Rapture/Who & When


A.     Introduction:  We are taking time to clear up misinformation about the end times
     which has created fear and confusion among Christians.
     1.     Some say you can't know for sure what's going to happen because there are so
          many different ideas about end times.  But, that idea is wrong.
          a.     The Bible has at least twice as much to say about the Second Coming of
               Jesus as His first coming -- and His first coming is clearly spelled out.
          b.     All the OT prophets wrote about the Second Coming, and, out of 27 NT
               books, only four of them do not mention the Second Coming.
          c.     The Second Coming is a foundational truth of Christianity. Heb 6:1,2
          d.     We are supposed to be looking for Jesus.  That is a Bible theme. I Cor 1:7;
               Phil 3:20; 4:5; I Thess 1:9,10; Titus 2:11-13; Heb 9:28; 10:25; James 5:7-9;
               I Pet 4:7; II Pet 3:10-12 (hasting = eagerly desiring, eagerly awaiting)
     2.     There are several reasons for the controversy over the end times, none of which
          should stop us from learning about it.
          a.     There is no one definitive verse that any body can turn to to prove their
               point.  You must look at everything the Bible says about the end times.
          b.     Many who study end times do not take the Bible literally and / or they take
               verses out of context and draw faulty conclusions.
     4.     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 clearly spelled out in the Bible:
          a.     Jesus will come in the clouds and take His church off the earth in an event
               called the rapture.  He will take us to heaven for the next seven years.
          b.     During the seven years that the church is in heaven, the tribulation will
               occur on earth.  The Antichrist will come to power as the head of a one
               world government and religion, God will pour out His wrath.
          c.     At the end of the tribulation, Jesus will come to earth with His saints (the
               Second Coming) to put an end to the Antichrist and his government.
          d.     Then Jesus will set up an earthly kingdom and rule and reign out of
               Jerusalem during a thousand year period of world peace and prosperity.
          e.     At the end of the thousand years Jesus will take us into eternity.
     5.     To accurately understand end time events, you must follow these guidelines:
          a.     You must examine all the verses concerning the end times, take them
               literally when possible, and you must read them in context.
          b.     You must realize there are three distinct groups of people each of whom
               has a part and a place in end time events -- Jews, Gentiles, and the Church.
          c.     You must realize there are two stages to the Second Coming.
     6.     In this lesson, we want to continue to deal with the rapture of the Church.

B.     It is most correctly called the rapture of the Church because Jesus is coming in
     the clouds for His Church to take them off the earth back to heaven with Him.
     1.     There are three primary NT passages dealing with the rapture of the Church.
          John 14:1-3; I Cor 15:51-53; I Thess 4:13-18
     2.     When Jesus comes in the clouds for His Church He will have with Him all
          saved people who have died over the past 2,000 years.
          a.     Their bodies will be resurrected, transformed (glorified, made like Jesus),
               and reunited with them.
          b.     The bodies of those Christians who are alive on the earth at that time will
               also be transformed (glorified, made like Jesus), and they will be snatched
               up into the clouds with Christ and the others.
     3.     We get the word RAPTURE from the word RAPTUS found in the Latin
          translation of the NT. I Thess 4:17
     4.     At least four major things will happen because of the rapture.
          a.     We will receive the last part of our salvation -- new bodies which are free
               from corruption and beyond the touch of dead. Phil 3:20.21; I John 3:2
          b.     We will appear before the BEMA of Christ to receive rewards. II Cor 5:10
          c.     The marriage of Christ to His Bride, the Church, will take place.
          d.     We will be taken off the earth before the tribulation begins.

