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Christian Denominations: Return of Christ & Rapture

When available, all of the teachings and practices are from the website of the organization itself.  Many denominations will have an official Statement of Fundamental belief and others will have a more fluid offering of their beliefs.

Rev. 13:5: “Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God. And he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for forty-two months.”  See: Daniel 7:25; 12:7; Rev. 11:2

Matt. 24:29-: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

 2Thes. 2:1-: “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ[a] had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin[b] is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God[c] in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”

Denomination Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ
Anglican (Episcopal;

Church of England)


39 Articles of


1662 Book of Common Prayer

Art. 4: “Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again his body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of Man’s nature; wherewith he ascended into Heaven, and there sitteth, until he return to judge all Men at the last day…”


BCP: “ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and forever. Amen”


Assemblies of God


Statement of

16 Fundamental










I Believe in the Pre-Tribulation



Dr. Stanley Horton

Professor AGU



”THE BLESSED HOPE: The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the church.

THE MILLENNIAL REIGN OF CHRIST: The second coming of Christ includes the rapture of the saints, which is our blessed hope, followed by the visible return of Christ with His saints to reign on earth for one thousand years.”


“This statement is the report of the committee to study the rapture of the Church. The report was adopted by the Assemblies of God General Presbytery, August 14, 1979…  At the time of Christ’s ascension two angels came to the group of watching disciples to repeat the promise that He will return. They declared it would be in the same manner as He went away (Acts 1:11). This clearly means His second coming will be literal, physical, and visible… The New Testament Epistles refer often to the Second Coming, and the theme of imminence runs through all the passages of Scripture dealing with this subject. Though there would be a period of time between the first and second comings (Luke 19:11), the whole body of teaching concerning the return of the Lord emphasizes that it will happen suddenly without warning… A comparison of passages of Scripture relating to the Second Coming shows that some speak of a visible event seen by all mankind and involving the judgment of sinners. Others describe a coming known only to believers and resulting in their deliverance from earth.  The latter is referred to among evangelicals as the Rapture… Although God’s people may endure severe trials before the Lord comes, the Church will be raptured before the period called the Great Tribulation.


Horton: “Why do I believe the Rapture will take place before the coming Great Tribulation? I confess I once believed it because that was what I had been taught. No one in Pentecostal circles where I grew up questioned it… In view of these facts as well as the fact the Church is not mentioned as being on earth in Revelation 4 through 19, some have suggested that when John saw a door opened in heaven (Revelation 4:1), this was a symbolic expression for the catching away of the Church. I have had to admit, however, that this is reading something into Revelation 4:1 that the Bible does not specifically mention at that point. However, the case for the pre-Tribulation Rapture does not rest on that interpretation… Three things are more important. First, the teachings and parables of Jesus urge us to be on the watch, be alert, be on guard, so that we are not found in a careless or sinful state when He comes… Second, Jesus made it clear that when He returns, it will be as in the days of Noah. The people heard the preaching of Noah; but the day the Flood came, they had their plans made. They supposed that day would be the same as any other day. But that day the judgments began to fall… Third, Jesus emphasized that no one except the Father knows the day or the hour of His coming…  Second Thessalonians 2:3 shows, however, that the first things to happen on the Day of the Lord will be a falling away or rebellion and the revelation of the man of lawlessness, the Antichrist. Since these things have not happened, we know that the Day of the Lord with its judgments has not yet begun, and we can still expect the Rapture to take place before they do…”


(Southern Baptist Convention)

Baptist Press


‘End Times: Scholars differ…’




















Articles of Faith

National Baptist Convention






1689 Baptist Confession of



“The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 …states that ‘Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth (Art. X).”


