THE END TIMES: THE RAPTURE
A. Introduction: There is much misiformation on the subject of the end times among
Christians, and it is creating confusion and fear. We're going to take some time
to look at the Bible and clear up these issues.
1. We've made these general statements about the end times which bear repeating.
a. When we are talking about the end times, we are talking about the return
of Jesus Christ to earth.
b. The Bible has at least twice as much to say about the Second Coming of
Jesus as His first coming.
c. The Second Coming is a basic doctrine of Christianity. Heb 6:1,2
1. Out of 27 NT books, only four of them do not refer to the Second
Coming -- Philemon, II John, III John, and Galatians.
2. Only the doctrine of salvation is mentioned more often in the Bible
than the promise of Jesus's Second Coming.
d. We are 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)
e. Everybody wants to study the Book of Revelation, but that is only a small
part of what the Bible has to say about end times.
1. Every OT prophet wrote about the Second Coming.
2. Information about the Second Coming is all through the NT.
3. To accurately understand end time events, you must follow these guidelines.
a. You must examine all the verses concerning the end times. There is no one
verse which by itself completely explains end time events.
b. You must take the Bible literally whenever possible.
1. Much of the controversy among Christians over end time events exists
in part because some Christians allegorize verses.
2. To allegorize means to give words meanings that are different than
what was meant at the time the words were written.
c. You must realize there are three distinct groups of people who will play a
part in the end times -- Jews, Gentiles, and the Church. I Cor 10:32
1. Each has a distinct part and place in end times events.
2. Confusion over end times results because people wrongly apply verses
meant for one group to another.
d. There are two stages to the Second Coming separated by seven years.
1. When we read verses about the Second Coming, they seem to
contradict each other. Matt 24:30; John 14:1-3; II Thess 1:7-9;
I Thess 4:13-18; Jude 14,15; Rev 1:7; Rev 19:11-16
2. They don't contradict, some deal with stage one, some with stage two.
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 phase one 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 those seven years that the Church is in heaven, the tribulation will
occur on earth. The Antichrist will offer himself to the world as the
bringer of peace and prosperity under a one world government and
religion. He will be received by the people of earth.
c. At the end of the seven year tribulation Jesus will come in phase two of His
Second Coming to put an end to the Antichrist and his government.
d. Then, Jesus will sit up an earthly kingdom and rule and reign out of
Jerusalem during a thousand year period of world peace and prosperity
called the millennium.
e. At the end of the thousand years Jesus will take us all into eternity.
5. This is the sequence of events (and all the related topics) we will study.
6. In this lesson, we want to deal with the rapture of the Church.
B. There are three primary NT passages dealing with the rapture of the Church.
John 14:1-3; I Thess 4:13-18; I Cor 15:51-53
1. In I Cor 15 Paul was dealing with the resurrection of the dead when he
mentioned a mystery God had revealed to him. There was coming a generation
of believers who would not see physical death. I Cor 15;51,52
a. A mystery in the Bible does not mean something that can't be figured out.
It means a truth not yet revealed by God.
b. Resurrection of the dead was not a mystery. It was taught in the OT down
to Jesus's time. Job 19:25,26; Isa 26:19; Dan 12:2; John 5:28,29
c. The idea that a group of humans would not see death = a new revelation.
2. Paul taught that a trumpet would sound and two things would happen: the
dead would be raised and all would be changed -- dead and alive. v52
a. In context, Paul is talking about something that will happen to the
physical body and to Christians --we.
b. v53,50--The body must be changed from corruptible (subject to
corruption) and mortal (death doomed) to incorruptible (beyond the touch
of sickness, again, and death).
3. Paul tells us in two other place when and how this will happen.
a. Phil 3:20,21--Paul connects this transformation with the Second Coming.
1. Jesus will change our bodies and make them like His own body.
2. Disappeared (Luke 24:31; John 20:19); moved through walls
(John 20:19;26); was recognizable (Luke 24:30,31); could be seen and
felt (Matt 28:9; Luke 24:36-42); could eat food (Luke 24:41-43).
b. I Thess 4:13-18--Paul tells us Jesus will descend from heaven. Not only
will there be a trumpet, there will be a shout and the voice of an archangel.
1. The dead in Christ will rise first = their bodies will be resurrected,
glorified, and rejoined to them. They have been with the Lord in
heaven since they died.
2. Those who are alive when this happens will be caught up with them to
meet the Lord in the air, and, their bodies will also be changed.
4. This event is called the rapture. v17--caught up = HARPAZO
a. It means to snatch or catch away; has the idea of force suddenly exercised.
b. It is used 4 times in NT. Acts 8:39; II Cor 12:4; I Thess 4:17; Rev 12:5
c. When the Greek NT was translated into Latin, HARPAZO was translated
to RAPTUS. That's where we get the word rapture from.
5. John 14:1-3--Jesus promised His followers He would come for them to take
them to where He was, where He had prepared a place for them = the rapture.
