The Rapture

Series: Blessed Hope. James Dewhurst March 14, 2021

Blessed Hope

The Rapture

Today, as we continue in this eye-opening series together, I want to talk to us about one of the most sudden and shocking aspects of the return of Christ – The Rapture!

1 Corinthians 15:51-52

51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (ESV)

Either way, you shake it, Scripture is abundantly clear that shock & awe will come to the world, as the return of Christ will bring about the greatest change in the shortest period of time, ever! Everything on earth is going to change drastically and immediately!

Paul said in v 52 that things will change “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…”The twinkling of an eye takes less than half a second! Did you know that we blink about 20 times a minute, 1,200 times an hour, and 28,000 times a day? That’s how fast the Bible says our transition from this temporary life into eternity is going to take!

Matthew 24:27

27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (ESV)

The return of Jesus is the main event of the future! The Bible describes the return of Jesus taking place in two phases. First, he will take believers out of this world in what is called the “rapture”. Then Jesus will return, according to Revelation 20, to set up his kingdom to rule and reign on earth in righteousness for a thousand years. Now, some scholars believe that this “Rapture” will happen before the 7-year tribulation, some half-way through, and others at the end. Regardless, the Bible says we will be raptured!

Matthew 24:36-44

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (ESV)

1 Thessalonians 5:1-3

1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (ESV)

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18

15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. (ESV)

The word “rapture” comes from the Greek word harpazo and means to take away, snatch away or catch away suddenly. Although the word “rapture” itself doesn’t appear in the Bible, Paul tells us we will be caught up or taken away suddenly from this world.

I am reminded of a stanza in a song Larry Norman wrote back in 1970 called “I Wish We’d All Been Ready”, that describes the imagery of the rapture:

A man and wife asleep in bed

She hears a noise and turns her head, he’s gone

I wish we’d all be ready

Two men walking up a hill

One disappears and one’s left standing still

I wish we’d all been ready

There’s no time to change your mind

The Son has come and you’ve been left behind

There are 5 specific details about Christ’s return that I want us to look at today:

1. Jesus Is Coming Himself!

1 Thessalonians 4:16 “The Lord himself will come down from heaven.”

John 14:3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

We need to understand that Christ’s return is a personal visit to come and save his people from final judgement. He’s leaving his throne to come get his own!!!

A wise man once said – “When you’ve lost all hope, hope for the rapture.”

2.  Jesus Won’t Come Quietly!

I Thessalonians 4:16 “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God.”

The return of Jesus won’t be silent. It will be announced, celebrated, seen and heard!

Jesus said in: Matthew 24:27-31“For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man… “Immediately after the distress of those days “‘ the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ 30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.[c] 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”

John the revelator wrote in: Revelation 1:7 “Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him” So shall it be! Amen.”

The return of Jesus will be so powerful, it will cure atheism, agnosticism, and cynicism.

3.  Jesus will Raise The Dead!

1 Thessalonians 4:16 “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven… and the dead in Christ will rise first.”

What does it mean that the dead in Christ will rise first? Scripture teaches that when a Christian dies, our spirit goes immediately to God in heaven (“To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”). Paul is talking about the resurrection of the body. When Jesus returns we will receive a resurrected body just like Christ has!

Jesus not only possesses the power to redeem and restore, but also to resurrect!

Paul explained this in Philippians 3:20-21 “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

When Jesus returns -We better have some oil and our lamps better still be burning!

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4.  Jesus will Take Us Away!

1 Thessalonians 4:16 “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”

While Christians have different views on the timing of the rapture, Christians who are alive when Christ returns will meet the Lord in the air. The rapture is simply a spiritual translation of God’s people into heaven and has happened before in Scripture. Enoch walked with God, and one day God took him into heaven. His family never found him!

Elijah was taken in a chariot of fire, and Jesus ascended into heaven in clouds of glory.

5.  Jesus will Keep Us Forever!

The final passage of the verse states 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 “And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

There are over 5,000 promises of God given to believers in Scripture, but the greatest promise of all is found in 1John 2:25 “And this is what he promised us—eternal life.”

Some people believe the rapture means we will escape trials and tribulations. But the truth is, faith in Jesus isn’t about escaping, it’s about enduring. It’s about enduring trials, temptations, and tests, and remaining faithful to Jesus with our fire burning to the end!

Matthew 25:1-13

1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. (ESV)