“When it comes to the end of time, at least one thing is certain: Southern Baptists have a variety of opinions… the committee charged in 2000 with revising the Southern Baptist Convention’s confession of faith articulated the Bible’s core teachings on last things — also known as eschatology — without mentioning the secondary details on which inerrantists disagree.  …Premillennialists believe Christ will return prior to a literal 1,000-year period.  Among premillennialists, there are varied opinions on whether Jesus will remove Christians from the earth prior to a tribulation preceding His return. Some, known as dispensational premillennialists or dispensationalists, believe in such a rescue for Christians. Others, known as historic premillennialists, believe Christians will not be taken out of the world until Jesus returns.  A minority of premillennialists believe Christians will be raptured halfway through a period of tribulation preceding Christ’s return…  Although postmillennialism has enjoyed proponents such as Jonathan Edwards and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary founder B.H. Carroll, the view faded from Baptist life in the last century.  Amillennialists believe the number 1,000 is figurative and that we are currently in the millennium (some premillennialists and postmillennialists also believe 1,000 is figurative).  …James Leo Garrett, distinguished professor of theology emeritus at Southwestern Seminary, said these millennial positions have a long history of interaction in the SBC. For the first half-century following the convention’s founding in 1845, premillennialism and postmillennialism were the two dominant viewpoints, he said.

“Heaven and hell, the bodily resurrection, final judgment, the second coming and all of that was pretty well set in the confessions of faith,” Garrett said. “But on the millennial question, which has become so important in America, there was a tendency at the beginning to be postmillennial and to have a continuous historical view of the book of Revelation so that the pope and others could be identified as various marks or symbols in the book of Revelation.”

…Amillennialism’s origins often are traced to the fifth-century North African bishop Augustine of Hippo, but the view rose to prominence in the SBC between the 1930s and 1980s as postmillennialism died out. Many scholars date the decline of postmillennialism to World War I, when it seemed evident that the universe would not gradually improve leading up to a glorious millennial kingdom.  …Dispensational premillennialism arose as the major competitor to amillennialism in the 20th century. Initially developed by the Brethren Movement in early 19th century Britain, C.I. Scofield popularized dispensationalism by teaching it in the notes of his Scofield Reference Bible first published in 1909. Subsequent editions of the Scofield Bible continued to teach dispensationalism in revised forms. Today, the Scofield Bible is available at many LifeWay Christian Stores in the Holman Christian Standard translation.  Dispensationalism teaches that history is divided into different periods or dispensations, in which God deals with humans differently. While all evangelicals agree that God acted differently in different periods of history, dispensationalists hold some distinctive views of the dispensations which earned them their title.  In America, the Moody Bible Institute, the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now Biola University) and Dallas Theological Seminary played important roles in spreading dispensationalism. Gradually other schools and even entire denominations embraced the system. Adrian Rogers, Charles Stanley and W.A. Criswell were among the most prominent Southern Baptist dispensationalists…”


“XVIII. The World to Come.  We believe the Scriptures teach that the end of the world is approaching; that at the last day, Christ will descend from heaven, and raise the dead from the grave for final retribution; that a solemn separation will then take place; that the wicked will be adjudged to endless punishment, and the righteous to endless joy; and that this judgment will fix forever the final state of men in heaven or hell, on principles of righteousness.“


“At the last day, such of the saints as are found alive, shall not sleep, but be changed; and all the dead shall be raised up with the selfsame bodies, and none other; although with different qualities, which shall be united again to their souls forever… The bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonor; the bodies of the just, by his Spirit, unto honor, and be made conformable to his own glorious body.

Catholic Church



Catechism of the Catholic Church










”675: Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers.574 The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth575 will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.”

“Premillennialists hold, as do virtually all Christians (except certain postmillennialists), that the Second Coming will be preceded by a time of great trouble and persecution of God’s people (2 Thess. 2:1–4). This period is often called the tribulation. Until the nineteenth century, all Christians agreed that the rapture—though it was not called that at the time—would occur immediately before the Second Coming, at the close of the period of persecution. This position is today called the “post-tribulational” view because it says the rapture will come after the tribulation.’

‘But in the 1800s, some began to claim that the rapture would occur before the period of persecution. This position, now known as the “pre-tribulational” view, also was embraced by John Nelson Darby, an early leader of a Fundamentalist movement that became known as Dispensationalism. Darby’s pre-tribulational view of the rapture was then picked up by a man named C.I. Scofield, who taught the view in the footnotes of his Scofield Reference Bible, which was widely distributed in England and America. Many Protestants who read the Scofield Reference Bibleuncritically accepted what its footnotes said and adopted the pre-tribulational view, even though no Christian had heard of it in the previous 1800 years of Church history.’

