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Summary: This will be the most earth shaking, cataclysmic event the world has ever known to date...one that will get the attention of the entire planet. And it will signal the time of final judgment that Scripture says will soon take place.

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THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH PART 2

Last week I began our "Last Days" series with a brief look at the conditions that will precede the rapture of the church...conditions that show us that we are at the very brink of that blessed event.

Today I want to look at the specific details that will take place when the trumpet call of God goes out and the beginning of the end of the world as we know it is initiated.

This will be the most earth shaking, cataclysmic event the world has ever known to date...one that will get the attention of the entire planet. And it will signal the time of final judgment that Scripture says will soon take place.

First I want to address the concept of a general judgment that so many people today have come to believe. This is the idea that Christ will come...gather all people before Him...pass judgment on them, and send them either to heaven or hell.

Many today...even Christians, believe that somehow God will look back over each individual life and say, "Well, the good outweighs the bad...they tried pretty hard to live a good life...did some of the right things...better than many others...so they can come into heaven".....or vice versa.

And if that concept is true, then man is not saved here...he is saved or condemned somewhere in the future. But that whole idea, popular as it may be, flies in the face of Scripture. There is absolutely no place in the Word of God where we find anything even closely resembling that.

Scripture does say that Christ will come in the air and take all true believers to be with Him...leaving all others behind to face the most horrible events in all of human history. Later, he will come back with them in great glory and His followers will reign with Him for a thousand years on the earth...

He will then defeat all his enemies...cast Satan and his followers into the Lake of Fire...and lead His own people into perfect happiness for eternity. ...So now that we all understand that we can go home early today.

Not hardly....because even though that brief summary spells out the general details of what will happen in the last days...it leaves many questions unanswered. I hope to answer some of those questions in the next several weeks.

As I said last week, the next great event to take place will be the rapture of the church. But what exactly is the rapture...who will it include...how much time will we have to prepare for it?

Let's look again to last weeks Scripture text in 1 Thessalonians 4:15 18 which is the first instance in all the Word of God where the details are specifically given. (READ)

Before I get into specifics...I want to look at the last verse of chapter 4 where it says "encourage (comfort KJV) one another with these words." Is the rapture something that will be encouraging or comforting to most people who are around hen it happens?

I find throughout Scripture that this is going to be an event that will be anything but a comfort and encouragement to most people here on earth.. especially church people. And we must keep the context in mind when looking at this verse.

Who is Paul trying to encourage when he speaks about this rapture?...... Paul is addressing a situation where certain believers...who were anxiously awaiting the soon return of Christ...were concerned that those who had died would miss the glorious events that would take place at His coming.

But that is exactly what separates them from most of the church today. The majority of church people today are certainly not looking forward to this event if they even believe it will happen at all.

But these Thessalonians were a group of believers who took the words of the Lord to heart. In John 14 Jesus said He was going to prepare a place for them...and if He went to prepare a place...He would come back for them! And they believed it!

But most professing Christians cringe at the thought of Jesus coming back at any moment. If we were really looking anxiously for the imminent return of the Lord how different would our lifestyles be?

How many that were out sluffing off last Sunday would have been in church? How many dusty Bibles would have been cleaned off and read? How many of our unsaved loved ones would have been contacted and warned?

How many would have to fall to their knees in repentance over the things that they thought they were getting away with...and still don't want to part with or change from?

The rapture of the church is something that we should be able to find comfort in...but that will happen only if we are living in such a way that we would not find ourselves ashamed or embarrassed if the Lord were to come and catch us unawares.

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