As I read Matthew 24 I couldn’t help but notice how many times Jesus warned His disciples not to be deceived. I want to talk about what I learned about the rapture and the second coming of Christ. Honestly, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that there’s so much confusion on these topics, especially when dealing with the topic of the rapture. I want you to think about it for a moment. During the time of Christ’s first advent, weren’t God’s people confused about the manner of His coming? Didn’t the Jews expect their Messiah to show up in power and great glory? And what happened? How did they end up denying the lowly Messiah?
I mean, weren’t they well aware of the prophetic teachings from the Torah? How’d they get it wrong? I believe this to be an object lesson for us today, because, in the same way they expected a glorious deliverer back then, most Christians are expecting a silent rapture today.
The prophecies of Isaiah described the Messiah as a lamb slaughtered. I find it interesting how even Christ’s warnings fell on deaf ears. Are we making the same mistake today? I don’t want to allow false beliefs to blind my spiritual perceptions and catch me unprepared. So I looked into the matter a little deeper. This is a time for us to prepare ourselves to receive Christ, who will return for His people in power and glory.
Satan is using the same tactics he used on God’s people in the past and preparing the masses today with false doctrines that will find them hopelessly unprepared for the tribulations ahead. And what’s worse, these individuals will not be able to stand in the second coming of Christ.
While the world slumbers and the majority of Christians are expecting a secret rapture, Satan is preaching his false doctrines through popular agents.
You’ll hear of people sharing magnificent dreams and visions. Some are even experiencing strange angelic sightings and sharing their gospel as proof, while ignoring what has been written in the scriptures.
We need to make sure we’re not deceived. But in order to do this, one’s spiritual perceptions must be sharpened through the study of the word of God.
There’s a work of transformation that we’re to dedicate our attention to at this time. The Bible counsels us to be watching and praying and with the Holy Spirit’s help we will be ready to stand on that day.
Matthew Henry said:
“The nearer we come to the accomplishment of the scriptures, the greater regard we shall give to them. The time is at hand, and we should be so much more attentive as we see the day approaching.”
Let’s begin our study.
There are many scriptural references that prove important truths about the parousia. For example, the book of Revelation talks about Jesus’s second coming and the judgment to come. First, we’re going to be looking at some verses that describe Christ’s second advent.
In John 14:1-3 we find this wonderful promise spoken by Jesus to His disciples, saying:
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 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. 3 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.” John 14:1-3.
In Revelation 1:7 we are being presented with a vision of Christ’s second advent.
“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 1:7
The book “Danie & the Revelation” by Uriah Smith, he shares a vivid commentary of this event:
“Here John carries us forward to the second advent of Christ in glory, the climax and crowning event of His intervention on behalf of this fallen world. Once He came in weakness, now He comes in power; once in humility, now in glory.”
Smith continues to explain the manner of Jesus’s return:
“Every eye shall see Him.”
All who are alive at the time of His coming shall see Jesus. We know of no personal coming of Christ that will be as the stillness of midnight or take place only in the desert or the secret chamber. He comes not as a thief in the sense of stealing in, secretly and quietly upon the world. But He comes to take to Himself His dearest treasure, His sleeping, and His living saints, Himself His dearest treasure, His sleeping and His living saints, whom He has purchased with His own precious blood; whom He has wrested from the power of death in fair and open conflict; and for whom His coming will be no less open and triumphant. It will be with the brilliancy and splendor of the lightning as it shines from east to the west. (Mat 24:27.) It will be with the sound of a trumpet that will pierce to earth’s lowest depths, and with a mighty voice that shall wake the sainted sleepers from their dusty beds. (Mat 24:31, margin; 1Th 4:16.) He will come upon the wicked as a thief, only because they persistently shut their eyes to the tokens of His approach, and will not believe the declarations of His word that He is at the door. To represent two comings, a private and a public one, in connection with the second advent, as some do, is wholly unwarranted from the Scriptures.
Now let’s review Matthew 24:24, 27:
“24 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. 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.”
These verses tell us that everyone will see His appearing. It also establishes that He will appear with power and great glory and not in secret.
When Paul addressed the Colossians about this topic, he said:
“When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” Col 3:4.
This admonition in Paul’s letter is for us today as well.
He counseled Christ’s followers not to be tossed to and fro as children, carried away with every wind of doctrine, but instead to come together in the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man and unto a measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
The sad truth is that the doctrine of the secret rapture is creating confusion, causing divisions, and weakening the church.
Many are placing their attention on matters that are not salvational. Defending non biblical beliefs, and ignoring the work of preparing characters strengthened to receive Jesus blameless. We’re counseled to abide in Christ so we will be ready for this event.
“And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” 1 John 2:28.
If it were true that Christ will rapture His people, why would John tell us we will see God as He is?
“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2.
The real issue is preparing ourselves spiritually to receive Jesus. If we are not prepared to receive Him, we will not be able to stand. Timothy says:
“…that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Timothy 6:14.
This means sinless.
Just as Paul charged Timothy to keep the work entrusted to his ministry of preaching and teaching the gospel, we too are commissioned by Christ to witness unto all the world, and then the end will come. This is the most important work entrusted to Christians. Jesus commissioned us to preach His gospel through our example.
