Summary: There has been so much written about the Lord’s return, when it’s going to happen, all that’s going to surround it.
INTRO: Chuck Swindoll writes:
In the early 50s, I was an apprentice in a machine shop. My father felt it would be wise for me not only to get book learning but also to get a practical taste of life.
On one occasion I was working in the machine shop with the tracer lathe. It was an intricate piece of equipment. I spent months on it. I was always told, "Before you change the tool that cuts the aluminum, turn the machine off. Otherwise you could hurt yourself or maybe even kill yourself." Once I was fighting against time to make the production that day and I did not turn off the machine. The wrench I was using to loosen the tool on the lathe slipped and my hand went into the chuck and out again. The bone that led to my little finger was now in a place it shouldn’t be—outside my skin.
I went down to see the industrial nurse and showed her the finger and said, "I think I might need a shot." She said, "I think I might need one too. Why don’t you sit down?" Then she called the paramedics who hauled me off to a hospital where a surgeon put a long stainless steel pin in my hand.
Week after week I would go back for checkups. Finally he said to me, "Come back in three or four days and we’ll pull the pin out. But actually I won’t be here to do it. My assistant will do it." I was curious and asked, "Why won’t you be here?" And he explained that he had a little black mole on his stomach that he was going to have removed. In fact, he opened his white top and pulled open his shirt and showed me a place about the size of half of his small fingernail.
When I went back, to have the pin pulled out, I asked when my surgeon was coming back for my final checkup. The assistant became very grim and said, "Oh, he’s dead." I’ll never forget the feeling of emptiness and unbelief.
When they’d cut him open, they saw that his abdomen was covered with cancer. Two days after surgery he died. Just enough time to write his will.
-The thing we need to understand is anything can happen in our lives. That’s why it’s so important to be ready.
Today: We are going to look at the Lord’s coming, what some would call the rapture.
TITLE: The Rapture
TEXT: 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
-There has been so much written about the Lord’s return, when it’s going to happen, all that’s going to surround it.
I. The Lord’s return, what the Bible (Titus 2:13) calls the blessed hope. A. His return. What will it look like?
1. In the book of Acts we get some insight into his return. He is with his disciples, encouraging them.
They are asking questions, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"
-They’re standing around looking. And a couple of angelic beings appear (1:11), "Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."
Point: Christ is going to come this same way, through the clouds.
TS: God gave the apostle Paul a special revelation concerning the return of Christ.
B. The Lord himself will come—the groom coming for his bride.
1. The Lord comes from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel. -The trumpet call of God will sound.
2. The dead in Christ shall rise first. So when the Lord comes the dead believers will first be raised. -What an event.
C. May bring up a question.
1. What happens when we die? Paul made it clear that the soul/spirit of the believer goes to be with the Lord (v. 14).
-Remember the thief on the cross. Jesus said, "Today you’ll be with me in paradise."
2. At death, the soul/spirit leaves the body, and the body goes to sleep and no longer functions. The soul/spirit goes to be with the Lord.
-Absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8)
3. From the Old Testament days to the present, mankind has tried to solve the riddle of death and the afterlife.
-Philosophers have wrestled with the question of immortality.
a. Paul solved this problem. So we as Christians don’t need to wonder about death or life after death because the word of God gives us insight. We go to be with the Lord.
Summary: The Lord comes down from heaven with a loud command, the voice of an archangel, and the trumpet call. We will see him in the clouds.