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Summary: God does not want us to be ignorant about the rapture. We need the hope and endurance that knowledge about the rapture brings.

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The Massive Exit

(I Thessalonians 4:13-18)

1. Operation Evacuation

Various Christian groups have been helping flooded areas recently. Here is an August 29, 2007 report:

"ROCHESTER, Minn. (BP)--More than 570 disaster relief volunteers from the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention and eight other states are working long hours to aid victims affected by recent flooding in southeast Minnesota.??And in response to Aug. 21 flooding in Ohio, up to 80 disaster relief teams from across the Southern Baptist Convention are on stand-by and may arrive in the Buckeye State as early as Thursday, Aug. 30."

2. One task such workers have is evacuation. According to Webster, to evacuate means, " To withdraw or send away (troops or inhabitants) from a threatened area."

3. One day, Jesus Christ is going to perform the greatest evacuation of all time. Within a split second, He will remove millions and millions from planet earth to meet Him in the air. We refer to this event as "the Rapture."

4. Christians believe all sorts of things about the timing of the rapture; some have given up hope; like waiting for a meal at a slow restaurant when famished, they wonder if the promise of blessing will ever be kept.

5. But Bible faithful Christians know that this event will take place. We may not agree when it will occur in relation to the coming 7 year Tribulation. Some of us believe it will happen before, others during, others after, and some others believe that the Bible is intentionally unclear about the timing of this event.

6. But, for today, we are going to focus on the Rapture itself. What will happen then? How will it happen? What does this great event involve.

Main Idea: God does not want us to be ignorant about the rapture. We need the hope and endurance that knowledge about the rapture brings.

I. How Should the Rapture Affect Our ATTITUDE towards the Death? (13-14)

A. Based on KNOWLEDGE

John Stott comments about Paul: "He traces many problems of Christian faith and life to ignorance, and regards knowledge as the key to many blessings."

1. Considered SLEEP

• the term refers to the body being still

• used in many cultures for death; in OT, "Slept with his fathers…"

• implies that physical death is only temporary

Daniel 12:2 reads, "Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt."

• the English word "cemetery" comes from the Latin, meaning "resting place."

• The body is asleep, but not the soul. 2 Corinthians 5:6,8, "Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord…We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord,"

2. Grieving tempered by HOPE

? We should GRIEVE

--- but not like those who do not know Christ

---Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus,

--- In Acts 9:29, after the beloved Dorcas had died, we read, "Peter went with them, and when he arrived he was taken upstairs to the room. All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them."

---Many Christians do not know how to handle grief-- they think it is wrong to cry, be miserable, or think about their loss

---Rather than deny grief, we need to embrace it, while also looking beyond it

---Ecclesiastes 7:2 reminds us, "It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart…"

? We should ANTICIPATE reunion

---this is what takes a bit of the edge off of grief…

B. Our Attitude toward God

1. We believe Jesus died and ROSE

2. We believe the PROMISE of Jesus’ return

3. Jesus will return with the SOULS of believers

God does not want us to be ignorant about the rapture. We need the hope and endurance that knowledge about the rapture brings.

II. What Will Happen When Jesus RETURNS? (15-18)

• "According to the Lord’s own Word" implies Jesus already taught this. Where?

John 14:3, " And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

Matthew 24:36-42, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come."

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