By Nathan Jones
Does the Rapture and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ both have to do with His return?
On July 16, 2014, I was interviewed by Vic Batista, senior pastor of the Miami-based Calvary Chapel Aventura on his radio program "The Truth Will Set You Free" via TWave Radio. "Pastor Vic" (as he likes to be called) was born in the Dominican Republic and is as active in planting churches and helping orphans there as he is in southern Florida, reaching out with the Good News of Jesus Christ to both the English and Spanish speaking audiences.
In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" episode, we discuss the amazing events surrounding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The first half of the discussion is in English, while the second half is translated into Spanish.
Vic: Today we will be covering a very important subject — the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. We're going to be reading from Acts 1:11, Revelation 22 and Matthew 24. These passages in the Bible talk about this wonderful event that is still yet to come. The Second Coming of the Lord Jesus is truly an amazing topic, but sadly many Christians are confused about the difference between the Second Coming and the Rapture, what they mean, and who they pertain to.
Nathan, if you would, start us off by reading Acts 1:11?
Nathan: Sure, it reads, "...who also said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.'"
Vic: Amen. Thank you for reading that. Just to clarify matters, could you give us a brief overview of the Rapture, and then tell us what the Second Coming is all about?
Nathan: The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is the most talked about prophetic subject in the entire Bible. Jesus is coming back to set up His Kingdom and to rule and reign on this earth. It's all part of God's plan of redemption for returning humanity back to God.
In the Old Testament alone, there are 500 verses that talk about Jesus' Second Coming and one out every 25 verses in the New Testament talk about it as well. So, God must really want us to know that Jesus is coming back.
When Jesus comes back it'll be quickly. If you read Revelation 22:20, Jesus says, "Surely, I am coming quickly." Sure, it seems like it's been 2,000 years since Jesus made that promise, and for humans that is not very quick at all, but for God a thousand years is like a day. So, it's really only been like two days for God. Now that verse, "He's coming quickly," can also be interpreted that when Jesus returns, it'll be all of the sudden, just like a surprise.
Vic: We just need to learn to be patient.
Nathan: Jesus' return is actually going to happen in two stages. The first stage is called the Rapture, or the Rapture of the Church, which you can read specifically about in 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15. They explain how Jesus will come down, but won't set foot on the earth. He'll stop at the clouds. Then He'll call up those who have accepted Him as Savior, which are you and me, Pastor Vic, and all of those who've asked Jesus to be their Savior. We will be raptured up into Heaven to be with the Lord forever.
Following that will be a time period of seven years on the earth when the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit through the Church will be taken with us at the Rapture. Literally then all hell breaks loose. Matthew 24 says the morality of the world will be like in the days of Noah. God will judge the earth with 21 judgments for the purpose of bringing people to their knees to accept Jesus as Savior, though many people will not accept Him. Finally, at the end of those seven years of Tribulation, all the nations of the world will come against the Jews in Jerusalem to attempt to destroy them. That's when the second phase of the Second Coming will happen.
Vic: Wow, that's amazing! And, we know there is hope for us through Jesus to avoid the horrors of the Tribulation. That's why we want to encourage everyone by telling them there is hope for the future, and it is found in our relationship with the Lord. Now is the time to prepare yourselves. You can do that through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Nathan: That's right. The King of the Universe, who is Jesus Christ, is coming to set up His kingdom on the earth. If you need a picture of what that'll look like, I'm reminded of the Lord of the Rings movies, where Aragorn (who is another king returning) comes back after all the wars to sit on his throne that has been empty for a thousand years.
If you think about the return of Jesus Christ, it does sound a little scary. Just read Luke 21:25-28, "And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars, and on the earth distress of nations with perplexity the seas and the waves roaring." This is talking about the Seven Year Tribulation, where the earth is going to be devastated and half the population of the planet will be destroyed. That's 3.5 billion people who will die in just the first year or so. Verse 26 says, "Men's heart failing them from fear and the expectation of those things that are coming on the earth for the powers of the heavens will be shaken." This will be the most terrifying time in human history.
And at the very end of that Tribulation period, Luke 21:27 says, "Then they will see the Son of Man," ( Jesus Christ) "coming in the clouds with power and great glory. And now when these things happen look up, lift up your heads because your redemption draws near." This means your salvation and your rescue. When Jesus returns, He again rescues His people on this planet, the ones who accepted Him during the Tribulation and did not take the Mark of the Beast. Jesus comes to defeat evil, but it will be a terrible time for those who have rejected Jesus.
Vic: That's an amazing passage, Nathan. I love how it says, "Jesus is coming with His angels and the great sound of a trumpet and they will gather together the elect (Tribulation Saints) from the four winds from the earth and of Heaven to the other." It's just going to be an incredible event, and like you said, some people's hearts are going to fail because it's so incredible.
In the second part of this discussion with Pastor Vic on the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, we'll contrast Jesus from His First Coming to His Second.