C.     Who's going in the rapture?  The Church!  If you're saved, you're going!
     1.     People argue about this because they don't consider the issue in light of major
          Bible themes.  A theme is a topic or concept found over and over in the Bible.
     2.     A major Bible theme which gives us understand of the rapture is the fact that
          when you were saved, you didn't just get something, you become something.
          a.     You became a particular member of Christ's Body. John 15:5; I Cor 12:27
               1.     The mystery of the Church is that there is a living, vital union between
                    Christ and every believer. Eph 5:28-32
               2.     That union made you a literal son of God. I Cor 1:30--But you, by
                    your union with Christ Jesus, are God's offspring. (20th Cent)
          b.     Jesus is well aware of this union even if we aren't.  Jesus called the
               Christians whom Paul persecuted ME (Acts 9:7).  
          c.     When you understand that Jesus is coming for His Body you can see it
               makes no sense that He would leave a few toes or fingers behind.
     3.     People argue over who is going in the rapture because they don't understand
          that being raptured is not a privilege you earn by good behavior.  It is part of
          the salvation Christ purchased for you.  It comes by grace, not by works.
          a.     At the rapture we receive the last part of our salvation -- glorified bodies
               like Jesus's body. Phil 3:20,21; I John 3:2
          b.     Your glorified body isn't earned by being spiritual.  It is part of your
               salvation.  It is coming to you whether you know it or believe it.
          c.     The ultimate goal of salvation is to make us sons of God conformed to the
               image of Christ, and the rapture and the resurrection of the dead will
               complete that process. Eph 1:4,5; Rom 8:29,30
     4.     Many scriptures promise us the final part of our salvation. Rom 8:15-24
          a.     Rom 8:30--We will be glorified when we get our glorified body.
          b.     Eph 1:13,14--And because of what Christ did, all you others too, who
               heard the Good News about how to be saved, and trusted Christ, were
               marked as belonging to Christ by the Holy Spirit, who long ago had been
               promised to all of us Christians.  His presence within us is God's guarantee
               that he really will give us all that he promised; and the Spirit's seal upon us
               means that God has already purchased us and that he guarantees to bring
               us to himself.  This is just one more reason for us to praise...God. (Living)
          c.     I Pet 1:5--Who are being guarded (garrisoned) by God's power through
               [your] faith [till you fully inherit that final] salvation that is ready to be
               revealed [for you] in the last time. (Amp)
     5.     Does this mean you can live any way you want to?  Certainly not!  You can't
          live any way you want rapture or no rapture. I John 2:6; I Cor 6:19,20
          a.     Looking for Jesus is supposed to have a purifying effect on you because
               you love Him and want to please Him. I John 3:3
          b.     Always remember, when you see Jesus you will face Him as a finished
               work in progress, and He will finish what He began in you.
          c.     Phil 1:6--And I am sure that God who began the good work within you
               will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is
               finally finished on that day when Jesus returns. (Living)
     6.     I Cor 15:51--Paul made the statement "WE shall ALL changed" to an
          extremely carnal church. 1:11; 5:1,2; 6:1-7; 11:18-22
          a.     What about the Christian who isn't living right?  Why aren't they living
               right?  Are they truly saved?  Examine yourself. II Cor 13:5
          b.     What about the parable of the ten virgins or the two men in the field, one
               is taken and the other is left? Matt 24P40,41; 25:1-13  
          c.     Those scriptures have nothing to do with the Church or the rapture.  They
               are a warning to Israel, the Jews, to be ready for the Second Coming.

