Caught Up

The Last Days part 2   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Today’s message is entitled Caught Up and is part 2 of my sermon series on the End Times. If you missed last week’s messaged entitled It All Adds Up then I would encourage you to watch it on our One Light Church YouTube channel.
While often not taught or preached in many churches I feel that Christian eschatology is important especially in the times in which we live.
The word eschatology derives from two Greek root words meaning last and study or the study of the last things or as we would say the end times.
Last week in part one I used Daniel Chapter 9 to illustrate and explain the literal accuracy of the Bible including end times prophecy.
I also spoke about why we study end times prophecy. And here is a quick recap as it is foundational to today’s message and future messages in this series.
First of all the primary and most important reason we study end times prophecy is because as part of the Bible prophesy is God’s Holy Word. We do not have have the authority to choose what parts of the Bible we study and which ones we do not. There is not anywhere in Scripture where the Lord says to study part of my word or get to know me a little bit rather He tells us to meditate on His words day and night and to be holy for He is holy meaning be more Christlike.
And while it is true for all believers that some parts of scripture will touch us on a personal level more than others and some parts we study more than others the idea that some Christians have that it is some how ok to not study the whole word is simply a misguided and incorrect thought pattern.
The Bible is approximately 27% prophecy and most of it surrounds Jesus Christ and the end times so again it is important to know and understand.
In today’s message I am going to be speaking to you about the Rapture of the Church. It is an extremely important doctrine to understand and as with other parts of scripture there are varying interpretations of this doctrine.
You have some groups of Christians such as the Catholic Church, Anglican Community, Lutheranism and Calvinists who favor an amillennial viewpoint meaning that Christ does not have a millennial reign on earth at all or post millennial interpretation meaning that He does not return until after the millennial time frame because most people will be saved and good based on the good works of the church so He doesn’t need to come to restore but only to judge.
In contrast most Baptist churches, Bible churches, Brethren churches, Pentecostal churches and non-denominational churches do support and teach a pre-tribulation Rapture viewpoint. This is also my personal conviction based on much study and prayer and also the official position of One Light Church and the Church of God which is our denomination.
With that being I do realize that since the early days of the church and still today there are different people with varying interpretations on end times prophecy. I can tell you these different interpretations surrounding end times prophesy are no different that different interpretations in other ares of the Bible. Because people generally fall into a few different categories which are those who read the Bible literally, those who read it figuratively or non-literal, those who come up with their own ideas all together or those who just don’t read it and instead follow the traditions of their particular denomination.
Just to make it crystal clear I read, apply and teach the Bible as the literal infallible Holy word of God Himself. God means what He says and He says what He means and we are not to alter His word for any reason but rather we are to study it, submit to it, share it and apply it literally to our lives. Amen!
And while it is ok to grow and learn meaning to change a position as your understanding grows always remember the literal study of God’s word is our anchor point.
Don’t be confused or lead astray by people who claim to be super spiritual, or super intelligent or that manipulate your lack of understanding of the deeper things of the word. Stay away from such people and instead know that there are no super spiritual people because Jesus has sealed all His people with the same Holy Spirit. There are no super intelligent deeper thinking scholars because the word of God is the ultimate in wisdom and written plainly so that all who seek Him will find Him.
While yes it is true that many prophetic books such as Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation are Apocalyptic style literature which contains elements of symbolism as a believer you are not intended to be left confused to the true meaning of the scriptures. Rather a primary point and design of prophecy is not to make us confused but rather to help avoid confusion about God’s word. Yes it does take some extra study on our behalf at times but it is time well spent. Because once we understand the whole word of God and trust that Bible prophesy is as accurate as the rest of scripture then we as Christians can be comforted despite what’s happening in the world around us. This is because prophesy is designed to provide a warning about events to come so that we can understand and prepare. Not be fearful and not to pretend they are not happening rather to be prepared and to rest in God’s peace and promises.

What is the Rapture of the Church?