‘What’s the Catholic Position?  As far as the millennium goes, we tend to agree with Augustine and, derivatively, with the amillennialists. The Catholic position has thus historically been “amillennial” (as has been the majority Christian position in general, including that of the Protestant Reformers), though Catholics do not typically use this term. The Church has rejected the premillennial position, sometimes called “millenarianism” (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church 676). In the 1940s the Holy Office judged that premillennialism “cannot safely be taught,” though the Church has not dogmatically defined this issue.    With respect to the rapture, Catholics certainly believe that the event of our gathering together to be with Christ will take place, though they do not generally use the word “rapture” to refer to this event (somewhat ironically, since the term “rapture” is derived from the text of the Latin Vulgate of 1 Thess. 4:17—”we will be caught up,” [Latin: rapiemur]).”




Lutheran Church Missouri Synod












Martin Luther’s

Large Catechism



“Frequently Asked Questions: Does the LCMS believe in the rapture? Q: Does The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod believe in the rapture? A: The answer to your question depends on what you mean by “the rapture.” The English word “rapture” is derived from the Latin translation of the verb “caught up” in 1 Thess. 4:17 (rapiemur). Lutherans certainly believe what Paul teaches in this passage, namely, that those who are still living on earth when Christ returns visibly on the last day “will be caught up” (“raptured”) together with “the dead in Christ” to “meet the Lord in the air.” Some Christians teach, however, that the “rapture” will take place not on the last day but in connection with an “invisible” coming of Christ occurring before a seven-year period of “tribulation” on earth, allowing Christians to “escape” this tribulation and then later return to earth for a literal “1,000 year reign of Christ.” Lutherans do not believe that these teachings are based on a proper understanding of Scripture. Scripture teaches that all Christians will endure varying degrees of “tribulation” until the last day, that Christ will return only once (visibly) to “catch up” (“rapture”) all believers, living and dead, into heaven, and that all believers will reign forever with him in heaven. Lutherans understand the “1000 years” of Rev. 20:11-15 to be a figurative reference to Christ’s reign here and now in the hearts and lives of believers, which will culminate in our reigning with Christ forever in heaven following his return on the last day.

“…A Christian, profitable and Necessary Preface, and Faithful, earnest Exhortation of Dr. Martin Luther to All Christians, but especially to All Pastors and Preachers, that they should daily exercise themselves in the Catechism, which is a Short Summary and Epitome of the Entire Holy Scriptures, and that they may always teach the Same… As for myself I say this: I am also a doctor and preacher, yea, as learned and experienced as all those may be who have such presumption and security; yet I do as a child who is being taught the Catechism, and ever morning, and whenever I have time, I read and say, word for word, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Psalms, etc.  And I must still read and study daily, and yet I cannot master it as I wish, but must remain a child and pupil of the Catechism, and am glad so to remain…’

‘Of the Creed… Article II: And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”










John Wesley

At Assize




“Where does the “Rapture” fit into United Methodist beliefs?  Methodism has a lot of diverse viewpoints among its churches and members, and so I have no doubts that many pastors and churches are tuning in to this speculative phenomenon. However, it is not central to our approach to discipleship and our theological framework.  Wesley and his spiritual children are not into the future in the kind of rapture/left behind approach. He and we are into the present–living in love toward God and neighbor. Our doctrine focuses on the order of salvation–prevenient grace, justifying grace, sanctifying grace and the assurance of salvation that God gives in trust.

See our Our Doctrinal Standards and General Rules in the Book of Discipline. Go online and read the sermons of John Wesley. Read especially Wesley’s sermon on the Great Assize. This will get you as close as Wesley gets to this type of thinking. But notice that almost all of his sermons have to do with how we live our lives now and how we accept the gift of salvation and live accountably for the grace we have received…”

 “…For yet a little while, and “we shall all stand before the judgement-seat of Christ.” “For, as I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” And in that day, “every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”

At the same time, “the Son of Man shall send forth his angels” over all the earth; “and they shall gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matt. 24:31). And the Lord himself shall come with clouds, in his own glory, and the glory of his Father, with ten thousand of his saints, even myriads of angels, and shall sit upon the throne of his glory. “And before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, and shall set the sheep,” the good, “on his right hand, and the goats,” the wicked, “upon the left” (Matt. 25:31, etc.). Concerning this general assembly it is, that the beloved disciple speaks thus: “I saw the dead,” all that had been dead, “small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened” (a figurative expression, plainly referring to the manner of proceeding among men), “and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Rev. 20:12).“

Orthodox Church



‘The Second Coming…’



















“The Orthodox understanding of the Second Coming of Christ is clear: the Lord Jesus Christ truly will return.  …Orthodox Christians also believe the New Testament revelation of the Second Coming of Christ is meant to stimulate our preparation for it, not our speculation about it. This explains the relative simplicity with which the Nicene Creed, the most. universal confession of faith in all of Christendom, addresses Christ’s return: “He… will come again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead, whose Kingdom shall have no end,” The emphasis of historic Orthodoxy is that Jesus will come again, not when He will come again.

