In writing my new book: “Dead or Alive,” I began to research the internet to see what the opinions of people are today, concerning the return of Jesus. I was shocked to discover that a great number of Christians no longer believe that the Rapture is real and will take place. On one particular web site, a young man has written extensively that he once was very excited about the return of Jesus—until he attended a Christian University. Wanting to discover the philosophy of that particular school, regarding the return of Jesus, this young student made an appointment with one of the course counselors for an interview. The professor began to tell this young man that the problem with the doctrine of the Rapture is that it is not in the Bible. These words, eventually caused this once excited young student to forget his anticipation of Jesus soon return. Today, he writes articles that encourages other people to not be looking for the return of Jesus at the Rapture.
It is clear that Jesus had informed Peter that in the last days, before His return to earth for His church, there would be widespread abandonment of the Rapture hope, amongst those who claim to be followers of Jesus. This would be a sign to those who still believed that the return of the Lord was imminent.
Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 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 creation.” —2Peter 3:1-4
We notice four things about the text that Peter has written:
One: This portion of Peter’s letter is a reminder.
Two: In the last days, scoffers will arrive.
Three: They will ridicule at the idea of the Rapture.
Four: They forget the judgements of God in the past.
The purpose of the Rapture is to remove those who have had their sins taken away by Jesus death and resurrection–before God pours out His wrath upon the earth. The reminder that Peter is speaking of is the vast amount of scripture that is contained in the Bible that describes moments when God has judged in times past
Satan and the fallen angels: (Matt. 25:41; Isa. 14:12-14; Ezek. 28:11-19; Rev. 12:3-4)
The Fall of man (Gen. 3)
The Flood of Noah: (Gen. 6) Enoch removed before the judgment.
Sodom and Gomorrah.(Gen. 13:13, Gen. 18) Lot removed before the judgement.
The nations of the Canaanites (Ex. 17:8-14, Deut. 25, 1 Sam. 15) See: Understanding the wrath of God
The nations of Judah and Israel (Jer. 25, Dan 1)
Jesus death for the sins of the world (the four gospels)
Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-5)
Judas (Acts 1:16, 1:25)
The Tribulation (Future, Daniel 9, Mat. 24-25) The Church removed before the judgement
The Antichirst (future, John 16:11, Rev. 20:2, Rev. 20:10))
Destruction of the heavens and the earth (future, Rev 21:1))
Peter reminded the church that it is a common error amongst believers in Jesus, that many forget these judgments of the past and therefore become complacent in watching for the coming of Jesus in the present.
For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 2Peter 3:5-7
Because it has been 2,000 years since Jesus said that He would return and the world seems to go on the same as it always has, people begin to assume that the Lord is not coming soon, or at least, during their life. The passage of time for us is a very long process. We mark our lives by minutes, hours, weeks, months, and years. While we are anticipating an event, time seems very slow. It is only when we grow older that we realize just how fast time actually passes. At the end of life, every person admits that their life was extremely short.
In the realm of eternity, time does not pass as it does on earth. The duration of a thousand years, is like a single day for those who live in heaven. We might say, “It has been 2,000 years since Jesus said He would return. Is He ever going to come again?” The Lord would reply, “no, it has not been a long time, it has only been two days since I said I would come again.”
But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 2Peter 3:8-9
The Lord is not “slack” concerning His promise. In other words; the Lord has not forgotten His promise to return. The purpose of His delay is to give people time to repent of their sins and turn to Jesus so that they might be saved. Do you have loved one’s who have yet to receive Jesus as their Savior? What if the Lord had come for His church 1,000 years ago. None of us today would be a part of the glorious blessings of heaven that the Lord has planned for all those who love Him. The Longer that Jesus waits, the more people that have the chance to be saved. Because God is so loving and merciful, He has waited an extremely long time before sending Jesus back to get those who Love Him.
The danger in waiting is that people get the idea that God will never send judgement, and Jesus will never come again for His church. This is why the the New Testament is filled with encouragement to wait patiently for the return of Jesus. At the same time, understanding that Jesus will come again, at a moment when the world is not expecting Him. When you read the hundreds of articles on the internet, see in news papers, and hear the reports on TV, that Christians are once again putting out their “fear mongering,” trying to scare people again, regarding the Rapture and the Tribulation, you know that Jesus return cannot be far off.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 2Peter 3:10-12
Peter said that the person who has received Jesus as their Savior, should NEVER lose the anticipation of His return. to do so is extremely dangerous to our spiritual life. Since we know that Jesus came the first time and He promised to come again, we should live our lives in such a way that they reflect our belief that Jesus could come at any moment.
The epistles of 1 and 2 Thessalonians were written to a church that no longer believed that Jesus would return during their lifetime. The dangers associated with this loss of expectation for the Lord’s soon return are addressed by Paul in his two letters to this church.
When a person who claims to be a follower of Jesus, discontinues living in a constant expectation that He could return at any moment, this lack of vigilance will affect how they live their life. Today, many people who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ and allege that they believe the Bible is the word of God—do not affirm the doctrine of the Rapture.
Jesus said that a person who has lost their expectation of His soon return will find that He will return and catch them unaware.
Blessed is that servant whom his master will find watching for Him when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. But if that servant says in his heart, “My master is delaying his coming,” and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. —Luke 12:43-46
Jesus said that the result of loosing our anticipation that He could come at any moment, will be manifested by a change in our moral behavior. Conversely, If we maintain a vigilant hope that the Lord is coming for us soon, the manner in which we live—will be drastically impacted.
Notice that Jesus did not say that this person will verbally express that they don’t believe He is coming soon. The change begins first in the heart and is later manifested in the behavior. Compromise begins by our thought processes long before it is lived out in the actions of our life. This is why it is important to guard our hearts by a consistent daily intake of the word of God.
A person not living in the daily expectation that Jesus could come at any moment will become preoccupied with his own life and the things that are happening in the world. This mind set will cause the believer to do things that are contrary to the character of someone who is following Jesus. Finally, this lack of expectation will produce a heart that is unprepared when Jesus does arrive.
The person who lives everyday in eagerness that Jesus could come at any moment will live a life that is constantly seeking to purify itself of things that are contrary to the Lord.
…when Jesus is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. —1 John 3:2-3
Jesus will reward the faithfulness of those watching for His return with great authority and responsibility during His one thousand-year reign on the earth at the end of the seven-year Tribulation.
And he said to him, “Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.” —Luke 19:17
If upon His return, the Lord shall find those who claim to believe in Him, in a state of indifference—returning to the world to live as a nonbeliever, He will “cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers” (Luke 12:46 above).
How important is it that we continually teach the doctrine of “The Rapture of the Church”? According to Jesus, it is one of the most important doctrines that we MUST continually study, meditate on, and continue to look forward to.
“Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” Revelation 22:7
Read all about the return of Jesus for His church, and the beginning of the Tribulation Period in the new book: “Dead or Alive”
“Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever.”
—1 Thessalonians 5:10