Part 5

The Three Major Comings of Christ

As we’ve already established, many today unwittingly mix the portions of the Bible that apply to the pre-tribulation Rapture of “the church, which is His body”... with those Scriptures that concern Jesus’ 2nd coming to establish His Kingdom on earth. Actually, these two events will occur several years apart. Inter-mingling these events has led to error and confusion that distorts truth and robs many members of the “body of Christ” of the security, blessing, and comfort that is enjoyed by their faith in the word of the Rapture as their “blessed hope.”

In Part 14 you will see that I have listed ten contrasting facts in chart-form as examples of the dissimilarity between the Rapture and… the 2nd Coming of Christ to earth. Below is but one simple difference of note.

·         At the Rapture of the members of “the Church, which is His body,” Christ Himself will meet and gather the members of the His body “in the air.” Jesus will NOT touch His feet on earth.

·         BY CONTRAST, at Christ 2nd coming to earth, He will return as He left. “his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives …” (Zech 14:4). He will then establish His Kingdom rule (Rev 12:5) and authority on earth. He will bless all “the nations (Gentiles)” (Gal 3:8) through the agency of the believers of the Nation of Israel on earth in the Millennial Kingdom and then in the eternal kingdom where “there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and THEY (Israel’s Apostles, cf. Rev 21:12) SHALL REIGN FOR EVER AND EVER.” (Rev. 22:5)

The fact is that only the epistles of Paul, as THE Apostle to the Gentiles,” reveal the doctrine and detail of the Rapture of the “church.” The promise of the Rapture applies only to the members of “church which, is His body,” those who are saved in this age of “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph 3:2). Paul’s says his “mystery” (Gk., musterion, secret) gospel, which includes the Rapture, had been “kept secret since the world began” (Rom 16:25). The truths of Paul’s “mystery”  were never revealed to the Old Testament prophets and thus never prophesied of or spoken of before it was revealed by Christ to the Apostle Paul for the Gentiles (Rom 16:25, Col 1:26-27, Eph 3:1-5, Gal 1:12).

Contrary to common thought among many, the Rapture of the church is NOT revealed in the four Gospels. Jesus never spoke of the Rapture. Matt 24-25 and Luke 21 refer not to the Rapture, but rather the events to be seen as signs” of Christ’s 2nd coming several years after the Rapture of the “body of Christ.”

“And as he (Jesus) sat upon the mount of Olives, the (Jewish) disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be THE SIGN of thy coming, and of the end of the world (aion, the age) (Matthew 24:3)

“they asked…Master… what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?” (Luke 21:7)

“(Jesus said) WHEN YE SHALL SEE JERUSALEM COMPASSED WITH ARMIES, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. (cf.  Dan 11:31) 22 For these be the days of vengeance (cf. 2Thes 1:8), that ALL things which are written (prophesied) may be fulfilled. 23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and WRATH UPON THIS PEOPLE (ISRAEL). 24 And they (Israelis) shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and JERUSALEM SHALL BE TRODDEN DOWN OF THE GENTILES, UNTIL THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES BE FULFILLED. 25 And there shall be SIGNS in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers (Satan’s fallen angelic host) of heaven shall be shaken (toppled). 27 And THEN shall they ( Israel ’s believers) see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 And when these things BEGIN TO COME TO PASS, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your ( Israel ’s) redemption draweth nigh. (Luke 21:20, 21-28)

Jesus of Nazareth is here above addressing Israel in all these statements. This is because while Jesus of Nazareth was on earth it was still a “Jewish age.” Contrary to the division in our Bibles, the so-called four Gospels are in the Old Testament. They give us an account of the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth under the dispensation of “the Law.” It was still the Old Testament until the death of Jesus, as the “death of the testator” (Heb 9:16-17) of the New Testament. Jesus clearly said He had come only “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel ” (Mat 15:24). Jesus also had instructed His “twelve” apostles accordingly. These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go NOT into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But GO RATHER to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt 10:5-6).

Today’s Gentile age of “the dispensation of the grace of God” began soon after the stoning of Stephen by Israel ’s religious leaders (Acts 7). Soon after that Saul of Tarsus was converted (Acts 9) when he was personally called by the ascended Lord from heaven. Paul was then sent to be THE Apostle to the Gentiles” (Rom 11:13). Paul is to the Gentiles in this age of “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) as Moses was to Israel in the age of “the Law.”

