- Pastor Steve Conley
The Revelation of Christ Takes Place at the Rapture
The splitting of Christ's singular future parousia into two separate comings is a great error. Doing that is like taking the four Gospels and concluding that there were four different men being spoken of, all of whom did similar things and were all named Jesus. Even though none of the 4 Gospels are the same, we rightly harmonize them, understanding that the Holy Spirit has no obligation to give us every detail at every telling of an event. We recognize that some descriptions leave out details found in other descriptions. J.N. Darby is primarily responsible for this recent teaching, that there are two future comings of Christ. I believe it was his response to a misunderstanding concerning the period of unprecedented persecution of the elect that Jesus called great tribulation. He thought that the great tribulation was the period of God's eschatological wrath. That meant he had a problem. How was he going to keep the church out of God's wrath and at the same time recognize that there would be some dear martyrs of Christ who went through great tribulation. His answer was to bifurcate God's people into various subgroups and divide the singular future parousia of Christ, His second, into two different comings. This 180+-year-old error is easily exposed to be a falsehood if one will approach each eschatological text without a pretrib eschatological filter. The choice everyone has to make is, do we harmonize these parousia texts, or do we distinguish them? Let's look at a few examples. We will start with 2Thes 1:3-10 Notice below, in verse 7, that the persecuted church, the Thessalonians, are told that they will rest from being persecuted when Christ is revealed. Paul had commended them for their faith, patience, and love amidst persecutions and tribulations. He told them that the persecutions they suffered were an indication of their worthiness of the kingdom of God. Then he said that God, in RECOMPENSE, was going to tribulate those who persecuted them. He said that they would find rest from persecution when Christ is REVEALED (apokalupsis). At that time, Christ, with the mighty angels, will take VENGEANCE, in RECOMPENSE, upon their persecutors. Paul says that this is when Christ comes to be glorified in His saints. 2Th 1:3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; 2Th 1:4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: 2Th 1:5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: 2Th 1:6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to RECOMPENSE tribulation to them that trouble you; 2Th 1:7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be REVEALED [apokalupsis] from heaven with his mighty angels, 2Th 1:8 In flaming fire taking VENGEANCE on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 2Th 1:9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 2Th 1:10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. According to Paul, it is clear that the church is being persecuted right up until Christ is revealed. You will have to do some serious violence to the text to spin it any other way. Are there other texts that say that the redeemed will be here right up until the day that God pours out His wrath in VENGEANCE and RECOMPENSE upon the unbelieving? Absolutely! Let's look at another. But first, let's see how Isaiah characterizes the day of the Lord that begins with Christ's REVELATION. Isa 34:8 For it is the day of the LORD'S VENGEANCE, and the year of RECOMPENCES for the controversy of Zion. Isa 35:4 Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with VENGEANCE, even God with a RECOMPENCE; he will come and save you. We are beginning to see that the day of the Lord is the day of the Lord's VENGEANCE and RECOMPENSE. It begins at His REVELATION, when the saints will find rest from persecution and be in the presence of Christ, glorifying Him. Let us look at another where Jesus makes 4 important points. Luk 17:26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. Luk 17:27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Luk 17:28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; Luk 17:29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Luk 17:30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is REVEALED [apokalupsis]. When considering Christ's description of what it will be like when He comes, we see that the lost world will be going about their business as usual totally unaware of the wrath that is about to fall upon them. They will be caught by surprise by the wrath of God at Christ's REVELATION. Just as the flood was unexpected by the unbelieving in Noah's day, so shall the wrath of God in the day of the Lord come unawares upon the unbelieving. Just as many in Lot's extended family in Sodom did not believe the warning and were caught unawares, along with all the wicked, by the divine destruction of those evil cities, so shall it be at Christ's coming. • The first point that Christ makes is that God's wrath comes unexpectedly upon the apathetic, unbelieving world. The point that Christ makes next is that before God's eschatological wrath falls, the righteous are rescued. Noah and his family are shut up in the ark safe from the flood and Lot and his two daughters are removed from the area of divine wrath. So, shall the righteous be, at the revelation of Christ. We shall be resurrected, changed, and raptured to Him in the clouds before the first plague of His eschatological wrath falls. • The second point is that we will be rescued before He pours out His wrath. The final point that Christ brings home is that the very day of our rescue will be the day that His wrath begins to fall. Notice that He said that the unbelieving continued business as usual "until the day" that Noah went into the ark. Again, He said, "the same day" that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone. This is a clear indication that His wrath is connected with our rescue. The very day of our rapture will be the day His wrath begins to fall upon the unbelievers. This beginning of the pouring out of His wrath takes place on the day of Christ's revelation following the catching up of the saints, all on the very same day. • The third point that Christ makes is that the day of our rescue is the day when His wrath begins. That day, is the beginning day of the eschatological period of time known as "the day of the Lord." • The final thing that we can learn from Jesus’ statement is that all of this takes place when He is REVEALED. The REVELATION of Christ in the clouds with the mighty angels is the first act of Christ in the day of the Lord (2Thes 1:6-10; Matt 24:30; 1Cor 1:7; Rev 1:7). Upon that day, unexpectedly to the world, Christ is revealed, we are rescued (raptured) from persecution, and God begins to persecute (tribulate) those who persecuted us (2Thes 1:6-10).