Is the belief of the secret rapture biblical?
The belief that God’s people will be secretly raptured is not biblical. It actually places a seed of complacency in the mind of its believer. This is what Satan wants. Imagine those who think they’re going to be granted a seven-year probationary period to get their act together, only to find themselves lost at the second advent.
This is a dangerous doctrine. It’s important to understand its origin. In 1590 Francisco Rivera, a Jesuit priest published a commentary where he introduced the pretribulation rapture. He did this to counter the work of Protestant reformers. Martin Luther, John Calvin, Philip Melanchthon, and others involved in the reformation movement identified the Roman church as the antichrist power, prophesied about in Daniel and the Revelation books. The Catholic church made up the secret rapture to counteract the protestant teachings of these men they termed “heretics.” This is an important history we’re to become familiar with if we understand the truth. It’s not wise to believe everything you hear without consulting the scriptures.
Now here’s the danger of this doctrine. According to the following verses, God’s people will be on earth during the time of the pre-tribulation.
“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” Daniel 12:1.
We’re given plenty of biblical examples we can draw from, for example, the story of the three Hebrew men thrown in a fiery furnace by king Nebuchadnezzar’s guards. This story teaches us how God preserved them THROUGH their tribulation. God didn’t remove them from the fiery furnace, He was in the fire with them, protecting them. In the same way, all those whose names are in the book of life will be delivered and preserved through the pre-tribulation.
There is not going to be a secret rapture. Notice what Revelation 6:14-17 tells us:
“And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”
We have a class presented here, the wicked. Those who are unprepared to receive Christ. Notice how loud this event is going to be:
“And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.” Revelation 16:18-20
This is a horrific event!
Look at what Jesus Himself tells His disciples should they hear of anyone teaching of His return being secret.
“Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.” Matthew 24:26.
Let’s look at the psalmist’s description of the parousia.
“Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” Psalm 50:3-5.
God’s people will be on earth before He comes. This experience is needed to try the faith of God’s people and to get their characters ready for Christ appearing. This is why Satan is stirring so much confusion and reinserting false doctrines teaching heresies, so that many will be found unprepared. He wants to destroy us. Don’t give him the chance!
Notice the following texts:
“…that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ…” 1 Peter 1:7.
Trials make our faith strong and our characters ready to meet God. Matthew 24:30 says all the tribes of the earth will mourn as they see Jesus’ return. This means everyone. It will not be a secret.
“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 24:30.
Why will they mourn?
Can you imagine those who believed they’d have a second chance finding out they’ve lost their salvation?
“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” Jeremiah 8:20.
Mark teaches us that God will send His angels to gather His chosen from all corners of the earth.
“And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds.” Mark 13:27.
And The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout! Notice:
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.
Verse 17 has been misunderstood by some who believe the wicked are going to be left-behind on probation and given another chance of salvation. This view will cause lots of people to lose their chance of salvation. I find it imperative we study to show ourselves approved and be able to stand on the last day.
Are the rapture and the second coming of Christ separate events?
Listening to harbingers of doom will cause lots of confusion and hysteria because these people are not preaching the truth as found in the scriptures. When you hear about individuals having dreams and visions, pay attention to what’s written in the scriptures instead.
The vocabulary of the scriptures about events before the second advent does not support a rapture. Note how one of the elders tells John about the individuals arrayed in white clothing and their experience.
“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.” Revelation 7:14.
Notice 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.”
Why is it so dangerous to believe in this doctrine of the secret rapture?
We have to consider what this doctrine’s end goal is. Anything that places a seed of complacency in our minds will cause us to stumble in the faith. If we don’t make time to prepare our characters for His appearing we will be spiritually unready and unaware of His coming. And the worse part, the judgments mentioned in Revelation 2:22 reserved for the wicked, will be ours!
“Behold, I will cast her [the apostate church] into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.” Rev. 2:22.
God makes it clear that we are to have no other Gods before Him throughout scripture. He considers this an act fornication against Him. You can find this throughout the scriptures, notice in Jeremiah 31:32 how He speaks of individuals who’ve broken His covenant:
“…which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith the Lord.”
Also, Isaiah 54:5:
“For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of host is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.”
Let’s investigate the “thief in the night” statements.
“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.” 2 Peter 3:10.
1Thes 5:1-11 and the day of the Lord:
“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”
The “thief in the night” describes how the day of the Lord’s coming will find many who profess themselves as Christians, spiritually unprepared to stand at the last day when Jesus returns for His people. The condition of those who aren’t watching and praying.
“…the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise…” Peter 3:10.
The coming of our God will be a horrific event for those that are found unprepared. It’s imperative to read the Bible and with the help of the Holy Spirit, get rid of preconceived ideas we may have, learning the truth straight from the scriptures.
There are a ton of studies from reputable pastors that I would recommend where they break down this doctrine and prove from the scriptures how damaging it really is. Pastor Doug Batchelor, for example, has several excellent presentations and detailed studies, I’d encourage you to look up.
In conclusion, I reject the secret rapture teachings.
I encourage you to study the following bible chapters, and then revisit this video:
- Matthew 24, Luke 21, and 1 Corinthians 6:9, 15:33.
I hope this casual Bible study blesses you as it has blessed me.