Thus, St. Paul writes, “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:12-14).

There are signs of Christ’s coming, to be sure. Jesus prophesied many events that would take place in the world prior to His return (Matt. 24; Luke 21:7-36). But even here the teachings of Jesus in these gospels close with His exhortation to virtue, righteousness, and preparation for the Judgment. Christ and His apostles issue severe warnings, implicit and explicit, against second-guessing the time of His coming (Matt. 24:3 — 8, 36, 43, 44, 50; Luke 21:7-9, 34; Acts 1:7; 1 Thess. 5:1-3; 2 Pet. 3:8 — 10). Much of modern Christendom has succumbed to divisive speculation regarding Christ’s return. We are divided into pre-millennial, post-millennial, and a-millennial camps. Breaking it down even further, there are pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, and post-tribulation adherents. Christians part ways and new denominations spring up around interpretations of events which have not yet even come to pass!

Throughout history the Orthodox Church has steadfastly insisted on the reality of the Second Coming of Christ as a settled belief, but granted liberty on the question of when it will occur. In the last chapter of Revelation, Jesus speaks the words, “I am coming quickly” three different times (Rev, 2:21:7, 12, 20). His coming will occur on a day, at an hour when it is not expected. The Apostle John, the author of Revelation, concludes his book with a warning:

“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22.18, 19).

To confess the return of Christ is to stand squarely within the apostolic tradition, To add “when” to the promise of His coming is warned against in the Scriptures.”









Our Beliefs

‘About the Future’


“While the UPCI allows diversity in views regarding the timing of the second coming of the Lord, particularly with reference to the Tribulation, the expectation of the soon return of the Lord is integral to our identity as a movement. In fact, the modern Pentecostal movement was reborn at the beginning of the twentieth century out of the anticipation that the Lord wanted to prepare His bride for His soon return. We believe that when the New Testament speaks of the “soon” return of the Lord, it gives this promise to assure the church of its future hope. Paul expressed this anticipation, for although he expected martyrdom, he promised that a crown was not merely waiting for him alone, but for all those who love His appearing. (See II Timothy 4:8).’

‘We reject preterist notions that the prophecies of Revelation 4-19 were fulfilled prior to A.D. 70, that Satan is bound, and that we are now living during the thousand years described in Revelation 20. As Oneness Pentecostals, we believe that Revelation 4-19 refers to events that are yet future and that New Testament prophecies of the return of Christ are literal, still to be fulfilled. Further, while Israel has been blinded in part, there will come a time when they will be grafted in again (Romans 11: 17-26). We look forward to a time when the church will reign with Christ in the Millennium, a time when Christ will reign supreme and will restore peace on the earth.”

“About the Future: Jesus Christ is coming again to catch away His church.  In the end will be the final resurrection and the final judgment.  The righteous will inherit eternal life; and the unrighteous eternal death…”


‘The End of the World’






Westminster Confession of Faith does not teach a pre-Trib ‘Rapture.’

“Over 20 years ago the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) noted the growing anxiety being fed by “doomsday” marketers. People like Hal Lindsey, with his best seller The Late, Great Planet Earth, were creating uncertainty and confusion. The Rapture or Second Coming of Jesus was being interpreted by dispensationalism* (a questionable theological position from a Presbyterian point of view) as two events rather than one. First would be a “secret” coming to take the church out of the world. Then, at a later point, and dispensationalists argue frequently over the exact details, Christ would come a second time to establish God’s reign on earth for a thousand years. Though there is scant Biblical testimony to support such a view (see 1 Thessalonians 4:17), this interpretation was advanced as clear and fundamental for faithful discipleship.

