THE RETURN OF CHRIST (EXCERPT OF THE THEOLOGY OF ROBERT B. THOMPSON)
Copyright © 2013 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
“The Return of Christ” is taken from The Theology of Robert B. Thompson, copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Some passages of Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
The Return of Christ
Many, perhaps the majority, of evangelical Christians are looking forward with joyful expectation to the return of Christ to the earth. For some believers the return of Christ will be the most wonderful event of their lifetime.
But unless I am mistaken, for numerous professing Christians the return of Jesus Christ will be out of the frying pan into the fire, so to speak. We have been taught a lie. That is all there is to it!
As I prayed I sought the Lord to know what He is saying today. I haven’t preached on the coming of the Lord in some while, as I remember. A few of the issues went through my mind:
The fourth chapter of First Thessalonians, the so-called “rapture” passage. The verses included in this chapter are telling us about the invasion of the earth by a huge number of saints who will accompany Christ, not a carrying off to Heaven of the nominal, casual lukewarm “believers” of our day.
The twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew, which reveals that the coming of the Lord will not be a secret but an open manifestation of the power of God. This gathering together of God’s elect will take place after the time of distress.
The third chapter of the Book of Colossians, where Paul says when Christ appears we will appear with him.
The first chapter of the Book of Second Thessalonians, which tells us we shall be avenged on those who have persecuted us.
Revelation says every eye shall see him.
Several Old Testament passages that speak of the great Day of the Lord.
Isaiah asks us if we are ready to walk with the Devouring Fire.
Amos states the Day of the Lord will be darkness without a ray of brightness.
The second chapter of the Book of Joel is interesting. The Spirit warns us of the coming of a powerful army. I used to think this army was the same as that found in Revelation, Chapter Nineteen.
But as I wrote my book, Godwill Castle, I began to realize that Joel’s army is not the return of Christ with his saints to destroy Antichrist and the False Prophet, but the time when the saints go through the earth, after the power of Antichrist has been broken, to destroy the institutions of the earth that have not been constructed according to the will of God.
Stop and think about it. Because the world has placed material prosperity in first importance, and God’s law that we love Him and our neighbor way down at the bottom of our list of priorities, the “advancement” of civilization has succeeded in developing ever more destructive weapons with which we can kill each other. Does this make sense to you? How do you feel about this?
The discovery of nuclear fission, which may contain the answer to our energy crisis, has been used to develop bombs that can destroy whole areas of the earth in one explosion. Still we push forward in scientific endeavor, without stopping to reflect on the outcome of our efforts, and refer to this rather stupid, blind effort as “progress.”
The Book of Psalms teaches us that God is going to come to the earth and compel us with the rod of iron to do his will. This is the only manner in which worldwide peace can be secured. It is like bringing a child to the doctor for a shot. The child screams, but the parent knows that otherwise there will be much more pain in the future.
Not only the people of the world, the believers of today in many instances do not live their lives according to the will of Christ. I do not know about other countries, but in America, most of the believers have accepted Christ as their Savior as long as He does not interfere with their daily lives.
The idea that they should not lean to their own understanding and must commit each aspect of their life to Christ for his guidance and enablement is difficult for headstrong American believers to accept.
Savior? Yes. Lord? Not yet.
The Christian people think that if they believe certain doctrines they will go to Heaven when they die (which actually is Gnosticism), not realizing the expression “the righteous shall live by faith” means the righteous walk humbly with God, obeying Him in every aspect of their behavior.
So we have Joel’s army and the destruction of the “Eden” that has been constructed by people who do not walk humbly with God.
What then of the coming of Christ? Will it be a merry “rapture” in which fleshly “Christians” are caught up into the “Happy Hour” in Heaven, or will it be the great and terrible Day of the Lord?
We have been at Pentecost. The twentieth century was the century of the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Pentecost. Many spoke in tongues. Many were converted. Many were healed. Much missionary work has been accomplished.
What’s next? According to the symbolism of the seven feasts of Israel, the next move of God is war—war against God’s enemies, beginning with the spirit-enemies in his Church. Finally, when the war has been won, the Father and the Son will come to dwell for eternity in God’s House, his Tabernacle that is destined to be established on the earth.
So spiritual warfare is the present truth. This warfare is beginning with those who are living close to Jesus. We are being made aware of the acts of our sinful nature. We must confess each of these acts as they are pointed out to us, and seek the help of Christ that we may be successful in turning away from them. If you are not having this experience, look for it. Pray for it. You may be surprised at the power to overcome sin that is available right now.
Jerusalem shall be comforted. Her warfare shall have been accomplished.
