|By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Feinberg; ©1996|
|Bible Prophecy Questions Answered by Leading Christian Scholars.|
Dr. John Feinberg: One thing I think is important to note is that every position on the Rapture does agree that there is a distinction between the Rapture and the Second Advent. Even a post-tribulationist, who believes that the Rapture is going to be at the end of the Tribulation, still believes that the Rapture just momentarily precedes the Second Advent. So we all do seem to agree that they’re two different events. Let me share some things that I think show that they are really quite different in terms of the things that surround them. For one thing, it seems very clear, when you look at passages like 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51ff that talk so clearly about the Rapture, that this coming of the Lord is a coming in blessing for His saints, for the Church. On the other hand, when you look at passages like Matthew 24:31, when you look at other passages such as Zechariah 12, Zechariah 14, Joel Chapter 3, that talk about the end of the Tribulation and the return of the Lord, it is very, very clear that the Lord comes at that time (Revelation 19:11 and following also fit in here) the Lord comes at that point not to bring blessing to the members of His body the Church but to mete out judgment upon the enemies of Israel and the enemies of God. So that’s an initial difference. The coming at the Rapture is a coming in blessing; the coming at the Second Advent is a coming in judgment.
5. The different things believers are to look for indicates two separate events.
Dr. John Ankerberg: The fifth difference which reveals the Rapture of the Church is a separate event from the Second Coming of Christ to earth stems from the fact that the Bible teaches there is a difference in that which believers are to look for in each event.
Concerning the Rapture, there are no signs given in Scripture which must take place before Christ comes and catches up all Christians to meet Him in the air. But concerning the Second Coming, detailed signs are given that must take place before Christ will come to earth to conquer and set up His Millennial Kingdom. What is the scriptural proof? Concerning the Rapture, Christians are only taught to anticipate Christ may come for them at any moment. For example, in Philippians 3:20 believers are told, "For our citizenship is in heaven from which also we eagerly await for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." In 1 Thessalonians 1:10 the believers and the Apostle Paul are both said to be "waiting for God’s Son from heaven." In Titus 2:13 Christians are encouraged to look "for that blessed hope, and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ." In Hebrews 9:28 believers are told, "So Christ...will appear a second time...to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him." In the Book of Revelation, four times Jesus Himself says, "I am coming quickly."
None of these Scriptures teach Christians to look for signs that must take place before the Rapture can occur. We are only to anticipate meeting and seeing Christ who could come for us at any moment. But then, what are we to conclude about such passages as Matthew 24:4-28 and Revelation 19:11-21 that teach detailed signs will occur before Christ comes back to earth? The only thing we can conclude is that the Rapture is a separate event from the Second Coming of Christ.