We have spoken of the coming judgment of God upon this
world and as we look at the events that are happening around this
world, the time seems to be very close. And here is the question
we must ask ourselves. Will God judge the righteous with
the wicked? You see, that is important and we will look
at that topic in this study this evening because I believe it
is the next big event that the Church will see. You see, the world
the Apostle Paul was being transported as a missionary prisoner
Puteoli lay in the shadow of a great and rugged mountain a volcano, though it hadnt erupted in a thousand years Vesuvius. Shortly after Pauls time, Vesuvius exploded like an atomic bomb. It erupted for forty hours, and while Puteoli was spared, another nearby city was flooded by molten lava, buried before the inhabitants could escape. They were killed by the gasses and the ash, then preserved by the molten lava which rolled over them and hermetically sealed them in a gigantic tomb of pumice.
That city was
The twenty thousand people of
But they also loved pleasure.
They city walls were filled with advertisements by prostitutes.
Prices indicate that the average girl cost about the price of
a modest dinner at a Pompeiian tavern. On one hotel, a sign said,
If you sit down here, read this first: If youre looking
for a girl, ask for
On the walls of the brothels were testimonies by satisfied
customers. Everywhere were models and carvings of the phallus
the male sexual organ which in ancient
The statues and sculptures of
- Robert J. Morgan, Nelsons Complete Book Of Stories, Illustrations, Quotes, Vesuvius, pp. 504-505
Yes, the judgment of God is getting close, but, as I have said, will God judge the righteous with the wicked? That is an important question for us to understand, for if we get this wrong, our end time theology will be off, it will be wrong! And thus, we will be looking at this event that is called the Rapture where the Lord will come for His Bride, the Church and remove her before He pours out His wrath upon a Christ rejecting world. I think it is important that we understand this. And please understand that this is not a salvation issue, but it will help us to focus on either the Lord Jesus Christ and His return or the Antichrist and his appearance! Who are you looking for? I hope to show you this evening that we are to be looking for Jesus, that is what the Scriptures teach and they also teach that God will not judge the righteous with the wicked!
You see, I believe that this world is ripe for judgment.
The wickedness of man is no different than it was before the flood.
It is no different than the days of
Now I realize that there are those that say the Bible does not speak of the Rapture, in fact that word is not even found in the Scriptures. That is true, the word is not found but the idea of the Rapture is seen very clearly in the Scriptures! But again, many like to deny it and say that this idea of the Rapture is of recent origin!
Listen to what some have to say regarding this issue of denying the Rapture of the Church. One writer said, The Catholic Church always has understood this verse to be describing the Second Coming of Christ and the General Resurrection at the end of the world. But approximately 170 years ago recent by theological standards an Irish Protestant named John Nelson Darby came up with the idea that this event would happen long before the end of the world. He claimed on his own authority, of course that this Rapture (as he called it) will take all true Christians out of the world to be with Jesus in heaven right before a huge tribulation befalls the rest of the inhabitants of the earth (those who are left behind).
Also, John Bray, who also vehemently opposes a pre-tribulation Rapture of the church said, this teaching is not a RECOVERY of truth once taught and then neglected. No, it never was taught for 1800 years nearly no one knew anything about such a scheme.
And Robert Van Kampen said, The pretribulational rapture position with its dual parousias was unheard of in church history prior to 1830. Folks, that is totally untrue! As we are going to see, Paul spoke of this being a fact, he taught on this and he was inspired by the Holy Spirit and wrote this down for us!
Secondly, in the writings of Pseudo Ephraem from around 565 AD to 627 AD and he claims that he got his sermon from Ephraem of Nisbis, who is considered to be one of the greatest figures in the history of the Syrian church, who would have written this in around 373 AD. Listen to what is said, All the saints and elect of God are gathered together before the tribulation, which is to come, and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins.
