As we come to the third day in my series on the end times, let me get right to the point and share my personal conviction about Christ’s return. Then, tomorrow I will post a video that explains my beliefs in a little more depth and illustrates how verses on Christ’s return can be interpreted in different ways. With that said, here is where I stand:
I believe we are living in the last days, just as believers have since the time of Jesus. As a result, we are to live with the sense of watchfulness and readiness that acknowledges Christ could return at any moment.
I believe the signs of the times indicated in the Bible are meant to be general indicators of the temporary nature of this world, not specific events to be identified and pieced together into a detailed timeline. As we live with a sense of readiness, we need to focus our eyes on Jesus, not waste our time trying to interpret world events so that they match up with some hidden message about His return.
I believe the great tribulation is not confined to a literal seven-year period of time. Tribulation occurred in the first century and continues to occur today in various degrees all over the world. To believe that the great tribulation is a literal seven years, beginning on one date and ending on another, is a mistake and is inconsistent with the totality of the New Testament.
I believe the rapture and the second coming are a single event. I do not hold the popular view that they are separated by a seven-year tribulation. Rather, I believe there will be one event in which Christ will return and believers will be caught up to be with Him forever.
I believe that the millennial, thousand-year reign of Christ refers to a symbolic rather than literal number of years.
Now that you know my beliefs about Christ’s return, let me offer two resources for those of you who want to dig in more. First, here is a link to a post by John Piper that spells out many of the terms associated with the end times and the return of Jesus. It also presents nine specific reasons why John Piper, like myself and many others, believe the rapture and the second coming are a single event. While I do not agree with Piper on several other issues, this is one I do. And because he does such a great job in this overview, I decided to take the easy way out and just link his post, rather than trying to duplicate something that wouldn’t be as good.
Tomorrow's video will be a brief teaching on 1 Thessalonians 4:17 that addresses the return of Jesus. It is often the key passage used to support the belief that the rapture is a separate event apart from the second coming, but I will explain a more traditional interpretation of the passage that supports the belief that the rapture and the second coming are a single event.