Summary: This message refers to when Christ raptures His Church.

“Just How Close Are We?”

Whether you are a Christian or not one question seems to be on every ones mind lately is, “Are we close to the Tribulation, or as some refer to as the end of the world?”

I mean just look around at what has taken place in the last year.

Fuel prices have caused the rise in cost of just about everything.

Illustration: Groceries & travel.

So just how close are we to the end?

First of all the world is not just going to come to an abrupt halt as some think.

They believe that someday God will get fed up with everything and send a big ball of fire to wipe it all out.

But we know from God’s Word that there are many events that will take place before this earth is destroyed.

The first event that will take place is what we call the Rapture.

Most out side of Christ either laugh it off or don’t want to talk about it out of fear of disbelief.

Even some who have accepted Christ as their Savior live with the question in their minds, “If Jesus returns in my lifetime, will I be Raptured?”

Is this a question that you aren’t positive that the answer is yes?

If I asked you if you are an American you would say absolutely, I was born in America.

Yet if I were to ask, “Are you going to Heaven?” some of you would say, “I hope so.”

This is something we should know the answer to without hesitation.

And you had better be sure before you die or the Rapture, which ever occurs first.

What is the Rapture? I have never seen that term in God’s Word.

The fact is you won’t, but the event is still true just as you will not find the word trinity in the Bible but there is the Father, Son & Holy Spirit.

The English word is derived from the Latin word rapio, which means to snatch away or carry off.

This morning I want to look at this spectacular event and what will actually take place.

There are three facts concerning the Rapture.

Fact one is that it is going to happen, fact two is we don’t know the exact time, and fact three is there is a way to avoid the tribulation.

As Christians we know that the beginning of the end will start with the Rapture, when Jesus takes His Church out of this world.

For those who are in Christ, if the Rapture occurs in their lifetime, they will experience something that only occurred two times before in history.

And that is to leave this world without dying. The King James Version describes each of these events with the word caught up.

Remember the story of Enoch who was a man of God. In Genesis we read that Enoch walked with God for 365 years and then God took him.

Hebrews 11:5, “By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, and was not found, because God had taken him.”

The other person who never experienced death was of course Elijah.

2 Kings 2:11

“Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”

There was however a similar situation that occurred with Phillip.

He didn’t leave the earth but by the power of God he was transformed.

Acts 8:39-40

“Now when they came up out of the water [from the Baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch], the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, (there is that word caught)so that the eunuch saw him no more, and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found in Azotus.”

Philip is removed from the desert and materializes at the city of Azotus where he continues his preaching.

So this phenomenon that some don’t want to believe has taken place before an will again.

And I can assure you of this that it could very well happen at any moment.

I have found that when a discussion comes up concerning the Rapture and the possibility of it being soon, usually someone will say they don’t believe it will be soon.

To me they are really saying I hope it won’t be soon.

Because as Christians we hope to see that day.

There have been may people through out history who have predicted the day and none have been right.

• In the 19th Century, there was a farmer named William Miller who predicted the Rapture would occur on March 21, 1842. He revised the date to April 3, 1843, and over 3,500 followers jammed the Boston Advent Temple. The next day, he lost some followers, but he continued to set dates.

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