So please understand that this is not a new idea! I think that is very clear, not only did Paul teach on the pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church, but so did the early Church and thus, I believe it because I think the Bible is very clear on this issue, the Scriptures support it! Let me show you what I mean regarding what the Scriptures have to say about the Rapture of the Church!
We are going to begin looking at this idea of the Rapture of the Church in
I Thessalonians chapter 4, verses many of you are very familiar with. In this section Paul is responding to a concern that the Thessalonians had regarding their brethren who died, believers who died, that they would miss out on the Rapture! That tells me that they too believed in a pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church for they were concerned that those who had died in the Lord would miss out on their resurrection bodies! Secondly, if they believed that they were going to go through the Tribulation Period, any part of it, then they would have rejoiced over those that had died in the Lord for they would not have to endure all this pain and suffering that was coming. They instead would have grieved for themselves and the horrible things they would have to endure during this time.
And we will look at the various views of the Rapture, when it will occur in a few minutes, but first, lets look at these verses here in I Thessalonians chapter 4, beginning in verse 13, where we are told, But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. I Thessalonians 4:13-18.
I find this very interesting how Paul opens up this section on the Rapture of the Church. Paul tells us that he doesnt want us to be ignorant about this event, and yet, the Church is truly ignorant about it. That word ignorant in the Greek is AGNOEO, (ag-no-eh-o) and it speaks of not knowing something because of a lack of information or a lack of intelligence or even worse, to just plain ignore it! The thing is this, there is now no excuse, you have been given the information, now dont neglect it.
I realize that some feel there is no such thing as the Rapture, others feel it is at the end of the Tribulation Period, some in the middle of that seven year period of time or the 3½ year mark, others say it is just a little past the half-way mark, and I believe that the Rapture of the Church will take place prior to the start of the seven year Tribulation Period and I will show you why in a few minutes!
In the Scriptures, when a believer dies it speaks of him going to sleep. When you go to sleep there is rest, there is peace, there is comfort. Now, when an unbeliever dies the Bible never speaks of him being asleep because they have no rest, no peace, there is no comfort for them. When we die, as Christians, our body goes back to the dust of the earth and our spirit and soul go to be with the Lord. That is our hope, it is not that we dont sorrow, we are sad but we also know that we will see that person one day in glory. It is like sending a loved one off on a long trip, you will see them again but it will be a long time before it happens and thus, you are sad; you sorrow, but not like the unsaved will sorrow. You see, for the unsaved there is no hope for them in death, as Barclay points out for us:
In the face of death the pagan world stood in despair. They met it with grim resignation and bleak hopelessness. Aeschylus wrote, Once a man dies there is no resurrection. Theocritus wrote, There is hope for those who are alive, but those who have died are without hope. Catullus wrote, When once our brief light sets, there is one perpetual night through which we must sleep. On their tombstones grim epitaphs were carved, I was not; I became; I am not: I care not.
- William Barclay, The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, p. 203
What a sad place to be, but in Christ our hope is that
as He rose from the dead God will raise us up one day in glory.
Why be in a place where there is no hope when Jesus wants
to give you hope? In fact, in verse 14 this word if
does not indicate doubt or being unsure but because of the fact
that the Lord rose from the dead He will bring with Him on that
day those who have fallen asleep in Christ, it is our hope!
And please understand that this was not Pauls idea but it came from the Lord and Paul establishes that fact up front, which is important for many even today deny the teaching of the Rapture of the Church. Also notice that Paul speaks of two groups of people who are involved in this event; those who are alive and those who have fallen asleep or have died in the Lord. There might have been some concern with the Thessalonian believers that those who have gone to be with the Lord were going to miss out on something, but that is not the case. All Christians will participate in the Rapture. Also, there is an order that Paul tells us about.
