Could the Rapture Come at any Moment?

Is the Doctrine of Immanence biblical? Those that teach this doctrine say that at any moment Jesus could come. The urgency to be ready for the return of Christ is pressed upon those who are without Christ. I wholeheartedly agree that the Church should preach that those without Christ should repent (turn from sin toward obedience to Christ) and get their lives right with God, but it is not biblical to tell people that Jesus Christ could come today. Jesus Himself said that He would send forth His angels and snatch away His Church, the people of God, only after the Abomination of Desolation had taken place, and during a time of great tribulation or persecution of Antichrist. The Greek Word that is translated as Tribulation is Thlipsis, and contrary to what some teach, it is not the wrath of God. Twice in Matthew 24, Christ tells us that His people will endure persecution:

9“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted (Thlipsis) and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me (Matthew 24:9).

21For then there will be great tribulation (Thlipsis), unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again (Matthew 24:21).

Paul the apostle writes, “Tribulation [thlipsis] works patience” (Romans 5:3 KJV). The NIV translates thlipsis as suffering, and that it produces perseverance. “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering [thlipsis] produces perseverance” (Romans 5:3 NIV). We don’t get out of tribulation; we become changed through our right responses in the middle of character-transforming difficulties. The Lord said that His people should anticipate times of distress or tribulation. In the Parable of the Sower, for instance, those who had no root, when tribulation [thlipsis] or persecution came, many fall away. Jesus said that we will not know the day or the hour of His coming (Matthew 24:36), but those who are born-again and spiritually renewed or regenerated by the Spirit of God, will know the season of time as it approaches—and it is approaching! If it could come at any moment, then why would Jesus tell us to watch?

42Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Matthew 24:42-44).

The Lord shared a lesson from the fig tree, that when it’s leaves come out and its twigs get tender you’ll know that summer (the return of Christ) is near. He explained that there would be certain signs that will indicate the season, “When you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door” (Matthew 24:33). The question is asked, “What signs are we to look for?” How are we to take this? The signs are those that He had mentioned earlier in the chapter—the rise of the Antichrist, the peace covenant in the Middle East (Daniel 9:27), the Abomination of Desolation (Matthew 24:15), and the persecution of the saints (vs. 9, 21). Paul the Apostle talked about three things that must happen before the gathering together of the saints by the Lord, a great falling away by many Christians that are not really walking with Christ, the rise of the Antichrist, and the seating of Antichrist in the temple (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).

It is only after the signs of the times that we can expect the snatching up (rapture) of the saints. We will know the season because of the signs happening, but we will not know which day it will happen, or what hour. The time that we are in at the moment is a time for the Church to spiritually prepare for the difficult time ahead—it is time to get close to the Lord, learn to hear His voice, and if you are not yet right with God, it’s time to cry out to Him for His full and complete salvation to come to you. It is not earned, but a gift of God when you are ready to turn your life over into His hands:

Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

Taken from the series The Second Coming of Christ, found in the middle column. Click on the study, The Rapture and Day of the Lord. Keith Thomas

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