My Sermon today entitled “Rapture Ready?” is about the next most significant event in the Churches Calendar, – The Rapture of the Church, or the catching away of the Church. The word “Rapture” itself is nowhere to be found in the Bible, but if you think of it there are many words in regular use in the Churches liturgy and practice, which are not in the Bible either. The word “Trinity” is not in the Bible, yet we understand the importance and significance of such a word. To quote accurately the apostle Paul’s comments on the subject we need to turn to
1st Thessalonians, Chapter 4 and at verses 16 & 17, where Paul says:
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord”.
In 1st Corinthians, Chapter 15 at verses 51 & 52 he adds
“Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible,
and we shall be changed”.
So that we can conclude that this “rapture or catching away” of the Church will be done quickly in the “twinkling of the eye”. There will be no prior notice, no advance warning, it will all happen in a split second.
If that is so, and there is no reason to doubt the Scriptures, nor the accuracy of these prophetic words, then the remaining population of this world is in for a sudden, shattering shock, the magnitude of which will shake the world to its core, as it has never been shaken before.
Let me explain what will happen, as the Bible describes it, so that you might reflect on whether or not, YOU are “Rapture Ready?”
What I’m saying today is … He’s Coming, Are You Going?
In the first place let us focus on
THE PARTICIPANTS who will be INVOLVED IN THIS EVENT
The Saviour Will Be Involved – While He was here on the earth, the Lord Jesus said that the angels would gather the elect at the Second Coming, Matt. 13:26-27. However, in the Rapture, Jesus will send no angels or other heavenly representatives. He will come to take His bride Himself. The One Who died to redeem the bride on the cross is the One who returns to rapture the bride from the world. Note: This fits in accurately with Jewish tradition! In the land of Israel the bridegroom, after completing a place for himself and his bride in the Father’s house, usually would go with his friends to get his bride and bring her home to his Fathers house for the wedding.
Paul says that His coming will be accompanied by:
A Shout – This refers to a military command. Jesus is calling the hosts of Heaven to assemble for military action against the domain of the enemy: the air – Eph. 6:12. (Satan is the prince of the power of the air) – Eph 2:2. Of course, this shout has another emphasis. Jesus promised that there would come a day when the dead would hear His voice – John 5:25. It was this shout that was heard by Lazarus, even in death,
a shout that brought him back to life.
Paul says also that His coming will be accompanied by:
The Trumpet of God – Throughout Jewish history, the trumpet was used for many different, but important reasons.
To announce the feasts … To announce various celebrations …To announce a sacred assembly …
To sound an alarm during a time of war …
To assemble a crowd…
There seems to be a two-fold purpose here:
One. To assemble the people of God – Ex. 19:16-19
Two. To signal His deliverance of them -Zech.1:16
The Saints Will Be Involved – When the rapture takes place, it will involve all those who are saved by the grace of God, both past and present. It will not be an event for a select few super-saints.
It will be a time when everyone who has truly trusted Jesus as their personal Saviour will leave this world together.
There are two statements that need to be made right here!
The rapture will include ALL the saints!
There is no such thing as a partial rapture. There will be many who we may not think should be allowed go. If they are saved, they will make the trip. Just for the record, none of us deserves to go! The only way any of us goes is through faith in the Lord Jesus and in His finished work, His death & Resurrection; Eph. 2:8-9; and Rom.10:9-10.
This rapture will include ONLY the saints!
There will be many fine, moral and religious people who will not be taken when Jesus comes. They may be church members. They may be kind and good people morally, but if they have never trusted in Jesus as their sin bearer and Saviour, then they will not be leaving this world in the rapture. One of the tragedies of that day will be that many will be left behind who thought they were ready.
Don’t hope you are ready, be sure you are.
Secondly let us examine
THE POWER INVOLVED IN THIS EVENT
There Will Be The Power Of Resurrection – The Thessalonian believers, believed in the immediate return of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, they were afraid that their fellow believers who had already died had missed out on the rapture, and on heaven as well.
They seemed to believe that death was the end and that only those alive when Jesus returned would go to Heaven. So then Paul writes this passage in 1 Thess 4: 13-18, to let them know that there is coming a day when even the dead will rise again.
