The Rapture of the Church

I believe every Pastor and Bible teacher should know where he stands on eschatological doctrine, end times and the future for himself and the Church. I believe it is very important in the life of the believer of Christ to hold a pre-tribulation rapture view to have a proper perspective in their Christian walk and life as a believer. Although it is not appointed unto men to know the time or the hour of Christ’s return, I believe it is of utmost importance for every believer to be resolved to a pre-tribulation rapture view. Why? Because only when we embrace a pre-tribulation view will we be looking for Christ’s return as we’re exhorted by the apostles. Only then will we be looking for Jesus. If we’re not looking for the soon return of Christ and the rapture, we’ll be looking for the tribulation; we’ll be looking for the antichrist. So, for these reasons, I hold the believer’s end times, pre-tribulation rapture view as an essential necessity for the spiritual health to the perspective of faith for the individual believer as well as the body of Christ.

Although we do not know the exact time of the Rapture, in I Thessalonians 5 Paul said,

But of the times and seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write unto you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord is coming as a thief in the night. For when they will say, Peace and safety; then comes sudden destruction… But ye, brethren, are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief.

The Bible is saying that the Rapture shouldn’t come to you as a surprise.

God has given to us the warnings that would precede the coming of Jesus Christ. One of the greatest signs to the world today is the re-establishment of the nation Israel. For years Bible scholars had looked forward to the regathering of the nation Israel based on many Scriptures (including Matthew 24:32), and applying expositional constancy (fig tree or figs in parables symbolize the nation Israel). Skeptics ridiculed this prophecy. Never in history had a nation been born out of the past, but a miracle has taken place and a nation has been reborn. God has reestablished Israel among the family of nations on the earth. God has fulfilled His promise even as He said He would.

Psalm 102:16 declares, “When the Lord shall build up Zion, He shall appear in His glory.” Because the Lord is building up Zion, the orthodox Jew today is looking for his Messiah. We are too! We’re looking forward to this fulfillment of God’s promise the coming again of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; when its branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, you know that summer is nigh even know that it [My coming] is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:32-35).

Not the generation Christ was talking to, because they’ve passed – but the generation that saw the fig tree budding forth. The coming of Jesus Christ is “even at the doors.” The rebirth of Israel should be a sign to every child of God!

Jesus said throughout the rest of Matthew 24, “Watch… be ye also ready.” That was the constant warning to the Church: watch and be ready. In Luke 21:28 when Jesus was speaking of these same things, using again the parable of the fig tree, He said, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”

There are arguments and Scriptures that people can present for pre-, mid-, and post-Tribulation theories. My personal opinion is that Jesus will come before the Great Tribulation to rapture His Church. I don’t believe that the Church will go through the Great Tribulation period.

In I Thessalonians 5:9 Paul wrote, “For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul said the same in Romans 5:9 – we’ve not been appointed to wrath. Jesus, in the whole context of the Tribulation, said, “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). My prayer is that I will be accounted worthy to escape all of these things that are going to come to pass upon the earth.

The Lord divided the Book of Revelation into three sections: “[1] Write the things which thou hast seen, [2] and the things which are, [3] and the things which shall be after these things [meta tauta]” (Revelation 1:19). John, in obedience to the commandment, wrote in chapter I the vision of Christ that he saw on the island of Patmos. In chapters 2 and 3 he wrote of the Church and the message of Jesus to the seven churches. Let’s look at two of these messages where Jesus made reference to His coming again.

1. The church of Thyatira had introduced the worship of idols within the church. Jesus said,

I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel… to seduce my servants to commit fornication… I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds (Revelation 2:20-22).

The unrepentant church of Thyatira. which had gone into spiritual “fornication” (idolatry and saint-worship), was to be cast into the Great Tribulation unless, the Lord said, she repented.

2. To the church of Philadelphia in Revelation 3:10 Jesus said, “Because you have kept the word of my patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation which is coming to try them who dwell upon the earth.” The Rapture can happen at any moment – and it’s exciting to realize that as a Christian you may never finish reading this article! After the close of the messages to the churches, Revelation 4:1 begins and ends with the Greek phrase meta tauta. “After these things,” John said, “behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was a trumpet saying unto me, Come up hither, and I will show you things which must be after these things [meta tauta]”

Jesus spoke of Church things in chapters 2 and 3. These must be the things that will take place after the Church is taken out of the earth. I believe that 4:1 of the Book of Revelation, is the place of the Rapture of the Church. That “voice” in heaven and “trumpet” are the same as in I Thessalonians 4:16. With the trump of God and the archangel saying, “Come up hither”, we the Church will be gathered together with the Lord in the heavens.

John describes the heavenly scene in chapter 4. In chapter 5 he saw the scroll with seven seals in the right hand of Him Who is sitting upon the throne. An angel proclaimed with a loud voice. “Who is worthy to open the scroll, and to loose its seals?” John began to sob convulsively, because no one in heaven or earth nor under the earth was found worthy to even look upon the scroll (Revelation 5:2-4).

Then one of the elders said, “Weep not, behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” John turned and saw Jesus as a Lamb that had been slain, “and He came forth and He took the scroll out of the right hand of Him Who sat upon the throne.” Immediately, they brought forth the “vials full of odors which are the prayers of saints. And they sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open its seals; for Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and people, and tongue, and nation; and made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign with Him upon the earth” (Revelation 5:5-10). Notice the song that is being sung.

It’s not the song of Israel and the covenant relationship with God. People from all the families of the earth, not just one family of Abraham, are singing. It’s a people who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. Only the Church can sing that song.

In Revelation 5:11 after Jesus takes the scroll, John said that innumerable multitudes, “ten thousand times ten thousands” worship the Lamb, declaring His worthiness to receive the honor, and the authority, and the glory. In Revelation 6 Jesus proceeds to loose the seals of the scrolls. With the very first seal there comes forth the white horse rider, “going forth conquering, and to conquer.” This, I believe, is the entrance of the Antichrist, because he’s followed by wars, death, famine, and desolation. Certainly, the Second Coming of Christ isn’t going to be followed by such events, but by the glorious establishment of the Kingdom.

Before the Tribulation ever begins the Church is in heaven singing and praising the Lord for His worthiness to take the scroll and loose the seals. The Tribulation doesn’t start until the seven seals begin to be broken.

 

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