The Rapture does not apply to the Old Testament believers. However, both “the just (Old Testament believers)” and the “unjust (unbelievers)” will be resurrected. “The just” will be resurrected for blessing and reward (Luke 14:14) at the 2nd coming of Christ to earth, while “the unjust” will be resurrected to the “Great White Throne” judgment and eternal doom (2Pet 2:9) 1,000 years later. The Old Testament saint’s (believer’s) bodies will be raised several years after the Rapture in “the 1st resurrection” (Rev 20:6), at the start of the Christ’s Millennial reign on earth.

“Blessedis he that hath part in the FIRST RESURRECTION: on such the SECOND DEATH hath no POWER, but THEY ( Israel ) SHALL BE PRIESTS OF GOD and of Christ, and SHALL REIGN WITH HIM a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6)

The “1st resurrection” immediately follows the Tribulation when Christ returns to earth to execute His judgment on Israel ’s enemies, while He also refines Israel in the fire of these trials. Christ will then rule with “a rod of iron” (Rev 12:5) to maintain righteousness His Theocratic Kingdom. The Millennial Kingdom reign of Christ on earth is bounded by two resurrections;

·         “The 1st resurrection,” the resurrection of “the just” or righteous Old Testament believers, marks the beginning of the Millennium.

·         The resurrection of “the rest of the dead (the lost)” is at the end of the Millennium. “…the rest of the dead (the lost)lived not again until the thousand years were finished” (Rev 20:5a).

Only the resurrected Old Testament saints, the Tribulation martyrs, and the believing survivors of the Tribulation will occupy the earth at the beginning of the Millennium. No nonbeliever will enter the Millennial Kingdom on earth; however unbelievers will be born of the believing survivors of the Tribulation during the Millennium. Thus, Christ will of necessity rule with “the rod of iron.”

Peter’s “gospel of (concerning) the circumcision (Gal 2:7) was only for Israel . In fact, whenever we read the gospels and epistles of “the twelve,” i.e., Matthew, Mark, James, John, Jude (Thaddeus) or Peter, we are reading the writers to whom Jesus gave this restrictive instruction, “GO NOT into the way of THE GENTILES, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But GO RATHER to THE LOST SHEEP OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL.”(Matt 10:5-6)

Jesus’ restriction was later reinforced, as seen when we read Paul’s record of the outcome of his meeting with the leaders of the Jewish Pentecostal Messianic Church in Jerusalem , with James, Peter, John.

“Then fourteen years after, I (Paul) went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus (a Gentile) with me also. 2 And I went up by revelation, and COMMUNICATED unto them THAT GOSPEL WHICH I PREACH AMONG THE GENTILES 6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:

7 But CONTRARIWISE (as opposites), when THEY SAW THAT THE GOSPEL OF (concerning) THE UNCIRCUMCISION was committed unto me (PAUL)… AS THE GOSPEL OF (concerning) THE CIRCUMCISION was unto Peter; 8 (for he that wrought effectually in PETER TO THE APOSTLESHIP OF THE CIRCUMCISION, the same was mighty in ME (Paul) TOWARD THE GENTILES:) 9 And when James, Cephas (Peter), and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; THAT WE SHOULD GO UNTO THE HEATHEN (GK. ETHNOS, GENTILES), AND THEY (THE TWELVE) UNTO THE CIRCUMCISION ( ISRAEL ). (Galatians 2:1-2, 6-9).

So, in their Jerusalem meeting with Paul (Acts 15), James, Peter, John recognized Paul’s unique gospel and ministry. They decided to restrict or limit the ministry of the twelve to preach their “gospel of the kingdom” to the circumcision ( Israel ).” They agreed that Paul and Barnabas would continue to go unto the heathen (Gentiles)” with Paul’s new gospel of “CHRIST ACCORDING TO THE REVELATION OF THE MYSTERY.”(Rom 16:25). Paul’s “mystery” gospel was twofold;

1) The “fellowship of the mystery” (Eph 3:9) that we call “the joint body” of Christ which consist of both Jew and Gentile in which there are “no more Jews and Gentiles – all being one in Christ” (Gal 3:28).

2) The “mystery” of the indwelling: “the mystery, which is CHRIST IN YOU (the grace believers) the hope of GLORY” ( Col 1:26-27).

Having the foregoing understanding in view, we can better understand that ultimately Jesus will have had three most important comings before the consummation of the ages in “the fullness of times.”  We will look at these three comings in detail as we proceed in this series.

  1. He first came to earth at His incarnation proclaiming to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel that the kingdom of heaven was “at hand.”
  2. He will come “in the air” at the Rapture of the mainly Gentile “body of Christ.”
  3. He will come again At His 2nd coming to earth to bring and manifest the Kingdom on earth

Below are the first two of the three primary appearances of Christ that we’re concerned with. His third coming, which we call Christ’s 2nd coming to earth, will appear in Part 7.

