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)


- 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:


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 five 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