“When Jesus Returns”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
What will happen when Jesus returns? Christians believe that He will return. Christians believe that He will return not as a Savior, but as the King of kings and Lord of lords. Christians believe that He will judge both the living and the dead.
There are well-meaning, yet ill-informed Christians who have been told that the Church will be spared of living through tribulation. Many so-called Prophecy Experts promote some view of a “secret return” of Jesus who will “rapture” the church out of tribulation and then judgment will begin.
Let’s ask the real expert Jesus. In His Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24, Jesus gave very specific answers to the questions concerning the end of the world, His return and the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.
“As Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”’ Matthew 24:3
These questions were motivated by Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. He said that not one stone would be left upon a stone, Matthew 24:2. Jesus’ words were fulfilled in 70 A.D. This great siege of Jerusalem by the Roman army was led by Titus. The ancient Jewish Historian, Josephus recorded the total destruction of the temple and the barbaric actions of the Romans toward the Jews and even the horrific actions within the Jewish community.
The disciples also wanted to know about Jesus’ return and the end of this world. The first answer concerning the sign of Jesus’ second coming was answered very directly by our Lord. He said that His coming would be like lightning! The book of Revelation describes Jesus’ coming in these words. “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.” Revelation 1:7 It is clear that Jesus second coming will not be in secret.
The Apostle John was allowed to see Jesus’ coming and he sought to explain the unexplainable in words. The fact is no words are adequate to describe pure glory. But, the Revelation of Jesus Christ which was given to John was intended to reveal the certainty of Jesus’ return. All the nations will mourn because of sin. There will be great wailing by all because the time for salvation will be ended. When Jesus comes again, He will come to judge both the living and the dead. He will come not as the Savior but as the Judge.
Every eye will see Jesus in His glory. There is no “secret rapture” recorded in the Bible. By God’s sovereign grace, the church will persevere through ever increasing tribulation. Jesus promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church.
The so-called rapture theology is built around one word derived from the Latin translation of the Bible. This word is “rapture.” The word in the original language is translated “caught up”, 1Thessalonians 4:17. Paul described what would happen to believers who were alive when Christ returned. He said that the dead in Christ would rise first, receive glorified bodies and those who were alive would be caught up in the air, changed in the twinkling of an eye to meet Christ as He descends.
Likewise, Jesus warned disciples when He said “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left.” Matthew 24:40-41 He followed that statement by calling the disciples to “Stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” Matthew 24:42 In other words, Jesus was exhorting disciples to remain prepared for His coming because no man knows when He will return. In fact, Jesus declared that in His human nature, He didn’t know when He would return. “No one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” Matthew 24:36 But, Jesus said that He would return when all the elect are gathered in. That is, when all those whom God chose from eternity have professed faith in Jesus’ person and work, the end will come.
Don’t be distracted by spurious teachings. Rather, be ready for Jesus’ return. Repent and believe in the gospel!