Summary: The Rapture is not meant to scare us but to comfort and encourage us to live out our lives in and for Christ.
Sermon: The Rapture I Thess 4:13-5:11 June 22, 2003
MESSAGE: The Bible it explicit that there will be rapture, again the order of events isn’t clear, tribulation, 1000 year reign, etc…. we don’t know but the rapture for us is meant to comfort us not make us fearful. What we do know is it will be 1) sudden, unannounced 2) believer’s will be raptured with Christ-the bride of Christ/the church/the saints 3) the saints and sinners will be judged – judgment will not determine salvation but reward – judgment will not bring shame but will bring gladness that we have a God who has forgiven us of all things 4) rapture should inspire us to live out Christ in our lives
After hearing about the Second Coming at church one Sunday, a little girl quizzed her mother. "Mommy, do you believe Jesus will come back?" "Yes." "Could he come this week?" "Yes." "Today?" "Yes." "Could he come in the next hour?" "Yes." "In a few minutes?" "Yes, dear." "Then Mommy, I think you better comb my hair." ( Don Hussong, East Wenatchee, Washington. Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 3. – Bible Illustrator)
Now most of you look like you have comb your hair. But like the little girl we need to be about asking questions and getting prepared for Second Coming. WITH THAT IN MIND TURN WITH ME IF YOU WILL TO TODAY’S TEXT. I THESSALONIANS 4:13-5:11.
You can not read the gospels, the letters of the New Testament particularly Paul’s and the Book of Revelation without realizing the overwhelming message of the New Testament is that Jesus will return again. Not that all the writers agree in all the details and order of events but the message is clear. God will bring to completion what he began in Christ. Jesus will return and God’s kingdom will reign here on earth.
It was a message the early church understood. In fact they strongly believed it would be in their lifetime so much so that as time past they were becoming discouraged and concerned for several of their loved ones had passed away. They feared that those who had passed away were going to miss Christ glorious return. So Paul wrote to them to encourage them and in doing so he encourages and informs us.
This is not Paul’s idea, though, look at verse 15 “According…Lord’s own words.” It is not certain how Paul received these words whether it was from some unrecorded teachings of Jesus or some divine inspiration. But Paul wants to assure his readers and us that this isn’t his thought but God’s. God promises, guarantees, us that He will come and it will be obvious.
Verse 16. The Lord will come down with a loud command, the voice of an archangel and a trumpet call. The word used for here command is a military term. Now I have never known a drill sergeant give a command in a soft voice. But, even more than that, the Lord will come in a loud command. One that will resound throughout the world, that will reverberate throughout the hearts and minds of all those living and dead. An archangel, an angel with authority in fact the only archangel ever spoken of in the Bible is Michael, will announce his coming and a trumpet will blast forth with the good the news.
Some scholars and theologians have suggested that this will be so quiet that only believers will hear it but after having studied the various scriptures over the last couple of weeks, personally, I don’t see how anyone could possibly believe that a loud command from God, an announcement from an archangel and a trumpet could go unnoticed, would be so quiet that it could be ignored. In fact in our studies last week we heard God’s word in Matthew Chapter 24 that it will be so obvious that the Lord has come that unbeliever will mourn. There will be no doubt that the Lord has returned. Now we will talk about the “thief in the night” in just a moment. But what we are talking about here is the heavenly proclamation that Christ’s, God’s promise has been fulfilled.
And we verse 17 “will be caught up.” The Greek word here means to be seized or snatched up. The word was translated into Latin Vulgate as a form of Latin the word “rapto,” the very word from which we get the English “rapture” meaning “to be swept away with overwhelming emotion.” The word rapture is never used in the Bible but it is a word that has been passed down through the generations transcending the meaning of the root word, transcending the idea into the very essence of the event.
The church, all those who profess the name of Jesus, will be raptured into the clouds to meet the Lord at the sound of his voice. Do not confuse this event with the earthly return of Christ. That will come some seven years or so later after the tribulation. In the rapture the church, the bride of Christ, will be caught up into the air with the Lord. It is interesting to note that this is consistent with the Revelation of John.