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When Jesus comes for His church - James C. Bell

The Bible says that no one knows the day or the hour when Jesus Christ will come for His church -- those who believe and trust in Him.

This time is called the "Rapture," a miraculous event when Christ will descend from the heavens toward the earth. A song describes this great moment saying, "When Jesus steps out on a cloud to call His people."

This whole event is called, "Eschatology," which is a Christian term that means the study of end times. In this article, we will discuss the Rapture only, for there is simply not enough time or space to study the whole of the end times.

St. Paul tells us in 1st Thessalonians 4:16-18: "The Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then, we, who are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet with the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words."

For more than 20 centuries, Bible-believing Christians have gained much comfort from this passage about the Rapture. An amazing aspect of the mystery revealed in 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18, and 1st Corinthians 15:51-54, is the promise that the church of Jesus Christ will not pass through the Tribulation -- a period of seven years, when a world religious-political leader called the antichrist takes power.

He wants all people to worship him, and beheads many Tribulation Christians for their belief in Jesus. Paul says in 1st Thessalonians 1:10: We "wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come."

This means those saved by belief in Christ will not see, or have to endure, this "Wrath of God." This period ends with the battle of Armageddon, a terrible war provoked by the antichrist. This war ends with the defeat of the antichrist-the devil, who is locked in chains and put in prison.

It's important to know that the Rapture, the time when Christ descends from heaven with a shout and calls His people home, is not the second coming, or the Glorious Appearing, which actually happens at the end of the Tribulation.

There is one end-time belief concerning the order of events that has received general acceptance by most fundamentalists. It is known as Dispensational Premillenialism, which means the ordering, by devine providence, the events before the Millennium -- the 1,000-year rule of Christ.

They are:

* 1. Pre-tribulation Rapture. The Rapture happens just before the tribulation, so that believers will not have to experience any of the wrath of God against sinners and the devil.

* 2. The Tribulation.

* 3. The second coming of Christ,

* 4. Establishment of the Millennial Kingdom.

The event of the Rapture comes for all Christians, those who have accepted Christ as their Savior. Those who do not believe in Him will be left behind to suffer, and be killed during the Great tribulation.

But that is not the end, for then comes the Judgment of Christ, who will say to those unbelievers; "Depart from me, for I never knew you."

Please don't wait until it's too late to choose Jesus as your Savior!