1) The Incarnation of Jesus of Nazareth :

“And the Word (Jesus) was made (became) flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

The invisible eternal God who “dwells in unapproachable light” (1Tim 6:16) became incarnated in the person of “the Son,” called “The Word.” “The Word” is indicative of the fact that Jesus was the visible expression of the heretofore unapproachable eternal God. Jesus of Nazareth was physically born of 14-year old Mary. This was a relatively sudden coming, and He was barely recognized even though His birth was prophesied in detail.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, THE MIGHTY GOD, THE EVERLASTING FATHER, The Prince of Peace.”(Isaiah 9:6)

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made (ginomai, caused to be) of (ek, out from the life of) a woman (Mary), made under (subject to) the law” (Galatians 4:4)

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but (Jesus) was in all points tempted like as we are (as a human), yet without sin (any act of sinning).” (Hebrews 4:15)

Jesus Christ’s first coming in a physical human body of flesh brought Him to earth as the precious, sacrificial, “Lamb of God” that He might go to the cross of Calvary. In the offering of Himself He accomplished perfect redemption for all mankind, that is for whoever would “believe” to “receive Him” (John 1:12).

2) The Rapture of the Body of Christ:

Christ’s next coming is to be at the Rapture when He comes as “the HEADof “the church, which is His BODY,” appearing in “the clouds… in the air.” This coming will also occur suddenly, in “the twinkling of an eye” (1Cor 15:52). Unlike His 2nd coming several years after the Rapture, there’ll be no astonishing signs before the Rapture. Christ will suddenly appear to believers when He personally gathers the members of His body “together… in the air” (1Thes 4:17). Jesus’ feet will NOT touch the earth.

When a believer is “saved by grace through faith” in Christ alone, they are immediately positioned in Christ and “seated in heavenly places” with Him, yet they are also a heaven-bound people.

“For our conversation (Gk., politeuma, community of citizenship) is IN HEAVEN; from whence also WE LOOK FOR THE SAVIOUR, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 WHO SHALL CHANGE OUR VILE BODY, THAT IT MAY BE FASHIONED LIKE UNTO HIS GLORIOUS BODY…” (Philippians 3:20-21)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual BLESSINGS IN HEAVENLY PLACES in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3)

 “And HATH RAISED US UP TOGETHER, and made us sit TOGETHER IN HEAVENLY (Gk., epouranous, celestial) PLACES in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6)

Heaven is the eternal home and abode of all the members of “the body of Christ.” Most of us will acknowledge that there is little visible unity among Christians today… but the Rapture marks the first time ALL the genuine believing members of the “body of Christ” will be together”; and this will be so “forever.”

“Then WE WHICH ARE ALIVE AND REMAIN SHALL BE CAUGHT UP (raptured) TOGETHER WITH THEM (those who have died beforehand, and were Raptured moments before) IN THE CLOUDS, TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR: AND SO SHALL WE (in like manner) EVER BE WITH THE LORD.(1 Thess 4:17)

Some people wonder about “the clouds” of 1Thes 4:17. The clouds are necessary because the Lord is the bright and morning star,” and “the Sun of righteousness” (Rev 22:16, Mal 4:2), He as God “… dwells in the light which no man can approach unto… (1 Tim 6:16a). Thus God’s presence is sometimes seen in the Bible as appearing in a physical “cloud” in order to shield human eyes from the “brightness” of His “glory” (e.g., Eze 1:4, 27-28). We, as Raptured believers in glorified bodies with glorified eyes, will be able to see and recognize Him and each other in the presence of the “brightness of His Glory.”

“Who (Christ) being the BRIGHTNESS OF (God’s) HIS GLORY, and the EXPRESS IMAGE OF HIS PERSON, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).

 When CHRIST, WHO IS OUR LIFE, SHALL APPEAR, THEN SHALL YE ALSO APPEAR WITH HIM IN GLORY.” ( Col 3:4) “...our citizenship is in HEAVEN …we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20)

“… the resurrection of the dead. It (the body) is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44 It is SOWN A NATURAL BODY (Gk., psychikos, a body subject to the soul); IT IS RAISED A SPIRITUAL BODY (Gk., pneumatikos, a body subject to the spirit)…” (1 Cor. 15:42-44)

Paul here tells us where we will be, and for how long – we will dwell “eternally in the heavens”!

“For we (the members of the body of Christ) know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle (our body) were dissolved (disintegrated), we have a building of God, an house (dwelling place) not made with hands, ETERNAL IN THE HEAVENS.” (2 Corinthians 5:1)