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 The Rapture (Part 33 of the series)

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PostSubject: The Rapture (Part 33 of the series)   The Rapture (Part 33 of the series) EmptyWed Feb 11, 2015 9:18 pm

The Rapture (Part 33 of the series)

Oddly enough, many Christians don’t believe the Rapture.  I don’t know how they miss it.  They say that the word is not in the bible.  Well, neither is the word “Trinity.”  They take a different interpretation of the bible and say that there is no future Rapture or Tribulation.  They say instead that we are right now living in the so-called tribulation period.  These are the Postmillennialist and Amillennialist Christians.  What I am teaching is the Premillennialist perspective.  Before moving on, since we quickly covered the Rapture in Revelation 4:1-2, I’d like us to see what the rest of the bible has to say regarding the Rapture.  

The Rapture is most detailed in 1 Thessalonians.  In 1 Thessalonians 4:13 we read, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.”  Often the bible refers to death as “falling asleep” because Christians never die.  Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 5:8 that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  The soul and spirit you never dies, nor will we ever lose consciousness once leaving our bodies.  Your body will sleep, but you are not your body, but your soul and spirit within.  Your body simply encases the real you.  When your body will sleeps (that is, when you die) your body will later be awakened at the Rapture, but you yourself will never die even while your body is sleeping.  Jesus says in John 8:51, “I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”  In John 11:25 He says, “I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”  And in John 6:50 He says, “But there is the bread that comes down from Heaven, which a man may eat and not die.”  While Christians will “sleep” and never die, non-Christians will both sleep and die.  Death, as defined in the bible, means separation from the life of God.  They too will not lose consciousness when they die, but their experience will be as far away from fellowship with God as possible, as they will wake up in Hades.  Both Christians and non-Christians will have resurrected bodies.  The non-Christians’ body will feel the pain of Hell, and their worm will never die.  So both believers and non-believers’ bodies will sleep, but only the Christian will never die.  

That is why Paul in our first verse says that he does not want us (Christians) to be ignorant about those who fall asleep or to grieve like the rest of men (non-Christians) who have no hope.  Non-Christians have no hope for death.  No hope exists in their minds because they believe they are the creation of evolutionary particles of the universe and that when they die they will return as elements of the stars.  There is no hope for them if they die without Christ because they will awaken, but they will awaken to an eternity of Death, darkness, pain, sin, and exclusion from the life of God.  

Verse 14 of our passage reads, “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.”  The Rapture, Paul says, is just as sure to happen as the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  He says that when Jesus returns He will not come alone.  With Him, during the Rapture, will be all those who have fallen asleep in Him: that is, all Christians and saved Israelites from the Old Testament times.  Verse 15 reads, “According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.”  Jesus told His disciples at some point this message.  His exact words are not recorded for us in Scripture, but Paul here is telling us what He passed on to them.  This is likely one of the things that Jesus told them after He resurrected from the dead and hung out with them for an extra 40 days (Acts 1:3).  Jesus said, according to this verse, that the Christians who have not yet died and who are alive at the time of the Rapture will be onlookers at this event, watching as the Christians who died before them receive their new bodies first.  The Christian onlookers will receive theirs immediately after the Christian souls who are in the sky with Jesus are clothed with their new bodies.  

Verse 16 reads, “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”  Now hold up...Mr. Preacher, I thought you just said that the dead in Christ came with Jesus in the sky.  Why does this verse state that the dead in Christ will rise first?  Are they in the sky or in the ground?  Good question!  Both! Their spirits/souls are in the sky with Christ during His return.  Their bodies that were buried in the Earth will rise up out of the grave like mummies and float up to the sky and meet their respective souls in the air and be transformed from the sinful bodies that they were into spiritual righteous bodies, resembling Jesus’ resurrected body.  Verse 17 reads, “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.”  Immediately following, those who are alive at the time, the Christian onlookers, will also be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, just as the Christians were who preceded them, and they will float up to the sky and join everyone else.  We will be clothed with new imperishable, immortal bodies (1 Cor. 15:51-54).  It is possible that we won’t receive our new bodies until we are up in the sky with the others.  (Remember Jesus made a human in the flesh walk on water, so too He can make us fleshly beings float up if that is His plan.)  If that is so, I hope if you are alive during that time that you are not afraid of heights because you will still be in this Earthly body with all of its capacity to fear (like that human that walked on water) while you are floating up to the sky.  

Let’s not miss the details of the passage we just looked at.  During this time there will be a loud trumpet sound, as if to announce to the world that the time has come.  Perhaps the Year of Jubilee was a precursor to the Rapture.  Leviticus 25:8-9 reads as follows: “Count off seven Sabbaths of years—seven times seven years—so that the seventh Sabbath of years amount to a period of forty-nine years.  Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land.”  There we have a trumpet, Jubilee (or joy), and a day of atonement compacted together in one passage.  