In response a set of “Twelve Theses” and a position paper entitled “Eschatology, The Doctrine of Last Things” were prepared for and adopted by the 1978 General Assembly. The paper rehearsed briefly, but helpfully, the rise of futuristic speculation that has occurred during the past 150 years or so. What it labeled as the “lure of the unknown” has only increased during the past 20 years.  A thousand years ago, the approach of the year 1000 was preceded by much of the same anxious fear of a Last Judgment, the end of the world. Times of social upheaval and war have often been interpreted as certain signs of the end. “Outpourings” of the Holy Spirit as experienced by some have raised expectations and speculations about the imminent return of Christ…”

Jehovah’s Witnesses



Bible and Tract



“Your Deliverance is getting Near: Jesus not only warned Christians about the destruction of Jerusalem but also used those first-century events to parallel what will occur when the “great tribulation” suddenly breaks out. (Matt. 24:3,21, 29) In fact, the good news is that “a great crowd” of people will survive this worldwide catastrophe… How will the great tribulation begin? The book of Revelation answers by describing the destruction of “Babylon the Great.” (Rev. 17:5-7) How appropriate that all false religion is likened to a prostitute! The clergy have prostituted themselves with the leaders of this wicked world… But who will destroy the harlotlike organization? Jehovah God will put “his thought” into the hearts of “the ten horns” of the “scarlet-colored wild beast.” These horns represent all the present political powers that give support to the United Nations, an organization pictured by the “scarlet-colored wild beast.”

‘…How will God’s people fare at that time? Jesus explains: “In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.” (Matt. 24:22) As we considered, in 66 C.E. the tribulation was “cut short.” This allowed “the chosen ones,” anointed Christians, to flee the city and its environs. Likewise, the initial part of the future great tribulation will be “cut short” because of “the chosen ones.” The political “ten horns” will not be allowed to annihilate God’s people. Rather, there will be a brief respite.’

‘What will happen when Jesus comes “with power and great glory”? This will be a time for rewarding those who are faithful and for punishing those who are not.

Does this mean that there will be a “rapture” of the anointed ones? Many in Christendom believe, according to this teaching, that Christians will be bodily caught up from the earth. Then, they expect that Jesus will visibly return to rule the earth. However, the Bible clearly shows that “the sign of the Son of man” will appear in heaven and that Jesus will come “on the clouds of heaven.” (Matt. 24:30) Both of these expressions imply invisibility. Additionally, “flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s Kingdom.” So those who will be taken to heaven will first need to be “changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, during the last trumpet.” (1 Corinthians 15:50-53.) Therefore, while we do not use the term “rapture” here because of its wrong connotation, the remaining faithful anointed will be gathered together in an instant of time.”



“Modern revelation makes it clear that the saints will remain on the earth through the tribulation period until Christ’s coming and those who are old or in the grave shall be changed to a resurrected state at that time. Younger saints will grow old and be changed in an instant at one hundred years of age (Isaiah 65:20DC 101:30-31) to inherit a glorious resurrection with God and Christ.”

Articles of Faith (1842; by ‘Prophet’ Joseph Smith): “…10. In the literal gathering of Israel and the restoration of the ten tribes, and that Zion will be built on the American continent when Christ reigns on the earth…”

Seventh – day


‘The Second Coming of Christ’


“The second coming of Christ is the blessed hope of the church, the grand climax of the gospel. The Saviour’s coming will be literal, personal, visible, and worldwide. When He returns, the righteous dead will be resurrected, and together with the righteous living will be glorified and taken to heaven, but the unrighteous will die. The almost complete fulfillment of most lines of prophecy, together with the present condition of the world, indicates that Christ’s coming is near.

Obviously, Jesus will come like a thief in the sense that the Second Advent will be a great surprise to those who if aren’t ready. It will catch them off their guard. But Jesus’ return will not be a mystical or invisible event.There’s nothing quiet or intangible about the heavens disappearing with a roar! Jesus’ return may come as an incredible surprise to some. But it won’t be quiet; it won’t be secret; it won’t be something vague and mystical It will be the definite, irreversible period that God places on history. It’s the end of one age and the beginning of an entirely new one in which Christ’s followers are clothed with immortality. It’s the time when death, the final enemy is vanquished, (see 1 Corinthians 15:51-53).”




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