Our Blessed Hope


A.     Introduction:  We are taking time to clear up misinformation about the end times
     which has created fear and confusion among Christians.
     1.     There are several reasons for controversy over the Second Coming of Jesus, all
          of which are connected with how people read and use the Bible.
          a.     There is no one definitive verse which states how and when all the end time
               events will occur.  You must look at everything the Bible says.
          b.     Many who study end times do not take the Bible literally.  (example: Jesus
               is coming in the clouds; clouds = the Church)
     2.     However, when you take the sum total of all the verses about the Second
          Coming and read them in the context of the whole Bible, taking those verses
          literally when possible, this is the sequence of end time events we find.
          a.     Jesus will come in the clouds and take Christians off the earth in an event
               called the rapture.  He will take us to heaven for seven years.
          b.     During those seven years, the tribulation will occur.  The Antichrist will
               come to power as the head of a one world government and religion. God
               will pour out His wrath in a series of increasingly severe judgments.
          c.     At the end of the tribulation, Jesus will come back to earth with His saints
               and put an end to the Antichrist and his government.  Then Jesus will set
               up an earthly kingdom and rule and reign out of Jerusalem during a
               thousand year period of peace and prosperity called the millennium.
          d.     At the end of those thousand years, Jesus will take us into eternity.
     3.     We are focusing on whether or not there is a rapture of the Church and, if so,
          when is it in relation to the tribulation? (pretrib, midtrib, or posttrib)
     4.     The Bible clearly states that the entire Church will be taken off the earth by
          Jesus prior to the tribulation in what we call the pretribulation rapture.
          a.     There are many voices saying many things against this Bible teaching.
          b.     We can't answer them all point by point -- not because there aren't
               answers, but because there are so many different ideas.
          c.     What we can do is give you a Second Coming, end times, framework from
               the Bible which you can use to assess the different ideas you hear.
     5.     In the last lesson, we began to look at how to consider the pretrib rapture of
          the Church in light of major Bible themes.
          a.     A major NT theme is that Christians are united to Christ as truly as a
               branch is to a vine, a body is to a head, and a bride is to her husband.
               John 15:5; I Cor 12:27; Eph 5:28-32
          b.     It is inconsistent with the relationship Christ has with His Body that He
               would put all or part of it through the tribulation. Rev 6:15-17; Eph 5:29
          c.     Some say we must go through the tribulation to be purified.  But, that is
               contrary to the NT theme that it is Christ's blood and His Word that
               purify us.  As far as God is concerned, we are pure and holy in His sight
               because of what Jesus did for us on the Cross. Eph 1:4,5; Rom 8:29,30;
               I Cor 1:30; Col 1:22; Eph 5:27-29; Titus 3:5; John 15:2,3; I John 1:7
     6.     In this lesson, we want to look at what Paul taught about the rapture.  Jesus
          taught Paul about the Rapture. Acts 26:16; Gal 1:11,12; I Cor 15:51; Eph 3:3

