Trying to refute the idea of the Rapture, I recently had someone tell me that Jesus only returns once, saying, “There’s nothing in the Bible that indicates Jesus will return from heaven to the earth twice.” And you know what? He’s absolutely right. Jesus only returns to the earth once. Yet, even with that statement being true, the doctrine of the Rapture occurring prior to the Tribulation (or by the middle of it at the absolute latest) also remains true.
How is it possible for us to believe both statements? Well, it all comes down to understanding what Jesus returning to the earth from heaven actually means. As we know, the word “heaven” in Scripture is simply a reference to everything that is “above” the earth, meaning the sky and outer space. So when we’re caught up to the clouds to meet Christ, He won’t have stepped foot out of heaven yet (He might be at its front door, having descended from outer space into the atmosphere of earth, but He’s still in the heavens at that point). Until His feet touch down on the Mount of Olives, He hasn’t actually returned to the earth, and that return will only occur once. (Sort of; there’s actually reason to believe He’ll go back and forth from the throne room in outer space to the earth throughout the Millennium, but His triumphant return will be a one-time occurrence.)
So the next time someone tries to disprove that the Rapture will happen before the end of the Tribulation by telling you Jesus is only going to return once, tell them they’re absolutely correct about Him only returning one time, but that the Rapture will still happen long before the Tribulation ends. Of course, odds are they’ll then try to assert any number of the other myths and misunderstandings about the Rapture that many Christians hold to, but if so, you can just send them to this post to learn more about what else they’ve gotten wrong about the topic as well.