Summary: The next thing to happen in prophecy is for Jesus to come back to steal His Bride. Are we ready? Are your bags packed with the garment of salvation and a robe of righteousness? Is your lamp filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit? If so, youre ready.
In 1 Cor. 15:51 Pauls letter to the Corinthian Church it says,
"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."
Paul is sharing about the Rapture, which was a mystery to the church back then and continues to be one to a lot of Christians today. The word "mystery" doesnt mean that it is mysterious or hard to understand. The way it is used in this verse it means that Paul is sharing something which God has never revealed to men before. The "mystery" Paul is talking about is the Rapture. "At the last trump" means that moment in time when the Gospel has reached the ends of the earth, the last person to be saved has heard the Good News and accepted Jesus into their heart. The Last Trump could happen at any moment. Now turn to 1 Thess. 4.
First Thess. 4:13-17
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.
There are no signs that have to happen for the Rapture to happen but it is the next thing to be fulfilled before much of the rest of prophecy can take place. Jesus is getting ready to come back and steal away His Bride, the Church. The revivals that are springing up around the nation and the world are putting out a "last call" for those who want to be a part of the Rapture in these last days.
Tonight lets take a look at this subject called the Rapture.
First of all we should all understand that the word "rapture" is not in the Bible. That is usually the first thing someone will bring to your attention if they dont believe in it, and not all Christians do believe in it. They will say, "Well the word Rapture isnt in the Bible so I wont believe in it."But you know what? The word Trinity" isnt in the Bible either but those same Christians accept the fact that the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are Three separate Persons yet One God.
So where does the word rapture come from? Lets do a word study. James Strong did a work over 100 years ago and today we know it as Strongs Concordance. It has been the standard reference of the Body of Christ. Some of you have asked that we do a study on using a Strongs Concordance so tonight were going to do our lesson with the help of Mr. Strong.
(Pass out sample sheets with Strongs numbers, etc.)
Lets look back in your Bibles at 1 Thess. 4:17. Notice the words "caught up". Now lets say you were trying to remember this scripture and wanted to know where it was in the Bible but all you could remember were the words, "caught up". If you have a concordance you could look up one of the words and find chapter and verse for it.
On your sheet you will see that the word "caught" is listed several times. Each time it is listed it is listed in the order of the Books of the Bible, beginning with the Old Testament and working back. If you already know whether the scripture is in the O.T. or N.T. you can save a lot of time. In this case we know it is in the N.T. so we could begin our search there. Looking down through the partial sentences, notice that "caught" is abbreviated to a small italic "c". Keep looking and you will see a familiar verse where it says: "remain shall be c up together". So, now if you wanted to look up the scripture, you have found the Book and verse just by knowing the word "caught".
Now suppose you want to dig a little deeper and would like to know what the word "caught" means. Follow to the right of our phrase and you see the number "726". This is called a reference number. Every word in the Bible has a reference number. At this point you have to realize two things, that the Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the N.T. was written in Greek. The word we want to look up is in 1 Thessalonians in the N.T. One little aid that they have added is to list the numbers in italics if the word is to be found in the Greek section and normal printing if its in the Hebrew section.