Preparations For His Imminent Return

Dr. Steve Viars December 19, 1989



- I think it would be good to begin our time tonight by

  defining a couple of terms.  We're going to be referring to

  the tribulation and the rapture tonight and I realize that

  you may be here tonight and aren't sure what those terms



- tribulation - seven year period of judgement on the world

  and its inhabitants - foretold in many passages of

  Scripture and described in detail in the book of Revelation

- rapture - literally "caught up", event where Christ

  meets his church (living and dead) in the air and takes us

  back with Him to heaven


- one of the decisions that must be made in studying end-time

  events is - from a chronological perspective, what is the

  relationship between the rapture and the tribulation

- In other words, does the church go through the tribulation

  and then is raptured?

    - does the church go through the first half of the trib.

      and then get raptured?

    - is the church raptured before the tribulation begins?


- There are three primary positions that can be taken

  - pre-tribulational - church taken before the trib.

  - mid-tribulational - church is taken at the mid-point of

    the trib.

  - post-tribulational - church is taken after the trib.


- there is another wrinkle in this for some folks who believe

  in a partial rapture, where only those believers are truly

  ready to be raptured are raptured the first time

      - theoretically - partial-pre-trib, partial-mid-trib.,

        partial post-trib.

      - these positions aren't very common


- on Jan. 17 - Pastor Dutton will discuss the rapture in

  much more depth, but tonight we need to at least establish

  which of these positions the Bible teaches and why because

  which position you hold is going to affect how much you

  think our topic tonight is relevant (develop - if you hold

  to a post-tribulational rapture, there's not much

  motivation for getting prepared for it now)



- we believe that the position that is most consistent with

  all the Bible says on this is the pre-tribulational


- in other words - the rapture of the church will precede the



- I want to stay away from what Pastor Dutton is going to

  address in a couple of weeks, but let me give you one of

  the most convincing reasons for holding the pre-

  tribulational position


- doctrine of imminency - (if thats a new word to you

  tonight, this should be the last one)

      - there are no future events revealed in Scripture as

        necessary before Christ can come. (doesn't require

        the idea of immediacy)


- there is a lot of Scripture on this - let's look at a


      Titus 2:11-15 (emp. on 13) - read


      I Cor. 1:4-7 - read


    point is - these passages talk about believers expecting

      Christ at any moment.  There is no hint here (or

      anywhere else) that some additional events (like the

      tribulation) must take place before Christ can return

      to receive His church


- there are a number of other references that would teach


    - I Cor. 15:51-52           - Phil. 3:20

    - I Thess. 1:9-10           - I Thess. 4:13-17

    - I Thes. 5:1-9             - James 5:7-8


- so the Scripture teaches the doctrine of imminency, which

  means that there are no future events mentioned in

  Scripture that must take place before Christ can return

- that means that the rapture must precede the tribulation

  and that its the next event on the prophetic calendar


- I think the next reasonable question is, So what? (not

  asking that in a sarcastic way or an irreverent way, but

  certainly the Lord revealed these truths so that they would

  have some impact on our lives today)- the prominent answer

to that question from Scripture is,

  "Be Prepared"

- since Jesus is coming back, we better be prepared

- Of course the logical question from that is,

  (prepared) how?, in what ways?


- The Bible is loaded with ways that the believer should be

  prepared for the imminent return of Christ


- First one is found in James 5:7-8 (Read)


I.  Be Patient


    A.  Definition

        - patience is a word that we've all heard before, but

          if a 6-7 year old child came and asked you what

          patience was, how would you answer?


        - literally - macrothumos

            thumos - anger. passion, rage

            macro - longer or larger than normal


            "holding sinful anger off for a long time

        - cf. parable in Matt. 18

            - king took account of his servants, found that

              one owed him 10,000 talents.  Do you remember

              what the servant said when the master

              confronted him?  (Have patience w/me)

            - WAIT!  DON'T ACT NOW!

            - thats what patience is--holding sinful anger

              off for a long time if necessary - telling

              ourselves, wait!--Don;t act sinfully now!


    B.  Areas in which believers particularly struggle





        1.  circumstances - how far back would you have to

            think in order to remember a time when you were

            angry with the circumstances? (most of us

            wouldn't have to think back very far)


        2.  sinfulness of others


        3.  faults/weaknesses of spouse


        4.  growth/development of children


        5.  salvation of lost relatives


        6.  own growth


    - from time to time we have folks say--I want to become

      more like Christ--what are some specific things I can

      be working on to be more like Him?

    - Did you realize that this is one of them?


    - I Tim. 1:12-16  (long-suffering-v.16-makrothumew)


Point - scripture would say that believing in the rapture

        ought to motivate us to work on patience.


    C.  Why the imminency of the rapture should motivate us

        in this area:


        - INPUT?


        1.  Why get upset over __________ when if Christ

            returned today, I wouldn't have it anyway?


        2.  I wouldn't want Christ to return and find me

            doing _____________________.


        3.  The reward will come.


            - this is where the analogy of the farmer breaks

              down.  Farmers are patient, but their patience

              isn't always rewarded with fruit.

            - but for the believer, after Christ comes, the

              rewards will be given out, the patience of the

              believer will be rewarded.

