The Next Resurrection
The central Message of EASTER is that of LIFE. Although we must ponder the meaning and message of the Resurrection of Jesus, we know that His was not the first and will not be the last. For we read of the raising of Lazarus in John 11, and the raising of Jairus’s daughter in Mark 5. And today’s Gospel in Mark 16, tells us of the resurrection of our Blessed Lord Jesus which we celebrate on this Easter Sunday, which are proof, if proof were needed, that Death the last enemy has been destroyed. What a morning that was, the grave was empty, the sorrow was turned into joy, the night was changed to day, the apparent end became just the beginning. Now, my dear friends, this Easter finds our world in preparation for the Next Resurrection! …and this is the Subject I have chosen for today’s study in the Scriptures.
The next resurrection will be unlike any other before, it will be the great resurrection of the Church, the calling up of the saints of God in rapture into the Glory which we call Heaven. (You will not find the word RAPTURE in the Bible but it most accurately describes the Biblical setting of the Catching Away recorded for us in 1st Thessalonians chapter 4. & 1 Corinthians 15. “When will this happen” I hear you ask. I have already said that the “world in in preparation for it” and God is getting things ready, moving things into place, and the prophetic signs spoken of in the books of Daniel, Ezekiel, Joel, and in the Gospels themselves by Jesus, are already becoming increasingly evident.
The World Economy has been shaken, the Political Structures have been shaken, the Church too is being shaken, and even the natural world is moving in step with Gods word. While all of this change is happening, we must be careful not to allow confusion to reign, and not to blame God for things which are not entirely in His hands, but in ours. We must remember that God is a God of Love and where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. These most recent upheavals of nature (Earthquakes and the likes) are a natural tragedy, and must
NOT be seen as the judgments of God!
God has already judged the sin and wickedness of this world when he placed it all on His lovely Son at Calvary. There is much confusion in theological circles and in the pulpits regarding the judgement of God and it has created an even greater confusion amongst believers in the pews. Nothing Evil can come from God. Settle that first and foremost in your mind and in your heart. – Then build your theology from that stance. God is love! It is Satan who comes to steal, kill and destroy. Satan is Hell bent on thwarting the purposes of God – both for your life and for the whole world,
And God will turn all of the Devils Evil around to fulfil his Good purposes for our humanity. Gods ways are ways of pleasantness and ALL his paths are peace: Don’t forget it!
Of course those who wilfully reject the Saviour must face Judgement.
John 10:10 states, ” The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” Natural tragedies such as Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and the like – are the results of the shifting of the earth’s plates. These plates have been slightly out of alignment since the time of Noah’s flood. The flood moved the earth’s axis causing the misalignment. According to Isaiah 13:13 and Revelation 6:12-17 the axis of the earth will be restored to its original position on the final day of the seven years of tribulation. The fulfilment of this prophesied event will bring an end to any possibility of earthquakes here during the 1000 year reign of our Lord Jesus.
But Satan’s deceptive and destructive ways have brought our world to the same place today as it was right after Calvary. There is a despondency and despair everywhere, fear has gripped many hearts, doom and gloom are the featured headlines of the world press, and the people and the politicians long for a new resurrection, a new beginning, a fresh start, and a fresh hope. Just as Easter Sunday followed Good Friday, so the Next Resurrection will follow our present day suffering and sorrows.
Now in considering the NEXT RESURRECTION, I want to examine five characteristics of that coming remarkable event,
in what I am calling:
THE SOUNDS OF THE RESURRECTION
THE SIGHT OF THE RESURRECTION
THE SAYING OF THE RESURRECTION
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RESURRECTION and
THE SUDDENNESS OF THE RESURRECTION
So then let us begin with …
THE SOUNDS OF THE RESURRECTION
In his First Epistle to the Corinthians the apostle Paul speaks of the sound of this great event and calls it “the Last Trumpet”
(1 Cor 15:52) and again he adds in 1 Thes.4:16 that there will accompany this trumpet call, a great shout of command and triumph. If you’ve ever been to a football match at a great stadium, and if you’ve been on the side of those who support the winning team, you will no doubt have experienced the awesome shout of victory when the final whistle blows? I recon that if you live in the vicinity of a great stadium , such shouts of victory are common place and can be heard a mile or more away? This is truly a remarkable noise, a mighty sound, but I can tell you that it is a whisper in comparison with the shout and sound of the next resurrection. It is not that THAT SOUND will be heard a mile or so away, but that noise will reverberate around the whole world. I don’t care how noisy your factory floor is, how loud you have your TV or Radio, how preoccupied you may be with other things, you will hear that Trumpet, and that Shout, it will truly be a sound to
“awaken the dead!”