With a shout of authority and as He speaks forth, as the trumpet sounds the dead in Christ will rise first, they will get their resurrected bodies. You see, Paul tells us in
I Corinthians chapter
15 that flesh and blood cannot inherit the
You see, these bodies of flesh are like tents; they are temporary dwelling places for our spirit and soul to dwell in. But the Lord has a permanent abode for our spirit and soul to dwell in made by Him. In fact, He calls it a mansion that will never fade away as compared with these tents that are fading away. That is what they will receive and we who are alive when the Lord returns, will receive!
And this event will happen very quickly, it is not a long,
drawn out process, we dont have to wait for our bags to
be packed! You see, in I Corinthians 15:50-52 Paul tells us regarding
the Rapture, Now this I say, brethren, that flesh
and blood cannot inherit the
Paul is telling us that this event, the Rapture of the Church is instantaneous. The word moment is from ATOMUS in the Greek and it is the smallest conceivable quantity, it cant be cut or divided any smaller! Also, it will happen in the twinkling of an eye as the trumpet sounds. Think of it like this, the twinkling of an eye is the time it takes for light to hit the surface of the eye till it hits the retina. Let me now put that into perspective in how fast that is. Light travels at a speed of 186,000 miles per second, which means it would take 1.5 seconds for light to travel from the earth to the moon. The moon is some 239,000 miles from the earth! So then, in the twinkling of an eye the light would only reach one foot from the surface of the earth! Thus, no one will see it happen, it will be instantaneous, but they will see and feel the effects of the Rapture!
Why does this happen?
Paul tells us that these bodies of flesh and blood cant
carefully to what Paul said in I Corinthians 15:35-49 regarding
this, But someone will say, How are the dead raised
up? And with what body do they come? Foolish one, what you
sow is not made alive unless it dies. And what you sow, you do
not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain perhaps
wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body
as He pleases, and to each seed its own body.
All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind
of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and
another of birds. There
are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory
of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the
sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars;
for one star differs from another star in glory.
So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown
in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.
It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown
in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body,
it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there
is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The
first man Adam became a living being.
The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and
afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the
earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.
As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made
of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are
heavenly. And as we have borne the
image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the
Thus, the rapture is a unique event in history, unknown to the Old Testament saints, a mystery that has now been revealed in the New Testament and it speaks of all the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who are alive when the Lord returns will be instantaneously and miraculously taken into heaven without experiencing death. The Lord is going to take His Bride, the Church home to be with Him.
How will this happen? Paul tells us that we will be caught up which comes from the Greek word HARPAZO, and that word means to take by force, to seize. Granted the word Rapture is not in the Bible, it was take from the Latin Vulgate, the Latin word RAPTURUS is used for caught up and from that word we get our English word RAPTURE from. If you dont want to use the word rapture then call it the great snatch away! That is what the Greek word means but I like Rapture better! And where do we meet the Lord? We meet Him in the air, and in His Second Coming we come with Him and He comes back to the earth to set up His kingdom and every eye will see Him. There is a big difference between the Rapture of the church and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ; they are not the same event!
And heres the thing. If we were to go through the seven-year Tribulation Period, these words would not be comforting to us and yet, here in verse 18 Paul tells us to comfort one another with these words. You see, the hope of the return of Jesus for His bride, our eternal union with Him is a source of great comfort. I know, some say it is escapism and Jesus did say that in this world we will have tribulation. Heres the thing, right now Satan and his forces are persecuting Christians all over the world. But in the Tribulation Period it is Gods wrath being poured out upon a Christ rejecting world. Look at I Thessalonians 5:9 and here Paul makes this powerful point, For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. The Amplified Bible puts this verse like this, For God has not appointed us to [incur His] wrath [He did not select us to condemn us], but [that we might] obtain [His] salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah). I think that is very clear!
And dont you want to escape the wrath that is coming upon this world? I do and I think you do to! What is wrong in believing that if this is what the Scriptures are saying? There is nothing wrong and I am thankful that God has provided a way out of this judgment, through His Son Jesus Christ!