The same God who moved in power to create the world and all that is within it, is the same One who will raise the bodies of the dead. When you consider the millions who have died in faith over the last 2,000 years and when you think about the fact that many bodies have long since turned to dust, it boggles the mind. However, I do not have to understand the mechanics of the event to be blessed by it! All you and I need to know is that we serve a God who is able to exert this kind of power, Eph. 3:20
This should comfort our hearts as it did the hearts of those believers 2,000 years ago, (v. 18). All those believers we have known and loved who have preceded us into death will one day have their bodies raided from the dead! By the way, not a single one of them is in the grave today, 2 Cor. 5:8. When Jesus comes for their Bodies, He will bring their Spirits with Him. They will receive a new, glorified body and will be taken up from the earth to be transported with us, all together to the glory. Hallelujah!
There Will Be The Power Of Rapture – Paul tells us that those who are alive when the rapture comes will be “caught up“. This phrase comes from a word in the Greek that refers to “a strong, irresistible and violent act“. It literally means, “To seize by force, to carry off by force, to claim for oneself eagerly.” In the rapture, the Lord Jesus will claim His bride by force!
It is interesting to note that this word conveys the idea of force. Certainly, there is within the heart of the redeemed a desire to depart and to go to Heaven. However, there are forces that would hinder our departure if they could. Among them are the strong pulls of sin, the influence of the flesh, the world and the devil. All these would conspire to keep us here. However, when Jesus comes, there will be no staying! He will catch away that which He has redeemed by His blood and He will take it home to glory. Praise God, no force will be able to prevent us, He’s coming for us!
No force will be able to hold us here when He does come.
The bottom line is this: when He comes we go!
It is at that moment in time when the saints will forever lose these fleshly bodies. We will be changed, 1 Cor. 15:51-52 and we will be made like Jesus, 1 John 3:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:42-57. To me, just getting a glorified body will be as good as going to Heaven, can you Imagine what that body will be like?
Thirdly let us consider
THE PROMISE INVOLVED IN THIS EVENT
There Is The Promise Of Rescue – When Jesus makes His glorious appearance, the Bible says that He will come in the “air“. This is significant! According the New Testament, the “air” is the abode of the devil and his demonic hordes, Eph. 2:2; 6:12. In fact, this world is under the dominion of the devil, 2 Cor. 4:4. When Jesus comes, He will comes directly through enemy territory. He will call up His Bride into the realm of the enemy and He will lead her safely and triumphantly through the devil’s territory as a display of His power and victory over all the powers of evil! We could never get out of here on our own!
He will take us safely through all the way to glory!
It is also worthy to note that He will take His church out of the world before He judges the world in the Tribulation, Rom. 5:9, & Rev. 4:1. We will be rescued from this earth before the wrath
of God is unleashed against it!
Then There Is The Promise Of Reunion – The phrase “together with them” implies the fact that you and I will enjoy a blessed reunion with those we have seen taken in death. We all have loved ones on the other side that we long to see! We will see them then!
Then There Is The Promise Of Revelation – But wait, the Bible also says this: “and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” As glorious as a reunion with our departed loved ones may be, it pales in comparison to seeing Jesus Christ, the One who gave His life
on the cross for our redemption. Imagine seeing Him for the first time! Imagine seeing the marks in His body where He bore our sins on the cross, Rev. 5:9, & 1 Pet. 2:24. Imagine seeing His
face, hearing His voice and being welcomed into His Heaven.
What a day, glorious day, that will be.
Also There Is The Promise Of Rejoicing – verse 17 concludes with the statement, “so shall we ever be with the Lord.” This implies that you and I are going to be wherever He is forever! Whether it be in Heaven around the Father’s throne or whether it be on the earth ruling with Him for 1000 years, it will be a time of endless worship and praise. It will be a time free from sin and filled with His glory. It will be a time when all the tears are finally wiped away from our faces, Rev. 21:4. It will be Heaven. For to be with Jesus is to reside in THE place of glory!
The whole thing I am trying to say today is this: He’s coming, and He’s coming for His people. Now, the question you have to answer is this: when He comes are you going? You can, but only if you are saved! He will come again and He will remove His people. When that day comes, will you go, or will you stay? It will all depend on what you do with Jesus Christ. In the end, what He does with you hinges upon what you have done with Him!
