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Regarding the Rapture

In our topic "the Revelation of End Times” we have seen that you and I as believers have the ability to understand prophecy.

Being born again, we have been filled with the Holy Spirit, Whose job description is to shows us things to come.

Not only will the Holy Spirit show us things to come regarding our own private life, but He will also show us things to come that have to do with the future of the church. He will show us God’s plan for the nations of the world, and in particular the Nation of Israel.

In this teaching, I want to accomplish three things. Number one, I want you to be able to see from the Scriptures that there is an event called the rapture of the church. It is not a fiction neither a fable nor false doctrine, but, as we will see, a part of our salvation.

Secondly, I want to show you that there is a difference between the rapture of the church and the second coming of the Lord.

Thirdly, I endeavor to show you from the Scriptures that the rapture of the church is the last segment in a sequence of events that takes place at the main event - the resurrection of the church.

The resurrection began when Jesus was raised from the dead almost 2000 years ago and will be completed when the rest of his body, the church, is resurrected, changed and removed from the earth to heaven.

The Rapture - It’s in the Bible

So, let’s begin with the word “Rapture” or the phrase “The Rapture of the Church” and see where it fits in the Bible, where it should to fit in our thinking and how it should affect our daily life.

Over the years people have approached me and said "brother John, the word rapture is not even in the Bible” and my standard response used to be “true, but the word Trinity is not in the Bible either but you can certainly see the concept of it”.

However, upon studying the Bible, I was able to see that the word “RAPTURE" is definitely in the Bible. Let's read

(1 Thessalonians 4:17)

17 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.

Let’s particularly pay attention to the phrase “caught up” which is translated from the Greek word “harpazo” which means to be taken away by force or to be caught away. This same word or phrase is also used in

(Acts 8:39-40)

39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

After Philip led an Ethiopian man to the Lord and baptized him, he was taken away by an unseen force to a different location in a split second.

Philip did not necessarily plan to go to Azotus, but he found himself in this new location and began to preach to the cities in this new area.

Then, again this same word “harpazo” is used in

(2 Corinthians 12:2)

2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

In this event the apostle Paul must have had a rapture-like experience in which he was taken from where he was situated to the third Heaven.

From these Scriptures we come to the conclusion that people have been moved through time and space by an unseen force.

This unseen force will be the same force at the rapture of the church when the entire church will be removed from the earth by an unseen force.

Now that we can see that the word "rapture" is in the Bible, let's define what it is.

Rapture Defined

The Rapture of the Church is the last segment in a sequence of events during the Resurrection in which the entire Church, comprised of those who have been resurrected to incorruption and those who have been changed to immortality, are simultaneously removed from this earth to meet the Lord in the air.

Let's read the entire resurrection process as it was revealed to the apostle Paul by the Lord Himself.

(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

16 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:

17 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.

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

The resurrection began 2000 years ago when Jesus was raised from the dead. The Bible calls Jesus "the firstfruits of those who slept”.

In other words, Jesus is the representative of a future group of people that will also be raised from the dead in a similar fashion.

This same Jesus, Who was raised from the dead will be the center figure in the resurrection of the Church.

The resurrection of the Church process begins with Jesus Himself descending from heaven with a shout and is accompanied with the voice of an Archangel and the trumpet of God.

This indicates that what is about to take place must be a very significant event.

Indeed, the resurrection and rapture of the Church will be a momentous event. Jesus will descend from heaven with a shout as He is excited about taking His Bride – the Church - to Himself.

God Himself is playing the trumpet and the dead in Christ – a reference to those believers who have died in the Church Age – are resurrected first.

It is of utmost importance to interject at this point that Paul did not say that the dead in Christ are raptured first.

No, he told us that they will be resurrected first.

The fact that the dead in Christ are resurrected first suggests that this event is a trigger point for the next segment of the resurrection process to be implemented.

What is the next segment? We which are alive and remain will be changed before we are simultaneously caught up together with those who have been resurrected.

The process finishes at the point when we meet the Lord in the air.

The Change

The Apostle Paul reveals to us in the book of first Corinthians chapter 15 (known as the Resurrection chapter) that we all must be changed in order to qualify for the rapture.

The Rapture requires the dead in Christ to be resurrected and be changed from corruption to incorruption and for those who are alive to be changed from mortality to immortality.

(1 Corinthians 15:50-53)

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

51 Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

Once the entire church - comprised of the resurrected dead in Christ and those who are alive - has been changed, she can now meet her Bridegroom, Jesus, Who is expecting her to rise and meet Him in the air.

Death has been conquered

It is said that nothing is more sure than death and taxes.

While I can’t vouch for taxes, I do know that death - spiritual death - has already been conquered.

At the time of the resurrection, physical death will also become a non-issue as Paul quotes from the Old Testament in

(1 Corinthians 15:54)

54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

Think about it. Your entire existence will no longer revolve around death any longer. Instead, you now have the life of God operating in your spirit and in your physical body.

The Twinkling of an eye

It is important to realize that the entire resurrection process - including the rapture - will require some time to be carried out.

Because of movies and images a picture has been painted for us that makes the rapture look like an event that is going to take place real fast – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.

Many are of the belief that if the pilot of an airplane happens to be a Christian and is raptured, the entire plane will crash, causing chaos and great damage to the people left behind.

Nothing is further from the truth. God is a God of order, not of chaos and collateral damage. Nowhere does the Bible say that we will be raptured in the twinkling of an eye.

However, it did say that we will be changed in the twinkling of an eye as we just read in the above Scriptures. The Change is what qualifies us for the rapture.

The Resurrection Model

If the rapture does not take place in the twinkling of an eye, how long will it take? Is it an event that people will be able to witness?

To correctly answer these questions, we must use the Resurrection of Jesus as our model to predict what will happen at the Resurrection of the Church. We have already established that Jesus is the firstfruits of those that slept, making His resurrection the template of what is to come.

From the book of Acts we can see that Jesus was on the earth for 40 days after His Resurrection and appeared unto many during this time period.

(Acts 1:3)

3 To whom also he (Jesus) shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

Not only did Jesus appear unto people after His resurrection, there were many others also who were resurrected and appeared unto many people in Jerusalem at the same time.

Can you imagine the stir that must have been created among the people. The dead have risen and are now walking among us!

This would be a much better movie than the Hollywood Zombie movies.

All these amazing events took place over a period of forty days after the resurrection of the Lord.

Since the resurrection of Jesus is a prototype of what is to come, it is very possible that the resurrection of the church will take place over a period of 40 days in which many will be raised from the dead and appear unto many.

Can you imagine the worldwide stir that is about to take place when people will see resurrected people appearing all over the world?

I sincerely believe that the rapture of the church will be the most glorious experience this world has ever witnessed and will be an amazing tool of evangelism.

Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King in all His Glory and be transformed into the same kind of being.

Come, Lord Jesus, come!

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