D.     When will the rapture take place:  before, during, or after the tribulation?
     1.     There is no one verse which answers that question.  We must look at all verses
          on the subject, take them literally, and read them in light of Bible themes.
     2.     One argument brought up by some who believe Christians are going through
          the tribulation is that we must go through it to be cleansed and purged.
          a.     After all, Jesus is coming back for a Church without sport or wrinkle and
               the fires of the tribulation will burn the impurities out of us.
          b.     But, that idea is contrary to basic Bible themes:  union, sonship.
     3.     God's plan was to have a family made of holy and blameless sons.  He
          accomplished that through the Cross of Christ. Eph 1:4,5; Rom 8:29,30
          a.     I Cor 1:30--For it is from God alone that you have your life through
               Christ Jesus.  He shows us God's plan of salvation; he was the one who
               made us acceptable to God; he made us pure and holy and gave himself to
               purchase our salvation. (Living)
          .     We are united to Jesus and He is our life, our righteousness, our holiness.
     4.     If you are born again, you are without spot or wrinkle in the eyes of God.
          (Remember position and experience.)
          a.     Col 1:22--He has done this through the death on the Cross of his own
               human body, and now as a result Christ has brought you into the very
               presence of God, and you are standing there before him with nothing left
               against you -- nothing left that he could even chide you for. (Living)
          b.     God cleansed you when you were born again based on Christ's sacrifice on
               the Cross. Eph 5:25-27; Titus 3:5; John 15:5; I John 1:7
          c.     It's not the tribulation that makes us acceptable to God, it's His work in us
               because of what Jesus did on the Cross.
     5.     His work is so effective it will keep you 'til Jesus comes for you at the rapture.
          a.     I Cor 1:8--And he will establish you to the end -- keep you steadfast, give
               you strength, and guarantee your vindication, that is, be your warrant
               against all accusations or indictment --[so that you will be] guiltless and
               irreproachable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah. (Amp)
          b.     I Thess 5:23(b)--And may your spirit and soul and body be kept strong
               and blameless until that day when our Lord...comes back again. (Living)
          c.     Jude 24--And he is able to keep you from slipping and falling away, and to
               bring you, sinless and perfect, into his glorious presence with mighty  
               shouts of everlasting joy. (Living)
          d.     I John 4:17--In this [union and communion with Him] love is brought to
               completion and attains perfection with us, that we may have confidence
               for the day of judgment -- with assurance and boldness to face Him --
               because as He is, so are we in this world. (Amp)
     6.     Matt 24:21,22--Jesus said the tribulation will be worse that anything ever seen.
          a.     In Revelation (a detailed description of the tribulation) we see He is right.
          b.     In a series of increasingly severe judgments over a seven year period, God
               will pour out His wrath on the earth. Rev 6:1; 12-17
          c.     Why would Christ put His Body, His Bride, through those horrors?  Why
               would God put His blood-bought children through those horrors?
               1.     God's promise to the Church is to deliver us from the wrath to come.
                    Rom 5:9; I Thess 1:10; 5:9; Rev 3:10
               2.     Sodom and Gomorrah could not be destroyed until righteous Lot was
                    removed.  Our righteous exceeds Lot's. Gen 19:16;22; Ezek 14:14
     7.     The BEMA of Christ is the final preparation for our marriage to Christ.
          a.     Shortly after the rapture Christians will appear before the BEMA.
          b.     Jesus will examine the works we've done, what we've built on the
               foundation of Christ in our lives.  He'll examine motives. I Cor 3:11-15
          c.     Our works will either stand the fire of Christ's penetrating gaze and we will
               be rewarded, or they will be burned up and we will lose rewards.
          d.     Rev 19:7-9--The marriage of the Lamb.  The Bride has made herself ready.
               1.     v8--She is dressed in white, fine linen = the righteousness of the saints.
                    (righteousness is plural = righteousnesses or righteous deeds).
               2.     This is not the righteousness of Christ, this is what survived the
                    BEMA.  All that did not bring glory to Jesus was removed then.

E.     Conclusion:  We have not said all there is to say, but consider these points.
     1.     Titus 2:13--The coming of Jesus for the Church is a blessed hope.  Hope is
          confident expectation of coming good.
     2.     If we have to face all or even part of the horrors of the tribulation, the rapture
          ceases to be a blessed hope.
     3.     We are to be looking for Jesus.  That is a Bible theme.  If the rapture occurs
          any time other than before the tribulation, we end up looking for the
          tribulation and the Antichrist.
     4.     Read the epistles as we study this series.  Take note of what these first
          Christians were looking for -- a blessed hope!!  Jesus coming in the clouds to
          take them away!!  That's what we should be looking for!!

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