the angels will come with Him, and that the angels are “clothed in pure and white linen”. We also know that Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels in Revelation 12:7, so the angels of heaven clearly constitute an army.

Matthew 16:27 “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 25:31 “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:”
Revelation 19:14 “And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.”
Revelation 15:6 “And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.”
Revelation 19:19 “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army.”
Revelation 12:7 “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,”

CHRIST WILL JUDGE AT HIS COMING.
Some have argued that the rapture and resurrection must be before the tribulation because the judgement seat of Christ will occur in heaven during the tribulation. However, the Scriptures make it plain that it will occur after the coming of the Lord.

Matthew 16:27 “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 25:31 “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32  And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33  And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:”
1 Corinthians 4:5 “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.”
2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
2 Timothy 4:1 “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;”
Jude 1:14 “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15  To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

We don't find any support for two different comings here either.

NO MAN KNOWS OR CAN KNOW THE DAY OR HOUR OF HIS COMING.
The coming of Christ will be such a grand and wonderful event that many cannot resist trying to calculate the exact day that it will occur, but Jesus made it quite plain that no man knows the day or the hour that it will occur. God has given us some signs that give us a general idea, but He has intentionally not given us enough to pinpoint the exact day and hour. Anyone who says that he has it figured out is deceived or deluded.

Matthew 24:36 “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only....44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh....48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
Matthew 25:13 “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”
Luke 12:40 “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.”

THE COMING IS CLEARLY SAID TO BE AFTER THE TRIBULATION.
In all of the references regarding the coming, we have several where there is a direct statement as to the timing of the coming.

Matthew 24:3 “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”
Matthew 24:21 “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22  And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened...27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be...29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
Mark 13:24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,..26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.”
Luke 21:26 “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27  And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

Here we have direct and plain statements that the coming will be after the tribulation in every case, but as we have seen in our thorough search of the Scriptures, there is not one single verse or phrase of Scripture anywhere that says there will be a coming before the tribulation!

WATCH AND WAIT FOR HIS COMING.
Many insist that the saints down through the ages since the Ascension have and must expect Christ to return at any second. To some this is the sacrosanct doctrine of imminency. However, the Scriptures do not teach that we must expect Christ to return at any second: only that He could come soon. Actually, the word imminent does not mean something could happen any second, but that it could happen soon. Out of thousands of years something that could happen in the next seven years could certainly be said to be soon or imminent.
Some have mistaken the phrase “I come quickly” to mean “I am coming any second now”, but that is not what it means. One of the verses that make the statement is Revelation 22:7.

“Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.”

Look at it again. It does not even say I come soon. The meaning of the phrase, “I come quickly” is that when He comes it will be quickly: suddenly and rapidly.
Paul warned the church at Thessalonica not to let anyone convince them that Christ could come back any second, because there are some things that must happen first.  

2 Thessalonians 2:1 “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4  Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”

He tells us that there must be a “falling away” or apostasy and the revelation of the “man of sin” first.
Let me insert here that in recent times, there are some who in their desperation to find a verse to support the pre-tribulational rapture have retranslated v. 3 where it says “a falling away” to say “a catching away”. In so doing, they insist that the Bible translators have been wrong because they weren't as knowledgable and didn't know their Greek like these modern day revisionists.
The Greek word translated “falling away” is “apostasia” with the meaning of “revolt” according to Shaff/Herzog, from which we get our English word “apostasy”. They would have us believe that contrary to the common understanding that apostasy is a bad thing that we should avoid, it is a good thing that we should all look forward to.
The Greek word translated “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is “harpazo” which we commonly use our English word “rapture” to refer to. These are two quite different words with different meanings. Paul in writing the book of 2 Thessalonians no doubt remembered that he had used the word “harpazo” and had he intended to refer back to the “harpazo” that he mentioned in 1 Thessalonians, for the sake of clarity would have no doubt used the same word, but we find that he did not. Instead he uses a quite different word with a different meaning.
The word “apostasia” is only used twice in the New Testament: here and in Acts 21:21, “...that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses,...” where it is translated “forsake”. It is the feminine form of the word “apostasion” which is translated as “divorce” or a “writing (bill) of divorcement”. In all cases it is used in a negative sense of “going away from” or “putting away”.
If you try to argue that the context alone can determine the meaning as to whether it is a negative “falling away” or a positive “catching away”, again it is negative because in context it is linked to the revelation of the “man of sin”. The closest it might come to possibly referring to something other than an apostasy would be to the taking out of the way of the One Who now “letteth” or restrains the man of sin, but the wording is significantly different, and that still does not refer to the taking or catching away of the saints.
This is just an attempt like so many others of various beliefs to make the Scriptures say what they wish they said in order to support an otherwise unsupported belief.
However, we do have a lot of Scripture that tells us to watch and be prepared for Christ to return soon.

Luke 12:36 “And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. 37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. 38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. 39 And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. 40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not....43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing....45 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; 46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.”
Luke 21:28 “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.... 31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand....36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”
1 Corinthians 1:7 “So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:”
James 5:7 “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. 8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.”
2 Peter 3:4 “And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation....12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?”

In none of these verses do we have any statement or implication that the saints must be convinced that Christ could catch them unaware and return at any second.
What we do find is that ALL references in Scripture as to the timing of the coming of the Lord (the return), the resurrection, and the rapture very plainly and directly state that they will occur after the tribulation. Why oh why do men refuse to believe what the Scriptures say?