                    - Shephards - "It will be worth it all"



II. Be Pure - I John 3:2,3


    A.  Definition

        - pure, innocent,evaluating, cleaning


    B.  Other scriptures


        This same thought is repeated in many scripture



        - Titus 2:11-15 (read)


        - Cf. Col. 3:4-15


    C.  Point - people who believe that Jesus could return at

                any minute are busy purifying themselves


        - Have you ever been caught in a situation where you

          were called on to do something where you weren't


             - Greek class - had to prepare translations for

               class each day

             - several men called on to present translation

               orally - graded on your presentation

             - prepared pretty well first couple of days -

               till I realized that he had started from the

               top of the alphabet - you go through a letters

               before you come to "V"

             - I rationalized - I've got a lot of time

             - till the day he came to class & said something

               like "let's do something different today and

               start from the back of the alphabet"

             - I learned that you get to "V" a lot faster

               going that way


        - Probably all of us could tell a story like that,

          many of them probably didn't cause too much damage


        - But this issue is serious--The Titus passage said

          that Jesus died so that He might redeem us (buy us

          back) from iniquity and purify unto Himself  a

          people of His own, zealous of good works


        - He did His part and now He expects us to do ours


        - Illus - Christian School - bills not being handed out


        - individuals who believe the rapture could come at

          any moment are busy purifying themselves


        - Can I ask you-Has your growth in 1989 been

          indicative of your belief that Jesus could return

          at any time

        - we're not talking about perfection, we're not

          talking about arriving - but we are talking about

          growing and frankly, a number of folks say they

          believe in the rapture but there's very little

          evidence of that belief - (exercise self unto



        - I wonder if Jesus returned today, how many of us

          would have to admit--My rate of growth doesn't

          demonstrate a strong belief in the imminent rapture

               - I was banking on having more time

               - I was betting you wouldn't come back yet

               - I was prepared


III. Be Productive


    A.  Passages


        Matt. 24:45, 46 - (Read)


        I Cor. 15:58


    B.  Point - individuals who believe Jesus could return at

                any time are faithfully abounding in His



        - have you ever thought about what you'd like to be

          doing when the Lord returned?

        - I'd like to either be serving the Lord or playing

          basketball (explain)


        - wouldn't it be great if when Jesus returned, he

          could say to you or I, you were faithfully serving

          Me in the ways I wanted, you have been productive

          in the Lord's service


        - I wonder how many folks at  Faith Baptist Church

          would hear those words?


        - Kris and I were just talking in the car about what

          a privilege it is to serve in a church where there

          are so many folks who are productive and get much

          done for the Lord with their time.

        - in many ways, this was a productive year for our


        - we saw good growth in our services

        - we saw a number of new folks brought into the

          church, and a lot of people had to be working and

          serving to get that accomplished


        - we were able to complete the new room for reaching

          others (develop how nice it is to be in a new room)

        - so this was a productive year in many ways

        - but can I tell you some ways it wasn't too awful


        - This wasn't an overly productive year in terms of

          seeing people saved and seeing people baptized


        - Now we don't want to get into the ditch where we

          have faith promise soul-winning -- where we

          mystically come up with a number and then tell God

          how many people we're going to lead to Christ this


        - But I think most of us would say that, if my

          evangelistic productivity is a reflection of the

          depth of my belief in the rapture, then that belief

          needs to get stronger


        - because Jesus could come at any time, be patient,

          be pure, be productive


IV.  Be Provoking In Love


    Read Heb. 10:24-25


    INPUT - where is the reference to end-time events


    provoking in love means to be used in someone's life to

    encourage them in godliness


    one of the reasons God ordained the church was so that we

    could have that kind of ministry with one another


    the passage gives two ways in which you can have that

    kind of a ministry, one is negative and the other



    INPUT - what's the first one which is stated negatively?


    A.  by attending church


        INPUT - what does church attendance have to do with

                provoking one another in love?


        (it does matter - having a good group here tonight

         does make a difference - you have impacted those

         around you positively just by your presence)


        INPUT - why does the writer tie this concept in with

                the rapture?  What does church attendance

                have to do with the rapture?


                1) as the end times intensify, I need the

                   Word of God more than ever



                2) if nothing else, my neighbors need to know

                   that, he went to church


                   - have you ever thought about what its

                     going to be like after the rapture for

                     those who are left because they hadn't

                     trusted Christ as Savior?


                   - ideally those around us should have

                     heard a verbal witness, but at least

                     when they start scampering around trying

                     to find answers, they'll know--wait--so

                     & so was always going over to that

                     church to study the Bible - I'll

                     investigate the Bible


                   - For some folks, their attendance

                     patterns are so erratic that the unsaved

                     neighbor wouldn't have a ghost of an

                     idea of where the answers came from

                         - "Well, I know they used to go to

                            the mall a lot on Sundays"

                         - he used to do a lot of fishing on

                           the weekends

                         - he spent most of his time at work

                         - they never missed sixty minutes -

                           maybe thats where they got their



                3) if the Lord came back during a church

                   service, the last place I'd want to be is

                   skipping church

                       - can you imagine it - the Lord comes

                         back on a Sunday morning, now you're

                         in heaven - everybody's standing

                         there in their church clothes, very

                         conservatively dressed

                       - a couple of people have hymnals in

                         their hands

                       - there you are - on the one day you

                         decided to skip church and go

                         golfing, in your bright red pants

                         and golf spikes!


           POINT - because the day is approaching, be

                   provoking one another spiritually by

                   attending church


    B. by confronting


        read vs. 25 again


        there are many churches who say they believe in the

        rapture but allow sin to go on openly without ever

        loving that person enough to speak to them about

        their sin.

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video