How do I know that the Rapture takes place before the Tribulation
Period starts? I think
the book of Revelation lays that out for us. In
The last division of the book, which covers Revelation
chapters 4-22, deal with the things that will take place after
this or the Greek expression is META TAUTA.
After what things? After the things of the
Church when the Church Age comes to an end.
In Revelation chapter 4, after we finish the letters to
the Churches in Asia Minor which are found in Revelation chapters
2 & 3, it also closes that period of time known as the Church
Age and the last days Church, one of them anyway is the lukewarm
church and we see that beginning even today. Then, in
John is a type of the church and after these things of the church, as the church age comes to a close, John looks up and sees a door open in heaven, then a voice like that of a trumpet and the call to come up, and immediately, instantaneously he was in heaven!
Does that sound familiar to you? It should because I believe that is what Paul is talking about in I Corinthians chapter 15 and I Thessalonians chapter 4; it is a picture of the Rapture of the Church. And, interestingly enough, the next time we read of the Church on earth is in Revelation chapter 19 when we return with the Lord to the earth to set up His kingdom!
Think of it like this, before World War II started, Japan
and Germany called their ambassadors home, they left America and
went to their own home countries, why?
Because war was about to break out and their countries
wanted them to be home before war was declared! So too with our Lord, before
He declares war on earth, before He pours out His wrath upon a
Christ rejecting world, He will call His ambassadors home, you
and me! Remember,
this is not our home, we are aliens and strangers just passing
through, for our citizenship is in heaven and that is where we
are called to go, to be with our Lord.
I love what Paul says in
That is what we are doing and in knowing He is coming back, in knowing we will be with Him, what should we do? Paul told us, Therefore comfort one another with these words. I Thessalonians 4:18.
Now I want to spend some time looking at the various views of the Rapture and then we will close looking at what I believe is the correct view, what the Scriptures are teaching. You dont have to believe what I am saying, but I would encourage you to put away any preconceived ideas you may have and let the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit teach you what God has said so that you would not be ignorant of these things.
first view in regards to the Rapture that we will look at is called
the Mid-Tribulation view and in this view the believers will remain
on the earth for the first 3½ ears of the 7 year Tribulation
Period and then be caught up to be with the Lord before the Great
Tribulation falls upon the human race. They use
Church, the Body of Christ, was a mystery to the Old Testament
prophets. Paul tells us this in
The next view we will look at is the Post-Tribulation view and this says that at the end of the Tribulation period, at the end of the 7 years, believers will be caught up to be with the Lord and then they will immediately return to earth with Him to set up the Millennial Kingdom. Here is a definition of what they believe, Postribulationism teaches that the Rapture and the Second Coming are facets of a single event which will occur at the end of the Tribulation when Christ returns. The church will be on the earth during the Tribulation to experience the events of that period. (Ryrie, Basic Theology, p. 500).
main problem with this view is that Jesus said that no man knows
the day or the hour that He will return for us. But if this view
is correct, we would be able to count off 3½ years from
the abomination of desolation to the Lords return. That
is not speaking of the Rapture but of His Second Coming which
can be calculated out after the Tribulation Period begins. (See
The next view we will look at is what is called the Pre-Wrath Rapture and this is the newest view that was ushered in by Marvin Rosenthal with his 1990 book entitled The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church. Its thesis is as follows:
Rapture of the
So after the sixth seal, after the cosmic disturbances, the Church will be Raptured before the Day of the Lord and then His divine wrath is poured out. That is the basic premise of this view. I will share with you two important facts regarding this issue of divine wrath which is said to occur after the sixth seal.
First, in Revelation chapter 5, John begins to weep convulsively because no one was able to loose the seals of the scroll. We read in verse 5, . . . Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals. The wrath that is about to be poured out upon the earth dwellers comes by Christ Himself and thus begins the seventieth week of Daniel and the Day of the Lord, not just past the midway period of the Tribulation Period.
that is not enough, during the sixth seal being poured out upon
the earth dwellers, notice what the people are doing and who they
are hiding from. We read, And the kings of the earth,
the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every
slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the
rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall
on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne
and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath
has come, and who is able to stand?
