"What Is the Rapture?"
Many people talk about a rapture or even a series of raptures that will come at the end. But what do they mean, and what does the Bible specifically tell us about that last day?
What Is The Rapture?
(1 Thes. 4:13-18)
A. There are wars and rumors of wars. There are trials and tribulation. There is persecution around the globe against Christians. People ask, “Are these signs of the second coming?” Listen to Jesus as recorded in Matt. 24:37-42.
B. While Matthew 24 have several meanings and it can be difficult to figure out when Jesus is talking about the destruction of the Temple and the second time he will come again, the parallel is important.
C. In both cases there will be little warning. In both cases people will not be ready because they were not living a life expecting it to happen. In both cases people will cry out in pain because the event.
D. The idea of a rapture today – in books, movies, and even in churches – is tied to a belief around a seven year tribulation and a millennial period of time talked about in Revelation. But the clarity of what the Day of the Lord will be is given in much greater detail in other passage to help us understand some that are less clear.
I. Looking Forward
A. What are you looking forward to in life? What goals have you set and how are those goals affecting the way you live? I have met with people who are plan their wedding day and we walk through everything that will happen on that day with excitement and joy. I have met with people who have to plan the funeral of a loved one, we talk about that person’s life and plan what we want to share with all who attend. People plan for vacation, retirement, college – you name it. A hopeful expectation of what tomorrow will bring.
B. Our text begins with “But I do not want you to be uninformed brothers, about those who are asleep …” It ends with, “encourage one another with these words.”
C. For the Christian, we don’t have to fear the end of this world. We don’t have to because Jesus died for our sin and we responded to that by dying with him in baptism. Jesus rose from the dead to live in victory and we were raised from the waters of baptism to live this life and the next in union and victory with Him.
D. The night before his crucifixion, Jesus had gathered with his disciples in and upper room and there he tells them about his leaving, the coming the Holy Spirit, and give them these words of comfort (John 14:1-3).
E. Jesus made a promise that he would come back. The reason for his second coming would include the taking home of the saved. Just 40 days later, Jesus and his disciples were outside of Jerusalem and we are told (Acts 1:9-11)
II. Comfort and Hope
A. Now, Paul who has taught these Christians about the glory of salvation and the eternal life to come wants to help them have comfort about some who have already died but died with faith. To this young in the faith church he writes our text (1 Thes. 4:13-15)
B. From Adam to Abraham, from Moses to Mary, from all those who died by the sword because of their faith to your loved ones who died in the Lord with the faith, Paul says, take courage. We have hope. There are many people who say they are not afraid to die. But the real question is what hope do you have in death? For the Christian we have great hope and therefore can celebrate the passing of a fellow Christian in a way the world doesn’t fully understand.
D. Do we grieve? Absolutely, but not as one who has no hope. Jesus will come back just as he said, and he will come back to claim his own.
E. Heaven is real. It is more than just a story made up to make people feel better about death. It is as real as Jesus and because life eternal is a blessing given only to the saved, it is important to get the message out.
III. The Great Day
A. What will that day be like? Paul’s statement to this church is (1 Thes. 4:16-18). This is a celebration sound coming from heaven. This is the sound of a victor. This is the sound of calling from the dead in Christ to the living in Christ. What a glorious sound that trumpet will be!
B. Next week, we will continue this study, but for the sake of this lesson, we learn that the Great Day of the Lord will happen and we need to be ready, expecting it, and looking forward to it.
C. 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 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.’”
A. Paul will continue to deal this topic even in his second letter, and so will we. But what I want you to take away from today is that there will be a final day. It will be a day that for us is filled with joy. I want you to leave here knowing that if you are saved you have so much to look forward to. A home that Jesus has made ready just for you.
B. Like that bridegroom that comes for his bride, Jesus is will come for you to take you home. Take comfort in the love that God has for you and the joy being reunited with those who have gone on before. If we can encourage your walk, come as we stand and sing.