One of the most vital and interesting pursuits in life is to pay attention to the Word of God, and what it really has to say. The Word of God can be a guide for our lives today, plus it brings to us exciting and fantastic promises for tomorrow. It responds to our questions in a very terrific fashion. In fact, many of the passages in the Word of God were responses to the questions of Christians who wanted to know one thing or another. That was certainly the case in the Book of 1 Thessalonians. The Apostle Paul heard from these Christians, because they were concerned about those who had gone before, those who had died, and were presumably, in the minds of these Christians, with the Lord Jesus. But how could this be explained? Well, the Apostle Paul wrote them back and said:
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep. . . For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:13, 16-18).
In other words, the Apostle Paul says, Heres the way I want you to understand the future from a Christian point of view. Those who are asleep, whose bodies have remained in the grave while their spirits have been with the Lord, will be united with their resurrected bodies on a day to come. At the same time, we who are alive and remain, who are living, walking, still in our physical bodies, will be conjoined together with them. And together, we will go into the presence of the Lord.
So, our anticipation, the Apostle Paul says, is, first of all, a reuniting of Christians, and then, their moving to heaven. That marvelous day of the Church being taken to heaven, we have come to call the Rapture of the Church. Many say that the Rapture is not in the Bible. Rapture means moving from one place to another, which is used in Acts 8:39, 2 Cor. 12:2, and again in 1 Thess 4:17. The Rapture of the Church is promised here in the Word of God. The Apostle Paul has now strongly reminded us what it is, and what we should tell other believers about this tremendous daythe day when we all go to be with the Lord.
Hope of the Believers
So it is that the Rapture of the Church has become the blessed hope for all of us. The hope of believers is not that we shall change the world in some interesting fashion. The hope of believers is not that we have an abstract concept of the future, and hope that maybe God will do something. But the hope of believers is the specific promise that on a specific day, we will be translated from this world into the world to come. And the Word of God commends that hope in the life of believers.
And every man that has this hope in Him purifies himself even as He is pure (1 John 3:3).
What does a person do when he hopes in the return of the Lord Jesus? Well, he keeps himself pure. He plans his future in the light of his ultimate and soon answer to God. He lives his life in the light of the eternal values that are built into the fiber of Christians. The promise of the return of Jesus Christ produces an early confirmation of that wonderful hope in the life of the Christian.
Destiny of the Church
So the hope of believers is a very remarkable thing. In fact, the word hope can even be expanded out into a stronger term. And that is the word destiny. Destiny means that God will in fact, and without exception, bring it to pass. Destiny is that ultimate word whereby God is telling us that the fulfillment of His desire is not dependent upon some doings in this world. The Rapture of the Church is then the destiny of the Church. In every land and every city and every state and every nation, Christians will then be taken from their human pursuits, and taken home to heaven, so as to ever be with the Lord.
Every man that has this hope in Him purifies himself (1 John 3:3).
So, let me make you a wonderful promise from the Word of God. Whatever may be the problems of this world, Christ is coming again for you. Whatever may be the things that you cannot discern about some of the details, the nuances of Christianity, this is certain and true: Christ is coming back to take you home to be with Himself! The return of Jesus Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of every promise God has made to us, without exception. Christ is coming again. He is coming for His Church, and He will take that Church home to heaven. Believe this, and you are well on the way to becoming a solid, resolute and dependable Christian. So the Rapture of the Church, the taking home to heaven of believers, that is hope. In fact, that is destiny. You become a person of eternal destiny when that destiny is tied to Christ and the promise of God that you are on your way to heavens glory.
Despair for the Lost
The Rapture of the Church will also bring into being despair for the lost, and calamity for the world. That will have a great impact upon this world. Suppose that you were standing on a busy street corner somewhere in Chicago or New York. And suppose that as you stood there, suddenly, many of the people in that circle of individuals that were about you, were gone. They had instantly disappeared. How would you feel if you were along with a bunch of other worldly people, thinking about the future, and planning on the next trip, or the next vacation, or the next card game, and suddenly, wham, it is all over? There are thousands of people that are gone, and those who remain wonder what has happened.
The unsaved people of the world really have a wake-up call coming. They may heckle the activity of Christians today. They may laugh at you because you profess to be Born-Again. But there is coming a day when they will look at the empty chairs and the empty homes and the empty places from which Christians are gone, and wonder what has happened. They will be in despair, because the claims of the Christians that they so foolishly disdained will suddenly become a provable proposition. But it will be too late. The Christians will be in heaven, and they will have been left behind.
You know, there are those who think about the Rapture of the Church, who look on from a distance, and who are still cynical. They say, The Rapture of the Churchwhat good will that do? What will it bring to pass? Isnt it the teaching of the Bible that the Church must first go through a time of privation and tribulation before it is taken home to be with the Lord? What do you mean, He could come at any moment?
The Bible does teach that the Church will go through many, many elements of tribulation. But let me tell you this: the discipline that the Church so richly deserves has already been wrought on the quivering frame of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. When Jesus died for us to take away our sins, He not only gave us everlasting life, but He cleansed us from the presence and personal power of sin, taking it away, nailing it to His cross, the Bible says. The condemnation, the judgment, that I richly deserve because of my sin, the difficulty that you deserve because of your sinwe all must agree we deserve it! But thanks be to God, sin will no longer be a problem in the life of a Christian, because Christ died in order that our sins might be taken away.
