Will Christ Return During Our Lifetime?
Manfred E. Kober, Th.D.

Many sincere believers assume they live in the last days just prior to the Rapture. Frequently the question comes to us, “Don't you think we live in the last days?” I vividly recall my godly relatives in Germany during those dreadful and distressful final days of World War II, remarking that the world could not go on much longer in its present turmoil and terror. Christ's coming must be very soon. And yet, over 60 years later, we are still awaiting the Rapture.

Our anticipation is that Christ may come soon, but the exact time of the Rapture is unknown. Let us briefly note what we cannot say and what we can say about the Rapture.

A. What we cannot say about the Rapture:

1. We cannot say that Christ's coming will be soon.

When we say that the Rapture is imminent, we assert that it could be at any moment. We believe that it may take place soon, but it we cannot say that it will occur soon. No events must take place before that glorious event. Every generation of believers in church history has fervently hoped that they are the generation experiencing the Rapture. Three things are certain:

a. In God's eternal counsel the date for the Rapture has been set. From our vantage point, its time is uncertain; but in God's plan the date has been fixed.

b. Each day brings us one day closer to that glorious event.

c. The numerous signs of the times converging in our day seem to indicate a soon coming.

2. We cannot predict the time or seasons of the Rapture.

All previous attempts of date setting have proved to be false. Currently, the owner of Family Radio, Harold Camping, asserts that he has discovered “Biblical evidence that judgment day for unbelievers and the Rapture of believers will occur on May 21, 2011” (from the Family Radio 2009 Pocket Calendar). He and others who make specific predictions ignore our Savior's parting words to His disciples at the ascension, that it is futile for them to guess and forbidden for them to know the times or seasons (Acts 1:6).

If someone were able to set a date for the Rapture, as Camping has done, it would mean that Christ could not come before that time. This destroys the idea of imminency which has the element of certainty that it will occur, and yet uncertainty as to time. If we cannot say that Christ will come soon, or set a date for the Rapture, what can we say?

B. What We Can Say About the Rapture:

1. Christ's coming will be speedy.

The word “soon” can also be rendered “quickly.” The Rapture for the church was imminent in the New Testament, but it was not soon then. Christ promises that when the time for the Rapture had come there would be no delay (Luke 18:8). He promises His Bride over and over again, “Behold, I come quickly” (Rev. 22:7, 12, 20). When the last building block is added to the city in heaven (John 14:1-6) and the final believer is added to the church on earth (2 Pet. 3:9), Christ will not hesitate one moment to return, and that “in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:52).

2. Christ's coming is sure.

The Rapture may occur before this column goes to press, or it may take place in the distant future. We do have a sure word of prophecy, namely, that it will most definitely occur (2 Pet. 1:17-19). With the convergence of the spectacular signs of the times, we can assert that the Rapture may be soon but it must not be. May we join believers of others ages whose expectation was voiced by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:20, “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Do you, dear reader, have such “a tiptoe anticipation and longing”? Similarly, in Titus 2:13 Paul bursts with excitement about the possibility of the Rapture. He literally says in Greek, “[We are] excitedly expecting continually the joyous prospect, even [the] glorious appearance of our great God, even [our] Savior, Christ Jesus!” (Mal Couch's translation, Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, 337). If you have trusted in Christ as Savior, you may join us in the fond hope, “Perhaps today!”

© Manfred E Kober

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