B.     Acts17:1-15--Paul preached the gospel at Thessalonica, the capital of Macedonia.
     1.     Paul was forced to leave after four weeks when persecutions broke out.
          a.     Paul went to Berea and Athens, ending up in Corinth, where he stayed for
               one and a half years.  Early in his stay at Corinth, Paul wrote I and II
               Thessalonians.  They are his earliest epistles.
          b.     The letters were written to comfort and encourage these new believers, and
               to deal with some issues concerning the Second Coming.
     2.     Paul was only with the Thessalonians for four weeks, yet he taught them about
          the Second Coming.  It is a foundational teaching. I Thess 1:9,10; Heb 6:1,2
          a.     Paul mentions the coming of the Lord in every chapter of I Thess. 1:10;
               2:19; 3:12,13; 4:13-18 (most lengthy passage on rapture); 5:1-11;23
          b.     4:17--Word rapture is caught = HARPAZO = RAPTUS in Latin Bible.
     3.     Based on what Paul taught the Thessalonians, they fully expected the rapture
          to occur soon.  They were concerned about what would happen to their loved
          ones who died before the rapture took place.
          a.     I Thess 4:13-18--Paul made it clear to them that he believed they all,
               including him, were going to be caught up with the Lord. v15,17
          b.     Paul did not answer their concerns with -- Oh, you misunderstood me!!  
               There's no chance of the rapture happening, there is no rapture, etc.
     4.     Some say the Church has to go through the tribulation to be purified, to be
          ready to meet the Bridegroom without spot or wrinkle.  But, we find nothing
          like that in these letters to the Thessalonians.  In fact, we find the theme that
          God has made us ready for the coming of Christ and will keep us to that day.
     5.     These people were experiencing great tribulation and suffering. 1:6; 2:14-16
          a.     3:1-5--Paul sent Timothy (Timotheus) to comfort and establish them.
          b.     Paul says nothing like -- This is good for you!!  It will purge you, perfect
               you.  He is concerned over what the devil might do to their faith.
          c.     3:10--Ministers of the gospel perfect faith not tribulation. Eph 4:11,12
          d.     3:12,13--Increased love from God for others would stablish (steadfastly
               set; strengthen) them in holiness unto the coming of the Lord, not trials.
     6.     I Thess 5:23--Paul ended his letter of encouragement by praying that God
          would preserve them blameless to the coming of the Lord.
          a.     God, not tribulation, made them and us blameless through the Blood of
               Christ and God kept them and will keep us blameless. Eph 1:4,5; Col 1:22
          b.     5:27--The Thessalonians were already holy!  Jesus was their holiness!!
     7.     Paul also made it clear to the Thessalonians that the Church will not, should
          not be surprised by the rapture. I Thess 5:1-11
          a.     v2--Day of the Lord is the second phase of the Second Coming.  Day of
               the Lord is used about 20 times in the OT.  It refers to a time of great
               tribulation followed by a time of peace, prosperity when Messiah comes.
          b.     It always refers to the second phase of the Second Coming of Christ.
               Note, Paul already taught them about this.
          c.     v3,4--The Day of the Lord will surprise the world (unbelievers) but not the
               Church.  Why?  We will be, are, to be looking for Christ's return. v6
          d.     I Thess 1:10--wait = persistent, sustained, expectant waiting.  (Bible theme)
          e.     But, doesn't the Bible say that no man know the day, etc. Matt 24:36
               1.     This was spoken about judgment on Israel during the tribulation.
               2.     When Jesus compared His coming to that of a thief, it was a warning
                    of judgment. Matt 24:43; I Thess 5:2; II Pet 3:10
           f.     Signs of the end will be obvious to Christians, especially as we see the signs
               for phase two falling into place.
     8.     Tone of I Thess:  imminency of Christ's return; imminent = ready to take place.
          a.     Two times in this letter with the most detailed description of the rapture,
               Paul told them that Christians would escape the wrath to come. 1:10; 5:9
          b.     He told them to comfort and exhort each other with this information.  If
               Christ is not coming for the Church until the middle or end of the
               tribulation, then there is no comfort in the rapture teaching. 4:18, 5:11