We live in the most wonderful, the most dangerous, era of all history. Antichrist and the False Prophet are on the rise. Christ is coming to those who are looking for him, bringing enough wisdom and power with Him to enable each faithful disciple to be more than a conqueror through earth’s darkest hour. The careless believers will be carried about by the tremendous forces to be unleashed in the earth as God and Satan, Christ and Antichrist, and the Holy Spirit and the False Prophet, face each other in the conflict of the ages.
The issue is the removing of sin from the spirit world and the physical realm. God is ready now to put an end to sin; to make the enemies of Jesus Christ his footstool.
The way of the Lord shall be made straight. It must be made straight in my heart and your heart. Every valley must be filled in; every high place brought down; every crooked path straightened out; every rough place made smooth—in your heart and mine. It is time to prepare the way of the Lord!
The coming of the Lord is the Day of fiery judgment. It has begun with us. We simply must confess our sins—every last one of them. We must live a victorious Christian life. If we do, we will save ourselves and our loved ones throughout the coming American holocaust. If we do not thus prepare ourselves we will be swept aside as the titans of the spirit world battle over truth and righteousness.
By “save ourselves” I do not mean we will not be harmed physically in any manner. Some will be killed for the Gospel’s sake. I mean rather that we will not lose our faith in Christ. We will keep our eyes on Jesus during every possible form of testing and finally stand in victory before the Son of Man.
The present period is one of preparation for those who are to inherit the Kingdom of God. All the foolish, unproductive aspects of our life must be set aside. We can accomplish this through prayer. The future events will overcome all but the most sincere, dedicated disciples of the Lord. The age of moral horrors is upon us, as we see in the events taking place and the words being spoken during the current presidential campaign.
What has America come to? What has happened to the old values?
I will tell you what has happened. Since the days of the Civil War, America has been sowing seeds of humanism and fleshly entertainment and pleasures that at one time seemed innocent enough. People danced the “Big Apple.” They sang, “Yes, We have No Bananas.” They saw Hoot Gibson win against the bad guys. The innocent comic strips of “Tarzan” and “Our Boarding House” amused us.
Innocent enough, but not building the strength in us that we need if we are to stand throughout the closing of the Church Age.
The days of church people wresting a living from the frozen countryside of New England have degenerated into the sexual perversions of Hollywood and the socialism and atheism of the universities. Today America is Sodom, Pompeii, the last days of Rome.
Why the wars? Why the economic disasters? It surely couldn’t be God, could it? Is it true that after the great San Francisco earthquake the ministers rushed to assure their congregations that God and the wickedness of the people of San Francisco had nothing to do with the disaster?
Today the intellectuals dither about evolution, intelligent design, and how biblical it is that two men or two women are married and remain faithful to each other, when the sexual activities of homosexuals are far more depraved than that of animals. Surely God could not object to this, or to the teenage girl who is forced to murder her offspring so her parents will not be embarrassed!
America. At one time the hope of the downtrodden. Today, the scorn of the Muslim world, which at least understands that a woman or girl who is serving God should be modest in her apparel; although the Muslim treatment of women in some instances is atrocious—worse than generally understood.
One commentator said that the political contestants who wish to continue with the old American values are doomed to fail, because that world is gone forever. For myself, I think he is accurate. Our misery may be prolonged but the end is in sight. It has to be. The way of the Lord must be made straight. Severe judgments shall come from the hand of God. They always come upon the practices of Sodom, Pompeii, and Rome.
The Bible commands us to instill the Lord’s Word in our children. In many—perhaps the majority—of instances we have not done this. The generation of young people, with some noteworthy exceptions, are far more versed in electronic communication devices than they are in the Bible.
The complexities and delusions of lawlessness must give way before the simplicity and transparency of righteousness.
“Come, Lord Jesus. Come with your saints from ancient times. Come with those who walk in the flames of God’s Person. Come with those mighty angels who do your will, who stand guard in their majesty around the rainbow Throne.
“I do not ask that you preserve the filthy moral practices of us Americans. I do not ask that you do nothing as that fetus, that little girl destined to discover the cure for cancer, is thrown into the garbage and does not have the chance to serve God on the earth. I do not ask that you carry up to Paradise the careless ‘Christian believers’ who rush home after the Sunday service so they do not miss their favorite athletic event.
“I do not ask for the American abominations to continue. Rather I say, Come, Lord Jesus. Come with your saints. Come with your holiest of angels. Come in the fullness of the power of God. Burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. Remove all sin and sinners from your kingdom.
“Then will the righteous rejoice. Then will the meek inherit the earth. Then will the oppressed receive justice. Then will the panther play with the lamb. Then will the child play on the earth without harm or danger of any sort, having lions and tigers for pets.
“Come, Lord Jesus, and bring the righteousness, love, joy, and peace that God wishes all people to have.
“Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen. (Revelation 1:7—NIV)
The disciples asked the Lord Jesus what would be the sign of His coming.
