“The Rapture—The Hope that Comforts All Believers”

“The Coming of the Lord—His Bringing Us Back with Him”

Romans 11:25   For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

“Come in” meaning ‘come in to the church’, as believers, that is.

Israel will believe after they see that the Rapture is true. They will realize this truth upon the church {all believers in Christ} disappearing, having been taken up into the clouds.

1 Thessalonians 4:13   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.

When a believer loses a believing loved one to death, we have hope for seeing them again. But unbelievers continue to grieve over the loss of loved ones and even for them-selves. / Pat Boone said, “That’s the thing about atheism: ‘It does not take away the pain; but it does take away the hope.’” Those who reject the Savior have no hope for life after physical death—death that has been appointed for all:

Genesis 2:17   “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Genesis 3:19   In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.
Romans 5:12   Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—
1 Corinthians 15:21   For since by man [Adam] came death, by Man [Christ] also came the resurrection of the dead.  

Not only will believers be resurrected, we will also be with Christ when He comes back to earth for everyone to see Him. It is absolutely key for our understanding to know the difference between Christ coming to take us up to meet Him in the air before the Tribulation & His Second Coming back to earth.

Hebrews 9:27-28   27And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. [This is the Rapture]

But the unbeliever can have this hopeIf they would only listen…listen to the truth given by eyewitnesses. The basis of every true Christian’s hope is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, we believe that the Lord Jesus will not only, either resurrect or rapture us, but we also believe, He will bring us back with Him when He returns to earth after the seven year Tribulation period to subdue His foes & to reign as King.

Jude 14   Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

The prophecy of Enoch found in the Book of Jude will have its complete and final fulfillment at the end of the Millennium when the wicked dead are judged at the Great White Throne {Rev. 20:11}.
Who are the saints spoken of in the verse? Saints are those who have been sanctified—set apart from the world. That’s us believers!

1 Thessalonians 4:14   For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

Taking this as it is written, those believers who have already died are going to be resurrected so that He can bring those…with Him. Their soul and Spirit are already in Him before the time of the Rapture, but, not until the Rapture will their bodies be resurrected. Before the Rapture, the spirits and souls of believers are with Him.

2 Corinthians 5:8   We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

And when the Savior comes for us, He will bring those who are in Him—with Him. Just as surely as we believe that Jesus died and rose again—the basis of our hope is His resurrection—so we also believe that those who have fallen asleep {died} in Jesus will be raised and will be with all those who are alive at the rapture—to be with the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:22   For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.

His resurrection is the pledge, the promise, the guarantee—proof—of our resurrection. We should take special notice of the words in 4:14, sleep in Jesus. Knowing that the One who loves our souls has given sleep to our bodies to rob death of its terror.
But how do we know we will be resurrected or raptured prior to the Tribulation? “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Revelation 3:10   “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial [the Tribulation period] which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
1 Thessalonians 1:10   and wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 5:9-10   9For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

Daniel 9:24 speaks of the 70th week—7 year Tribulation—which prophesies a time of purging and restoration for Israel & Jerusalemnot for the church. The Bible never uses the word church in relation to the Tribulation. The word church is found 19 times in the 1st 3 chapters of Revelation and not seen again until one time in 22:16. The reason for this is that the churches {us believers} are not going to be present on earth during the Tribulation period. The last word in 3:22 is churches. The very next verse—4:1—finds the church being called up with the trumpet. Here’s John’s vision:

Revelation 4:1   After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”

The things that must take place after this refers to the events of the Tribulation period on earth, but now the believers are in heaven! In verses 15-17 we will see that the ones who’re still living have no advantage over the dead when Christ returns.

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 [dead].

This is for sure about the Rapture. How did Paul the apostle know this? His answer: this we say to you by the word of the Lord. He received this as a direct revelation from the Lord. We’re not told exactly how he received it—whether by a vision, by an audible voice, or by inward inspiration and impression of the Holy Spirit. But it’s definitely truth unknown to men up to the time of the NT being written. According to Peter an audible voice was heard:

2 Peter 1:18   And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
Matthew 17:1, 5   1Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; … 5While he [Peter] was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”
2 Peter 1:19-21   19And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation [not one part of Scripture was originated by anyone other than God], 21for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

Notice in 4:15 that Paul writes we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord. Paul speaks of himself as one who would be alive at Christ’s coming. Since Paul was alive as he wrote this, we should follow his example and look for the Lord to come at any moment—yet, realize that we may be called to reach heaven by way of death.
Paul writes of the possibility of being raptured in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, and writes of the possibility of being raised in 2 Corinthians 4:14 and 5:1.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52   51Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52in 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.
2 Corinthians 4:14   knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you.
2 Corinthians 5:1   For we know that if our earthly house [physical body], this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

The obvious reason for His unknown time of imminent return is that the Savior Himself tells us that only the Father knows that Day.