The question we must ask ourselves is that if Gods wrath is not present until the first trumpet, after the sixth seal, or as some feel, after the last trumpet, why are these people hiding themselves during the sixth seal and understanding that the wrath that has come upon them is coming from God?
Isaiah chapter 2 we see a very similar passage. We read For
the day of the LORD of hosts shall come upon everything proud
and lofty, upon everything lifted up -
and it shall be brought low. . . . They shall go into the
holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, from the
terror of the LORD and the glory of His majesty, when He arises
to shake the earth mightily.
sadly there are those that believe that there is only a Partial
Rapture. Only the spiritual believers will be caught up before
the Tribulation begins while the carnal believers will go through
the Tribulation Period. You must be SANCTIFIED ENOUGH
for this highly selective Rapture. I am not sure how much you
need to sanctify yourself, but you have to be sanctified enough
to make it! I have even heard a
Notice what we are told
here, that the complete and perfect Church will be presented to
Christ - not just a partial bride. And we are made perfect through
Christ and not on our own merit. If you think you are perfect,
your pride just caused you to fall! You see, how good do you have
to be? Does that mean that the finished work of Christ on the
there are those that believe in the No Rapture view. This view
holds that there is no Rapture, no Tribulation and no
as we go to meet the Lord in the air we will immediately go before
the throne of God, just as John experienced. What an awesome time
that will be. That is why Paul exhorts us by saying to us that
we should be, looking for the blessed hope and glorious
appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself
for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify
for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Speak
these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one
last view we are going to be looking at, and I believe it is the
correct one, is the Pre-Tribulation view. In this view it says
that all true believers in Christ will be caught up in the air
with Christ. That is ALL believers throughout the
Church Age, living or dead. They will receive their eternal heavenly
bodies. Then following the Rapture of the Church we see the Tribulation
Period, which leads into the return of Christ, which leads into
support this view. Remember what Jesus said to the church in
What I want you to notice
is that Jesus said that He will keep us OUT OF the
trial that will be unleashed upon the earth dwellers. Folks,
we are not earth dwellers. Again, listen to what the Scriptures
tell us. In
in Genesis chapter 19, before the cities of
Thus, the pre-requisite to the Tribulation Period, I believe, is that the Church MUST be removed before God can pour out His wrath on a Christ rejecting world.
in the first 3 chapters of the book of Revelation we see the Church
mentioned some 18 times. Then we dont see the Church on
earth again until we return with Christ in
the Church will endure trials that come upon them, and these are
the trials of this world, but they will not experience Gods
wrath which is being poured out upon a Christ rejecting world,
the earth dwellers! That is what the Tribulation Period is all
about, besides God dealing with the nation of
Now let me share with you a Scripture that you might not have thought shows the Rapture of the Church, but after I have looked at this and read this text, it seems to be correct. In II Thessalonians 2:1-12 we are told, Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
What is the focus of this text? Verse 1 tells us that it
the gathering together of the Church to meet the Lord and Paul
is saying that this day has not happened yet. And the verse I
would like to focus on here is verse 3 that says, Let
no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless
the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed,
the son of perdition.
And The Amplified Bible puts it like this, Let
no one deceive or beguile you in any way, for that day will not
come except the apostasy comes first [unless the predicted great
falling away of those who have professed to be Christians has
come], and the man of lawlessness (sin) is revealed, who is the
son of doom (of perdition), [Dan 7:25; 8:25;
The Greek word for falling away is APOSTASIA, (ap-os-tas-ee-ah) and many believe this is speaking of a departure from the faith. That is, those that once believed in the foundational truths of the Scriptures have departed from that and now are rejecting what the Scripture are saying, as The Amplified Bible says. That could be true and we do see that today, this falling away from the faith, but is that really what this verse is saying?
