Summary: This sermon looks at the Rapture and the details surrounding it.


- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

a. First, like much of the end times’ timeline, this is not something we would necessarily guess.

- 1 Thessalonians 4:13 – “we do not want you to be ignorant”

- This points to it being something that they would not know if Paul did not share with them.

b. Here is what happens:

1. Christ comes in the air.

- 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

2. The dead in Christ rise first.

- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16.

- “Sleep” here is a metaphor for death.

- Those who have already died in Christ are resurrected first. They had been with Christ in heaven, but now they return with Him.

3. Those living in Christ are changed and join them.

- 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

4. The world is left without the church.

- This is a crucial aspect of the Great Tribulation. For whatever the limitations of the church are, we are nonetheless in many ways a witness to Christ in this dark world. The removal of the church ushers in a dark time.


- Matthew 24:29-30; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 1:7; Revelation 3:10; Revelation 19:11-16.

- Ways we know they are different:

a. At the Rapture, believers meet the Lord in the air; at the Second Coming, the Lord will return to the earth with believers.

- 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Revelation 19:11-16.

- Believers meeting the Lord in the air: 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

- Believers coming with Him at Second Coming: Revelation 19:14.

- In sermons to come in this series, we will go into detail about what an amazing and cataclysmic event the return of Christ physically to the earth will be. There are some mind-boggling details in Zechariah about Christ touching down on the Mount of Olives.

- In describing the Great Tribulation period in Revelation, there is no mention of the church.

b. The Rapture happens before the Great Tribulation; the Second Coming happens after the Great Tribulation.

- 1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 3:10.

- Don’t reference those verses, but just refer to the chart.

- If the Rapture and the Second Coming are the same event, then believers will have to go through the Great Tribulation.

c. The Rapture will be instant and secret; the Second Coming will be visible to all.

- Matthew 24:29-30; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54; Revelation 1:7.

- The Rapture change: 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.

- The obvious appearance of Christ at the Second Coming: Matthew 24:29-30.

d. The Rapture can happen at any moment; the Second Coming cannot happen until after certain other events take place.

- Matthew 24:15-30; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Titus 2:13.

- Don’t reference those verses, but just refer to the chart. We will unpack the Great Tribulation in coming weeks in this sermon series.

- If the Rapture and the Second Coming are the same event, then the return of Christ is not imminent. There are a number of events that have to happen first.

HOW SHOULD WE FEEL ABOUT THE RAPTURE? Great for us, but concerned for others.

- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

- Why it is great for us:

- 1 Thessalonians 4:13 (“no hope”), 18 (“encourage each other”).

a. We get to see Christ and be with Him.

- 1 Thessalonians 4:16.

b. We get to see those we love and be with them.

- 1 Thessalonians 4:16.

c. We get a transformed body.

- 1 Corinthians 15:52-54.

d. We avoid the Great Tribulation.

- 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

- Why we should be concerned for others:

a. They are unsaved.

b. They will be in the Great Tribulation.

c. They will be without the witness of the church.


- Matthew 25:1-13.

- We have discussed in previous sermons in this series the essential need to be ready. See Matthew 25:1-13.

- As I’ve stated in this sermon series, there is nothing left that has to be accomplished before the Rapture can take place. That’s why we say it’s “imminent.”

- We all know that any given moment could be the moment we die. Unless we are sick, though, most of us presume that moment of death is way out there somewhere.

- We also need to keep in mind that the Rapture is the other way that we might leave this world. And it isn’t dependent on our health or any other factor except for God’s timing.

- We don’t know when either might happen, so we take the lesson of Matthew 25 to heart: always be ready. Live prepared. Keep watch.

- When the kids were younger and at home, sometimes we would leave them at home while we went out for the evening. When we were leaving Walmart (usually the final stop of the evening), we might text them and tell them we’d be home in 30 minutes. If we had assigned them chores to do before we got home, there often would be a scurry around that house to quickly complete the task they’d had several hours to complete but had put off. Now they only had 30 minutes and so they jumped on it. If we hadn’t texted, though, the outcome would have been different. If suddenly our key turned in the door and we were walking in the room, there would be no time to unload the dishwasher or mow the grass before we were aware of their failure to do so.

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