Summary: This sermon deals with the Rapture and why I believe it will happen before 7 years of Tribulation.

Ready To Be Raptured?

Revelation 4:1

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."

Our look at the Book of Revelation continues this morning.

We have covered the messages Jesus sent to 7 churches.

Now we begin to get into what Jesus showed John.

What John sees are prophecies of things to come.

Today, we are going to concentrate on just 1 verse.

The reason is simple.

Verse 1 is about an upcoming event that is much debated.

That event is called "The Rapture".

Some people refuse to believe that there will be one.

When Verse 1 is combined with other scripture

there's plenty of evidence to believe there will be a Rapture.

So let's get started!

Verse 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."

John looked and saw a door opened in heaven.

The "first voice" he heard sounded like a trumpet.

John believes the trumpet-like voice

is calling him to come up

through the open door into heaven.

Now look closely at verse 1.

Notice again the words "After these things".

The open door, trumpet-like voice, and his entrance into heaven

occur after the events recorded in chapters 1 through 3.

John is told that he will be shown things

which will happen after the period of time

represented by the messages to the 7 churches.

From chapter 4 onward,

there is not one single reference to any churches

until we get to chapter 22 verse 16.

There will be references to saints and martyrs upon the earth

during the period of God's judgment in the Tribulation,

but nothing further is said about the church.

So, we have a door opened in heaven.

When that door is opened,

a voice like a trumpet is heard.

At the sound of that trumpet-like voice,

John is called up to heaven.

We read nothing more about the church on earth

as John begins to see things about the Tribulation.

He will see terrible things happening here on earth,

but the church of Jesus Christ is never mentioned.

Why? The answer is simple!

The church is gone from the earth!

When we reach chapter 19,

we will read about a group of people in heaven

described as a bride dressed for her wedding day.

She has been prepared for the marriage supper of the Lamb.

The word "church" does not appear in chapter 19,

but it is safe to assume that this refers to the church.

In John 3:28-30 we read the words of John the Baptist:

28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent before Him.' 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

Clearly, John the Baptist describes Jesus as a bridegroom.

In Matthew 9:15, we read the words of Jesus:

"Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

Jesus is talking about a time when He would leave the earth.

In Matthew 25:1-13, we read a story that Jesus told:

"Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 6And at midnight a cry was heard: 'Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!' 7Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' 9But the wise answered, saying, 'No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.' 10And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. 11Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us!' 12But he answered and said, 'Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.' 13Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

Jesus is saying that He would return unexpectedly

to claim His bride.

In Ephesians 5:23-32 we read,

For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

So the church of Jesus Christ is the "bride".

Where is this "bride" described in chapter 19?

The bride is seen in heaven!

From the end of Chapter 3 until we get to chapter 19

there's no mention of the church.

Some preachers and Bible teachers

say the church will still be here on earth

during the Tribulation.

I disagree!

Look back at what Jesus said to the church in Philadelphia.

Revelation 3:10-11

Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.

Remember that the church in Philadelphia

is a symbol of what will happen at the end of the Church Age.

I believe those words 'I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth"

are a reference to the Tribulation.

2 Peter 2:9 says,

then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,

I believe the Bible says Jesus is coming back for His church

to save it from the horrible things that will happen

when the 7 years of Tribulation are going on.

I firmly believe that what we see here

in Verse 1 of Chapter 4 is a reference to the Rapture.

Many preachers and Bible teachers don't believe in the Rapture.

They say, "That word isn't in the Bible!"

That's true!

It's not in our English language Bibles.

However, the Latin translation of the original Greek text

uses the verb "Rapere"

meaning "to carry off," or "to catch up."

In 1 Thessalonians chapter 4,

the Apostle Paul wrote about an event

that certainly sounds like the Rapture.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

The words "shall be caught up" come from the Greek word "harpazo"

which means to seize by force, to snatch up, and to carry away.

Listen to the words we find in 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 :

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell 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 trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."

So as people alive are caught up to meet the Lord in the air,

they are given new glorified bodies

like the one Jesus had at His resurrection.

Those resurrected from the dead

are given new glorified bodies

to be united with their souls in heaven.

In 1833, there was a big meteor shower

in the northeast part of the United States.

An old man ran down to the local cemetery.

He thought it was the coming of the Lord.

Someone asked him why did he went to the cemetery?

He said, "I want to see my dead friend in the grave go up in his

new body. You see, in his earlier years, a tree fell on him causing

him to lose his arm. I want to see him with his new arm."

Well, he was right.

Christians will have new bodies.

How many of you are excited about that?

Don't those verses and those in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

sound very much like Revelation 4:1?