C. At least four major things will happen as a result of the rapture.
1. We will receive the last part of our salvation -- new bodies which are beyond
the touch of death. Phil 3:20,21; I John 3:2
a. The salvation Christ purchased for us on the Cross covers every part of
our being -- spirit, soul, and body.
b. Our entire salvation was purchased (provided) for us through the Cross.
c. However, there is a past, present, and future element to our salvation -- as
far as when we come into full possession of each part.
1. Past = for the spirit = new birth. It is instantaneous, an accomplished
fact, as soon as a person takes Jesus as Lord and Savior.
2. Present = for the soul = renewing the mind. It is an on going process
as we bring our mind and emotions under the control of God's word.
3. Future = for the body = glorification. Our bodies will be transformed
into bodies like Jesus's.
2. We will appear before the BEMA of Christ to receive rewards. II Cor 5:10
a. BEMA = raised platform from which prizes (rewards) were given out at
athletic events in NT times.
b. This is not a judgment for sin. Our sins were judged at the Cross. Rom 8:1
c. Good and bad can refer to sins and righteousness, but these words can also
mean usable or unusable, acceptable or unacceptable with no moral
significance. The soup is bad / good.
d. Jesus will examine our work (what we've added to, built on the foundation
of Christ in our life). He will examine motives. I Cor 3:11-15
e. 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.
3. The marriage of Christ to His Bride, the Church, will take place.
a. One picture used to describe the relationship of Christ to the Church is
marriage. We are the Bride, He is the Bridegroom. Eph 5:25-32
b. There were three stages to a Hebrew wedding in Bible times.
1. The betrothal -- the groom left his father's house and traveled to the
bride's house to pay the price to establish a marriage covenant.
2. Then the groom returned to his father's house for at least twelve
months to prepare living accommodations for his wife.
3. The groom would then come for the bride at a time not exactly known
to her to get her and bring her back to his father's house to
consummate the marriage and enjoy the wedding feast.
c. II Cor 11:2--We have been betrothed to Christ. Espoused = betrothed.
d. Now, we are waiting for Jesus to come and get us at the rapture and take
us back to Father's house for the wedding. John 14:1-3
4. We will be taken off the earth before the tribulation begins.
a. The tribulation will be a time of wrath. That wrath has nothing to do with
the Church, so we will be removed first. I Thess 5:9; 1:10; Rom 5:9
c. Rev 3:10--The Church will be kept from the hour of temptation = testing.
1. One purpose of a test, trial, temptation, is to reveal the evil in people.
2. Rev 4-19--An account of the tribulation. The Church isn't mentioned.
3. The trial that the Church will be kept from is the tribulation.
D. One thing we want to deal with in this series is the controversy surrounding end
time events which is producing confusion and fear among Christians.
1. The idea of the rapture of the Church before the tribulation is under great
attack right now. Critics say things like this:
a. The idea of a pre-trib rapture makes people passive and lazy. The Church
is supposed to take over the world.
b. Pre-trib rapture is escapism. American Christians are spoiled and don't
want to face the purging, cleansing that God is going to put us through.
c. Rapture teaching is new, based on a vision from a Scottish teenager, 1830s.
2. We don't have time to deal in detail in this lesson with every issue raised by
those objections, but consider these points.
a. People's opinions and ideas one way or the other don't matter. The issue
is -- what does the Bible say?
b. We have not looked at everything the Bible has to say, and it is already
very clear from the Bible that we are in the last days and that we are to be
looking for Jesus, expecting Jesus.
3. Looking for, expecting Jesus is supposed to have an impact on our daily lives.
a. It is to be a source of comfort and encouragement. I Thess 4:18; 5:9-11
b. It has a purifying effect on us. I John 3:2,3; I Pet 1:13-21
c. It helps us endure. I Pet 4:13,14; Heb 10:37; Rom 8:18-23
d. It helps us keep an eternal perspective. Phil 3:20,21; II Cor 4:17,18
4. Jesus's first message to the Church after He left was: I'll be back. Acts 1:11
a. Jesus knew He would not be back during the lifetime of those to whom the
first message was given, yet He gave them that message. Why?
b. There is great benefit to having the expectancy looking for Jesus creates.
c. The return of Jesus for His Church is called a blessed hope. Titus 2:13
E. Conclusion: The rapture could occur at any moment. Jesus could come today.
1. There are no signs to be fulfilled for stage one of the Second Coming to occur.
a. It is the last days and has been since NT times. Paul fully expected Jesus
to come in his life time. I Cor 15:51; Phil 3:20, 21: I Thess 4:15
b. The last portion of our salvation is ready to be revealed. I Pet 1:3-5
2. There are signs which must be fulfilled before stage two can occur, but they
could all easily be fulfilled during the seven years between stage one and two.
3. We are to be looking for Jesus, looking forward to seeing Him.
a. We will see Him as He is -- in a way we do not now see Him. I John 3:2,3
b. We will receive new bodies, enter heaven, and miss the tribulation.
c. You won't get short changed -- if you don't get married, have children, etc.
d. Phil 1:23--To be with Christ is far better!!
4. What if I don't make the rapture?
a. If you are saved, you're going. It's part of the salvation God's grace has
provided you through the Cross.
b. Jesus is coming for His Body, His Bride -- He will not leave even a little toe
5. More next week!!