Chapter four marks a major prophetic turning point in the book of Revelation. In verse one, John tells us that he looked and saw a door
opened in heaven. Then he tells us that the FIRST VOICE that he heard reminded him of the sound of a trumpet, calling him to come up hither, through the open door, into heaven. Immediately in a moment, in a
twinkling of an eye immediately, John finds himself in heaven, looking upon the throne of God. Let us look a little further. Twice in verse one, John gives us a time reference. This event the open door, trumpet like voice, and his immediate entrance into heaven is said to occur after this after the events recorded in chapters 1-3. When John is called up into
heaven, he is told that he will be shown things which must be hereafter after the period represented by the messages to the seven
churches. Let us look a little further. In the first three chapters of Revelation, Jesus addressed the seven churches of Asia 19 times. From chapter four onward, there is not a single reference to any churches until we get to the final verses of chapter twenty-two. There will be references to saints and martyrs upon the earth during the period of God's
judgment, but there is no more church. Thus far, 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, and as far as Revelation is concerned, the church passes from the scene of human history. God's judgment comes, and the churches of Je-sus Christ are gone! The next time we see the church, it is viewed in its eternal role as the Bride of Christ, adorned for her wedding day, at the marriage supper of the Lamb. This series of events is not coincidental. They represent what is commonly (and rightly) called the Rapture. Although the word rapture is not found in the Bible, it is a Biblical term. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Paul wrote of a time when living believers would be caught
up” to meet Jesus in the air.
1. The word Paul used means to seize by force, to snatch up, and to carry away. That is what the word rapture means.
2. It is used to refer to the event when Jesus comes back in the air and all those in Christ, both living and dead, will be suddenly, immediately, caught up from the earth to meet Jesus in the air.
3. At that time, all those who are taken in the rapture will receive their glorified body.
4. And from that time onward the church as we know it to-day individual, independent, local, earthly congrega-tions will cease to exist, and she shall become the eternal Bride of Christ.
I've titled this message tonight, The Rapture Question. We need to see WHEN it will occur, WHAT will happen, and WHAT that means to us.
I. The Timing of the Rapture after this
A. Terms to be understood.
1. The Tribulation
a. This is a period of 7 years of judgment upon the earth.
b. This period is divided into two periods of 3 years each, with the
latter half called Great Tribulation because the judgments are so much more intense.
2. The Millennium
a. This is the 1000-year reign of Christ upon the earth.
b. It comes after the Tribulation.
c. During this time many of the effects of the curse will be lifted so
that the entire earth will become a virtual Garden of Eden.
3. The Second Coming of Christ.
a. When we speak of the Second Coming, we are referring to Christ's return to the earth to estab-lish His earthly Kingdom.
b. The Second Coming ends the Tribulation and inaugurates the Millennium.
c. It is to be distinguished from the Rapture for many reasons:
The Rapture The Second Coming
Christ comes FOR his saints
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Christ returns WITH his saints
Revelation 19:14 We meet Christ in the air We come with Christ to the earth
We will be taken to the Father's House John 14:3 We will rule and reign with Christ upon the earth Revelation 20:4
Occurs in the twinkling of an eye 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 Every eye will see Him
4. The Day of the Lord.
a. This is a Biblical term that describes the entire 1007 that begins with the rapture and concludes at the end of the Millennium.
b. When you find it in the Bible, you need to ask what part of the Day of the Lord is it describing. The Tribulation, Second Coming, and the Millennium are all taught in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. The Rapture is not. In 1 Corinthians 15, the rapture is called a mys-tery, a part of
God's program that was being revealed for the first time. It is a teaching unique to the New Testament and to the church.
B. When the Rapture will occur
1. John's call to heaven is symbolic of the rapture of the church.
2. It shows in picture what the New Testament teaches, that the Rapture will be Pretribulational.
a. Pretribulational – means that the church will be removed from the earth before the seven years of Tribulation begin.
b. The rapture concludes the age of the church and begins the Day of the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 1:10
1 Thessalonians 5:1-9 The Believer will be delivered from the Day of the Lord because God hath not appointed us to wrath.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
C. Three views of the rapture
1. The Partial Rapture Theory
a. Only the faithful in Christ will be raptured initially.
b. Other believers will be raptured throughout the Tribulation as they get their lives in order.
c. It has no support in Scripture.
2. The Mid-Tribulational (Pre-wrath) Rapture
a. The church will be raptured out before the Great Tribulation.
b. Those who hold this view believe that the first half of Tribulation involves the wrath of man and Satan, not God.
c. They believe that Christians will be tested by the wrath of man and Satan, but delivered from the wrath of God.
d. There are many problems with this view.
3. The Post-Tribulation Rapture
a. This view holds that the rapture and the Second Coming are the same event.
b. Those who hold this view present many conflict-ing ideas because they depart from a literal in-terpretation of Scripture. What is pictured for us in Revelation is a pretribulational rapture. The things that we will study in the remainder of Revela-tion will take place after the churches of Jesus Christ have been removed.
II. The Events of the Rapture
A. We will hear the sound of the trumpet
1 Thessalonians teaches that the Lord Jesus Himself will descend from heaven with a shout. With Him, will be the archangel, and he two will be lifting his voice in triumph. At that moment the “trump of God will sound.
This is the call of Jesus Christ for His church, and only the Believer
will be able to hear it.
B. We will be called up to heaven
We will meet Jesus in the air a great reunion of all who have put their faith in Jesus Christ to save them over the last 2000 years. From there, He will lead us into heaven to be rewarded for our service to Him.
C. We will be instantly transported from earth to heaven John uses the word immediately. Paul tells us that it will take place in
a moment, in a twinkling of an eye. All over this planet, Believers will vanish from the earth, leaving behind a baffled world of the unredeemed.
The Bible tells us when the Rapture will occur before the Day of
the Lord but it doesn't tell us the day. It tells us in no uncertain terms that Jesus is coming back again, exactly as de-scribed,
and we are to be always ready. We are to live each day with the knowledge that this could be THE day of His return. We give to Him the worship He deserves today We give to Him the service He desires today We live with the hope that the one who died for us is coming back for us.
The next sound you hear may be the voice of the trumpet calling you home but only if you have believed in Jesus as your Savior. The rapture tells us that we must prepare for eternity. Unbe-lievers need to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior. We need to do all we can to win others to Christ before He comes.