Look at Verse 1 again!

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."

There is coming a time when Jesus comes back in the air

and all those in Christ, both living and dead,

will be suddenly caught up from the earth

to meet Jesus in the air.

At that time, all those who are taken in the rapture

will receive their glorified body.

From that time forward,

the church as we know it today will cease to exist on the earth.

The church shall become the eternal Bride of Christ.

Now, if we believe that there will indeed be a Rapture,

then that presents a few questions.

Question #1: When will it happen?

Question #2: What will happen when it occurs?

Question #3: What will it mean to us?

Now, I've briefly touched on this in previous sermons,

but first we need to establish.

The Rapture happens before the Tribulation

The Tribulation is a period of 7 years of judgment upon the earth.

This period is divided into two periods of 3 years each.

The last half is called the Great Tribulation

because the judgments are so much more intense.

After the 7 years of Tribulation

it will be the Second Coming of Jesus.

Remember that in all the references to the Rapture,

Jesus appears in the sky and does not touch the earth.

In His second coming,

Jesus return to the earth to establish His earthly Kingdom.

The Second Coming ends the 7 years of Tribulation

and launches the start of the Millennium.

This is the 1,000-year reign of Jesus upon the earth.

During this 1,000 years

many of the effects of the curse will be lifted

so that the entire earth will become a virtual Garden of Eden.

Christ returns WITH His saints.

Revelation 19:14 says we come with Jesus to the earth.

We will rule and reign with Jesus upon the earth

during this 1,000 year period called the Millennium.

What's going to happen on this earth when the Rapture occurs?

Maybe you'll be riding along in a car.

You are a born again Christian

and you are the driver.

Other people are in the car with you.

Maybe someone in that car is not a Christian.

When the trumpet sounds,

you and the other born-again Christians in that car

will be instantly caught away and disappear!

That unsaved person or persons in the car

will suddenly see that the car

is moving along without a driver and suddenly crashes.

Pandemonium will occur on that highway

and on every highway in the world.

Christians will be caught away from the airplanes,

shopping malls, offices, factories, classrooms,

sports events, and churches!

Many people will be left behind wondering what happened!

John's call to heaven in Verse 1

is symbolic of the rapture of the church.

It shows what the New Testament teaches.

The Rapture will be Pretribulational.

Pretribulational means that the church

will be removed from the earth

before the 7 years of Tribulation begin.

The rapture concludes the age of the church

and begins the Day of the Lord.

1 Thessalonians 1:10 says,

and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

The Christian will be delivered from the Day of the Lord

because God has not appointed us to wrath.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 says,

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

The words "for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first,"

certainly apply to what's going on now in this world today.

Church attendance is declining.

Sin is running wild in this world.

False religions are gaining in popularity.

A 'falling away" from the Christian faith is happening now!

Then come the words "and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,".

That speaks of the revealing of the Antichrist

who will come forth after the Rapture

gaining great fame and power.

The Antichrist will rule the world during the 7 years of Tribulation.

Now, there are 3 other theories about the Rapture.

#1. The Partial Rapture Theory

Some believe only the faithful in Jesus will be raptured initially.

Other believers will be raptured throughout the Tribulation

as they get their lives in order.

I don't believe that because it has no support in Scripture.

#2. The Mid-Tribulational Rapture

Some believe the church will be raptured out

midway into the 7 years of Tribulation.

Those who hold this view believe that the first half of Tribulation

involves the wrath of man and Satan.

They believe Christians will be tested

by the wrath of man and Satan,

but delivered from the wrath of God.

There are many Biblical problems with that view.

#3. The Post-Tribulation Rapture

This view holds that the rapture and Jesus' Second Coming

are the same event.

In other words, there really won't be a rapture,

There will only be the Second Coming of Jesus.

That view also disagrees with a literal interpretation of Scripture.

What is pictured for us in Revelation

is a pre-tribulational rapture.

The church of Jesus Christ will have been removed

BEFORE the beginning of 7 years of Tribulation.

CLOSING:

A farmer had an old grandfather clock.

One night it struck 16 times.

The farmer woke up and said,

"Wife get up, it is later than it ever has been before."

That is true, too, concerning the coming of the Lord!

It's closer today than ever before in human history!

I'm not looking for the coming of an undertaker.

I'm looking for the coming of the Uppertaker!

Jesus is coming after the saved.

He will not be coming for the lost still dead in their sins.

Will you be among those lifted up that day?

Some would say, "I hope so".

You know if you are born again by faith in Jesus.

Christ isn't returning for those who thinks they are saved.

He's coming for those who know it!

If you're saved and you know it, clap your hands!