Just a suggestion or food for thought:  Note that 1 Thessalonians 4:16 also mentions that Jesus will come with the voice of the Arch Angel.  I have heard Jehovah’s Witnesses say that Jesus is the Arch Angel and they point to this verse, saying, “See, it says that Jesus comes with the voice of the Arch Angel.”  They go on to say that Michael is another name for Jesus.  We know this to not be true.  Michael is the only arch angel.  Even the word “Arch” means topmost, which indicates that there can be only one arch at a time.  Satan was the original Arch angel, but he lost his post when he sinned and got kicked out of Heaven.  Michael, the next in charge, took over his spot and became Arch Angel.  Jesus is above the Arches.  The Creator cannot be compared to the creature—they are not even in the same league.  The Arch Angel Michael is going to introduce Jesus with a loud voice during the Rapture.  Jesus is often introduced by a loud voice from Heaven.  One example is Matthew 17:5, which says, “He [Jesus] was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.’”

A very important verse is 1 Thessalonians 5:9.  Paul is still speaking about the Rapture.  He says, “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  What does that have to do with the Rapture?  Immediately after the Rapture is when the Tribulation period begins.  This verse says that God is going to keep us (the Church) from experiencing the wrath (Tribulation period) that is to come upon the ungodly.  He did not appoint us to suffer wrath.  One major purpose for the Rapture is to save Christians from experiencing the Tribulation that will come upon all who have rejected Christ.  Romans 5:9 says, “Since we have been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!”

Some passages that appear to be speaking about the Rapture is not referring to the Rapture at all.  I won’t look at it in too much detail here because we will be looking at it in detail later on.  In Matthew 24, Jesus is discussing the Tribulation.  In verses 30-31 we read the following:

“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn.  They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.  And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”

At a quick glance this appears to be speaking of the Rapture, but there are several details that are different than the Rapture as described by the verses we covered in 1 Thessalonians.  Firstly, this event takes place during the time of wrath.  We saw the verses that say that God will keep His Church from the Day of Wrath.  Secondly, we saw that with the Rapture, Jesus comes in the sky with the spirits of the Saints.  Here, Jesus comes alone.  Thirdly, we saw that the only angel that participated in the Rapture was Michael, the Arch angel.  Here, many angels will accompany Him and it will be the angels who harvest the Earth of the elect.  This passage is not the Rapture.  Jesus continues explaining this event (which is not the Rapture) in 24:39b – 41.  These verses state: “As it was in the days of Noah...That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.”  Again, this sounds like the Rapture, and indeed, the Rapture will occur very similar to this.  But based on the same differences, such as it occurring during the Time of Wrath, this too is not the Rapture, but a continuation of the event that Jesus described in verses 30-31.  

Okay, so if the above passage is not the Rapture, then what is it?  Glad you asked.  There is a similar Rapture event that will occur after the Rapture which is described in Revelation 14:14-16.  Remember, although the Rapture will take away all Christians from the Earth, there will be many who will convert to Christianity during the Tribulation.  The 7 year Tribulation starts the moment the Rapture is completed.  Many will become Christians from the literature and evangelical items Christians leave behind.  The 144,000 Jewish Christians will be strong evangelizers during the time of the Tribulation.  And God’s 2 witnesses will also be evangelizing.  The passage in Revelation 14:14-16, which we will look at in great detail later, resembles the Rapture because this is when God is going to take up all Christians who have converted during the Tribulation period.  We can literally call this “The Rapture Part 2”.  God will again rapture up those in Christ in order to keep them from the second half of the Tribulation: The Great Tribulation Period.  The Great Tribulation is the second 3 and half years of the Tribulation.  The first 3 ½ years is bad, but will not be as bad as the second 3 ½ years.  God is going to spare those who became Christians during the Tribulation from experiencing His great Wrath that will befall the stubborn who, like Pharaoh, refuses to repent despite seeing God’s great signs, warnings and curses.  

Revelation 14:14-16 records the last time Christians will be on the Earth until the Tribulation is concluded.  The rest of the book up to the end of the Tribulation consists of only doomed sinners on Earth.  The passages we looked at in Matthew that appear to be the Rapture, but are not, are actually detailing the time of Revelation 14:14-16.  Lastly, Revelation 14:14-16 is also the occurrence of the Sheep and the Goats judgment, which I’ll show and prove later on when we get to this passage.  It is ironic that the Sheep and the Goats passage in Matthew 25 is used many times by Christians who argue that we can lose our salvation.  They argue that salvation is based on works, and not just by faith based on that passage.  They say that it will be those who did not give to the needy; who did not visit the sick or those in prison; and who did not feed the poor who will be thrown into Hell; but those who do these things are the ones who are saved to Heaven.  This judgment is describing the people of the Rapture Part 2.  It is describing only those of Revelation 14:14-16.  In the passage in Revelation 14:14-20, Jesus separates the so-called “Church” of this time (remember, the real Church was taken up during the Rapture) and Jesus will divide the phony spiritual religious people (the goats) from the truly spiritual Christians (the sheep) of the Catholic Church, which will be the only Church standing during the time of the Tribulation.  The Catholic Church resembles the Church, but is made up of false rules, works, deities (Mary and the Pope), and idols (such as holy crosses, trinkets, and Mary’s image on a tree).  It is made up of people who look saved but are just religious unsaved people.  The Sheep and Goats judgment is the exact same event as Revelation 14:14-20, which also, is the same event as the Rapture Part 2, which, as we covered, is often mistaken for the Rapture Part 1.  

