Image

Archive for Rapture

The Rapture, part 2

Ponder Christ’s upper room meeting with His disciples. He told them that He was going away to prepare a place for them and that He would return and take them to be with Him (Jn. 14:13). The promise to go away was fulfilled when Christ ascended into heaven and was seated at the right hand of the Father (Acts 1:9; Eph. 1:20). “I will return” speaks of His second coming. He told his disciples that He was returning to take them to be with Him. This merits confidence in the snatching away of believers – the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:17). Clear!

This entire truth is reinforced by Christ’s timely parable in Luke 19. Just days from the cross and knowing that the people thought the kingdom was coming right away, Christ spoke of a nobleman (Himself) who was going away to receive for himself a kingdom and return (Lk. 19:11-12). A clear match!   

Christ said to the church at Philadelphia, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Rev. 3:10). The Thessalonian church was to “wait for God’s Son from heaven – even Jesus, who will deliver us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10).Believers will be delivered from the wrath to come, not kept safe through it. There is a world of difference! We are to wait not worry. This wrath to come is not speaking of hell but the judgments to be poured out on the earth in the last day (Rev. 6-19). Revelation speaks of the great day of wrath that is to come and asks who will be able to stand (Rev. 6:17). The response to this judgment will be unbelievers calling on the mountains and the rocks to fall on them and to hide them from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb (Rev. 6:16). This is not ordinary conflicts, but the greatest anguish in world history. The only way that believers can be kept from this earthly trial or removed from the wrath to come is to not be here.

Here is more reinforced hope and comfort. “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption” (1 Cor. 15:50). We are not properly equipped to live in God’s kingdom in our physical bodies. We must be changed! “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51). Paul called this change “a mystery” – a truth once hidden in God but now revealed. The old prophets did not understand this. The mystery is that we may not all experience death. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump, for the trumpet will sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed – speaking again of the rapture (1 Cor. 15:52). A moment is the smallest divisible time that the language can use, and how long does it take for the eye to twinkle? This describes just how fast our “snatching away” will be (1 Thess. 4:17). We will vanish!

The last trumpet means just what it says. Dead believers will hear it and be raised and instantly be united living spirit with glorified body. Living believers will hear it and be instantly changed! Wow!  “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:53). The reason is stated again so we cannot miss it. Our corruptible bodies must be changed into bodies that will never go back to dust – like Christ’s glorious body (Phil. 3:21).  Our mortal bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die. “When this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’” (1 Cor. 15:54). “When” is a time word!  At the moment that this fallen corrupt body puts on a body that will never return to dust and this temporary body takes on a body designed by the Creator to last forever, then a new saying will be established – Sayings in the early church were not uncommon. This saying is Death is consumed in victory – no more death. The reoccurring thought that death must come to us is the stinger of fear plunged in our hearts by Satan. Death to the believer is not to be feared. It is graduation day. “O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Cor. 15:55). The stinger of fear is pulled out. The fear of the grave is removed.

The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Cor. 15:56). Sin’s sting (its wage), is death (Rom. 6:23), and the strength of sin (its power) is the law (Rom. 7:7). “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 15:57). No matter what happens to us in this fallen world – the good (faith, family, friends, and freedom) or the bad (wars, pandemics, tyranny, or death itself) – we will win in the end!  How then should we respond?   “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Be safe and stay tuned.

 

The Rapture, part 1

We are living through dark days, but the days will grow darker before the light comes. Paul said that the whole creation groans under the weight of what he calls “the bondage of corruption.” This corruption is the result of the sin and fall of man. This perversion has spread for centuries, generation after generation, and continues to infect the entire human race – even until today (Rom. 8:18-23). These “pangs” will steadily intensify into what Jesus calls the beginning of sorrows (Matt. 24:8). The word “sorrows” is from the same Greek word as “birth pangs” in Romans 8:22. This steady increase in sorrow is clearly shown by nation rising against nation, famines, and diseases, and earthquakes in various places (Matt. 24:7).

We are now living through an unforeseen pandemic and turmoil in our nation that brings fear to many. I don’t know about you, but as we shelter in place, it is hard to be optimistic. Paul said that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the “glory” that shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). He called this glory “hope.” We are saved in this hope of the glory that shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:23). Someone said that human beings can live without many things, but it is impossible to live without hope. What is our hope? It is to see Jesus Christ face to face. The world is now suffering through a pandemic and many less fortunate are living with unimaginable heart-gripping fear of imminent death every day. But the world has seen nothing yet. This is only a glimpse of what is to come. Revelation speaks of unprecedented sorrows unleashed in this world that will come like waves on the beach – seal judgments, trumpet judgments, and bowl judgments (Rev. 6-19). Each judgment intensifies bringing unimagined fear, sorrow, and death in unprecedented proportions.

I unashamedly cling to the position that the body of Jesus Christ (the Church) will be removed from the earth before the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation. Those who have heard the gospel and trusted by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will not have to live through the looming darkness of the seventieth week of Daniel. I recall once again the words of Gandalf from “The Return of the King,” when he said, “Hope is kindled.”

I will go through several passages in the next few days that I pray will kindle hope in us. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul wrote, “I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

Paul did not want us to be uninformed concerning believers who have already died. He did not want us to grieve as those without hope. His suggestion is clear. We do have hope! If we believe the gospel, attached to it is the fact that at His coming Jesus will bring with Him the spirits of those who sleep in Jesus – the spirits of those who have died in Christ (Zech. 14:6; 2 Cor. 5:1-5). They will be coming to be reunited with their glorified bodies – like His glorious body (Phil. 3:21), the bodies of those who will rise first. This is what is meant by, the dead in Christ will rise first. Then those who are alive when Jesus comes shall be caught up in the air. The living believers will be snatched away receiving in that moment our glorified bodies.

Oh yes, I get it! The word rapture is not used in the Bible, but the truth that the word conveys certainly is. The word “trinity” is not found either, but the truth of it surely is. “Caught up” is the Greek word arpadzo. It means to be snatched away. The word is translated into the Latin raptura! This is where we get our word “rapture.” Believers in this age who have believed in Christ will not have to endure what the Bible calls “Jacob’s trouble,” the Jews trouble (Jer. 30:7), or the fires meant to purge and purify the Jews (Mal. 3:1-3), or what Jesus and John refer to as great tribulation (Matt. 24:21; Rev. 7:14). We will not be here. What are these words meant to do? Paul ends, “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” They are comforting words, are they not! Hang with me! Stay safe and stay tuned.