1. The Rapture – I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and I Corinthians 15:50ff.
(a). I Thessalonians 1:10 and 2:19 and 3:13 and 4:16-18 and 5:23,24. Christ’s Coming is spoken of at the end of each chapter.
(b). Revelation 22:20 speaks of Jesus’ Coming.
2. One must remember that when Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John speak of Christ’s Return, it is always in reference to His Coming at the conclusion of the Tribulation and establishing of the Millennial Kingdom and the Judgment of the Nations.
Seven years prior we find Christ coming to Rapture His Church into Heaven, which initiates the start of the Tribulation.
(a). The big mistake that has caused much confusion among believers. These two comings have been applied to as the same event, by some pastors. Allow me to illustrate that what takes place in the Gospels concerning Christ’s Return is exactly opposite of what takes place at the Rapture. For example, let us look in Matthew 24:39-41,
“And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (39)
“Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (40)”
“Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (41)”
Additional information is given in Chapter 25:31-33,
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: (31).”
“And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: (33).”
“And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. (33).”
You will notice in Verse 31 that Christ comes in His glory to sit upon the throne of His glory. This is his return to the earth to establish His Kingdom. In Verses 32 and 33, He judges the people of the world. The “sheep” are the saved and the “goats” are the unsaved. His Kingdom on earth will be started with all saved people. Verse 34 describes the inheritance of the saved.
“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:” (Matthew 25:34).
Now let us look at Verses 40, 41, once again,
“Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (40)”
“Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (41).”
Notice carefully, that the ones that are taken are the lost that are cast into the everlasting fires of Hell. The ones that are left are the saved that enter Christ’s Kingdom on earth.
(b). What takes place at the Rapture is OPPOSITE of what takes place at the Judgment of the Nations. These two comings of Christ are NOT the same event, as the two are separated by the space of seven years, known as the Seven-Year Tribulation period of time.
This is not an exposition on the two comings of Christ after His first coming to be crucified and resurrected. Therefore, I am using only limited verses that distinguish the difference between these two comings, showing they are not one and the same. Now let us look at I Thessalonians 4:15-17,
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. (15)”
“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: (16)”
“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. (17)”
In Verse 15 the word “prevent” is the Greek word that means “precede.” -- The word “asleep” is referring to the body; not, the soul and spirit. James 2:26 lets us know that, “For as the body without the spirit is dead,...”
2 Corinthians 5:8 states that,
“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
Rightly dividing the Word of Truth allows the Christian to know what signs apply to the Church age and what signs apply to the Tribulation Period.(1). Signs for the 7-Year Tribulation, known as “The 70th Week of Daniel” and the “Time of Jacob’s Trouble. (Jeremiah 30:7).
“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? (3)”
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. (4)”
“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (5)”
“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. (6)”
“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. (7)”
“All these are the beginning of sorrows. (8)”
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. (9)”
“And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. (10)”
“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. (11)”
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” (Matthew 24:3-12).
“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. (23)”
“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matthew 24:23,24).
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: (29)”
“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:29,30).
There are two reasons why these signs are for the Tribulation Period and not the Rapture.
(a). Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John knew nothing about the Rapture, as this was a mystery until revealed unto the Apostle Paul as described in Ephesians 3:1-10.
(b). In Matthew, Chapter 24, the signs listed are for the Tribulation as Verse 29 states that Christ will come “immediately after the tribulation of those days.”
In Verse 30, Christ comes from heaven to the earth; “and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn.” They mourn because they are unbelievers and their judgment is eminent.
(2). Signs for the end of the Church Age: (2 Timothy 3:1-15).
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (1)”
“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, (2)”
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, (3)”
“Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; (4)”
“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (5)”
“For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, (6)”
“Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (7)”
“Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. (8)”
“But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was. (9)”
“But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, (10)”
“Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. (11)”
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (12)”
“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. (13)”
“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; (14) And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (15).
Paul was living in the First Century of the Church Age and had written II Timothy about 68 A.D. Paul had described the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, written about 52 A.D. In fact, at the conclusion of each chapter he made reference to Christ’s coming. (1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:16,17; 5:23). Paul knew the Rapture would end the Church Age and initiate the Tribulation. Inspired by the Holy Spirit to describe and warn Christians how evil people will be on the door steps of the Rapture. One can easily see in the last 40, or so, years, how our values in American have almost plummeted into non-existence.
Paul continues in 2 Timothy 4:3,4, describing the world’s attitude towards the TRUTH, as recorded in God’s Word, the Bible.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; (3)”
“And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (4)”
Since the Supreme Court has done its best to wipe God out of America, there has been a great change in people’s response to Christians that witness. It used to be that people were interested in knowing how to have eternal life in Heaven. They rejoiced to know that God loved them and eternal life was a free gift. (Ephesians 2:8,9). That the gift of eternal life was accepted by simple faith in the absolute fact that John 3:16 was true.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
But today, after two-thousand plus years, these signs are upon us. At the end of Verse 3 are the words “having itching ears.” These are those who absolutely reject the truth and are eager to listen to false teachers that agree with their own ideas that are contrary to the will of God. Churches today have turned into godless entertainment centers instead of Bible churches.
The Christian’s responsibility is given in 2 Timothy 4: 2 and 5.
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2)
“But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (5)
In conclusion: the Word of God which, in the eyes of our Supreme Court, seems to be the virus that is destroying humanity. Their pursuits to exterminate this virus has brought America’s social behavior to fulfill God’s Word in Proverbs 29:18,
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”
The literal meaning describes perfectly what happens to society when the Word of God is excluded.
(1). “no vision” – literally means that there is no word from God.
(2). “The people perish” – This is a very interesting word in the Hebrew. Of the 117 times this word appears in the Old Testament, only here is the Hebrew word “PARA” used. The Hebrew “para” means: To loosen; to expose; avoid; uncover; make naked. It is translated as “perish” in our English, which describes the end results of society collectively, or people individually. So, the literal meaning of this verse in compliance to the Hebrew meaning and would read like this,
“Where there is no word from God the people cast off restraints and literally go to pieces.”
We can hardly believe what we see today in our society. Human beings acting like wild animals and this is paraded before our eyes, not only on the nightly news; but, in what passes for a television program. We pray, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”
For more information on the subject of Bible Prophecy, you will find Pastor Younce’s book, “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow, A Book on Bible Prophecy” helpful. It has many charts and diagrams to make things clear. You can read it free here: Click Here to Read Online