Mark 13:32-37   32“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 34It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. 35Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— 36lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
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.

A question arises concerning who among believers will be raised according to this verse. How about the ones who believed in the coming Messiah before the time God sent Him and before He suffered and died on the cross? Whether the rapture includes the OT saints is debatable, but we believe it is probable that those earlier believers will not be raised until the end of the 7-year Tribulation period. Daniel 12:1-2 gives the reason:

Daniel 12:1-2   1“At that time [when Satan has temporary control at mid-Tribulation] Michael [the archangel] shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people [the Jews]; and there shall be a time of trouble, [the last half of the Tribulation], such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time [Rev. 12:1-12]. And at that time your people [Jews] shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. 2And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt [abhorrence/hatred].

But those of the church age will be raptured before the 7-year Tribulation period. The church age believers are those who believe in Christ’s unquestionable fulfillment of all the detailed and completed facts of prophecy concerning His flawless life, ministry, punishment, shedding of His blood, death on the cross, His resurrection, and His ascension back up to heaven. It is told as we read in 1 Cor. 15:52 that it will all happen in the twinkling of an eye. So the Universal Church members—believers—who are in their graves will barely precede those who are still living—prior to the Tribulation.

1 Thessalonians 4:17   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.

This is that encouraging verse that guarantees we will be raptured. God’s Word is flawless, He keeps His promises, and He cannot—and will not—lie. The words in the air are quite meaningful in that the air is Satan’s sphere:

Ephesians 2:1-2   1And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,

Those who will be raptured {even you and me} are going to form a triumphal gathering in open defiance of the devil right in his own stronghold! Wow! Think of all that’s happening in the twinkling of an eye! The earth and sea sending up the dust of all who have died in Christ! Then the transforming miracle whereby the dust is formed into glorified bodies, free forever from sickness, sorrow, pain, and death. Then the space-flight to heaven—like skydiving up instead of down—and much, much faster—and with a soft landing! Wow! For believers, with Christ’s coming for us, there’s a sound to hear, a sight to see, a miracle to feel, a meeting to enjoy, and fulfillment of our hope to enjoy.
In 4 verses, 14-17, we see the names Jesus, God, Him, Himself, and Lord mentioned 12 times! What a wonderful ending at the end of verse 17: for us to always be with the Lord!                          

Try to imagine all the joy and blessedness that is in these words! Thoughts of the Lord’s coming do not produce terror for believers. It is a hope that comforts us, thrills us, cheers us, and causes us to endure and rejoice!

1 Thessalonians 4:18   Therefore comfort one another with these words.

All Scripture taken from the NKJV.

Author: Mike and Elfriede

For the past 15 years Michael Copple has studiously devoted his life to the Lord by preaching the Gospel and moderating Bible studies. He is a 1958 Eagle Scout, holds a B.S. degree in electrical engineering, and achieved the highest US Air Force enlisted rank of Chief Master Sergeant with over 26 years service, one year of which was with Forward Air Control duties in Vietnam. For three years he was the senior enlisted member of the US Air Force Academy Wings of Blue Parachute Team; he has performed over 2,000 parachute jumps and accumulated over 15 hours of freefall. During his parachuting years Mike experienced a mishap of being a “hung jumper” outside the aircraft, and serious parachute malfunctions like a deadly seesaw night jump entanglement with another jumper, and an 85 mph wind shear which almost took his life. This experience inspired and qualified him to author the novel Calling from the Sky. A former world-wide electronic service engineer for 16 years with a semiconductor equipment manufacturer, he and his wife Elfriede currently live in the Canadian Rockies surrounded by 6 National Parks. Besides studying God's Word, they both like to exercise, cross country ski, hike, garden, and walk their dog Kansas. Visit him at https://www.michaelcopple.com/

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