Parousia: “Blessed Hope” (Return of Christ)

My friends do not believe in the “blessed hope” – the return of Christ to claim His own.

I need additional verses that speak specifically of the Rapture.

Also, what about the “signs pointing to Christ’s millennial reign”?

What does that mean?

Numerous other New Testament passages speak about Christ’s return. For instance, Titus 2:13; “Looking for that blessed hope [the Rapture], and the glorious appearing [the Revelation] of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 10:25 speaks about that great “approaching” day.

James mentions the hoarding of gold and silver in the last days: “Ye have heaped treasure [gold and silver] together for the last days” (5:3) and adds in verse 8, “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” Likewise, Jude declares that, as the Lord returns with His saints, filthy dreamers or false prophets who have denied the Bible will be destroyed (see w. 14-15).

There are also signs in the New Testament that speak of the relationship between Jerusalem and the Gentiles. One group of signs deals specifically with Jerusalem’s role in world history as well as the role of the Gentiles. Luke 21:24 declares, “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

In modem English, Christ stated, “Jerusalem will be controlled by Gentile nations and powers until the time of My return.” Timothy’s grandmother, Lois, in 2 Timothy 1:5 may have mentioned this fantastic prophetical utterance to her grandson, but it did not occur in his lifetime.

Generations of Jewish grandmothers probably referred to this sign, but it never occurred in their day.

Enter the mockers of Scripture who throw their abusive insults: Where is the promise of this coming?

Since our grandparents’ departure, all things continue as they were. However, remember . . . God “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2).

Finally, after nineteen hundred years of waiting-after seventy-five to one hundred generations of grandparents had lived and died, it finally happened.

A six-day war was fought from June 5 to 10 in 1967.

During the battle, the Jews took Jerusalem-one of the most powerful signs of Christ’s return.

What about the six-day theory?

Second Peter 3:8-9 contains a tremendous mathematical formula: “Beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” For years, I have referred to this passage as a mathematical masterpiece. Let us review it together. The promise God keeps is found in 2 Peter 3:4.

It is the promise of His coming. Because God “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2), He will come again!

His heart of love toward sinners is filled with patience, but soon the day of grace will end.

His patience cannot go on eternally. His prearranged timetable must be fulfilled. What is this time frame?

Can we mortals know such secrets? Yes, we can! Jesus said, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Matthew 24:33).

Though we will never know the precise day or hour (Matthew 24:36), we can know God’s approximate schedule. How can this be? We read that a thousand years is as a day, and a day is as a thousand years. This is not as mysterious as it sounds. In fact, a few mental calisthenics give us the solution to this often-misunderstood equation.

God created the world in six days (Genesis 1:31) and rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2).

Since a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day, we have six days of labor, signifying six thousand years of burdensome toil for humanity, and a final seventh day of rest-the millennial reign of Christ-when they live and reign with Christ a thousand years (Revelation 20:4). The calendar on your wall or in your wallet or purse demonstrates that this timetable is practically fulfilled.

Chronologists such as Archbishop James Ussher have worked strenuously on historical timetables to produce the following information: From Adam’s creation to Christ’s birth, approximately 4,000 years passed.

From Christ’s birth to our day, 1,998 years have transpired.

This gives us a total of 5,998 years.

We are on the threshold of the final day!

The six-day theory is not my invention, but rather the theory of scores of church fathers in earlier centuries. With that in mind, I want you to consider the following from the amazing document titled the Epistle of Barnabas- missionary with the apostle Paul (see Acts chapters 13-15).

He said in A.D. 110-nineteen centuries ago: And God made in six days the works of his hands; and he finished them on the seventh day, and he rested the seventh day, and sanctified it.

Consider, my children, what that signifies, he finished them in six days.

The meaning of it is this; that in six thousand years the Lord God will bring all things to an end. For with him one day is a thousand years; as himself testifieth saying. Behold this day shall be as a thousand years.

Therefore, children, in six thousand years, shall all things be accomplished. And what is that he saith, And he rested the seventh day, he meaneth this; that when his Son shall come, and abolish the season of the Wicked One, and judge the ungodly; and shall change the sun and the moon and the stars; then he shall gloriously rest in that seventh day. (w. 3-6)

Other early Church writings confirm the “signs of a thousand years.” Irenaeus, an early church father who lived 1,850 years ago, wrote, “For in so many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded… and God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works he made.

The Jewish Talmud states, “The world is to stand 6,000 years, viz., 2,000 confusion and void, 2,000 with the law, and 2,000 the time of the Messiah.

The chronological tables could be off by as much as five to twelve years. However, we know that the time of the end is near, even at the doors, though we are not privy to the day or the hour.

One thing is certain: Only a few minutes remain before midnight. Closing time is upon us.

The Age of Grace is about to end, and believers are soon to rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Will the Rapture of the Church bring both Blessing and sorrow?

Yes. Some will be ashamed (1 John 2:28), and some will be full of joy.

That is why, in 1 Thessalonians 2:19, Paul asks, “What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?” What is going to bring you and me a great crown? He then answers, “Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” (v. 19).

