The Rapture: Part 1

This week our Bible Study talks about the the Book of Revelation and specifically, the beginning of the Rapture. You know, in 1987, there was a group called R.E.M. that had a song that was pretty strange. It was called “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” It’s got some crazy lyrics. I’m going to add it into the show notes so you can check it out if you’re not familiar with it. But, it’s just interesting on different takes of the apocalypse.

How are you doin’? I’m glad that you’re here. The Bible says in Proverbs 18 and 21, that life and death are in the power of the tongue. Here, we choose to speak life. We are a 100% online ministry created to restore and strengthen the family, provide hope for those in need, and offer a nontraditional place of worship of the Lord Jesus Christ, using technology to be anywhere. All are welcome, including those souls still searching for what they believe in. My name is Kenn Blanchard. Welcome.

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof — the world and they that dwell therein. Lift up your head, oh ye gates, even lift Him up, everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of Hosts. He is the King of Glory.

Thank you for listening, downloading, and subscribing to the Speak Life Church Podcast. Let us pray.

Eternal and most heavenly God, it’s in the Name of your Son, Jesus that we bow before You right now. We pause, no matter where we are in time and space, to first admit that we are not You, that You are our God, that You are our Master, that You are The Lord of the universe. We ask you, Lord God, now to hear our feeble cries, to hear our mumbles, to hear our words, to hear our prayer. Father, we know that You are the Master of the Universe, the Creator of heaven and earth, and all in between. You alone can save us. Father, please forgive us of everything we’ve done against You. Forgive us for things we’ve done openly and in secret. Forgive us for not doing what You’ve called us to do. Forgive us for not trusting You. Forgive us for not talking to You until we’re in desperate need. Bless us, Lord God, if it be Your Will. We humble beseech You right now. We ask, Lord God, that You would give us another chance. We plead the Blood of Your Son, Jesus over our lives, over our minds, over our bodies. We ask that that blood heal us of all inequities, all infirmities, all things that would prevent us from being heard and from being in Your Presence. We thank You, Lord God, for Your Darling Son, Jesus Christ, who did die for our sins. We thank You, Lord God, for His Sacrifice. We thank You for His Holy Spirit which now rests, rules, and abides with us, even now. Father, we ask for Your Peace that surpasses all understanding. We ask, Lord God, that You would come into our homes right now. Come into our minds. Settle our hearts. Allow us to focus on You today, right now. Allow the message which is coming forward about the Rapture of the Church, study of Your Word, and any understanding and knowledge that would come from You be understood. Father, bless the person listening and praying with me right now. And, Lord, if it be according to Your Will, please hear the prayer of Your people, of Your sheep of Your Pasture. Thank You for this ministry. Now, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy Sight. In the Name of Your Son, Jesus, I ask these things. Amen.

Good people! Good people, hey, the question this week I’m going to ask: There are so many churches, how can I know which one to attend? Have you ever asked anybody that question? How do you know what church is good? Well, I’ll give you a short answer: The right church is the one that teaches the Truth of God’s Word, and that God created the universe, that man fell into sin and needed redemption, that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh come to pay the price of that sin, and that He freely offers that salvation to anyone who will accept it by faith. Most of the rest is extra. Extra! Yeah, I’m talking about the music, the setting, the dress code, the pastor, preachers, all that stuff is extra. We kind of go to church sometimes because it’s what makes us comfortable, or what we’d like to see or do. Is it important to God? No. Not necessarily. So, be careful about what keeps you going to a church, or keeps you from church when the most important thing is Jesus. Just in case you want to shout me out or holler at me or scream at me or say “thank you” or “how dare you?” — I’ll take it all — pastor@speaklifechurch.net is my email address. You can find out more contact information at speaklifechurch.net. Actually, I don’t even know you, but I want to hug you just for listening. Thank you for being here.

Alright, this week on our study of the Book of Revelation, we are still in chapter three, but we’re going to hit on chapter four, but I want to round this puppy out. Christ’s challenge to the Church of Laodicea, like His other six challenges, was to overcome or become born-again believers. The challenge is simply a promise to share His Throne as He shares His Father’s Throne. This is a promise that we will rule and reign with Christ in His coming Kingdom — the ultimate victory of the Christian, not seen in this life now, but in life to come. I like when it says, “he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” That would be a bumper sticker for me. Have you heard what our Lord has said to the churches? The message of Christ to Laodicea indicates that this Age draws to a close. The apostasy, the deadness, the indifference will increase. It is no wonder our Lord asks of this Age: However, when the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)” We shouldn’t expect to see revival as in the days of those old evangelists like Moody and Finney and Spurgeon, but apostasy on the part of the Laodicean Church, the church age right now. But, you and me, we are a part of this church, and part of our job is to help to convict millions of people of their sins and offer them forgiveness in Jesus’s Name just prior to the Rapture of the universal church, which will be the end of the Church Age. That’s why I like to be ready at all times, for those individuals who may be ready to receive the Savior before He returns for His church. You know, it’s not the pastor’s job, it’s not the deacons’ jobs, it’s not the trustees’ jobs, it’s not the choir members’ jobs. It’s everybody’s job who calls themselves Christians. We’ve all been called to lead others to Christ. We’ve all been called to be witnesses, all been called to help others not perish.

