Summary: It seems in today's world, things keep getting worse and worse. It's not your imagination. One day soon, the Rapture of the church will occur, and all Christians will go home to Heaven prior to the worst period the earth has ever known. Three messages.
1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this."
2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. (NKJ)
"I was told of a poor peasant in the mountains who, month after month, year after year, through a long period of declining life, opened his casement every morning, as soon as he awoke, and looked toward the east to see if Jesus Christ were coming. He had not calculated the date of Christ's coming, or he would not have needed to look at all. He was ready for Christ's coming, or he would not have been in such a hurry to seek him. He was willing for Christ's coming, or he would rather have looked another way. He loved, or Christ would not have been the first thought of the morning. His Master did not come, but eventually a messenger did, to fetch the ready one home. The same preparation sufficed for both; his longing soul was satisfied with either. Often the child of God awakes in the morning, weary and encumbered with troubled thoughts, and his Father's secret presence comes to mind. He looks up (if not out) to feel (if not to see) the glories of that last morning when the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall arise indestructible--no weary limbs to bear the spirit down; no feverish dreams to haunt the vision; no dark forecasting of the day's events, no returning memory of the griefs of yesterday."--C. H. Spurgeon
Hey! Where Did They All Go?
In Revelation the first chapter speaks of the appearance of Jesus Christ to the Apostle John on the island of Patmos, where he is exiled for his faith. Jesus appears in stunning form, with all of the elements showing Jesus not in the form of the gentle Savior but in the form of a wrathful Judge.
The church is prominently featured in Revelation Chapters two and three with the letters dictated to John by Jesus Himself. These churches represent not only literal churches in that day, but also church ages over the span of the years and also church people themselves. Today it would sure appear that we are in the age of the church of Laodicea; while there are some churches that are alive and kicking, most are deader than a doornail. Sure, they may have programs and activities and all sorts of things but the Holy Spirit does not direct or drive them.
In addition to the change of the place of the vision location, there's another interesting change. If you were to read the Book of Revelation from Chapter 4 to Chapter 19, you will notice a people made conspicuous through it's absence: the church. Yep, the church in gone. Not one mention of the church. There will be people saved during the tribulation, but these people are not the church.
In the coming weeks, we will learn about the Rapture of the Church, the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Wrath of God which is to come.
Col 1:24 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,
What Is The Church?
The word for church in Koine Greek, or common Greek, is ekklesia, which is translated as "called out ones". While the word can be translated to mean a gathering of citizens, Thayer's Greek Dictionary translates the word as such in a Christian sense:
1) an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting
2) a company of Christian, or of those who, hoping for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, to observe their own religious rites, to hold their own religious meetings, and to manage their own affairs, according to regulations prescribed for the body for order's sake
3) those who anywhere, in a city, village, constitute such a company and are united into one body
4) the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth
5) the assembly of faithful Christians already dead and received into heaven
A Christian is from the word Christianos, which means, according to New Unger's Bible Dictionary believer in and a follower of Jesus Christ the Messiah. Dr. Unger goes farther by stating that "being a Christian, according to the NT, is a definite act with significant results."
In short, salvation without transformation is self-deception!
Other words to describe the church are saints (holy ones, set apart), brethren or brothers or sisters in Christ, the elect, the chosen, and more. Not one of these terms relate to a church building. It is the people that are the church. Jesus did not die for a building, He died for a "peculiar (or specific) people".