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Summary: A KEY DOCTRINAL AREA IN THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IS THE AREA OF THE RAPTURE.

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WHAT IS THE RAPTURE

1 THESSALONIANS 4:13-18

WE HAVE BEEN LOOKING AT SOME OF THE KEY DOCTRINAL ISSUES OF OUR FAITH. WE HAVE STUDIED THE ORIGIN OF SIN, AND HOW WE WERE ALL INFECTED BY IT. WE LOOKED AT THE ISSUES OF DEATH AND THE RESURRECTION, STUDYING THE WORDS OF PAUL TO THE CORINTHIAN CHURCH. THESE WERE STRENGTHEN BY A MESSAGE ON WHY I PREACH AND BELIEVE IN THE CROSS OF CHRIST.

TODAY WE ARE GOING TO LOOK AT A KEY AND VERY CONTROVERSIAL THEOLOGICAL ISSUE OF SCRIPTURE, AND THAT IS THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH.

IT IS A CONTROVERSIAL ISSUE BECAUSE THERE ARE THEOLOGIANS WHO DO NOT BELIEVE IN A LITERAL RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH. THERE ARE ALSO THEOLOGIANS WHO BELIEVE THAT THE RAPTURE AND THE SECOND ADVENT OF THE LORD ARE THE SAME THING.

SUFFICE IT TO SAY THAT I BELIEVE THAT THE ARGUMENTS OFFERED BY THESE THEOLOGIANS ARE MINOR IN NATURE, AND RATHER EASILY DEFEATED SO WE WILL NOT GET INTO THEM TODAY. RATHER I WANT TO STATE CATAGORICALLY THAT I BELIEVE THE NEXT GREAT EVENT ON THE CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR THE CHURCH HAS TO BE THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH.

SCRIPTURE INDICATES THAT THERE IS NOTHING THAT NEEDS TO BE ACCOMPLISHED BEFORE THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH. WE DO NOT KNOW THE TIME OF THE RAPTURE, BUT WE DO KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN AT THE TIME OF THE RAPTURE.

THE RAPTURE IS THE TIME THAT BELIEVER BOTH IN THE OLD TESTAMENT AND IN THE CHURCH AGE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO. PAUL SPEAKS OF IT IN

1 CORINTHIANS 15:51-53:

“51 ¶ Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.”

THE RAPTURE IS THE “MYSTERY” OR SECRET THAT PAUL IS TALKING ABOUT IN THIS PASSAGE. HE IS SPEAKING TO CHRISTIANS HERE BECAUSE HE USES THE WORD “SLEEP” TO DESCRIBE DEATH, AND HE IS TELLING US THAT ALL CHRISTIANS WHETHER LIVING OR DEAD WILL EXPERIENCE A TRANSFORMATION, WHERE WE WILL RECEIVE OUR “GLORIFIED BODIES” WHICH ARE WITHOUT THE INFECTION OF SIN AND WE WILL BE FOREVER IMPERISHABLE.

PAUL IS VERY CERTAIN ABOUT THIS COMING DAY OF TRANSFORMATION. HE KNOWS OF THE PROMISE JESUS MADE TO HIS DISCIPLES.

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.”

THIS IS A PROMISE THAT HAS COMFORTED ME AS I STOOD BEDISE THE GRAVE OF LOVED ONES, AND I KNOW MANY OF YOU HAVE EXPERIENCED THAT SAME COMFORT.

IT WAS THIS CHANGE THAT THE PEOPLE OF CHRIST’S DAY WERE ANTICIPATING. MANY IN THE CHURCH BELIEVED THAT CHRIST WAS GOING TO COME BACK DURING THEIR LIFETIME. THEY DID NOT BELIEVE THAT THEY WOULD FACE DEATH.

MANY TOOK THIS BELIEF TO REDICULOUS EXTREMES. THEY WOULD QUIT THEIR WORK, NOT PLANT THEIR FIELDS, ALL THE TIME EXPECTING JESUS TO SUDDENLY COME BACK AND TRANSFORM THEM.

MANY STILL BATTLED WITH THE FALSE BELIEF THAT THERE WAS NO RESURRECTION AFTER DEATH, SO WHEN MANY FROM THEIR CHURCH DIED THEY WONDERED WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO THEM. THEIR BODIES WERE DESTROYED BY DECAY, OR MADE TO ASH BY FIRE, HOW COULD THEY BE TRANSFORMED.


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