It was J.N. Darby who in 1830 first articulated the idea that in the end times the church will be secretly taken up to heaven, leading behind a sinful and godless world.
The key text is 1 Thessalonians 4:17 –
‘Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord.’
The Thessalonian believers had been troubled that in the time between Paul’s evangelistic activity among them (in AD 49) and the time that this letter was written (up to two years later), some of their number had died. …
Daniel 7:13f – “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.…
“I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”
Taking our Lord’s words at face value, it is possible to suppose that he is teaching that the parousia would take place within the lifetime of his hearers (‘this generation’). If that is what he meant, then he would appear to have been mistaken.
Various explanations have been offered.
1. One of the more sceptical views is that Jesus did not utter this teaching at all.…
It shouldn’t be too difficult for us to unlock the meaning of this parable: the key is hanging at the door. V11: ‘…because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom was going to appear at once’
Luke’s record of this journey to Jerusalem began at ch. 9:51 – ‘As the time came for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem’
Jesus had spoken repeatedly about what was going to happen to him when he got to Jerusalem, but his listeners had not been able, or had not wanted, to understand. …
The doctrine of Christ’s return affects everything in the Christian life. It:-
1. encourages us in daily godliness, 1 Thess 1:10; 2:13; 3:13; 5:23; Tit 2:11-14.
2. provides a focus for all church life and worship, 1 Cor 1:7; 11:26; Heb 10:25.
3. gives us confidence in spiritual warfare, Rom 16:20; 1 Cor 6:3; 2 Thess 2:8-12;
Rom 13:11-13; 1 Thess 5:2-8.
4. comforts us in times of persecution, Rom 8:18-25; 2 Thess 1:6-10.
5. consoles us at the loss of loved ones, 1 Thess 4:13-18.…