Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.

The "Rapture of the Church" at Christ's Second Coming, Not Before

by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.

Summary:  Jesus’ Second Coming will be real, visible, and worldwide in its impact. “Every eye will see Him.” And that is when "the rapture of the church" occurs — not before His visible, bodily second coming. Are you personally ready?

Revelation 1:7
  Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.

•• “Look, He is coming...” — Jesus’ return to earth at His second coming is a central theme in Revelation and in the entire New Testament.
• Australian Bible Teacher Kevin Conner says, “There are some 318 references in the 216 chapters of the New Testament to His second coming. That is to say, one out of every 13 verses in the N.T. speaks of this truth. Of the 27 books of the N.T., 23 speak of His second coming. In the epistles, one out of every 10 verses speaks of this truth.”

• Bible scholars almost universally agree that this coming is recorded in Revelation 19:11-21 (it’s well worth taking a moment right now to read those stirring verses).

• Let’s look at some truths about that glorious day. Note to readers: This is not intended to be an exhaustive treatment of this topic, but rather an inspiring one.

Vs. 1:7  “He is coming with the clouds...”

•• Perhaps these are natural clouds, such as Jesus ascended into in Acts 1:9, when He left earth for heaven. (Some see a spiritual interpretation of the Acts 1:9 cloud)

•• Or these “clouds” could be the “great cloud of witnesses” of Hebrews 12:1 — the saints (the deceased believers) and the angels.

•• It is possible also that the “clouds” could be the Glory cloud of His Presence, as Israel experienced in the wilderness and as in the glory cloud covering the Mercy Seat in the Tabernacle.

•• Or it could be a combination of various senses of clouds, natural and spiritual.

Vs. 1:7  “...every eye will see Him...”

•• The second coming of Jesus Christ will be a visible coming, not a “secret” one, as some Bible teachers allege. Human eyes will “see” Jesus when He comes.

•• The Bible knows nothing of another coming, a secret coming, before the great tribulation. Christ’s coming will be literal, worldwide, and visible to every eye...”

Vs. 1:7  “...the peoples ... will mourn...”

•• At His second coming, the days of opportunity for salvation will be past. The believers are caught up"raptured" (from a Latin root word) — to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, discussed below). For the unbeliever there’s no second chance, but only impending judgment (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

Acts 1:9-12  After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. [10] They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. [11] “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” [12] Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. (These verses offer us a wealth of information about Jesus’ second coming.)

•• Who will come to earth at the second advent? — “This same Jesus.” He will be exactly the same person, the same Savior, who ascended into heaven before their eyes.

•• How did He “go into heaven”? — bodily ... from earth ... up into a cloud ... into heaven.

•• The “two men” (angels?) said He would “come back in the same way.”
Bodily (not just “spiritually” or "secretly," as some wrongly teach) ... from heaven ... in the clouds ... to the earth.

• I am open to the possibility (but am not certain) that at His return Jesus will reach the earth at the Mount of Olives, based on what the following Scripture seems to be indicating:
Zechariah 14:4-5  On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west.... [5c] Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

Hebrews 9:28  So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

•• Fact = “He will appear a second time.” That is an indisputable statement of Scripture. There will be a “second” coming of Jesus to this earth. Jesus is coming again!
• Not some arbitrary list of alleged “spiritual” appearances, but a real, countable, visible second time” that hadn’t happened by the time of the writing of Hebrews.

• So the “second” coming of Jesus Christ was not Pentecost of Acts 2, as some teach. That had already occurred decades before Hebrews 9:28 foretold a future second coming.

• The second coming was not the new birth, as some Bible teachers maintain. Thousands had already been born again when Hebrews 9:28 foretold a yet-future “second” coming.

• The Scripture is speaking of a real, bodily, visible “second” coming. Just as He came physically in His first coming two millennia ago, Jesus “will appear”. It won’t be mysterious, hidden, secret, internal, or invisibly spiritual.

• The Bible knows nothing of a contrived “secret” coming that men came up with less than two centuries ago to make their non-biblical pre-tribulation “rapture” theory work.

• And when Jesus comes this “second time”, there will be the believers “who are waiting for Him” — in other words, they were not already caught up in a man-invented, earlier rapture of the Church before this clearly-named coming of Christ the "second time."

Matthew 24:26  “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. [27] For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

•• Again, there is not a “secret” coming “for” the Church, then a later, visible coming “with” the Church, as some hold. That would divide the Lord's yet-future "second coming" into two comings, which contradicts the Bible's clear statement that He will come "a second time" (Hebrews 9:28, NIV, NKJV, et al.).

•• And that "coming” [singular!] will be very public, very visible, “as lightning”! Remember, every eye” will see Jesus at His coming, not just the believers.

1 Corinthians 15:22-23  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. [23] But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; THEN, WHEN HE COMES, those who BELONG TO HIM.

•• The resurrection of believers is “when He comes — that is, at Jesus' second coming, at the literal return of Christ to this earth.
• In my opinion, this is the key to understanding the order of events at the end of the age. I have written a one-page summary of end-time events in another study.

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17  According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. [16] For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. [17] After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

•• Picture the flow of action:
(1) The “Lord Himself will come down from heaven.”

(2) Very publicly — a loud command, the voice of the archangel, the trumpet call of God.

(3) “The dead in Christ will rise first.”

(4) “AFTER that, we who are still alive...will be caught up together with meet the Lord in the air.”
•• Where is the rapture (which means a "catching up")? Right here, at Jesus’ public, visible second coming, not some arbitrary 3-1/2 or seven years earlier, as is taught by some in our day. It's not a question of "the rapture versus the second coming," because the rapture of the believers is at Christ's visible second coming.
• At the same time, at the second coming of Christ, both the resurrected dead believers and the living believers are “caught up” [raptured] to meet the Lord in the air as He is coming to earth!

Acts 1:6-8  ...they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” [7] He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. [8] But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

KJV:  [7] It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

•• I have in the past misspoken, saying, “We may not know the day or hour, but we can know the season.”
• Then a pastor friend reminded me of this verse, where Jesus tells us that it is not for us to “know the times or the seasons”.

• What is for us to know is that He has given us salvation in Jesus Christ and Holy Ghost power to be Christ's witnesses to the ends of the earth. And that is a sufficient commission to keep the Church productively occupied until the very last days of this Church Age, which will lead to the second coming of Jesus Christ! In a parable of this context Jesus said, "Occupy till I come" (Luke 19:13, KJV).

Whether or not we're in that last generation that experiences the Lord's Second Coming, let's devote every day to laboring for Him and diligently doing our part in the growth and expansion of the Kingdom of God. Then, whether you die before the Lord's second coming or live until that glorious event, both the resurrected dead in Christ and the living believers will be caught up/raptured to meet the Lord in the air as He returns to this earth. And so we will be with the Lord forever! (1 Thess. 4:17)


You might also enjoy our sermon on Revelation 12: No Pre-Tribulation Rapture

And check out our summary of the End Times in One Page



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Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.