A clear indication that the Sheep and the Goats passage in Matthew 25 takes place during the Rapture Part 2/Revelation 14:14-20 is Matthew 25:31, which is the first verse of the section.  It reads, “When the Son of Man comes in glory, and all the angels with him [the following will take place]...”  It gives us the time frame that the Sheep and Goats event will take place.  It will take place when the Son of Man comes in glory, and all the angels with Him.  As we just saw, this does not describe the first Rapture.  During the first Rapture, Jesus is not going to come with a bunch of angels, but rather, with a bunch of saved Christians in the air.  This does describe, however, the second Rapture, which is the same time period and occurrence as Revelation 14:14-20.  During that event, Jesus will come in glory with a bunch of angels, and during that event, He will be dividing the true Christians (Sheep) from the false Christians (the Goats).  The goats are all spiritual people.  The goats are all church-goers.  Jesus will be separating them because they look the same on the outside as the sheep.  This is not a judgment of all people everywhere.  This is not even a judgment of all unsaved people during that time.  The judgment of all the unsaved throughout all human history is described in Revelation 20:11-15.  This is only a judgment of religious non-Christians who are plucked out of the Tribulation during this Harvest by a harsh catastrophic event that will produce a lot of blood and death according to Revelation 14:20.  The rest of the non-Christians do not get harvested.  Notice, after Revelation 14:14-20 that sinners are still on the Earth after this harvest, but these are the non-religious sinners.  These are the sinners who don’t even try to be religious or call upon God.  They are the ones who will experience the Great Tribulation.  

So what I am about to say (and I conclude with this) may sound like a stretch but I find that it is true.  It is really those who do not see this clearly, who are the ones who are stretching Scripture, but they don’t realize it.  Only those who are honest and humbled—willing to adapt a new interpretation if they see that theirs does not completely add up—will be able to have their eyes opened to what I am about to quickly discuss.  From what we have discussed regarding the Sheep and Goats passage can lead to only one conclusion: that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ, during the Day of Grace (which consists of the time Jesus resurrected from the dead up until the Rapture).  When the Day of Wrath occurs (AKA the Tribulation Period) salvation reverts back to the Old Testament way of coming to God, which includes believing in Jesus.  In other words, it will be Jesus and the law.  This I see as the only possible explanation of the Sheep and Goats passage in Matthew 25.  Think about it.  Either way you interpret this passage would lead to an unresolved contradiction unless what I just suggested is true.  If what I suggested is true, then there is no contradiction.  What’s the contradiction?  Glad you asked!  If you take the stance that some “so-called” Christians take in believing that salvation is by works and faith, and base your argument on Matthew 25 you could win your argument, however, you would be contradicting other Scripture that clearly states that salvation is by faith alone apart from any work so that no one will be able to boast.  On the flip side, if you, like most Christians, believe that salvation is by faith alone apart from works, then Matthew 25, the Sheep and Goats passage contradicts this view because it clearly says that those who did not do the good works are sent to eternal damnation because they failed to do the good works.  It also says that those who did do good works are sent to eternal salvation because of the good works that they did.  So taking the view of most Christians that salvation is by faith alone, they gloss over this passage because it contradicts what they believe.  So how do we resolve the contradictions that the Sheep and Goats passage leads?  The only way to resolve this contradiction is to realize that salvation by faith alone through Christ alone applies only in the Day of Grace, but God goes back to Old Testament standards when the Grace period is over.  Jesus will still be necessary for salvation.  But Jesus plus being other-centered and doing other-centered things other people will become the criteria for these people during the Day of Wrath: the Tribulation Period.  Only this interpretation completely resolves all apparent contradictions.  If you have any other options please feel free to reply.

[Wow, I went back to edit this and it is interesting to see how my interpretation has evolved and grown.  I’m going to leave the above paragraph because it is not that bad, but please see Part 63 – Revisiting the Sheep and the Goats Parable, for what I believe to be a more concise and accurate interpretation.  The main thing that made me alter my interpretation just a bit is the verse: “ that none will boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).  That part can’t be contradicted either.  No one will be able to say that he or she is saved because of Jesus plus anything—not anyone from the Day of Grace, nor anyone from the Day of Tribulation.]

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The Rapture (Part 33 of the series)
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