THE COMING OF CHRIST
Anita Clark – Pastor, Carbondale, KS
Much controversy takes place over this subject. It takes a study of the Word of God to “rightly divide the Word of truth.” Some say that He will come to take away all the believers of this Church Age before the tribulation begins, while others teach that He will come in the middle of the tribulation, and others only see one coming in power and glory at the end of the seven years of tribulation. What is the answer? What does the Scripture state? Only it is Truth!
In I Thessalonians 4:13-18, we read of the coming of the Lord before the tribulation. In verse 13, Paul says, “I would not heave you ignorant brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not as those who have no hope.” In I Corinthians 15 he dedicates the whole chapter to the subject of the resurrection of the believers. You would do well to read the whole chapter.
We see from this chapter that because Jesus rose from the grave, the believers in Christ are guaranteed to be raised up in new bodies like unto His glorious body, which He possessed after His resurrection. (Phil. 3:21)
In I Corinthians 15:22-23, we read, “For as in Adam all die (all the progeny of Adam are subject to death in their time), even so in Christ shall all be made alive,” But in I Corinthians 15:23, Paul adds another dimension, “But every man in his own order.” The word, “order” in the original Greek means, “turn, something in orderly arrangement, rank or cohort, a series or succession.” This means that the admonition of Jesus, “to watch and be ready” is showing that not all believers of this age will go at the same time. Some are watching and some are not. “Everyman in his own rank” is not speaking of their dying, but of their resurrection from the dead - “in orderly succession, or rank. etc.” The Amplified Version which follows the Greek original language, presents this Scripture, “But each in his own rank or turn: Christ , the Messiah, [is] the first fruits, than those who are Christ’s [own will be resurrected] at His coming.” These words, “His coming,” is the Greek word “par-oo-see-ah” which means “presence or coming.”
I Thessalonians 4:15 mentions “the coming” which is the word again “par-oo-see-ah” Then is verse 16-17, we read, “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first, Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up to be with the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” The words “caught up” mean the same as “par-oo-see-ah.”
Further consideration of verses in the fifth chapter show that there are conditions which may prevent the believer in Christ from being ready for this coming of Christ the first time. Verses, 1-3 are a warning that Christ will come as a “thief in the night.” Verse 4-6 warns of spiritual sleepiness, “But ye brethren, are not in darkness, that day should overtake you as thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day; we are not of the night, nor of the darkness. Therefore let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober.” These verses show the possibility of believers in Christ becoming complacent and careless about the things of God, not watching and waiting for the Lord to appear. Consequently, they will be left to go into a part of the tribulation of seven years that will come upon the earth, after the catching away of those who have faithfully watched and looked for the coming of the Lord Jesus. Apostle Paul was warning the people of God of this problem.
In the book of Revelation 7:9-17, we read of a group of believers who come out of the tribulation. This group is “a great multitude, which no man could number” Rev. 7:9. Some believe that these are all saved during the tribulation of seven years, but they are taken to heaven during the first few years of the tribulation. They were those who were saved during this age, but were walking after the world, those who were sleeping and not watching for Jesus to come. Look around and you will see that not all people who know Christ as their Savior are actually yielding to Christ in full commitment, watching and waiting for Jesus to come. This is why some believers will go into the tribulation.
In contrast to these sleepy believers is those who yield fully and are watching and waiting for the Lord to come. The promise to them in Revelation 3:10-11 says, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation (tribulation) which shall come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Vs. 21 says, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne...”
In Revelation 4 we see the Lord Jesus Christ taking His throne in heaven and in verse 4 we see twenty-four elders taking thrones with Him - around about His throne. In verses 6-9 we see the Living Creatures giving glory to the Lord by falling down in worship. Note that the Four and Twenty Elders have crowns which they cast down before the throne of the Lord Jesus. (Remember that the Lord promises in other Scripture crowns to those who yield to Him). Then, importantly in chapter 5:8-10 it details some information about who these beings are. Verse 9 it says, “For thou hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, tongue and people, and nation. And thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests and we shall reign on (over) the earth.” They are not angelic beings.
Revelation 19 shows us a preview of the people of God in heaven with the Lamb - the Lord Jesus. In verse 1 - “A great voice of much people.” In verse 4 - the Twenty-four elders and Living creatures are mentioned. They are the overcomers who have stood fast in their faith all down through the Age of Grace, from Pentecost until Christ’s coming before the tribulation began, which we see reigning with Christ in Ch. 5. In verse 6, we see “the great multitude of Revelation, who came out of the tribulation period in chapter 7. They are full of praise and sound like a mighty thunder. They exclaim in verse 7, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come and His wife hath made herself ready.” Note they are not the Bride. They draw attention to the Bride of the Lamb. Note that the Bride arrayed in “fine linen, clean and white” while back in chapter 7, the great multitude was dressed simply in white robes (Vs 7).
The Finale of this study is the Second Coming of Christ in Power and Glory, chapter 19:11-16. This is at the end of the tribulation. Note again the believers from all the past ages are already in heaven with Him. Now, He rides down in judgment. In Revelation 16:16 it speaks of the Battle of Armageddon, where the Lord will pour out His wrath upon the unbelieving world and the Antichrist. His people will already be with Him there in heaven when He comes back with them to pour out His final judgment. These verses correspond with other prophetic Scripture: II Samuel 7; Psalms 2, & 110; Isaiah 2:1-4; 9:7; Daniel 7:13-14; Zechariah 14:1-21; and Matthew 24:27-31. All these foretell Jesus Christ’s Kingdom reign.
Let us remember that we are the people of God right now in this present evil time and we need to yield to God and be ready to rule and reign with Christ. Colossians 3:4 “When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” I Peter 5:4 “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”