There are those of us – a precious few – who eagerly look for and anticipate the Lord’s imminent return. Unfortunately, because the Word of God has been misinterpreted and corrupted by man, there are far more in the church who don’t seem to have a great desire for Jesus to come for His Bride. It should be a universal expectation that the time is coming soon when Christ will rescue us from this alien, hostile world. Instead, there is the general consensus among believers that our years here will be long, and that we must gird up, settle in for the long haul, and change the world through our good works.
In a sense, both positions are correct. What happens too often among those of us who are pre-Tribulation Rapture believers is that we fail to exercise all the Lord’s commands. We’ll look up and forget that we’re to occupy until that glorious moment arrives. This became evident to me a couple years ago when I wrote in a Rapture Ready essay that although Jesus could come at any moment, the time didn’t feel right to me. I sensed that the church in America wasn’t ready yet. The ease and comfort to which we’ve been so long accustomed made for a Body of Christ that didn’t fit the description of Scripture. Consider 1 Peter 5:1,10 to see this more clearly:
So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed… And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
In these verses we see the dual nature of our faithful expectation. Jesus suffered for us. Just as He suffered, so must the church to some extent. Christ will reveal Himself in a glorious manner to believers. Through that glorious appearing, we will be made whole in Him.
Many other passages confirm this two-sided situation. Jesus said that we who believe in Him will have trials and tribulation. The world hates us because it hates Him. However, despite the hostility around us and the gathering darkness, Christ also promised that He will keep us from the hour of trial that will come upon the whole earth. He will keep us from this wrath to come. In the meantime, we are to serve Him wholeheartedly and bring the light of Christ to the world around us.
Some readers of the article I posted at Rapture Ready were dismayed. Rightly, they very much wanted the Lord to come right now. I was absolutely with them in that sentiment. For me to express that the fulfillment of our longing for Christ’s return might be delayed until certain additional heart conditions in the church were met didn’t go over well with anyone, me among them.
I’m not a prophet by any means, but I do read God’s Word regularly and deeply. I’ve read about and met those who have suffered for Christ. They have a different heart posture than most people in the American church. Something wasn’t right among us.
Time has now passed since I wrote that prior article. Indeed, we’re still here. And, no surprise to me, God is shaking the church. Over the last almost two years of the COVID situation and all that revolves around that, many churches have folded. People have left the church through disillusionment. At the same time, there are those who have realized their need for God and sought Him out. This shaking is winnowing down the Body of Christ to those who truly believe. Although we may not experience the persecution that our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world do, we are seeing it and probably will encounter it to an even greater extent before Jesus takes us home.
I mentioned above that a lot of church-goers – true believers among them – have no expectation of the soon return of Christ. Their pastors don’t preach it, and few of them seek out the truth in this regard. Many denominations disregard Bible prophecy, apparently as irrelevant to the lives of their congregants, astounding to me as that might be. These people are not ready for Jesus to come. Many have embraced the world and decided to both be in and of it, exactly contrary to what the Bible teaches. As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t know what this might mean for these believers. At the very least, because they aren’t alert and watchful, ready to accompany Jesus at any moment when He comes for us in the clouds, I presume there will minimally be a loss of that crown of righteousness for those who love His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8).
My hope and prayer is that Jesus comes quickly. The Word promises that. Yet, while we wait we must be salt and light. More importantly, we must spend more time in the Word every day. Let us not neglect this treasure that God has given us. Through our reading God will work supernaturally. That’s the amazing aspect of what He has given us to reveal Himself.