So the issue in the life of a Christian is not sin. By grace, it is all gone. By grace, the world of Christians has been cleansed and been given ultimate reality. But that is not true about a lost person. A lost person who has been critical of Christianity will suddenly realize that Christians were right after all, because Christ has come after all. Suddenly they will realize that they are lost, and now the rules of life and of salvation have changed. The burden of sin that they still carry, they could have gotten rid of, had they believed in the Gospel. But they didnt. And so fearful discipline has come upon them. It will be a time of despair for the lost, because their argument against the reality of Christianity will have been lost after the Rapture, the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for His own.
So think about that. Think about how the wonderful relationship with Jesus Christ, and our walking with Him here, is going to be beautifully consummated by that moment when we step up into heaven, and we are taken home to be with Him.
Calamity for the World
So the Rapture of the Church is despair for the lost. It is also calamity for the world. The world remains cynical about the reality of the Gospel. The world says, We are the boss. We are triumphant. We run everything. And the man of the world considers himself to be so competent! Listen: like that, in an instant, that man will be forced to deal with a world gone mad. It will be a time of fierce political calamity for that world which has so ignored or mistreated Christians up until that time.
So what do we know? We know that Christ is coming again. We know that when He comes, Hes coming for His Church. We know that when He comes, He will vindicate everything Christians have stood for up until now. And we know that we are given comfort. Comfort one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:18) is the concomitant promise that comes along with the promise of sins forgiven. Please, when you think about Christianity, think an extra time about that moment when we are going to be taken home with Jesus Christ. I promise that such an anticipation will be faithfully reinforced when Jesus comes for His own.
What to Do if You Miss the Rapture
By this time, thinking about the Rapture of the Church, and Christians by the millions being taken from this world, home to be with Jesus Christ, there are those perhaps who say, What will I do if the Rapture occurs and I am still here? What to do if I miss the Rapture is a very vital and important question.
But now think for a moment what the world is going to be like, and how God will be working in those days. The Rapture is the end of the Church Age. Christians, the Church, that wonderful Church which is His Body, will be taken out of the world on the occasion of the Rapture. But will that be the end of the world? No. That will be when the emphasis of God and His working in the lives of people moves from the Church back to the nation of Israel. That will be a time when the emphasis is no longer the Gospel of the Grace of God, but the Gospel of the Kingdom. The coming of the Kingdom was promised by Jesus Christ many, many times. When the Kingdom comes after the Rapture of the Church, the Day of Grace will be past, but the Day of the Kingdom will be upon us.
What will happen in the Day of the Kingdom in the world? Many will believe, but they will be saved by believing the Gospel of the Kingdom, rather than the Gospel of the Grace of God. Believing, they will be an adjunct of the nation of Israel. They will still be a part of Gods great program, but not a part of the Body of Christ, which will have worked its last great work up until that time.
I realize that we could be talking to some right now, who, a week from now, could face this exact question: what to do if I miss the Rapture? Well, the first thing to do is to take the time to look into the Word of God, take the time to pray. Ask, What is God doing during this time? You will realize that the Gospel of the Kingdom is that message to which you will be called upon to be committed. If you miss the Rapture, dont despair! You can still serve Christ, but you will now serve Him in terms of the Kingdom message. Youll hear that Gospel being preached by manyperhaps many of them being Jews who have come to believe in Christ as their Messiah. They will proclaim the wonderful news that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
Jesus spoke during the days of His earthly ministry and said, the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 4:17), right? Well, the Kingdom of Heaven did not come at that time, because Israel rejected its Messiah. Finally, Christ spoke in those days to the nation of Israel and said:
Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord (Matthew 23:39).
Well, when the Rapture takes place, He will have come. And now Israel will see that He is its Messiah. You can be a part of that great program, even if you miss the Rapture. What then to do if you miss the Rapture? Dont despair! You may regret the fact that your own preoccupations took you away from the great program of salvation by faith during the Age of Grace. But still, real opportunity to live for Christ, and work for Him, and be a witness for Him, will remain in the days of the Tribulation, a time in which you have become a part. So what to do if you miss the Rapture is, continue to hold forth the Word of Life, and plan on conforming yourself to what that Kingdom will bring to pass in days to come.
How to be Sure You Make the Rapture
Now, one final suggestion that I would make to each of us is this: how to be sure you make the Rapture. The Rapture will be an unannounced, marvelous gathering that will take place. But if you realize the Rapture has not yet happened, you need to prepare and make sure you will be raptured. You do so by being sure that you come to know Christ as personal Savior. Be sure that you believe the Gospel of the Grace of God. Rejoice in the fact that you yet live in the Day of Grace, and that you still have the opportunity to believe the Gospel. Having accepted Christ, thus becoming a real Christian, you, then, can plan on being a part of the Rapture and being taken home to be with Christ.
Preparing to Meet Christ!
The Gospel of Grace is still available to you today. It may be that youre concerned right now about knowing the Lord Jesus in your heart as your personal Savior. Youre asking, What must I do to be saved? The answer is, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31). If you would like to be saved right now, pray the following prayer and ask God to make salvation real to your own heart:
Heavenly Father, I know that I am a sinner. I know that there are fantastic events coming up in our world, and in the midst of them all, I know that I need to be a Christian. I want to believe the Gospel, and accept Jesus today. Please come and live within my heart, and bring salvation, I pray in Jesus dear Name, Amen.
If you prayed that prayer from the depths of your heart, you are now a Christian. You will participate in the Rapture of the Church if you are alive when Jesus returns. The cataclysmic upheavals of the Tribulation will be of no consequence to you, as you will be with the Lord in heaven.
From the writings of Dave Breese
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