As I spoke about a moment ago today’s sermon is on the Rapture of the church. So first let’s answer the question what is the rapture of the church.
If you have your Bibles with you this morning we will begin with the book of 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 versus thirteen through eighteen.
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 NKJV
13 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. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 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. 16 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. 17 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. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
In this scripture the Apostle Paul is seeking to comfort those believers who are concerned that their deceased loves ones will miss the Second Coming of the Lord.
He explains to them that those who fellow believers who already died are with the Lord in spirit and will return with the Lord when He comes for His bride the church.
When Jesus comes on the clouds the dead in Christ will have their spirits which have been with the Lord since they died reunited with their physical bodies which are raised to meet their spirits in the clouds which is the catalyst to receive their renewed spiritual bodies. Then those Christians who are still alive will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and receive our renewed spiritual bodies.
The spiritual bodies we receive make us like Jesus when He rose from the grave meaning they are bodies that do not age. They are bodies that are incorruptible and free from sin, death and disease. And they are bodies that can exist both in the supernatural realm as well as the natural realm.
It is very important to understand that the rapture and the second coming are two different events. The rapture is a private event between Jesus and the church which is His bride. It occurs in the sky where we meet Him and He brings us back to heaven to join Him in the marriage supper of the Lamb. This event takes place before the tribulation or the wrath of God is poured out on the world.
The second coming which I will preach on in the near future is a very public event where every eye will see Jesus and it occurs at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
Again Paul is sharing this to comfort the believers that all Christians will get to be with Jesus in heaven when He calls us.
Rapture means caught up and is from the Greek word Harpazo and the Latin word Rapturo. And contrary to what some people claim yes the word rapture is in the Bible it is in the Latin Bible. But regardless of that the Greek word Harpazo is in the Septuagint and means to seize, catch or take away. Jesus is rescuing the church His bride from the wrath that is to come on a sinful and corrupt world. So don’t be deceived by those who claim the rapture is not in the Bible. They most likely are just repeating what they have been taught or did not fully accept or understand what the Bible was saying.
Another scripture describing the rapture can be found in
1 Corinthians 15:50–53 NKJV
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
Verse 52 says in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. The word moment is the Greek word atomos which means an indivisible amount of time.
This means that we need to be ready brothers and sisters because when Jesus comes for His bride it will be in an instant. There will not be time to repent of sins. There will not be time for anyone to quickly get saved. There will not be time to start serving others instead of thinking only about ourselves. We will either be ready or we will not it is as simple as that. So please hear me today and make sure that Jesus Christ is the Lord of your life before it’s too late.
This knowledge that Christ can return for us at literally any moment should not only create a sense or urgency in us as believers to get it right but also motivate us to help lead as many people as possible to Jesus Christ. Amen!

Does Jesus Speak About the Rapture?

