Many honest Christians believe that Christ is going to come back to this earth in two ways--one being in secret, the other visible. The former will be silent in which Christ comes to secretly rapture or remove His followers from earth before the great time of trouble and tribulation occurs. Then after several years, the visible and literal appearing of Christ will take place in which those who were not ready during the time of the secret rapture will have a second chance to make themselves ready throughout the tribulation, after which Christ will come to save them.
There are many Bible texts regarding the second coming of Christ. But do any of these refer to a silent or secret return, or do they all speak about the same visible glorious event? Let us find out what the unerring Scriptures teach.
The apostle Paul reveals that the coming of Christ to this earth will be as follows:
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.
“Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.
Paul declared that when Christ should come, there would be a shout; a voice; a trumpet; the righteous dead would be resurrected, and along with the righteous living, would be caught up from the earth to meet the Lord in the clouds never to part again.
The apostle John reveals that the coming of Jesus to this earth will be as follows:
“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.” Revelation 1:7.
John declared that when Christ should come, it would be with clouds, and every eye on the earth would miraculously see him, and all the kindreds of the earth who have rejected Him would wail.
The patriarch David reveals that the coming of Jesus to this earth will be as follows:
“Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” Psalms 50:3-5.
David declared that when Christ should come, it would not be in silence, but would be a time of judgment with fire burning up and devouring those judged unworthy; and God would gather His saints from the earth to be with Him--being those who have sacrificed all to follow Him.
The prophet Jeremiah reveals that the coming of the Lord to this earth will be as follows:
“...The Lord shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the Lord hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword...And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth…” Jeremiah 25:30-31, 33.
Jeremiah declared that when Christ comes, He would mightily utter His voice; a shout would be given; it would be noisy throughout the earth; the Lord would plead with or judge all the people, and all the wicked would be slain.
And Christ Himself reveals what His coming to this earth will be like:
“...then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:30-31.
Christ declared that when He returns the second time, it would be with a sign; all people on the earth would see Him coming in the clouds of heaven and with power and great glory; the great majority of all the people of the earth would not be happy, but would mourn; there would be a great sound of a trumpet; and God would gather His obedient elect to Himself from every part of the world.
All of the above Scriptures are in complete harmony with each other regarding what it will be like when Christ comes back to this earth in the last days. Signs will occur just prior to His arrival. Every eye on the earth, every person of every nation and tribe will see Him return in power and great glory; there will be great noise, a shout, a heavenly voice, and a great loud trumpet will sound; the righteous dead will be resurrected from their graves, and together with the living righteous will be caught up into the air to meet their Lord in the clouds because they chose to sacrifice all to follow and obey God. While all the rest of earth’s inhabitants will be burned up by the glorious and bright devouring fire surrounding the Lord because they chose not to obey Him, but were wicked and thus judged unworthy of everlasting life.
As you can clearly see, the Scriptures declare that there is definitely nothing silent when our Lord returns to this earth, because it will be with great noise, shouting, and a great trumpet blowing. And the unerring Scriptures also declare that there is definitely nothing secret when Christ returns either, because every person on this earth will see Him in the clouds of the air, and will either be taken to heaven to forever be with the Lord, or will be destroyed. Thus the doctrine of a silent or secret rapture is nowhere to be found in the Scriptures, because when Christ returns it will be visible for all to see!
Since the Scriptures do not teach there will be a secret rapture, where did this doctrine and belief come from? This doctrine came from a Presbyterian woman while she was in a trance! “The idea of a two stage coming of Christ (one secret and the other visible) first came to a Scottish lass, Miss Margaret MacDonald of Port Glasgow, Scotland, while she was in a ‘prophetic’ trance.” M.L. Moser, An Apologetic of Premillenialism, p 28. So the doctrine of the secret rapture has no foundation in the word of God, but derives it’s origin from a mystic trance!
But what about those Scriptures which declare that the Lord will come as “a thief in the night;” surely this backs up the belief in a secret rapture? But the apostle Peter tells us:
“...the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word (of God) are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men....The Lord is...longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” 2 Peter 3:7, 9-10.
Peter declared, in harmony with the rest of Scripture, that when Christ returns it would be with great noise, and fervent heat which melts and burns up the earth. There is definitely nothing silent or secret about this! It should then be obvious that the phrase of Christ coming “as a thief in the night” does not have reference to a secret rapture, but to individuals being surprised, caught unprepared, and who are not ready for their Lord's return.
But what about those Scriptures which talk of one being taken and the other being left behind (see Matthew 24:37-41); surely this backs up the belief in a secret rapture?
In this Scripture, Christ was drawing a parallel between the time of His coming versus the time of Noah and the flood--and there certainly was nothing secret about the flood! Those who entered the ark were saved, while those who refused to follow God's direction for salvation were left outside. But what were they left for? For another chance of salvation? NO! They were left for destruction!
But what about the belief that Christ would rapture all of His people off the earth before the time of trouble, tribulation, persecution, and the working of Satan with lying wonders?
The prophet Daniel declared that “there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was...And at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” Daniel 12:1.
The apostle John declared that God's righteous people who were living when Christ returned to earth would be those “which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes (characters), and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:14.
And the apostle Paul revealed the timing when the coming of Christ to this earth would take place:
“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him (Christ) whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12.
So Daniel, John, and Paul plainly declare that the coming of Christ and the deliverance of God's faithful saints cannot take place until after the great tribulation, after the time of trouble, and after the working of Satan with all power, signs, and lying wonders. These deceive all who live in unrighteousness because they do not love and follow the truth, and all these would be destroyed with the brightness of His coming. In fact, Christ Himself prayed that His Father would not take His people “out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” John 17:15.
Since there is no time in which a silent or secret rapture of God's people from this earth will take place, then there is no second chance for salvation!
“...Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts…” Hebrews 3:15.
“...behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2.
May we understand that “salvation is far from the wicked” (Psalms 119:155), because they do not do God's will nor keep His commandments, and thus they continue to commit sin (1 John 3:3-10). Let us instead make sure that we are prepared now for our Saviour's return, so that His coming does not “overtake” or catch any of us unprepared as “a thief in the night” and we be lost.
May we be the “children of the day” (1 Thessalonians 5:5) who confess and forsake their sins (Proverbs 28:13); those who walk in the light of Christ; those who “fear God and keep his commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13), and who “hold fast [to Christ] and repent” (Revelation 3:3). May we be diligent to make our “calling and election sure” (2 Peter 3:18), knowing that God will not allow any of His people to suffer “above that ye are able” (1 Corinthians 10:13). May we realize that “all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12), and that it is only through patiently enduring these “fiery darts” (Ephesians 6:10-17), and “the fiery trial” (1 Peter 4:12-14), and any persecution that our faith or gold is being “tried in the fire” (Revelation 3:18). And if we are proven true, standing “fast in the faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13) and being found faithful to the end, then we will “obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” and will “live together with him” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10) forever in “the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:10).
“Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is...And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” Mark 13:33, 37.