The Rapture of the Church heralds the beginning of the seven year period of tribulation or judgement which is coming upon the whole world. Right now, we are experiencing what the Bible calls “The Beginnings of Sorrows” Matthew 24:8, and I weep to God when I think of those who I know and love who might be left behind to experience,
and go through what the Bible says are the
Twenty-One Tribulation Judgments
There are a total of twenty-one special judgments that will fall upon earth during the Tribulation period. They will come one after the other. They are in three series of sevens described as seals, trumpets, and vials
Let me explain how the Bible puts it:
The Seal Judgments: This is the beginning of the program of God to pour out judgments upon the earth. I encourage you to open your Bible and read each judgment carefully to understand the finality of God’s pronouncements. These include:
The world’s greatest dictator (Revelation 6:1-2)
The world’s greatest war (Revelation 6:3-4)
The world’s greatest famine (Revelation 6:5-6)
The world’s greatest death blow (Revelation 6:7-8)
The world’s greatest persecution (Revelation 6:9-11)
The world’s greatest ecological disaster (Revelation 6:12-17)
The world’s greatest hour of fear … actually the lull before the storm (Revelation 8:1)
That Storm can be summed up in …
The Trumpet Judgments: The trumpets of heaven sound an alarm throughout the world announcing the public judgments of God.
Each blast ushers in an added judgment. There is …
The world’s greatest fire (Revelation 8:7)
The world’s greatest oceanic disturbance (Revelation 8:8-9)
The world’s greatest pollution of water (Revelation 8:10-11)
The world’s greatest darkness (Revelation 8:12-13)
The world’s greatest pest invasion (Revelation 9:1-6)
The world’s greatest army (Revelation 9:16)
The world’s greatest storm (Revelation 11:15-19)
Finally, there will come The Vial or bowl Judgments:
The world’s greatest epidemic (Revelation 16:2)
The world’s greatest contamination by blood (Revelation 16:3-7)
The world’s greatest contamination by blood, continued
The world’s greatest scorching (Revelation 16:8-9)
The world’s greatest plague (Revelation 16:10-11)
The world’s greatest invasion (Revelation 16:12)
and The world’s greatest earthquake (Revelation 16:18)
These twenty-one judgments unleash unbelievable war, ecological disasters, and atomic catastrophe on our earth. Note this judgment in particular; Revelation 14:20 where it reads, “And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs.” According to today’s calculations, that is a river of blood two hundred miles long … the exact length of the nation of Israel. Think of it! An entire nation saturated and soaked with blood. As believers, you and I can be grateful that the Rapture is coming, because it means the Church of Jesus Christ will not be present to endure this terrible suffering. The Bride will be at home, at the marriage ceremony,
and afterward return for the supper (Revelation 19:7-16).
But what of those who are not Rapture Ready? What about your Friends and neighbours, what about your work-mates, or your play-mates, what about your family members … Jesus is Coming,
are You Going, are you going to get out in time?
NOW THIS FINAL WORD
Some of you may remember that close by the great dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, there used to stand the sombre heavy stone building called Newgate prison.
Some years ago it was pulled down to make room for a new and less gloomy building. The old building carried with it many a solemn and fearful memory which is perhaps better forgotten, but one story may serve as a sad picture of the sinner’s state.
The last execution that took place there was of a poor woman who had been sentenced to death for an awful crime.
Her last night was spent in the cell allotted to those condemned to die, and early next morning she was to suffer execution at seven o’clock.
When six o’clock came the warders went into the cell and found her quietly sleeping and smiling as she lay unconsciously so near to her death. They had not the heart to wake her, so terrible would be the awakening. So they left her for another half an hour.
Again they came, but still she slept, dreaming, as they learned afterwards, of the early days of her childhood when she lived in a village home peacefully and happily—of father and mother, of brothers and sisters, of innocent days in the field gathering buttercups or daisies, or roaming the quiet lanes in the still evenings of summer days.
The female warders stood with tears upon their cheeks as they looked upon so sad a sight. What an awakening it must be!
And indeed it was; for when, compelled by their duty, they shook the sleeping form lightly, it was to bring her back to the fearful consciousness of her crime and shame and ruin. Then there was a bitter, piercing cry, never to be forgotten by those who heard it.
There will one day be such an awakening for every sinner, when the reality of condemnation, judgment, and eternity are seen and realized.
In the Book of the Revelation we are told that some in that day will call to the rocks and the mountains to fall upon them and cover them from
the wrath of the Lamb. Rev. 6:16 & 17.
Oh, my dear friend, if you’ve not yet done it, then flee to Christ today, while salvation is offered and impending wrath is withheld!
He’s coming, are you going?