Summary: The soon coming Rapture of the church
Looking For The Uppertaker
1 Cor 15:51-52 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. NKJV
The May 1984 National Geographic showed through color photos and drawings the swift and terrible destruction that wiped out the Roman Cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in A.D. 79. The explosion of Mount Vesuvius was so sudden, the residents were killed while in their routine: men and women were at the market, the rich in their luxurious baths, slaves at toil. They died amid volcanic ash and superheated gasses. Even family pets suffered the same quick and final fate. It takes little imagination to picture the panic of that terrible day.
The saddest part is that these people did not have to die. Scientists confirm what ancient Roman writers record--weeks of rumblings and shakings preceded the actual explosion. Even an ominous plume of smoke was clearly visible from the mountain days before the eruption. If only they had been able to read and respond to Vesuvius's warning!
There are similar "rumblings" in our world: warfare, earthquakes, the nuclear threat, economic woes, breakdown of the family and moral standards. While not exactly new, these things do point to a coming day of Judgment (Matt. 24). People need not be caught unprepared. God warns and provides an escape to those who will heed the rumblings.
There are many different views on the End Times. I believe that the Pretribulational (Rapture), Premillennial (Return of Christ) view is the most true to the Scriptures. Although there are many views on the timing of the rapture, most of them flow out of four different ideas as to when the rapture will happen.
The first is our view, Pretribulational, which means that the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation period as revealed in Revelation 6-19 and other prophetic passages.
The second view is the Partial Rapture view. This is the view that only an elite class of righteous believers will be raptured, and those not in that class will be left behind.
The third view is the Mid-Tribulation view; it's doctrine is that Christians will be on earth until the midpoint of the Tribulation period.
The fourth view is the Post-Tribulation view, essentially a U-turn of Christians going to heaven in the Rapture at the end of the Tribulation period then turning right around and coming back with Jesus. These last three views are not true to the natural, literal interpretation of the Word as we will see in the next few days.
John 14:1-2 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 to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. NKJV
One thing that I do what to make clear though is this: although Christians may differ in their views of the End Times that does not mean that if you get it wrong you are going to Hell. Pretrib, Posttrib, Midtrib, Partial Trib--we will all go to heaven. If you have trusted in Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, as your Savior, then you will go to heaven!
In J. Vernon McGee On Prophecy, the late Dr. McGee mentioned three important differences between the Rapture of the Church and the Second Coming of Christ. According to McGee, those three differences are Action, Attitude and Anticipation. Let's look at the first difference: Action.
Apartment: In the Scripture above, you can see that Jesus promises a "mansion" (or "room") to the believer, and that one day He will "come again" to receive us. The post tribulation view would not fit here, as it would be a "Holy U-Turn" and we would not use this heavenly "apartment".
Airborne: Second, in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 Paul states we will meet those who died in Christ and Christ Himself "in the air". We will not be "Air Jordan", we will be "Air Christians!" The Action of Jesus Christ at the Rapture will be in the clouds, not on the continents.
Apart: When Jesus returns at "The Second Coming", His feet will actually touch down on the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem:
Zech. 14:4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. (KJV)