THE END TIMES: THE RAPTURE–WHO AND WHEN?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!