What is Christ doing now? Paul said it clearly. “A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Rom 11:25). The “fullness of the Gentiles” are the “sheep of another fold” (John 10:16), the elect of God that God will save in this age. The church age is a time of mercy in which God “commands all men to repent having fixed a day in which He will judge the world through a man” (Acts 17:30-31).
God has sent a message, a finished book – the Bible – and the visible display of the church which is a preview of His coming kingdom into all the world. Has the world received this warning? No. The world has renounced it, changed it and denied it. Has the nation of Israel repented having seen True Judaism or Christianity as it has gone out to the world? Again the answer is no. So what is the next thing on the Christological agenda? It is the judgment and punishment of the world and the chastening and purification of Israel. This is a prophesied time called The Day of The Lord. The Day of The Lord is a period that runs from The Tribulation, through the Second Coming, the millennial kingdom and then the final judgment. But all of this will begin with the Rapture or the “plucking up” or “catching away” of the church. It is the event that suddenly removes the church from a coming period of Tribulation and the wrath of God. Paul said “God has not destined us for wrath . . . (1 Thess. 5:9) and that Christ “delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10) and that is the purpose of the Rapture. To remove the church from what is only experienced by those who reject Christ – the wrath of God. This is why in Revelation 6-18 the word “church” is not mentioned. Those who believe are simply the saints of the Tribulation. The Bride of Christ is not mentioned until Revelation 19:7-8 when she returns with Christ to rule with Him.
This is what Jesus meant when He said “I go away to prepare a place for you. And if I go away I will come again to receive you unto myself that where I am (i.e. in glory) there you may be also” (John 14:3). This is not the return of Christ with His church (Rev 19) but His returning for His church to remove them from the wrath to come.
This truth is also described to the Thessalonians. “The Lord will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up (“harpazo”: to “pluck up” or “rapture”) together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16-17).
To the Corinthians Paul spoke the same, “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed . . .” (1 Cor 15:51-52)
And so we gather in the elect.
We live in fear and reverence of His appearing.
We wait during the breakdown of society.
We stand firm in our faith . . .
We look to the skies . . . to “escape the wrath to come” . . .
and wait for our incomparable Christ.