Could this be speaking of a departure from this earth, the Rapture of the Church? I think it is a good possibility! Dr. Thomas Ice tells us,
Greek noun apostasia is only used twice in the
New Testament. In addition to
Gordon Lewis explains how the verb from which the noun apostasia is derived supports the basic meaning of departure in the following:
verb may mean to remove spatially. There is little reason then
to deny that the noun can mean such a spatial removal or departure.
Since the noun is used only one other time in the New Testament
of apostasy from Moses (Acts 21:21), we can hardly conclude that
its Biblical meaning is necessarily determined. The verb is used
fifteen times in the New Testament. Of these fifteen, only three
have anything to do with a departure from the faith (Luke 8:13;
It is with full assurance of proper exegetical study and with complete confidence in the original languages, concludes Daniel Davey, that the word meaning of apostasia is defined as departure.
Paul Lee Tan adds the following:
What precisely does Paul mean when he says that the falling away (2:3) must come before the tribulation? The definite article the denotes that this will be a definite event, an event distinct from the appearance of the Man of Sin. The Greek word for falling away, taken by itself, does not mean religious apostasy or defection. Neither does the word mean to fall, as the Greeks have another word for that. [pipto, I fall; TDI] The best translation of the word is to depart. The apostle Paul refers here to a definite event which he calls the departure, and which will occur just before the start of the tribulation. This is the rapture of the church.
So the word has the core meaning of departure and it depends upon the context to determine whether it is used to mean physical departure or an abstract departure such as departure from the faith. . . .
It is important to note that Paul uses a definite article with the noun apostasia. What does this mean? Davey notes the following:
Since the Greek language does not need an article to make the noun definite, it becomes clear that with the usage of the article reference is being made to something in particular. In II Thessalonians 2:3 the word apostasia is prefaced by the definite article which means that Paul is pointing to a particular type of departure clearly known to the Thessalonian church.
Dr. Lewis provides a likely answer when he notes that the definite article serves to make a word distinct and draw attention to it. In this instance he believes that its purpose is to denote a previous reference. The departure Paul previously referred to was our being gathered to him (v. 1) and our being caught up with the Lord and the raptured dead in the clouds (1 Thess. 4:17), notes Dr. Lewis. The departure was something that Paul and his readers clearly had a mutual understanding about. Paul says in verse 5, Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?
use of the definite article would also support the notion that
Paul spoke of a clear, discernable event. A physical departure,
like the rapture would fit just such a notion. However, the New
Testament teaches that apostasy had already arrived in
the first century (cf.
Again, how would the Thessalonians, or Christians in any century since, be qualified to recognize the apostasy when it should come, assuming, simply for the sake of this inquiry, that the Church might be on earth when it does come? There has been apostasy from God, rebellion against Him, since time began.
Paul is referring to in his reference to the departure,
was something that both the Thessalonian believers and he had
discussed in-depth previously. When we examine Pauls first
letter to the Thessalonians, he never
mentions the doctrine of apostasy, however, virtually every chapter
in that epistle speaks of the rapture (cf. 1:910; 2:19;
probably 3:13; 4:1317; 5:111). In these passages,
Paul has used a variety of Greek terms to describe the rapture.
It should not be surprising that he uses another term to reference
the rapture in
Remember, the Thessalonians had been led astray by the false teaching (2:23) that the Day of the Lord had already come. This was confusing because Paul offered great hope, in the first letter, of a departure to be with Christ and a rescue from gods wrath. Now a letter purporting to be from Paul seems to say that they would first have to go through the Day of the Lord. Paul then clarified his prior teaching by emphasizing that they had no need to worry. They could again be comforted because the departure he had discussed in his first letter, and in his teaching while with them, was still the truth. The departure of Christians to be with Christ, and the subsequent revelation of the lawless one, Paul argues, is proof that the Day of the Lord had not begun as they had thought.