Then consider what I am calling…
THE SIGHT OF THE RESURRECTION
The first sight will be his Personal Return – The Lord Himself will descend from Heaven says Paul in 1 Thess 4:16. Jesus is not sending the angels to bring the Church home, neither is he empowering and equipping the Church in the Holy Spirit to make it home on their own, but he is coming back HIMSELF for his body, his Church, His beloved. You will remember that when Jesus was caught up into the clouds, at his ascension, two angels stood by his apostles and said “This same Jesus, shall so come again in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11) Then Paul says, the next sight will be the Grand Reunion of the Church – those Living and those dead,
the Whole Church. Listen to what he says …”and the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” 1 Thess 4:17
This grand reunion of all the Church past and present,
will open the way to a Permanent Reward – says Paul:
“so shall we always be with the Lord”
In one of his lighter moments, Benjamin Franklin penned his own epitaph. He didn’t profess to be a born-again Christian, but it seems he must have been influenced by Paul’s teaching on the resurrection of the body. I like the way he puts it, and here’s what he wrote:
“The Body of B. Franklin, printed like the Cover of an old Book its contents torn out, and stripped of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies here, food for Worms. But the Work shall not be wholly lost: For it will, as he believed, appear once more in a new and more perfect Edition, Corrected and amended by the Author!” I like that …God is taking us home to correct and amend, restore and revise this edition, and make us a First Class treasure.
Consider now in the third place …
THE SAYING OF THE RESURRECTION
In the Gospel of John, chapter 11.v25. Jesus says “I am ….. the resurrection….and the life” Jesus is not just Resurrection but Life. He is not merely going to Resurrect or Rapture the Church so that they can change location, but rather that they can experience the completion of their Salvation.
Now you may ask …
“How do we know that there will be a Rapture?”
Hebrews 9:28 reads, “Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation“.
This verse clearly declares that Jesus’ appearance to those who
look for Him has nothing to do (this time) with their sin but with finishing their salvation. The final act of their bodies becoming incorruptible, immortal, and glorified is the finished work of salvation. T his will happen at Jesus’ appearance as He receives the Church unto Himself. 1 Cor. 15:51-53
Jesus said, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3). This statement clearly declares a change of location for Jesus’ followers. He is going to take them to be with him.
Jesus also said, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36). Without question, this statement establishes that the followers of Jesus who are watching and praying will escape by being quickly removed from their earthly scene. They will escape all the events of the future Great Tribulation and stand with Jesus. By no stretch of the imagination does the word escape mean
“to be hidden away.” It means “to go quickly out from.”
Consider other Bible truths which picture the Church in heaven. The Church will get to sit down in Jesus’ throne as He is seated with His Father in heaven. (Rev. 3:21.) John describes the Church in heaven watching the preparation of the Wedding to be followed by the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. (Rev. 19:1-10.) The prophet Zechariah tells us that the saints return with Christ from heaven on the final day of the Tribulation. (Zech. 14:5; confirmed by Rev. 17:14 and Rev. 19:14.)
No Biblical student can dispute the crystal clear picture the Bible gives of the next Resurrection, the Rapture. Do you know why? There are too many Rapture events described in the Scriptures for any honest Bible student to deny the Rapture.
I have entitled this message, The Next Resurrection, not The Last Resurrection, for there are more to come.
This brings me to my next point, namely …
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE RESURRECTION
The Whole Church of Jesus Christ, past and present will be called away, caught up to meet the Lord in the air; but there will be other callings up … other resurrections?
The Prophesy of Ezekiel 37: 1-14 speaks of The Whole House of Israel – and in Revelation 7:9-17 there is the description of those who have been Resurrected or Raptured out of the Tribulation, (the “mid-trib” rapture). Then in Rev 14:1-5 we have the Lamb returning for the 144,000 of the house of Israel caught up to join the Whole family of God – both Jew & Gentile; and in
Rev 11:12 we read of the resurrection and rapture of the
“two witnesses”. So today I am wondering if … YOU WILL BE PART OF ALL THIS, GODS GREAT RESURRECTED & RAPTURED FAMILY? Will you?