So we just read two very specific verses from Paul concerning the Rapture of the church which is sufficient but according to the laws of Biblical interpretation the words of Jesus are the most important words in the Bible because He is God and is the word made flesh.
So what does Jesus say about the rapture?
Luke 17:24–37 ESV
24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. 26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— 30 so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.” 37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”
Verse 24 says that the return of Jesus will be like lightning. A lightning bolt happens in the sky and with great speed.
In verse 26 Jesus says that upon His return it will be like the days of Noah. People will be living their normal lives until the day Noah entered the ark and the flood destroyed them all.
First of all the rapture of the church must happen before the tribulation because people are living their normal lives. While the book of Revelation will studied more in future messages let me just remind you that the seven years of the tribulation are the worst time in human history and are filled with one judgement after another and not at all like people living normal lives.
Also in the days of Noah the world was wicked. In fact it was so wicked and violent that the Lord regretted making man on the earth but that there was still a righteous remnant with Noah and his family.
Genesis 6:5–8 ESV
5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.
This is the same situation we are in today. The world around us is corrupt, full of sin, violent and is getting worse all the time. The church is the righteous remnant that is trying to warn of the coming judgment yet instead the world mocks us and God as I can imagine they did in Noah’s day as well.
Because Noah was a good man and loved the Lord he was saved from God’s wrath on the earth.
Genesis 6:17–18 NKJV
17 And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark—you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.
We can then see that God’s promise fulfilled in
Genesis 7:7 ESV
7 And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood.
You see Noah didn’t have to suffer through the flood but rather God made a way for Noah and his family to rise above the water said differently to rise above the wrath of God on the sinful world. Noah didn’t have to endure part of the judgement or all of the judgement rather the Lord promised to make a way of escape before the judgment was poured out and that’s exactly what the Lord did.
In verse 28 Jesus continues by giving us another example by comparing the days before His return to the days of Lot. Again the people were eating and drinking, buying, selling, planting and building. Said differently they were living their normal lives and even planning for their future.
Those of you not familiar with the account of Lot he was Abraham’s nephew who lived in Sodom. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were sinful wicked cities full of sexual immorality in particular. The Lord heard the prayers and cries against their sin and sent two angels to issue God’s judgment and destroy the cities. However, much like in the case of Noah, the Lord saw a righteous remnant in Lot and ordered the angels to extract Lot and his family prior to the judgement and destruction of the city.
Genesis 19:15–17 ESV
15 As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. 17 And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.”
Because Lot lingered verse 16 says the angels seized Lot and his family and led them to safety.
This verse doesn’t say that the Lord made a bunker for them to hide out in. It doesn’t say that the Lord gave them supernatural abilities to endure. No it says that again He sent a warning and a promise that judgement is coming and that He will make a way for them to escape prior to the judgement.
That is the character of God and His character is perfect and full and grace and mercy to those who love Him and the Lord does not change but is faithful.
Yes, the Lord does have a righteous judgement coming to this world. The fact of the matter is that many in this world reject the Lord and have a hunger for sin, violence, sexual immorality and idolatry. And unfortunately in our time we can see that not only is sin running rampant in the world but it has also corrupted many churches as well. We can see greed, sexual immorality and idolatry in many churches. Whether it be adultery, homosexuality in the pulpit, pastor worship, mishandling of finances, gossip, hardness of heart or just plain being mean we can see many denominations caving to the pressures of the world instead of standing up for Jesus and the Holy word of God.
You see the church is the only restraining factor in the world preventing the rise of the antichrist and the wrath of God from being poured out and the more corrupt the church gets the sooner the faithful in Christ will be called away to meet Him in the skies to join in the marriage supper of the Lamb while the Lamb’s wrath is poured out on a wicked world.
Isn’t it great to know that we can have peace this morning that before the Lord’s judgement is poured out He will do exactly what He always does which is to make an escape for the righteous remnant of His people before justice is served on those who rebel against Him.
Verses 31 through 37 are where Jesus describes the rapture in detail
Luke 17:31–37 ESV
31 On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. 32 Remember Lot’s wife. 33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. 34 I tell you, in that night there will be two in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. 35 There will be two women grinding together. One will be taken and the other left.” 37 And they said to him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”
As I said before the rapture is a private event between Jesus and the church and this is different than the second coming where the whole world will see Jesus. In these verses Jesus is explaining on that day when He comes back for His church that life will be going on as normal and suddenly and quickly like lightning one person will be there and one will be gone. Just as the angels had to snatch Lot’s hand and bring them to safety the Lord is going to catch up his bride before the wrath to come.
The great Tribulation is called the wrath of the Lamb and the Jesus is not mad at us rather we are His bride which He will protect and defend if we continue to trust Him.
1 Thessalonians 1:9–10 ESV
9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
Notice the Bible does not say that Jesus delivers us through the wrath to come. Rather it says that Jesus saves us from the wrath to come. So again you can see that during the tribulation we wont be on earth but rather in heaven with Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:9–11 ESV
9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
As I said in the beginning Bible prophesy and in particular the doctrine of the pre tribulation rapture is shared with us so that we may be encouraged. The world around is is full of chaos, sin and violence but we can be encouraged and encourage other people by sharing with them the hope we have in Jesus Christ that not only will heaven be our home but that we can be saved from the judgment coming to this world.
I have read the book of Revelation many times and if we were not raptured before the tribulation which is to come then we would have to endure the worst time in human history. Again, the Lord is not mad at the church rather He loves us so much that He died for us. We are His bride and He is not going to make us endure a punishment set aside for those who despise the Lord and seek evil.
Furthermore, the Lord loves us so much He gives us warnings many times in the Bible to remain faithful and not submit to sin.
Luke 21:34–36 ESV
34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Again notice the word used in verse 36 is to escape not endure. We are to escape. Listen just like in the days of Noah when the door on the ark shut the judgment was sealed. Just like in the days of lot when he escaped the judgement on Sodom and Gomorrah was sealed. And make no doubt about it once the church is raptured up with Jesus the judgment on the world is sealed and there is not turning back.
I will speak more in upcoming messages on the second coming but realize that today we live in the age of grace where as long as you believe in you heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord you can be saved. In the tribulation there will still be many people saved but it will be a severe grace where many of them will be killed by the anti christ and the people will have to live during the worst time in human history which is so bad indeed that Jesus said that if He didn’t shorten the days that no flesh would have survived.
In Closing
Be encourage this morning that if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ as you savior and your Lord then you too will dwell with Him and all the other believers in heaven. And while the world is being judged you can instead be at the marriage supper of the Lamb in the presence of Jesus Christ in heaven.
The choice is yours but I think we can all agree the choice is a simple one.
If there is anyone here who is not a Christian and you would like to make Jesus Christ your Lord and savior please come to the altar and we will pray for you and you too can be saved. If you are watching online and you are not saved then I am going to pray in just a moment and if you repeat the words and really mean them in you heart and desire to follow Jesus with your lifestyle than you too will be saved and heaven will be your home as well. Don't wait folks the time is drawing near.
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