Paul was saying, “I’m going to present you-those I’ve won to Christ from Rome to Corinth-before the Lord, and that is going to be my joy.” But think of the multitudes who will stand before the Lord empty-handed. These are people who have been saved for years, but have no record of service-none whatsoever. They have never won a single soul to Christ.

There will be no scales at the Great Judgment Day at the end of the world whereby one is admitted to heaven if his good works outweigh the bad and vice versa.

A person can be saved only by God’s grace (unmerited favor), not through works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Second Timothy 1:9 states: “[God] hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace.” However, there is a system of balances found in the Scriptures when it comes to rewards.

Remember that one is neither saved nor kept by works.

He is, however, to work because of the salvation he already possesses. Ephesians 2:10 gives clear evidence of this fact: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” The Christian’s works following salvation will be weighed on God’s scales and put through His judgmental fire. Thus, a system of addition and subtraction can be found at the judgment seat of Christ.

The Bible also plainly states that a Christian can accumulate rewards while he is on earth, and then lose them before his death, or before the Rapture, by foolish living. The Bible is clear that a Christian cannot live in sin without suffering the consequences-not the loss of his salvation, but of his rewards.

Remember 1 Corinthians 3:15, “He shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Now consider 2 John 8: “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.

Consider also Revelation 3:11: “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

In 1 Corinthians 9:27, Paul says, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” The Greek word for castaway means “disapproved” or “put on the shelf.”

Paul knew he could lose all his rewards for heroic service if he allowed his flesh to rule his life rather than the Holy Spirit. If this could happen to the man who had accumulated more “spiritual points” toward heavenly rewards than any servant of God, it can also happen to you and me.

Second Corinthians 11:23-26 lists Paul’s service record: “In labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep [clinging to life in the ocean]; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren.

Paul could have lost all of his rewards had he allowed his flesh to control him instead of the Lord.

But he didn’t. Hear him again-just before he paid the supreme sacrifice (his life)-in 2 Timothy 4:7-8: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day [the day of Christ’s “bema” or judgment seat investigation]: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

What a contrast to some Christians who find it easier to lie in bed rather than go to God’s house; who find it easier not to tithe, not to read the Bible, not to pray, not to win souls, not to live in the Spirit. Their reward will be nothing but ashes. Also to those who have allowed the flesh to take control of their lives, their rewards, earned through years of service, will have been lost because of a foolish unfulfilling habit, a beautiful, flirtatious face, or the desire to travel to heaven via worldly pathways.

I don’t know all that will be brought to light at that day, but I do know the first question God will ask is: “Did you bring people into My kingdom?”

It is also the last thing Jesus commanded us to do: “Ye shall be witnesses unto me . . . And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight” (Acts 1:8-9).

We will also be asked what we did with our finances. “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6).

Who composes Christ’s bride?’

The bride of Christ is made up of every man, woman, and child who has been saved from the Day of Pentecost onward.

This includes everyone who has received Christ until the Rapture occurs in 1 Thessalonians 4:16.

So from Pentecost to the Rapture, the bride of Christ is formed and evacuated. As we approach that blessed day, I’m often asked, “At what stage in God’s prophetic program does the Church, or Bride, presently find herself?”

According to Oriental marriage customs, we are now in the betrothal stage-promised to Jesus Christ.

This is why He wants His people to live holy lives. By doing so, we (the Church or Bride) can be presented as “a chaste virgin” to the Savior (or Bridegroom) as expressed in 2 Corinthians 11:2.1 believe we are about to be called into the heavenlies for that great marriage ceremony, because every sign leading to this long-prophesied event is already occurring.

Since every sign for Christ’s return to earth is already in progress (we’ll later look in some detail at contemporary events that prove this), this great wedding must occur soon. It will not be long before we hear the words, “Come up hither” (Revelation 4:1).

Then Revelation 19:7 says, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

Every bride anticipates the joys of a honeymoon. Therefore, the next logical question is, “How long will the honeymoon last for the bride of Christ?”

After we are taken up in the Rapture (Revelation 4), we return with Christ in Revelation 19:14: “And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses.” Jude verse 14 says, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.” Revelation 20:4 says, “And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

The only ones coming back with Him are the Bride-to begin the honeymoon.

This does not include, however, the Old Testament saints. John 1:17 says, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace [the new dispensation, or covenant] and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Now, concerning the salvation of John the Baptist-he did not become a part of the Bride at Pentecost. He was saved before Pentecost. So Jesus called him a “friend of the bridegroom” (John 3:29).

John, then, is considered to be a friend of the Bridegroom but not part of the Bride.

The Church, or Bride, began to be formed on the Day of Pentecost and will be completed at the Rapture.

Hence, the Old Testament saints are not members of the Bride or Church. Also, since the Church is evacuated at the Rapture-before the Tribulation begins (Revelation 4:1)-one can clearly see that the Tribulation saints who are martyred during this horrendous period do not constitute part of the Bride or Church. The Bride is definitely that group of blood-washed believers beginning at Pentecost and completed at the Rapture.

Both the Old Testament and Tribulation saints are raised when Christ returns to earth, so they may be guests at the marriage supper of the Lamb on earth (see Daniel 12:2; Revelation 4-5).

A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE

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