C.     Not long after Paul sent this first letter, a number of them came to believe the Day
     of the Lord had already begun.  Paul wrote a second letter to correct that error.
     1.     1:3-10--Paul began by encouraging them in their trials.  Note these points:
          a.     He told them their response to their troubles was evidence of salvation --
               they have life from God on the inside strengthening them to stand.
          b.     Jesus will come to judge the ungodly -- not to purify His Church.
          c.     This is a very different coming of Jesus than what Paul described in
               I Thess 4:13-17.  Remember, there are two phases to the Second Coming.
          d.     v7--Our end time fate is rest = lit: relaxation, relief.
               1.     If so be that it is just of God to repay affliction to those afflicting you,
                    and to you who are being afflicted, ease, with us, at the unveiling of
                    the Lord Jesus. (Cont Lit)
               2.     And to you who are being afflicted, there is a surcease from this stress
                    and strain [due to your persecutions] in the relaxing anticipation of the
                    revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven. (Wuest)
     2.     Paul then began to deal with the false idea that the Day of Christ (lit: Day of
          the Lord), the tribulation had already begun.  Note these things:
          a.     v2--They had received a forged message which gave them this wrong idea.
          b.     v2--Inaccurate teaching about the return of Jesus will cause you to be
               shaken and troubled (lit: frightened).
          c.     v1--We see both phases of the Second Coming: our gathering unto Him
               (rapture) and the coming of our Lord (His glorious appearing in
               judgment--v8; Matt 24:30).
     3.     v3--Paul told them the Day of the Lord had not, could not, have begun yet.
          Two events had to precede that Day, neither of which had yet     occurred.  There
          first had to be a falling away, and, second, the man of sin had to be revealed.
     4.     The Greek word translated a falling away is APOSTAIA, and it has two
          meanings or interpretations: 1.  falling away; rebellion.  2.  departure.
          a.     The true Church of Jesus Christ will not be in apostasy when Jesus comes.  
               The Bride will be eagerly awaiting her Groom.  However, the beginnings of
               a false church are already in existence today.  That church will be in total
               apostasy -- ripe for the Antichrist.
          b.     Root word of APOSTAIA is APHISTEMI = to go away, depart, remove.
               1.     The root verb is used 15 times in the Bible, and only three times does
                    it mean a falling away.  It is most often translated depart = a person
                    departing from one place to another.
               2.     Many Bibles translate it that way: Tyndale, Wuest, Amp (margin).
               3.     Do not begin to allow anyone to lead you astray in any way, because
                    that day shall not come except the aforementioned departure [of the
                    church to heaven] comes first... (Wuest)
          c.     Paul told the Thessalonians that the Day of the Lord, the tribulation,
               couldn't begin until there was a departure = the rapture of the Church.
     5.     v3,4--The man of sin is the Antichrist.  We know this because other verses tell
          us he will declare himself to be God. Dan 8:23-25; 9:27; Matt 24:15
     6.     v5--Paul reminds them of what he has already explained to them, that the
          Antichrist cannot be revealed until the Church is gone.
          a.     There is a restraint on the Antichrist and when he can be revealed.
               1.     v6,7--Withholdeth, letteth, let = KATECHO = to hold down.
               2.     It literally reads:  You know who is withholding the Antichrist.  He
                    who is withholding the Antichrist will continue to do so until He is
                    taken out of the way.
          b.     v7--That restrainer is a He.  Only God is powerful enough to hold back
               satan from working through the Antichrist.  He is the Holy Spirit who will
               be removed when the Church is removed at the departure of the Church.
          c.     The Holy Spirit was poured out on the Church in Acts 2, and will remain
               with us forever (John 14:16).  When we go, He goes.
     7.     v15--Paul told them to hold on to what they had been taught.
          a.     He encouraged them to wait for the Lord.  3:5--May the Lord direct your
               hearts into [realizing and showing] the love of God, and into the
               steadfastness and patience of Christ in waiting for His return. (Amp)
          b.     v6-15--Paul deals with a situation that had developed in the Church --
               people not working.  Some critics say that the pretrib rapture teaching
               makes people passive and ineffective Christians.  If that were so, this
               would have been the perfect place for Paul to correct this error.
          c.     3:17--Paul signed the letter so they would know it was genuine.

D.     When you are presented with information that undermines the pretribulation
     rapture, ask yourself -- Are they using scripture?  
     1.     If so, how much?  Are they reading in context and taking it literally?
          a.     Always remember -- everything in the Bible was written by someone to
               someone about something.
          b.     You must determine that context first. Matt 24:37; Gen 6:21
     2.     What about visions or messages from angels or government information?
          a.     Does that information contradict the clearly spelled out end time scenario
               in the word of God?  If so, reject it.
          b.     Does the information contradict major Bible themes.  If so, reject it.
     3.     If your only source of information about end times was the NT taken literally,
          you'd never conclude that the Church is going through the tribulation.
          a.     You would never get the idea that Christians are to take over the
               government and establish the kingdom of God on the earth.
          b.     You'd get the idea that we are to live our lives in obedience to God, as we
               look for that blessed hope, the return of Jesus for His Body, the Church.
               Titus 2:11-13

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