A young friend asked me to do a very simple teaching on the rapture, for him to share with a friend, and I realized there are no doubt many who are in the same position, so here we go!
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. ( I Thessalonians 4:13-18)
When the Apostle Paul and his team went to Thessalonica to preach Christ, they were only able to be with the newly planted church for four weeks, before persecution drove them out of town.
What does an Apostle teach new Christians when he only has four weeks to teach them? It is surprising what all Paul taught them, in that short time. He spoke of Repentance, the End Times, the Apostasy, the Man of Sin, the coming God sent delusion, The Parousia, and Apocalypse, and in his letters he constantly reminded them ” … Remember when I was with you I told you these things”?
By modern standards these are far too heavy of subjects to put on “baby Christians”, they supposedly need only the milk, the basics, we don’t want to upset them with “endgames” subjects, instead give very child like teachings on Love, relationships, and tons of Grace’
This is not how the Apostle to the Gentiles approached it. He loaded the new church down on Eschatology, (The Study of the End of things).
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, the Thessalonians endured and even grew through much persecution. I truly wonder how those who disdain prophecy, endtimes, and teaching of repentance are going to fare?
- What is the Rapture? It is the Harpazo, the snatching away. In the verse above, which tells us that we who are alive at the time of the Second Coming of Jesus, will be “Caught Up” to meet the LORD in the air. The Greek word for “Caught up” is “Harpazo” and it means to be snatched up with a swift and irresistible force.
This is how those who are alive at the Second Coming will leave this world. We will be snatched up unto God, by God, to be with Him.
It has happened before.
The Book of Genesis speaks of the days of Noah, and it discusses certain ancestors of Noah who preceded Him. Methuselah, whose name means “When he goes it shall come” was a living prophecy. The year He died, the flood came upon the earth.
Enoch walked with God and was not, for God took Him.
By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. ( Hebrews 11:5)
Elijah was taken up unto heaven in a whirlwind of fire.
Finally, Jesus himself was caught up unto God, after his resurrection in Acts 1.
And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. ( Acts 1:9-11)
Jesus is coming back to this earth in the same way that He was taken up, bodily, in the flesh. He is coming to Judge the World in Righteousness.
2) The Rapture is an installment of the Resurrection. I Corinthians 15 tells us of the doctrine of the resurrection. We believe in the resurrection of the dead, and in life everlasting! But there is a precise order to the resurrection; Christ is the first born from among the dead, the saints in Jerusalem came next, and at his coming, those who had died in Christ shall be raised, and finally, we who are alive and remain until Jesus comes.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. ( I Corinthians 15:22-23)
Jesus has conquered death in all of it’s forms, physical as well as moral and spiritual death. Thus there of necessity must be a resurrection of the dead. Even the sinners who died in their sins must be resurrected, at the end, for their judgment.
3)The Rapture is when we will be finally glorified. Salvation is a process. We have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved in the future. I refer to Justification, ( past tense), Sanctification (This is occurring now, day by day) and glorification (future).
Jesus died to justify me before God. He took responsibility for all of my sin when he died on the cross, and his resurrection is the token of my acceptance before God.
But, for us also, to whom it ( Righteousness) shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:24-25)
Now we are in right standing with God, Jesus has purchased it for us.
But, we are not yet morally perfect. Our soul is still very sinful and fallen, even after all these years as a Christian. Upon conversion, we are called to a discipleship, which lasts a lifetime, in which the Holy Spirit is empowering and changing us as regards to sin. We are not yet complete, but moving in that direction by the Spirit. God is sanctifying us. Jesus died to make this happen for us.
Finally, my body is far from Holy. It is dying, decaying and still has passions and desires which are yet sinful.
But, salvation is a complete work. At the Rapture, even this body is going to be changed, and glorified.
And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. ( 1 Corinthians 15:49-54)
4) The rapture is the Escape … All Salvation is a form of Escape. “Out of Egypt have I called my Son”. Think about this motif of escape in the Bible; Noah and his family escaped the Flood, Lot and his daughters escaped the overthrow of Sodom and Gommorah, we are soon going to celebrate Passover, in which the nation of Israel escaped bondage in Egypt.We are promised in many places in the Bible that we too will escape.
And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. ( Luke 21:34-36)
Not everyone will escape, as in all of the escapes I mentioned above in the Bible. The Egyptians didn’t escape, neither did the men and women of Sodom and Gommorah, and the World before the flood all perished but eight.
Who can escape? Who will get out of this dying planet before the Judgments begin to come as described in the Revelation? Only those who know Jesus, and have made their peace with God through the cross.
More on this subject to come…