Wednesday, May 7, 2014

LifeShape Prayer & Discipleship Module 4 - Block 6 The Rapture

LifeShape Prayer & Discipleship
        Module 4 – The Future
        Block 6 – The Rapture

The word “Rapture” is not found in the Bible. However, the concept is clearly taught throughout the scriptures and embraced by Believers in every generation of the Church beginning with the Apostles. Rapture is that future moment when suddenly and without warning, Believers are gathered from the earth to make way for the judgment of God.

The rapture is often spoken of as a “catching away” or a “gathering together” or a “harvest” of the souls of Believers from the earth. The fact that a future rapture of the Church will occur is not the question which most often divides people along doctrinal lines. Rather it is “when” or at which scriptural juncture the rapture will take place that is in dispute.

The intent of this Life Block is to discover the facts and leave the disputes to those who are better given to debate those things which God has evidently hidden in plain view. Let’s stick to the indisputable facts & future:

In some of His last words during the last week of His earthly life, Jesus told His disciples that He was going away but that He would come again for a very specific reason. Jesus clearly and finitely stated what He would do and why He would do it. This is what we will call:

Important Point #1: The Indisputable Promise

John 14
1  Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.
2  In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

No one disputes the fact that Jesus went away with a purpose and is coming again with a purpose – to gather His followers unto Himself and take them away to the place He has prepared especially for them.

Important Point #2: The Undeniable Expectation

The early Church possessed an undeniable expectation that Jesus would return soon, any day, at any time. Many imagine the reason it seemed easy for those Believers to sell their possessions and give all the proceeds to be distributed was because they expected the imminent return of the Lord and felt they would soon have no need for worldly possessions.

The Apostle Peter even spread a rumor which caused the brethren to believe Jesus would return within the natural lifetime of the Apostle John.

John 21
21  Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, "But Lord, what about this man?"
22  Jesus said to him, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me."
23  Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?"

The Apostle Paul clearly expected to be present and living on earth when the Lord returned. He included himself in that number who would be caught up in the rapture of the Church from the earth.

1 Thessalonians 4:15  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.

Important Point #3: The Irrefutable Confirmation

Acts 1
9  Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
10  And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,
11  who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."

What better confirmation can you get than angels suddenly appearing and repeating the same words Jesus had spoken to you just a few days earlier!

Important Point #4: The Unquestionable Explanation

How is the rapture going to happen? We have been given the details …

1 Thessalonians 5
1  But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you.
2  For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.

1 Corinthians 15
51  Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

1 Thessalonians 4
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.

Important Point #5: The Venerable Interpretations

There are so many diverse and yet well respected interpretations of scripture concerning the timing of the rapture. Some believe in a:

·        Pre-Tribulation Rapture
o   Either for all Saints
o   Or only for a select few saints deemed worthy, holy and pure
§  The Bride verses The Saved
·        Mid-Tribulation Rapture
o   3 ½ years after a peace treaty is offered to Israel
o   Just before the great tribulation period
o   Opening the way for the anti-christ to be revealed
·        Pre-Wrath Rapture
o   Saints will be kept from the tribulation which shall come upon all the earth
·        Post-Tribulation Gathering
o   Some believe the gathering will be on the earth
o   Others believe it will be in heaven

I believe Jesus is coming sooner rather than later and I hope it is tonight. As well, I believe He is coming to get me in my lifetime. Will it be pre-trib, mid-trib or post-trib? I don’t know! I am what many people before me have called a pan-trib kind of guy. I believe Jesus is coming and when He does, it will all pan out. Until then, all we can do is work and wait.

James 5
7  Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.
8  You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Important Point #6: The Unquenchable Anticipation

There is a longing for to be with Christ that nothing else can satisfy …

Revelation 22
17  And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.
20   He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

21  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.