Now some have asked …
How did the word rapture come to be identified with the catching up or Resurrection of the Church?
Rapture means “the state of being carried away with joy, love, and pleasure, resulting in ecstasy.” It is often used to replace the following biblical terms: “received of the Lord: (John 14:3), “caught up to meet the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17), and “gathered together unto Him” (2 Thess. 2:1).
By studying these scriptures in the context of the rest of the Bible, we discover the events to be depicted as a joyous, comforting celebration of great magnitude, a remarkable connotation which coincides with the definition of rapture.
Any believer can use the word rapture knowing that it sums up all the joy in the Biblical phrases referring to that event.
This bring me then to my final observation, that of …
THE SUDDENNESS OF THE RESURRECTION
In 1 Cor 15:51-52 Paul writing to the Church, says
“Lo I tell you a mystery, we shall not all sleep (or die) but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,
at the last trumpet….”
The Next Resurrection will come SUDDENLY, … In a Moment, in the Twinkling of an Eye! Notice that Paul does not say in the “winking ” of an eye? It takes about a second to wink at someone, I know I’ve done it… (well not recently!)
but it takes only a fraction of a second for light to glint on the surface of the eye to twinkle. This “Suddenness of the Resurrection” baffled Preachers and Prophets for Centuries, and many assumed that the Bible was not speaking literally but figuratively. Indeed other portions of Holy writ created similar questions. Then dawned the advent of the “computer” and mans understanding of split second technology was enlightened.
I have mentioned this before, and if you have a home PC, and go into one of the standard search engines, and type in the words “houses for sale” and in about .17 of a second your computer will call up about 32 million houses for sale world wide!
Man created the Computer, God created Man!
If the Creator of our Universe, and of our World called it all into being in six days, can he not call up his Church in the “twinkling of an eye”? No Problem!
In that moment, an immediate metamorphoses will take place … “this corruptible will put on incorruption, this mortal will put on immortality, … and the dead in Christ will rise first, then we which are alive and remain will be caught up together (at their heels) with them in the air, to meet the Lord, … and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” It will be the Churches moment of Triumph, but the worlds moment of Terror and Tears. Gone will be that which restrains evil, gone will be the Church, and he who is the “prince of the power of the air” (Satan, the Devil) who cannot co-exist with the Church in the air, will be forced to the earth – free for the best part of seven years to manufacture and manage a time of great trouble and tribulation, which our Lord himself described as “nothing before like it, and nothing like it afterwards.” ( Matthew 24.21)
A period in which one third of everything on the earth, everything under the earth, everything above the earth and everything around the earth will be destroyed. ( Rev 8: 7-12) Paul himself speaking of the suddenness of this – likens it to a woman going into labour pains. (1 Thess 5:3) Suddenly and without notice, like a thief in the night, these events will begin, and they will begin with the Next Resurrection.
NOW THIS FINAL WORD.
The word “maranatha” is a Syriac expression that means: “our Lord comes.” It was used as a greeting in the early church when believers gathered or parted. They didn’t say “hello” or “goodbye” but “Maranatha!” If we had the same upward look today, it would revolutionize the church. O that God’s people had a deepening awareness of the imminent return of the Saviour!
While on a South Pole expedition, British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton left a few men on Elephant Island, promising that he would return. Later, when he tried to go back, huge icebergs blocked the way. But suddenly, as if by a miracle, an avenue opened in the ice and Shackleton was able to get through.
His men, ready and waiting, quickly scrambled aboard. No sooner had the ship cleared the island than the ice crashed together behind them. Contemplating their narrow escape, the explorer said to his men, “It was fortunate that you were all packed and ready to go!” They replied, “We never gave up hope. Whenever the sea was clear of ice, we rolled up our sleeping bags and reminded each other, ‘The boss may come today.'”
The hymn writer Horatius Bonar exhorted us “to be ready for the last moment by being ready at every moment …”
Heavens great trumpet may sound soon. How important for us as Christians to be “packed and ready to go!”
As you leave home today, don’t say goodbye
– say “Maranatha!” Our Lord Comes.
God Bless You
And a very Happy Easter to you all.