THE RAPTURE OF THE SAINTS
(I Thess. 4:13-18)
Before Christ returned to heaven to the throne of His Heavenly Father, He made three distinct promises to His disciples: That He would
(A) Send the Holy Spirit: This promise concerns the past and has been fulfilled—John chapters 14-16
(B) Build His Church: This promise concerns the present and is being fulfilled—Matt. 16:18
(C) Come Again a Second Time: This promise concerns the prospective (future) and will be fulfilled-John 14:1-3
THE DEFINITION OF THE RAPTURE
There are several positions professing believers hold concerning the Rapture: These positions are delineated below as follows:
A. PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE: Christ will come BEFORE the Tribulation and rapture the living saints.
B. MID-TRIBULATION RAPTURE: Christ will come in the middle of the Tribulation and rapture the living saints.
C. POST-TRIBULATION RAPTURE: Christ will come at the conclusion of the Tribulation Period and rapture the living saints.
D. PARTIAL RAPTURE: Christ will come and rapture only those living saints who are scripturally sanctified.
E. PRE-WRATH RAPTURE: Christ will come and rapture the living saints after six-sevenths of the Tribulation period, just before the tribulation concludes.
The Errors of B-E
The above beliefs all unnecessarily divide the saints and make the rapture an event dependent upon the saint's works, not the Saviour’s divine pre-determination.
DEFINITION OF THE RAPTURE
The rapture is that occasion when all the saints from the resurrection of the redeemer until the time of the resurrection of the redeemed of this dispensation meet the Lord in the air-I Thess. 4:13-18; the act whereby the Lord Jesus Christ instantly transports a living generation of saints to glory.
DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN I-II THESSALONIANS
Note the distinctions between I & II Thessalonians: While both epistles deal with the Second Coming of Christ: I Thess. Concerns the Rapture, while II Thess. Concentrates on the Revelation. I Thess. describes Christ’s coming for His saints, while II Thess. Delineates His Coming with the saints. I Thess. deals primarily with the Day of Christ, while II Thess. emphasizes primarily the Day of the Lord. II Thess. was written to comfort, while II Thess. was penned to correct. I Thess. confirms against the slander of dead believers, while II Thess. confirms against the slander of living believers
WHY I BELIEVE IN THE PRETRIBULATION RAPTURE
A. Because there is a difference between the Rapture (I Cor. 15:51-58) and the Revelation (Zech. 12:10, 14:4). As already stated, the Second Coming actually covers a span of seven years, commencing with the Rapture of the Saints in the Air and consummating with the Revelation of Christ to the earth at the conclusion of the Tribulation Period.
B. Because there is a difference between tribulation (John 14:27) and The Tribulation (Matt. 24:21). The Apostle Paul clearly stated that in this world, all believers would experience persecution—II Tim. 3:12, opposition which could and sometimes has resulted in martyrdom in past and current centuries, but this suffering should NOT be equated with the horrendous atrocities of the Tribulation Period described in Rev. chapters 6-19.
C. Because there is a difference between Israel and the church (I Cor. 10:32). The promises to Israel are earthly, the promises to the church are heavenly! Bible students who equate O. T. Israel with the N. T. church make a MAJOR theological mistake.
There are two Greek Words that express the Rapture: The first word is the word Harpazo used in I Thess 4:17, which means “to catch away, to catch up.” It is the same word used in Acts 23:10 when the mob was attempting to take Paul by force. The Rapture is a powerful forceful act in the heavenlies that frees living believers from Satan's dominion The second word—rhuo—in I Thess. 1:10 is translated “delivered,” and that is what the Rapture involves, a deliverance from this present evil world.
BIBLICAL REASONS WHY JESUS CHRIST WILL COME AGAIN
There are several reasons why Christ come again a second time, just as surely as He came the first time. (1) Christ will come again to ratify the Scriptures—John 14:1-3. (2) Christ will come to resurrect the saints—I Cor. 15:51-54. (3.) Christ will come again to rapture the saved—I Thess. 4:11-16. (4) Christ will come again to reunite the sanctified—I Thess. 4:17, (5) Christ will come again to reveal the secrets—I Cor. 4:5. (6) Christ will come again to reward the servants—Matt. 16: 27. (7) Christ will come again to remove the Spirit—II Thess. 2:7-8.
THE DESCRIPTION OF THE RAPTURE
A. The Rapture is a SURE EVENT as Heb. 10:37 states: “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come and will not tarry.”
B. The Rapture is also A SECRETIVE EVENT: Compare I Thess. 4:13-18 with Jn. 12: 28-29, the shepherds in Luke 2 and wise men in Matt. 2.
C. The Rapture will be A SUDDEN EVENT: The word "moment" in I Cor. 15:52 comes from the Greek word "atomos,” and the phrase "twinkling of an eye" is based on the Greek word which means "to hurl" quickly.
D. The Rapture will also be A SIGNLESS EVENT: The Rapture could occur at any moment in time so far we know. It is an imminent event that does NOT require signs. The signs deal primarily with the REVELATION, while the season of Christ’s return is related to the RAPTURE. It is important to note here the distinction between watching for the Revelation-- Luke 12:37 and waiting for the Rapture—II Thess. 1:10.
E. The Rapture will also be A SIMULTANEOUS EVENT—I Thess. 4:16-17. The coming of the Lord from Heaven, the resurrection of the bodies of dead saints, the translation of living saints and meeting together in the air will all occur simultaneously.
F. The Rapture will be A SWIFT EVENT: We have two O. T. illustrations of this fact: Both Enoch—Gen. 5 and Elijah—II Kings 2 were swiftly translated to Glory in an instant of time. One moment they were on earth, the next moment, they were in heaven.
G. The Rapture will also be A SIGNIFICANT EVENT in that it signifies the termination of this present dispensation. This present sixth dispensation—the age of the church—which has been in existence for over 2,000 years, will conclude with the Rapture.
THE DELIBERATIONS CONCERNING THE RAPTURE
In Titus 2:13 the Rapture is called the "blessed hope” because it is just that; that moment of time when the Lord Jesus Christ will appear in the heavenly skies to rapture and take home His blood-bought bride. The Rapture is a precious hope.
A. It is a PRECIOUS HOPE BECAUSE IT IS A CULMINATING HOPE—Heb . 9:28, the culmination of all the hopes of believers for over 20 centuries. In contrast with unconverted sinners who either have no hope or who possess a false hope, the sure hope of believers will experience total fulfillment as Christ appears “the second time without sin unto salvation" and endows believers with the salvation of the body and its incorruptible, immortal features.
B. The Rapture is A PURIFYING HOPE BECAUSE IT IS A CLEANSING HOPE-I Jn. 3:2-3 says that every genuine believer who possesses this hope will purify himself and that “we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” This great hope causes believers to seek cleansing from all known sin, so that they can be found spotless and pure at his appearing—Eph. 5:27.
C. The Rapture is A PRACTICAL HOPE BECAUSE IT IS A COMFORTING HOPE-I Thess. 4:18. The Apostle Paul concludes his great treatise on the Rapture by signing off with a “wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
“Some glorious morning sorrow will cease, some glorious morning all will be peace; heartaches all ended, schooldays all done, heaven will open, Jesus will come! Some golden daybreak Jesus will come, some golden daybreak battles all done: He’ll shout the victory, break through the blue, some golden daybreak, for me, for you.”