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Jesus Christ:  Is His return soon? 

Gary Googe Jul 16

Our Lord made sure His disciples knew that His departure from the Earth was only temporary.  They were assured He’d be coming back.  Even angels appeared to assure them of this.

Acts 1:9-11  

9 And when he [Jesus Christ] had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. [Emphasis added]  

Back in my college days I was preaching a sermon in a number of churches about this return of Christ to the Earth.  I know now that although Christ is certainly going to literally and bodily return to the Earth, what I said in my sermon about it was wrong.  The heart of my message about it was to do with the idea that certain signs had to be fulfilled before His return.  In my sermon I went through a list of them, concluding that His return must be soon because it seemed so many of the signs were then being fulfilled.  What I didn’t know was that the “signs” are all to do with Christ’s return to the Earth, not the Rapture.  Furthermore, they were all things that will occur in the coming Tribulation period that occurs in a seven-year period right before Christ’s return. Yes, we are informed that things on Earth are not going to get better before the Rapture, but there are no “signs” that will tell us it is near.  In other words, the things that are stated about how things will be before the Rapture are not to do with certain events.  The things said about it are quite general just to say things aren’t going to get better.

1 Timothy 4:1-5  

1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times [the times between the two advents of Christ—His birth in Bethlehem and the Second Coming] some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

The time between the creation of Genesis 1 and the earthly ministry of Christ is roughly four thousand years.  The last two thousand years since then are the “latter times” spoken of here.  And there have been many people who have done these things in every generation since they were predicted.

2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:

5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

If the Rapture were to occur today, the Second Coming of Christ would be roughly seven years away.  It will be during that time that the remaining prophesied “signs” will occur.  Therefore, in answering the question about the nearness of Christ’s “return,” we must first determine which return we’re talking about—Christ’s return to meet us in the air [the Rapture] or Christ’s return to Earth to establish His earthly Kingdom.  Once again, the right division of Scripture plays into this.  Many preachers today don’t believe in the Rapture.  Others don’t even believe in a literal bodily return of Christ to Earth to establish His Kingdom.  What ignorance and confusion we have about all of this!

During the time of our Lord’s earthly ministry, the apostles didn’t know or understand about Christ having two comings— the Rapture AND the Second Coming.  They had no idea there could be over two thousand years between the first and second advents.  The apostles and others were all thinking He had come to Israel at that time to establish His Kingdom.  They were still thinking that right up to the time of His ascension.

Acts 1:6-7

6 When they [the apostles] therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

Then in the next verse of this passage He gives them His answer.  Please note that He doesn’t say yes, and He doesn’t say no 

7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. [Emphasis added]

The reason He answered this way is because He knew He was not going to be accepted by Israel as their promised Messiah.  A few thousand people would, but most would not. If He had told them this, they would have lost their enthusiasm for presenting the Gospel of The Kingdom.  Those who did end up accepting their message were a part of a small minority of the whole nation.  Because of that rejection, the Kingdom would not be canceled, but it certainly would be put off to a future time.  No one knew that the postponement would last at least two thousand years.  How long this postponement will last is something no one knows.  Scripture just lets us know that things aren’t going to improve before Christ returns to lead the people into some sort of utopia.  Despite his best efforts, man is not going to be able to create an entire world of peace and prosperity.  That is definitely not going to happen! Here are some comments the apostle Paul makes about this.  But please notice first that this next paragraph immediately follows what he was saying about the occasion of the Rapture—1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.  The first word of this chapter, “But” is used to set up the contrast between this event [the Rapture] and the coming times [the Tribulation period] leading up to Christ’s Second Coming.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-6  

1 But of the times and the seasons [referring to a schedule of events God has planned], brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.

Here Paul is commenting about their familiarity with things pertaining to the Second Coming.

2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord [the term “day of the Lord” is used in Scripture, depending on its context, as a reference to the coming seven-year period called The Tribulation, the Second Coming, and also Christ’s establishment of His thousand-year earthly kingdom] so cometh as a thief in the night.

In this passage the term “day of the Lord” is used for His Second Coming.  

3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety [in the time of the Tribulation]; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

4 But ye [believers in this present Dispensation of Grace], brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch [GREGOREO = be alert] and be sober. [Emphasis added] 

The command here to “watch” is to do with anticipating the Rapture.  We will not go into this time of “darkness” spoken of today as the Tribulation.  Many believers have experienced hardship and even death because of their beliefs throughout history.  That won’t be changing.  Similar words are used to warn God’s people in the years of the Tribulation before Christ’s Second Coming.  It is easy to confuse the two when studying Scripture.  In the Kingdom program [the time of the seven-year Tribulation in this case], they are told to “watch” lest they are not prepared and will therefore be refused entrance into Christ’s coming Millennial Kingdom.  In our time we are already identified as children of the light and of the day.  It is on this basis that we should “watch” – in our case, for the Rapture, which Paul spoke of in the previous chapter.  All this just goes to show again the importance of rightly dividing the Scriptures.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18  

13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep [believers of our time who have died], that ye sorrow not, even as others [unbelievers] which have no hope.  

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again [having accepted the gospel message of our time], even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him [at the time of the Rapture].  

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord [a reference to this information that the prophets of old knew nothing about and had been a mystery—MUSTERION = a secret], that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord [the Rapture] shall not prevent them which are asleep.  

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air [He doesn’t come to Earth]: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words. [Emphasis added]  

For more information about the differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ, please see my article about it on our website—Rapture: How is this different from the Second Coming? As you will see in that article, there are not a few but MANY differences.  I’ve listed ten in the article.  

Our Lord provided a clear statement concerning the time just before Christ’s return to Earth.

Matthew 24:33-35  

33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things [a reference to the signs He had just given them], know that it is near, even at the doors.  

34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

In the Greek text the word for “till” is AN written in the subjunctive mood, meaning what’s stated is conditional.  In this case the return of Christ in that generation was to be determined by whether or not Israel accepted Jesus as their Messiah.  Because they rejected Him, His return didn’t happen in that generation but was put off to a future day.  So far, the “put off” has lasted for roughly two thousand years.  But this prophecy will eventually be fulfilled.  

35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. [Emphasis added]


To answer our question about the nearness of Christ’s return, we must first determine which “return” we’re talking about.  The Rapture is imminent! There’s no prophecy at all that must be fulfilled for it to occur.  It could take place at any moment.  However, the Second Coming of Christ is at least seven years away because we’ve been told that the Tribulation will last for seven years.  Those seven years are divided in half in Scripture, consisting of forty-two months each.  A man the Bible speaks of as the anti-Christ comes into power at mid-Tribulation, right after the first forty-two months.

Revelation 13:4-6  

4 And they worshipped the dragon [a reference to Satan] which gave power unto the beast [the anti-Christ]: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?  

5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.  

6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. [Emphasis added]  

This period of the Tribulation is also spoken of as “Daniel’s seventieth week” of years and “a time of trouble” which is subject matter for us to cover at another time.

Daniel 12:1  

1 And at that time [in the time of the seven years of Tribulation] shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one [believers] that shall be found written in the book [speaking of what is called the Lamb’s Book of Life]. [Emphasis added]

Unfortunately, there’s much confusion about all these things in Christendom.  Much of it is related to their lack of understanding of the principle of right division.  For more information about the meaning of “right division” please see my article that will introduce you to some basic principles about this— https://4us2usministries.com/questions-answered/4us2us-what-does-this-mean/ .

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