understanding of apostasia makes much more sense than
the view that they are to be comforted (v. 2) because a defection
from the faith must precede the Day of the Lord. The entire second
chapter (as well as
- Dr. Thomas Ice, Sunday, Is the Rapture in 2 Thessalonians 2:3?, September 25, 2011
You see how this fits together. The Church is Raptured and then who is revealed? It is the Antichrist. Thus, we are to be looking for Jesus Christ because that is the next big event for the Church, His coming for His Bride, you and me! And I do believe there is a big difference between the Rapture of the Church and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. David Breese gives to us some of the differences between the Rapture of the Church and the Second Coming of Christ. He wrote, The rapture, therefore, comes before the tribulation, and takes Christians out of this world before that seven-year period of the wrath of God. Notice that, in the Rapture, Christ does not come all of the way to this world. Rather, Christians are caught up to meet Him in the air (I Thes. 4:17). At the second coming of Christ, His glorious return, He comes with His saints. In fact, He returns with an army from heaven for the conquest of the world (Rev. 19:11-16). Remember, in that this is an army of His saints (Jude 14), you and I will be a part of that glorious conquest that centers on the return of Christ in power. This is the view I feel the Scriptures support, the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church!
I hope I have cleared this up for you and as you look out at this world and you see what is happening, as you see what the Bible is saying come to pass, you will be excited because the return of the Lord for His Church is getting closer. It is our blessed hope, the appearing of our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ. The early Church believed it and thought it could happen at any moment and so should we.
Let me share with you these words from Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
a man of God who was murdered by Hitlers forces for his
faith. And I want you to listen to his words because there was
a change in the life of this man. You see,
I plunged into work in a very unchristian way. An . . . ambition that many noticed in me made my life difficult. . . . Then something happened, something that has changed and transformed my life to the present day. For the first time I discovered the Bible . . . I had often preached. I had seen a great deal of the Church, and talked and preached about it but I had not yet become a Christian. . . . I know that at that time I turned the doctrine of Jesus Christ into something of personal advantage for myself . . . I pray to God that that will never happen again. Also I had never prayed, or prayed only very little. For all my loneliness, I was quite pleased with myself. Then the Bible, and in particular the Sermon on the Mount, freed me from that. Since then everything has changed. I have felt this plainly, and so have other people about me. It was a great liberation. It became clear to me that the life of a servant of Jesus Christ must belong to the Church, and step by step it became plainer to me how far that must go.
Then came the crisis of 1933. This strengthened me in it. Also I now found others who shared that aim with me. The revival of the Church and of the ministry became my supreme concern. . . . My calling is quite clear to me. What God will make of it I do not know . . . I must follow the path. Perhaps it will not be such a long one. (Phil 1:23). But it is a fine thing to have realized my calling . . . I believe its nobility will become plain to us only in coming times and events. If only we can hold out.
- Eric Metaxas, Bonhoeffer Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, pp. 123-124
I pray that as we begin this New Year that each of us understand what time it is and we have a passion to do the work of God no matter the cost. Are we willing to lay our lives on the altar of sacrifice and totally give our lives to God to be used as He wills and not as we desire? I believe over the next several years our faith is going to be tested as never before and thus, we need to know what we believe and not only know what we believe but live what we say we believe. We need to trust in the Lord and serve Him faithfully and fully.
As I begin to close this study this evening, listen to what well known author, Tim LaHaye wrote,
I was a boy, I took a tour of [the] Henry Ford factory in
- Tim LaHaye
Folks, I believe that the next event on the prophetic scene is the Lord coming for the Church, His Bride. Dont let anyone steal that joyous hope that God has given to each of us! Comfort each other with these words of hope that God has given to us. But for those of you that dont know the Lord, you are not clothed in His righteousness by faith, you dont have the right components you might say, and like the materials that were not made of steel, and the magnet could not lift them up, when the Lord comes for His Bride, if you dont know Him, YOU WILL BE LEFT BEHIND!