The Bible has never been more accessible to everyone than it is now yet so much of it is being disregarded, not only by the wisdom of this world, but also by some who consider themselves to be Bible scholars. Truth cannot be determined by opinion but by an examination of the facts. It is more important to see the facts than to hear someone’s opinion of the facts. Church-goers are becoming confused by the various opinions about what the Bible says on just about everything, but few of those people actually read the Bible to see for themselves what it actually says.
Is Christ going to return or has He already come?
Preterists believe that Christ’s death on a cross, the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in the 1st century has already fulfilled the prophecies of Christ’s second coming.
Some, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, believe that Christ’s return has begun, that it is spiritual rather than physical, and that it does not describe an event as a single point in time.
The Jews do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah. They still wait for the arrival of the Messiah and find no reference in the Torah of a second coming of the Messiah.
The millennium is considered by many to be an indeterminate period of time rather than a literal thousand year reign of Christ. Many are becoming amillennialists denying a literal thousand-year physical reign of Christ believing instead that Christ reigns now through the Church. Some hold the concept that conditions will gradually improve until world peace is achieved and then Christ will physically return.
The mention of a time of tribulation is described as a period of seven years associated with end-time events, but there are many opinions about whether this Tribulation occurs before Christ returns, after He returns or something else. For those who hold a Pre-Tribulation view, Christ raptures the Church at the beginning of the Tribulation and returns with the saints at the end of the Tribulation to begin His rule for a thousand years. Some believe that the time of tribulation has already occurred and isn’t a future event.
To sort out myth from fact, consider the what the Bible says. The Old Testament was affirmed by Jesus Christ as God’s Word on many occasions but especially after His resurrection as he explained the ministry of the Christ as recorded in Luke 24:26-27: “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
The writer of Hebrews makes it clear that this book is not like any ordinary book: For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). No other book could be described as living and actively interpreted by the Spirit of God.
The Psalmist makes it clear that the Word of God can be trusted: The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting (Psalm 119:160). Christ prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth (John 17:17).
The Bible can be trusted. Then what does it say about the return of Christ?
No one knows when He will return.
Matthew 24:36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 37 For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.
42 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. 43 But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 44 For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
Christ Himself declares that no one knows when He will return, only the Father knows.
Until He returns, there will be many deceivers saying that He has already come.
Matthew 24:4 “See to it that no one misleads you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.”
Jesus told His disciples that they would experience tribulation before He returns.
Matthew 24:9 “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
Unlike those who say we are living in the millennium already, Jesus says things will deteriorate and that endurance will be required of Christ-followers.
The period of tribulation will threaten life on earth – there has been nothing like it yet. In the midst of this period, there will be deceivers claiming that Christ has returned, but we are not to believe them.
Matthew 24:21 For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 22 Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 25 Behold, I have told you in advance. 26 So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them.
When Christ does return, everyone will know.
Matthew 24: 29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 31 And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
This is not a private, invisible return! At His return, His elect will be gathered together after the Tribulation. While this gathering is not called a rapture, clearly there is a gathering. Is it possible that this is different event than the one Paul described in his letters to the Thessalonians?
1 Thessalonians 1:10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.
This passage describes a rescue from the wrath to come. What is that wrath spoken of here? Is it the Tribulation or is it the Judgment that follows?
Paul goes on to clarify that some believers will be alive when Christ returns and the dead in Christ together with those who are alive at that time will be caught up together to always be with the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 4:15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
The return of our Lord has been declared in the trustworthy Word of God.