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We are now in the Church Age. This will be terminated suddenly when Christ will appear FOR the saints in the mid-air. "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 the Lord in the air" (1 Thess 4:13-18). This is what we call the Rapture of the Church. This is our most "BLESSED HOPE!" (Tit 2:13). The Bible speaks of Christ's Second Coming eight times more often than of His first coming. The New Testament alone speaks of it 318 times. One of the commonest words of greeting used by the early Christians was "Maranatha!" (1 Cor 16:22). It is an Aramaic word which means, "The Lord is coming!" Yes the early believers lived with the jubilant expectation of the Return of their Lord. While almost all the Christians believe in the Second Coming of Christ, they are widely divided on the timing and nature of rapture of His Church. There are broadly three schools of thought— 1. One group believes that there will be Rapture. That is, the Church will be caught up when Christ appears in the mid-air. It will be immediately followed by the Great Tribulation of seven years. At the end of this period Christ will return publicly to the earth and establish His one thousand year reign which will be followed by eternity. (This is Biblical) 2. The second group maintains a mid-tribulational view which means that Christ will come after a three-and-a-half-year period of tribulation. 3. The third view is post-tribulational which says that the Church will go through the Great Tribulation and the Second Coming of Christ will be only after that. Each group can quote a few Scripture verses to support its view. Biblically, it is pretribulational and premillennial Return of Christ. This viewpoint has been held by most of the evangelical scholars and Bible teachers of repute. The Church will not go through the Great Tribulation because "God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess 5:9; 1 Thess 1:10). The Church will be kept away from "the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world" (Rev 3:10). Some argue that the Lord will purify the Church through the Great Tribulation. I wonder why God should be interested in purifying only the last generation of Christians this way! Poor fellows!
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