Summary: This message deals with the rapture of the church; when is it? Where do we go? What happens to us? What will we do afterward?
Turn with me to 1.Corinthians 15:51-58.
Today, we will take up a topic which was recommended to me by a member of this church. Now some preachers do not like for members to recommend sermon topics to them, but I do. I may not preach them all, but I will prayerfully consider any topic that any of you would mention to me; and in all honesty, I think I have eventually spoken about most of the ones that have been mentioned to me.
Before we begin in earnest, I must tell you what you already know, that Mississippi is a battleground in a very active and belligerent cultural war that is presently underway. I must tell you that recent events have made me very proud to be a Mississippian, and you, too, I think, ought to be very proud of your state. Your pastor has been very active in this conflict, and it is my intention to remain active in it; so do not be surprised if you see my face from time to time in various contexts.
As we know, the Beast will be given power to make war with the saints and overcome them; yet we, as the Apostle Paul, must continue steadfast in the faith, fighting the good fight to the very end. Well, we do not want to preach the sermon before we have read the text, so let us look at 1.Corinthians 15:51-58.
51Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
We are not going to consider every aspect of eschatology today, but we will consider the truth of Scripture concerning the rapture of the church. There is so much confusion today concerning the rapture. What is the rapture? When will it occur? Could it occur at any time, even this very hour, or are there things that must occur first? Why is it important for us to understand this business about the rapture?
Well, I want to break it down just that way for you this morning; and so we will discuss three main points about the rapture. First, we will consider just what the rapture is. Next, we will consider the timing of the rapture; that is, when will it occur? Finally, we will consider why the doctrine of the rapture is important to us today.
First then, What is the Rapture?
The rapture is the final act of God in this age wherein He calls the remnant of His people, that is, those who are alive and remain at the time of His coming, unto Himself. (Repeat). Rapture means literally, a catching away, or a snatching.
In this fifteenth chapter of the Book of II.Corinthians, Paul tells us about the rapture of the church. He says, “Behold, I shew you a mystery.” A mystery is not something that cannot be known, but it is rather something which cannot be known unless it is expressly revealed to us, and that is what Paul is doing here. He is telling us about the doctrine of the rapture of the church which had theretofore been a mystery. … but no more … it would be a mystery no longer for Paul has revealed it to us.
You see, this idea of the rapture had not been clearly described in the past. Paul is really the first one to talk about it directly. Now some of you are already saying, “wait a minute preacher … what about the Olivet discourse?”
Indeed, Our Lord Jesus Christ does speak about the rapture of the church there, but it is difficult to see the exact nature of it there. Let us see what He says in Matthew 24:29-31:
29Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.