1. THE CHURCH AGE (Worshipping – Waiting – Winning) – Before His death and departure, Jesus promised to “build my church” (Matt. 16:18). The church, born on the Day of Pentecost, consists of the twin remnants of Jews and Gentiles who come to trust Christ as their Savior (Eph. 2,3). God’s purpose through the church is to preach, teach, and call out a people for His name. In addition to world evangelization, the church is commissioned to “wait for the Son from heaven” (I Thess. 1:10; Acts 1:8). The church age closes amid rampant apostasy in an environment that is marked by self-obsessed humanists, immortality, violence, and internal unrest (2 Tim. 3:1-6; 2 Thess. 2:3).
2. THE RAPTURE (Going) – God concludes His program for the church before the seven-year Tribulation (the 70th week) begins (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9). The rapture “catches away” the church; then the Antichrist appears on earth (2 Thess. 2:3-9) and the Tribulation begins. Jesus will meet the church in the air to “take you to be with me” (John 14:1-6; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). This event may take place at any moment and is the church’s “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). During the Tribulation, the church is in heaven with Christ. Members receive rewards, and the church becomes Christ’s “bride” and enjoys the “marriage feast of the Lamb.” The church also prepares to return with Him in glory (1 Cor. 3:11-15; Rev. 19:7-9).