Text: I Thessalonians 4:13-18
Sermon in a Sentence: Live like the Rapture is Real!
There is some foundational knowledge to briefly be reminded about as we consider this subject. The term ‘rapture’ is not found in the Bible. It comes from the Latin term that we see in our text where it mentions ‘caught up’. The rapture is debated much today and it is ever needful for us to be familiar with what Scripture actually says. The rapture is a significant Biblical event because it will open the door to allow the 7 year period of Tribulation to begin. Also we should remember that as the believers are removed in the rapture, the Holy Spirit will be removed from the earth, from working in the way that he currently works. The rapture will unleash great evil upon the earth because the indwelling Holy Spirit in believers is what Scripture says holds back much of the forces evil on this earth. When believers are caught up and the Holy Spirit goes with them, all manner of evil will be free to work on this earth.
1Thessalonians 4:13 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.
Verse 14: The Pillars of the Rapture
* ‘if we believe’ – the first pillar of what Scripture says about the Rapture is that it is for only believers. What is said concerning the Rapture does not apply to anyone else. Also Paul is saying that confidence in the promise of the Rapture begins, logically, with genuine faith in Christ. It must begin there!
* ‘that Jesus died’ – the death of Christ is foundational to all of our doctrinal beliefs. Any attempt to separate Christ’s death from this picture messes up everything. It is because Jesus died and shed his blood that salvation is possible and a fallen creation can be reconciled back to God the Creator. The shed blood of Christ makes possible the reunion in the clouds that Paul is teaching about.
* ‘rose again’ – Furthermore Jesus died and rose from the grave. He did not stay in the ground, he defeated death and hell. His death and resurrection makes possible for you and to have victory over death. This resurrection of the dead saints at the Rapture is only possible because of Christ’s resurrection.
Verse 15-18: The Process of the Rapture
* The Lord shall descend from heaven. Verse 17 tells us Christ will be in air. Now let’s just take this literally, many like to assign other interpretations to this. Jesus is in the air. The account in I Thessalonians 4 cannot be confused with Christ’s Second Coming, because we see very clearly in Revelation that the second coming of Christ will be when he returns and puts his feet on the earth. The Rapture will not be Jesus setting foot on the ground, rather he will be in the air welcoming the believers.
* There will be a shout from the archangel, and the blast of a trumpet. These two actions will take place as Christ is in the air and they will signal the ‘catching up’ of the saints. These two sounds will be the command to come to Him.
* The dead in Christ will rise first. The greek word translated ‘first’ is the concept of ‘to stand up’ or ‘stand to attention’. I can’t help but think that when the trumpet sounds, it will be like a military command, the response to the command will be immediate! It will be without thought, or consideration. The bodies of believers will be brought out of the grave to rise to meet their spirit in the air.
* we which are alive and remain shall be caught up. Verse 15 mentioned that those who are alive will not prevent- the Greek word meaning ‘precede’. As the bodies of dead believers are coming out of the earth to meet in the air, believers who are still alive on the earth will be caught up with them in the air. This like the bodies in the graves will be a physical ‘catching up’. Their bodies for the lack of a better term will ‘disappear’ at least in the eyes of the world around them. A few things to consider:
– the havoc and tumult that will be created when millions of bodies suddenly leave the ground. Imagine the chaos on the interstates, the disappearance of pilots in airline cockpits, government officials, etc…
– imagine the marriage relationships that will be instantly changed, the work relationships, etc…
#1: The Rapture is an event for prepared people!
Joh 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And 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.
This ‘catching up’ is not a random act or an accident. God will very specifically remove physically from the earth all those who have died in Christ from the time of the cross and those believers who are physically living at the time of the rapture. The preparation process is simply the same message that we speak almost every week in church- to place your faith in Christ and make Him the Lord in your life. Are you prepared?
#2: The promise of the rapture provides comfort to all believers.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
The promise of the Rapture should provide comfort to all believers. This comfort is in several ways: * Believers will not enter the 7 year Tribulational Period. * Believers will not experience the horrible conditions on the earth. * Believers will not experience the world leader indwelt by Satan. * Believers will be in the presence of God!
#3: The timing of the Rapture is not revealed in Scripture.
This week there were posts on Facebook and discussions about the eclipse and it’s possible role in end times events. We saw once again, the truth of Scripture- no one knows the day or the hour that Christ will return. God has not revealed this information in his Word. Therefore we wait patiently and we serve faithfully till He returns!
In 1969, a song writer named Larry Norman released an album called Upon this Rock. On the album was a song that addressed this subject of the Rapture. In the second verse it said these words-
A man and wife asleep in bed,
She hears a noise and turns her head, he’s gone,
I wish we’d all been 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.
Are you ready? If the Rapture occurred today, would you meet the Lord in the air?
There is a profound truth in I Thessalonians 4 that Christ will return to get those who have placed faith in him. But oh, how we seem to forget that he is returning. How consumed we get with the world when we know he could come at any moment!
Believers we need to live like the Rapture is real! We need to go about our daily lives like Jesus is coming back! We need to teach our kids that Jesus is coming soon! Live like the Rapture is real!