Maranatha only makes sense in light of the imminent view of the Rapture. As Renald Showers says, "'It's instructive that the early church coined this special greeting to reflect their hourly hope, eager expectation, and ardent anticipation of the Rapture. No doubt this expectation motivated them to pursue personal purity, devoted service, and evangelism. Think of how the church would change today if we were to adopt this greeting for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Think of how our lives would change if this simple greeting were always on the lips of an expectant people.' "
(p.172, The End, Mark Hitchcock)
The purpose of the rapture really goes back to the doctrine of dispensations. Grace and Judgment unto Wrath cannot work concurrently. Scripture clearly tells us that the Tribulation will be a curse and a punishment for the iniquity of Israel and God's enemies in preparation for the Kingdom Age. In other words, God will be cleansing the earth of His enemies in order to start His Kingdom with mainly believers. (Jeremiah 30:4-8; Jeremiah 30:9-11; Daniel 9:24; Micah 7:8-9; Isaiah 26:21) [edited version of Amy Van Gerpen’s Study]
In speaking about signs in the latter days or end times before Christ's return for His church, Matthew 24:8 records Jesus saying, "All these are the beginning of birth pains." Then in Luke 21:28 Christ is noted as similarly declaring - "When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
Both of these verses refer to a time of Convergence of the signs mentioned for the End Times. The fact that the prophetic signs are associated with "birth-pains" or contractions means the frequency and intensity of the signs must be accounted for as one studies eschatology. However, not only will we be aware of the increasing frequency and intensity of End Time signs, but they will all begin to converge in space and time during our lifetime - "When these things begin to take place,...".
I am a Pre-Tribulationalist. I believe Christ is coming to snatch away His church from the wrath to come. In that belief - the closer I see the world is to The Tribulation Period, the closer I see believers are to The Rapture - Maranatha -Come Lord Jesus!
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