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Summary: An ongoing series of answering questions given by our church members

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Sermon Series: “Questioning the Faith”

Sermon #3 “Question about Heaven #3”

Text: I Thessalonians 4:13-17

INTRODUCTION: Welcome to our continuing series on ‘Questioning the Faith’.

Each week, you will remember, I am answering a question put to me by one of you who has written it down on a form and turned it in.

If you would like your question answered, please feel free to take a form.

Over the last few weeks our focus has been on Heaven

• The first sermon on Heaven a few weeks ago, someone asked whether the soul goes to Heaven at death, or must they wait until the resurrection. We found that Scripture indicates that our body and soul do separate at death, with Jesus; story of Lazarus and the Rich Man being our main text (Luke 16).

• Someone then asked, ‘Will we know people in heaven?’ and I said that the scripture indicated that yes we will. The Scripture says we will sit with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven, and also gives us other indicators of consciousness of our past life. (If you would like the note from that sermon or any of these in this series, they are available)

• Last week we talked about different levels of heaven. We concluded that Heaven will not be in forms of levels, but there will be rewards (crowns) given to those at judgment whose lives brought forth works of ‘gold, silver and precious stones’ (I Corinthians 3)

This week we are continuing on this course of questions about our afterlife

QUESTION: What happens to me (personally) if Jesus comes before I die? And what happens if He comes after I die?

To really understand the answer to this, we must first understand that there are many differing views and answers to this question.

The study of the ‘End Times’ is called Eschatology.

Eschatological theories are as various as denominations.

There is the argument of the ‘pre-tribulation rapture’ which has caused many theological debates.

This is the belief that Jesus will come mysteriously before the great tribulation to take out His saints.

It has spawned the greatest Christian fiction series of all times: Left Behind.

There is also the argument of ‘millennialism’

This is the question about when will the 1000 year reign of Christ spoken of in Revelation will occur.

• Some believe it is already happening (Christ is reigning in the Hearts of believers) [Post-millennium]

• Some believe it will happen after He returns and sets up His Kingdom (literal interpretation) [Pre-millennium]

• Some believe it is totally allegorical and we really have no idea what it means [Amillennium]

Tonight, I do not want to argue what has already been argued by men much more intelligent that I am... All I want to do is share what the Bible says will happen for certain when Jesus comes.

I. We know that there will be a rapture

a. You might say, “Brother Foskey, didn’t you just say that the rapture is argumentative?”

i. Not ‘if’, but ‘when’ is what is argumentative

ii. There is no question about whether or not a rapture is going to take place, it is WHEN will it take place (before, during or after the tribulation)

b. The rapture is shown clearly in the Bible

i. I Thessalonians 4:16-17 “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. 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.”

ii. The term ‘caught up’ in Greek is ‘Harpazo’ which literally means to ‘snatch away’

iii. The same word was used by Jesus when He said, “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28)

iv. When the Scripture was translated into Latin, this word became the word where we derive the term ‘Rapture’

1. This answers the question that many say, “The word rapture is never used in Scripture”, but it is.

2. Caught up, snatch away and others phrases translated from ‘Harpazo’ are all examples of being snatched away

c. There are other examples of the rapture in Scripture

i. Philip

1. Acts 8:30 “Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.”

2. Caught away is the same Greek word ‘Harpazo’ – though he was not taken into Heaven, Philip was ‘snatched away’

ii. Enoch

1. Genesis 5:24 “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”

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