Have you ever been on a trip heading to a specific destination, but because you blinked you missed it? Oh, you were watching for it, but in that moment you blinked or got momentarily distracted you went right past it. Or what about that time you thought for sure you still had another 10 or so miles to go before you would be at your exit, only to find yourself suddenly and unexpectedly going right past it? At those moments you probably felt frustration, surprise, and possibly anger towards yourself for missing it. It probably didn’t help much if there were others with you at the time, too.
Can you imagine what it would be like for those who get left behind when the rapture of the church takes place? Especially for those who thought that they would be one of those caught up to meet Jesus in the air? I don’t know about you, but I definitely do not want to be one of those left behind.
I’m hearing more and more Christians take the position that Jesus isn’t returning anytime soon, if at all. For some, they think that things have to get much worse before Jesus will return. Others believe that there has to first be a great revival. And still a growing number of Christians are taking the position that Christ isn’t returning for His church at all in what we call the rapture. Is this okay, or is there a danger for embracing such positions?
In Matthew 24:42 and Matthew 25:13, as well as in Mark 13:35-37 and Luke 21:34-36, Jesus tells us to watch for His return because we don’t know what day or hour that He will come for us. Jesus isn’t casually telling us to be watching for Him, but He is saying so as a command with strong emphasis to heed and take seriously. To emphasize the point, Jesus tells us in Revelation 16:15 that the one that watches for Him and takes care of their garments will be blessed, while those who didn’t watch or take care of their garments would find themselves walking naked, or without their robes of righteousness they once had through Christ, and others will see their shame. Jesus doesn’t pull any punches, commanding His followers to be watching for His return, and rebuking those who didn’t heed His commands regarding His return.
So, where does that leave those who are taking the position that Jesus is not returning anytime soon, or that He’s not returning at all? We’re told in 2 Peter 3:1-13 that in the last days there will be those who will mock the idea of Jesus returning for the Church, and we are seeing that more and more all the time. How many times have you heard someone say something to the effect that “people have been saying He was coming back for 2000 years”, as if that is a good reason to assume He’s not coming and that they can live as they please? These are the very people that the Apostle Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, told us would be scoffing at the thought of Christ returning in the last days. If you are someone that doesn’t believe, for whatever reason, that Jesus isn’t coming back in the very literal and physical event we call the rapture, you are the very ones that God warned us about in these last days. If you are a Christian and you still don’t believe that Jesus is coming back for the literal and physical rapture of the church, then you are embracing what the Apostle Paul referred to in Galatians 1:6-10, a “different gospel”, and he said to let those who preach and teach it to be “accursed”.
I heard of a Christian, a minister that doesn’t believe in a literal and physical rapture of the church, that said he’s convinced that if he was wrong regarding the rapture he would still be raptured up. To take that position just shows how little he knows of what the Bible teaches regarding the rapture of the church and the consequences of those who aren’t looking and watching for it. If a person can’t receive salvation if they don’t believe in it, or receive divine healing if they don’t believe in it, how can someone expect to be raptured up if they don’t even believe in it? The logic this minister is using just doesn’t add up as sound or credible logic in the face of what Scripture tells us.
What about those who do believe in the rapture of the church but don’t think it will happen anytime soon? As I mentioned earlier, some think things have to get a whole lot worse than they are before He will return, and others believe a great revival must first take place before He comes back. Those who think that things need to get a whole lot worse before He returns, they often times take the approach that Christians in America have to first experience the physical persecution Christians experience in other countries. Whether or not that is true is really a mute issue, especially when Jesus told us to be watching for His return as He will come at an unexpected moment. If we think things need to get worse before He will return, then we are at least subconsciously lowering our guard on the premise that He’s not returning anytime soon, as if we really know that. There is a very real danger with this mindset that I will address shortly.
Some Christians seem to think that there has to be a great revival before Christ will return, and like those who believe things have to first get much worse, there is a very real danger with this mindset as well. While it would be great to see a tremendous revival happen before He returns, to think it has to happen prior to Jesus’ return is a dangerous position to embrace. Yes, both Joel and the Apostle Peter talked about a great outpouring in the last days, but is it what we think it will be? After all, when Jesus came the first time, fulfilling the prophesies of how He would come to a “T”, the people and the religious leaders didn’t recognize Him as the messiah because He didn’t come as they thought He should have. I hear people talk about the prophesied revival of the last days, and what they think it should look like, but have you ever taken a really good look at the revival Joel and Peter described? When you look at the description of the revivals they prophesied about, we’ve already been experiencing it the past 50 years, going back to the mid 1960’s. I do believe there is a great revival yet to come for the whole world, but I believe the revival many people are talking about is one that will take place AFTER the rapture of the church. Like I said, to be thinking that Jesus won’t be coming back until after one last revival is a very dangerous position to be in.
How can it be dangerous to believe that things have to get much worse than they are now, or that there has to be one more great revival before Jesus will return? To begin with, most people who take such a position tend to lower their guard and take their relationship with Christ more casual and laid back than those who are expecting Him to return any moment. It is here that people are less diligent to keep their robes of righteousness clean without spots or blemishes from sin and the world. They become lax, thinking they still have tomorrow to “tidy up and get prepared” for His return. Are these the only reasons why it’s dangerous to embrace such positions? No, they are not. We read in Matthew 24:45-51 that the servant that thought his master was delaying his return, and therefore paid little attention to the how he lived in the present, when the master returned at a time when he wasn’t expected to he cut the servant into pieces and gave him his portion among the hypocrites. We see in Matthew 24:42-44, Luke 11:46-52, and Luke 12:35-48, that those who thought that the master was delaying his return not only got rebuked, but they also were dealt with along with those who were evil and hypocrites. Luke 12:47 is especially sobering because it speaks to those servants, Christians, that know the masters will and did not prepare themselves or do the will of the master, that they would be beaten with many stripes. Earlier we saw how strongly Jesus commands us to watch and prepare for His return, and now we’re seeing the consequences of those who don’t because they think His return is still a way off.
We are living in a time when we can’t afford “to blink” in our walk with Him, to get distracted with the cares and pleasures of life, or with the idea that He’s not coming back anytime soon. We’re living in a time when the signs pointing to His very real and increasingly more imminent return are screaming out to us to watch and prepare for Him. This is not the time to “blink”, because to do so may very well cost us eternity with Him. To think that this isn’t possible, especially because of His love for us, that we don’t have to worry about it and that we’re a shoe-in for the rapture, is to discount both the commands and the warnings of Christ regarding His return and the times we are living in. To embrace a teaching that says He’s not coming, or that He’s delaying His return, is a very dangerous position to take and could be viewed as playing a form of “Russian Roulette” with eternity.
You might be getting tired of hearing about Jesus’ return and the signs pointing to it, and perhaps finding yourself despising or rejecting any thoughts or conversation on the topic, but Jesus, Himself, tells us as He did the church of Philadelphia in Revelation 3:7-13, to persevere. He tells us that it is in our persevering that we will obtain the crown of life Jesus promises for us, and will keep us from the hour of trial and testing that will come to the earth. Jesus said in Luke 21:36, that we are to watch and pray that we are counted worthy to escape that which is coming to the earth. Watch! Don’t blink!
John Johansson (Pastor John)