REFUTATION OF MISCELLANEOUS ARGUMENTS USED TO TRY TO SUPPORT A PRE-TRIBULATIONAL RETURN, RESSURECTION, AND RAPTURE.
Although the Scriptures plainly say that the coming of the Lord when the dead saints are resurrected and the living saints are raptured will be after the Tribulation, many men the direct statements of Scripture and argue that it must be before the Tribulation, and they develop long dubious arguments to try to support their belief. The more popular of these then need an answer.

GOD PROMISED TO KEEP THE SAINTS FROM THE HOUR OF TEMPTATION.
One careless argument that some try to use to prove the saints will be resurrected and raptured before the tribulation is the promise made by the Lord to the church at Philadelphia in Revelation chapter 3.

Revelation 3:7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; 8  I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. 9  Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. 10  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. 11  Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”

It is vital to note that this promise to keep them from the hour of temptation, whether or not it refers to the tribulation, was made to the church at Philadelphia, not to all saints. The church at Philadelphia does not even exist today, so it has been fulfilled. God kept them from the hour of temptation.
If we take the messages to the seven churches of Asia to be representative of seven successive ages before Christ comes, we must note that the age of the church at Philadelphia is followed by the age of the church at Laodicea, the last age, and therefore the promise would not apply to the saints of the last age. It was fulfilled when the Philadelphia church age ended.
Then, if we say that the promise applies to all saints of all of the ages, then we must also say that all of the messages to the seven churches apply to all saints of all seven ages. Upon reading them, that definitely cannot be.
Finally, if we say that all of the messages to the seven churches apply to some of the saints some of the time it leaves out the rest of them and only some of the saints at any given time are promised a rapture before the tribulation.
It just doesn't fit no matter how much we try to make it fit.

THE RAPTURE WAS A MYSTERY REVEALED ONLY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.
The  argument is that the rapture was a mystery that was not revealed to the Israelites in the Old Testament, therefore it must only be available to saints before the tribulation because most of them are Gentiles and not Israelites. There is no statement to this effect and the reasoning is very tenuous and unsupported.

1 Corinthians 15:51 “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,”

The mysteries revealed in the New Testament were not new truths, but only truths that had not been revealed to man before. The promise that God made before the world began was eternal life (Titus 1:2), and with the fall of man and the penalty of death followed by the promise of the Saviour, it could only come about by resurrection which was then proclaimed by the Old Testament prophets.
There was only this slight detail that was still a mystery that needed answering: if all of the saints had the promise of resurrection, then what about the saints that had not died when Christ returned to resurrect His saints? Would they be left out? Paul then reveals the answer to this question, which only makes sense. They will receive the same new body and eternal life as those resurrected, only they won't have to die first. However, this in no way proves or even hints that this requires the return of Christ, the resurrection, and the rapture to occur before the tribulation.

THE CHURCH IS NOT MENTIONED AFTER REVELATION CHAPTER THREE.
This argument is that since there is no mention of a church or the church after Revelation chapter three until chapter twenty two, the church must have been raptured before the events following chapter three occur.
1. There is actually no reference to “the one church” in the Revelation at all, but only to the seven local churches in Asia.
2. There is no reference to the church in the gospels of Mark, Luke, and John, but that does not mean that they don't apply to the church.
3. There is no reference to the church or any churches in the first epistle of John at all, but that does not mean that the church was raptured before it was written, or that it does not apply to the church.
4. The one heavenly church of Jesus Christ must include all of God's elect of all ages including the tribulation saints because:
(a) All saints of all ages must be saved by grace through faith alone because:
i. All men are equally sinners by nature and practice.
ii. Therefore all men are equally dead in trespasses and sins.
iii. Therefore no man of any age can do anything to save himself or merit salvation.
iv. Therefore no man has ever been or could ever be saved any other way.
(b) When they are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ they are born again.
i. Their new birth is with the eternal life of Christ.
ii. New birth makes them eternal sons of God by union with Christ the only begotten Son.
iii. Therefore there is no salvation apart from eternal union with Christ.
(c) They are therefore all one in Him.
i. They make up the one Bride of Christ by spiritual marriage (eternal union) to Christ.
ii. They make up the one Body of Christ.
(d) The Greek word translated church is “ecclessia” meaning “a called out assembly”.
i. It must then be a local “assembly” or body and not scattered pieces.
ii. There are many churches (local assemblies) on earth today, but there cannot be one universal one on earth because the members of Christ are scattered, not assembled on earth.
(e) The Greek word translated elect is “eclectos” (sing.) or “eclectoi” (pl.).
i. The elect are the “called out ones” or “chosen ones” that make up the ecclesia, the “called out assembly”.
ii. None of God's “elect” could be left out of His “church”
iii. Therefore the assembly of all saints (elect) in heaven must constitute the one “assembly” (church) that was “called out” of the earth during its history. It cannot exclude any saint. It is the one true Church, the Bride and Body of Christ. It cannot exclude Old Testament elect or Tribulation elect.

AFTER THOUGHTS.
I must confess that in my flesh I wish the Scriptures taught that the Rapture will occur before the tribulation because I would like to live an easy life, but as a Christian I must be open to and accept whatever the Scriptures honestly say. In fact, while writing this I have prayed repeatedly that the Lord show me where I am wrong and guide me into the truth (even secretly hoping that somehow it would be a pre-tribulation rapture). It is very hard to consider anything other than what we have been taught or what we want to believe. It is especially hard when it could cost us our job, our associates, or our friends, which I have found to truly be the case.
However, if we love God and His Word, if we sincerely love the truth, we cannot just dismiss what we have seen in the Scriptures out of hand. We must be sincere and honest enough to at least study it with an open mind and consider that perhaps we have been wrong in the past, and pray that God will guide us into the truth.

 
 
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