Most Baptist, including myself, believe the return of Christ will involve two separate and yet very distinct events. The first event will be the coming of Christ in the air to rapture His church, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58. At this time the Lord will not return to the earth, but meet the church in the air. The second event will be the literal, bodily return of Christ to the earth to establish His earthly kingdom where He will rule and reign for a thousand years, often referred to as the Millennial Reign, Revelation 19-20.
I hold the view that the church will be raptured prior to the Great Tribulation and the Millennial Reign will begin at the conclusion of the seven years of tribulation. This is where the debate typically centers. The evidence is clear in the Scriptures that each of these events will happen, but many can't agree in regard to the specific timing of each event.
With these thoughts in mind, I read some interesting and stirring thoughts from Dr. Reg Dunlap, President -Bible Conference Speaker at Evangelism For Christ Association. Take a moment to consider his thoughts.
Without being conceitedly dogmatic, ever realizing that all views regarding the Lord's coming have their problems of interpretation, nevertheless, it seems to me that the premillennial, pretribulational view most advantageously provides the book of Revelation with some chronological order of development. Not only that, but it completely fulfills the unconditional promise that God made to Abraham in which he and his descendants would rule in a world-wide Kingdom at which time Christ would reign upon the throne of David.
So I approach the Bible as a Premillennialist - Christ will come for His Church before the millennium - and a Pretribulationist - Christ will come for His Church before the Tribulation period. But whatever system you hold regarding the Lord's coming, remember this: The most important thing is not HOW Christ is coming but the FACT that He is coming. We are not looking for SOMETHING to happen, but for SOMEONE to come. So let us get our eyes OFF the SIGNS and put them ON the SON. (Dr. Reg Dunlap; Check out Sermonseeker.com for some dynamic expository sermons).
I have to agree with Dr. Dunlap. Although there is much we don't understand, one thing is absolutely certain: The Lord IS coming again. Regardless of your personal view of when these events will unfold, we agree they will happen. I rejoice to know that I have been born again in Christ, placed into the family of God, and made a partaker of that glorious, eternal inheritance. Christ is coming again. If He were to come today, do you know for certain you are ready to meet Him?