As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming (Greek parousia, παρουσιας), and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3—NASB)
If we want to know about the return of the Lord Jesus, then we must consider His answer to His disciples.
The first thing we notice is that there will be no “rapture” prior to His coming. Given the fact that the neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament speaks of a rapture of God’s people to Heaven prior to the coming of the Lord, it is amazing how widespread this deception is. I think the “rapture” deception will fall by the wayside as world history unfolds.
The truth is, there will be no special “rapture” before the coming of the Lord. There only is the one coming of the Lord, except for the coming to each disciple personally, as described in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John.
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. (Matthew 24:6-8—NIV)
Wars and rumors of wars are not the sign of the end, nor are famines and earthquakes. These are the beginning of the birth of the Kingdom of God and of the new world of righteousness that is on the horizon.
Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:12,13—NIV)
Wickedness is increasing in our day. There is coming a worldwide revival, as portrayed in the two witnesses of Revelation. It may be true that most people in the world will believe in Christ because of the revival. But there will be so much evil, the love of the majority finally will grow cold. Then the believers must stand firm to the end if they are to be saved.
So when you see standing in the holy place “the abomination that causes desolation,” spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:15-22—NIV)
“For the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” Since it is the Great Tribulation that is being discussed, does it sound to you that the elect will be present or absent during the Tribulation?
The doctrine of the pre-tribulation “rapture” of the Christians is a foolish, fatuous, fanciful, totally unscriptural teaching. It is part of the Dispensational-grace theology which is nothing less than a sophisticated rebellion against God.
Whoever is teaching a pre-tribulation “rapture” of the Christian people is preventing them from being prepared to stand during the chaotic days that lie before us.
I think “the abomination that causes desolation” will be the figure of a man sitting on the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies in the Temple in Jerusalem; and also the statue of a man standing on top of the Temple, at the place where Jesus was tempted. Perhaps the man (or woman) himself will sit on the Mercy Seat. That assuredly would bring about the Great Tribulation.
The idea is that man is supreme. The spirit of Antichrist is that of man making himself God, as is promoted in America today. However I think that Daniel is clear that there will be a human being, man or woman, who will exemplify the ideal of man rejecting all other gods and being his own god.
Whenever man usurps the place of God, every sort of desolation follows, financial, educational, military. This why the strength of America is diminishing.
For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:27—NASB)
The coming of Jesus Christ will not be a “secret rapture.” This is the very thing Christ warned us against!
Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. (Matthew 24:28—NASB)
The “carcass” is the slain Lamb in the sky. The “vultures” (properly “eagles”) are those who live by His body and blood.
Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:29-30—NIV)
Does the above sound to you like a “secret rapture”? It doesn’t to me either.
And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. (Matthew 24:31—NIV)
Now think for a moment. How could there be a secret rapture before the worldwide return of Christ, when it is at his return that the angels gather Christ’s elect from one end of the heavens to the other? Are there two gatherings of the elect? This is ridiculous? It is totally illogical and unscriptural.
Concerning the coming (παρουσιας) of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. (II Thessalonians 2:1,2—NIV)
The above is Paul’s description of the same event. There is only one time that we are gathered to Christ, and that is during the Day of the Lord. The same Greek term for “coming” (παρουσιαν) is employed in Matthew 24 and First and Second Thessalonians.
Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. (Matthew 24:33,34—NIV)
It may be true that “all these things” are the signs in the heavens, the darkening of the sun and moon, and so forth. The generation that experiences these signs will live to see the Lord’s return.
Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. (Matthew 24:40.41—NIV)
From the wording it is difficult to determine whether the one who is taken is the one who is saved, or whether he or she is the one who is lost, as in the case of those drowned during the days of Noah. In any case it is clear that the judgment of God will carefully divide between the closest of people.
We must conclude that it is not enough just to “accept Christ,” unless by this we mean receiving Jesus into our life every moment of every day and night. In this manner we “keep watch” so the coming of Christ does not catch us unprepared.
How different this exhortation is from the current comfortable teaching that once we make a profession of Christ we are saved eternally no matter how we behave.
If we are cruel to people, not helping them along the way, then we will not be blessed by the Lord when He returns. Rather, we will be cut to pieces and assigned to a place with the hypocrites.
There is no question in my mind but that we have been lied to, having been taught that all we need do is make a profession of belief in Christ. After that it does not matter how we behave, just as long as we keep on “believing in Christ.” I don’t know about you, but since my eternal welfare is at stake, I prefer to act according to the admonitions of the Scriptures rather than trust in the traditions of today’s Bible teachers.
If through prayer and obedience to Christ we are able to escape the carousing, drunkenness, and anxieties of life of these last days, we will stand in victory in the Presence of Jesus Christ. He who endures to the end shall be saved.
Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:34-36—NIV)
(“The Return of Christ”, 3805-1)