Look at the Book of Revelation (4:1-2). It says:

4 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.

It was no coincidence that the first thing that happen after John described the Seven Churches is its being taken up into Heaven. In so much as John was the last remaining apostle and a member of the Universal Church, its elevation into Heaven is a picture of the Rapture of the Church just before the Tribulation begins. It’s also noteworthy that the invitation comes from Jesus Himself who is the One Who first spoke to John “like a trumpet (1:10).” Note how similar to this event is the promise of Our Lord to His Disciples near the end of His Life about taking them to His Father’s House (John 14: 2-3):

2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Everybody knows God is in Heaven, and Jesus ascended to Heaven where He sits today at the Right Hand of God. Paul tells us that when he himself dies, his spirit and soul would depart and be with Christ (Philippians 1:23). He also said, “for though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit (Colossians 2:5).” Obviously, when a Christian dies, their soul and spirit goes to be with Christ in the Father’s House, that is, in Heaven. His or her body, of course, remains in the grave until the Resurrection, which, for the Christian, is at the end of the Church Age just before the Tribulation. That’s why we locate the Rapture at this spot in the flow of events in the Book of Revelation. There are at least four reasons for locating it here:

1. The location of this event is right before the Rapture. Chapters four and five present a vision of “in Heaven,” and chapter six introduces the Tribulation Period. John, one of the first true members of the Church of Jesus Christ, is a fitting symbol of the church being taken out of the world just before the Tribulation begins. As our Lord promised, “since you have kept My command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth (Revelation 3:10).”
2. The absence of any mention of the Church in the rest of Revelation indicates it’s not on the earth during Tribulation. There are sixteen references to the Church in Revelation 1-3, whereas in 6-18 — which cover the Tribulation — do not mention the Church once. The natural conclusion drawn from this is that the Church that was so prominent during it’s 2,000-year history is not mentioned in chapters 4-18 because those chapters describe the Tribulation which the Church does not endure.
3. The extensive use of Old Testament language and symbols in chapters 4-18 is an indication of Israel, not the Church. This is understandable since the Church Age is the time of the Gentiles — Us! — whereas, the Tribulation is the time of Jacob’s trouble, or the 70th Week of Daniel, that God determined for His dealings with Israel. Some of these Old Testament symbols are: the tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, the altar, the elders, the censors, the cherubim, seals, the trumpets, and the plagues.
4. There is much similarity between the events of Revelation 4:1-2, and the Scriptural readings on the Rapture that we’ll find also in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

None of the four reasons is sufficient in itself to insist that Revelation 4:1-2 refers to the Rapture of the Church, but when you put them all together, we are inclined to believe that this inference can rightly be made. Now, the Rapture of the Church is not explicitly taught in Revelations 4, but definitely appears here chronologically at the end of the Church Age, before the Tribulation.

As we look at other passages of Scripture that deal with the Rapture, you can clearly be informed of what The Bible teaches on the subject. The first thing to occur in this vision of the future — well, after Jesus’s own Revelation of the Church Age described in chapters two and three — is the calling of John up to the Father’s House in heaven. So, this can be instructive. John obviously represents the church, and because the door opening in heaven is a personal invitation of Christ Himself to “come up here,” it certainly parallels other prophetic passages (1 Thessalonians 4). These all detail the Rapture of the Church. Rapture! What does it mean? Well, if you study the Second Coming of Christ and future events as they reveal to us in the prophetic books of The Bible, it’s a perfectly legitimate subject, not only because His Coming is mentioned 318 times, but because it also occupies so much of the apostle Paul’s teaching. The first book written in the New Testament was 1 Thessalonians, addressed to a small Greek church in the city of Thessalonica. Paul was there only three weeks before he was driven out of the town by irate Jews. While he was with them, he had taught that Christ would come and rapture Christians out of this world to go with Him to His Father’s House. After he left, however, some of their members had died. Consequently, these young Christians were perplexed about the status of they dead Christian members. So, they wrote him letters requesting an explanation, and 1 Thessalonians is Paul’s answer. In it, he gives the most detailed description of the Rapture of the Church found in all of Scripture. Note 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 very carefully:

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For 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. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 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. 17 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. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

To appreciate the contrast between this event and the Lord’s Appearing at the end of the Tribulation, we should read our Lord’s own description of that event in Matthew 24:27-31:

27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.
29 “Immediately after the distress of those days
“‘the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’[a]
30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth[b] will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.[c] 31 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.

Don’t be surprised if you cannot correlate these two installments of our Lord’s Second Coming. They are totally different, and when we include additional Rapture events like those described in 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 and add Glorious Appearing descriptions like the one we will study in Revelation 19:11-16, we can only conclude that they are not describing the same event. In fact, I have discovered the fifteen differences between the Rapture before the Tribulation and the Glorious Appearing after it. So, don’t feel bad. Many important observations could be made about the fifteen contrasting events that describe the two phases of our Lord’s Coming. One, is that it is impossible for them to be described in the same event. Only when you place these Biblical descriptions beside each other is it possible to see that. This is the one reason why many have never seen the distinction and think that the Second Coming is a single event rather than a Coming of Christ in the air to take His Church to His Father’s House as He promised, and seven years later, His Coming in Power and Great Glory to the earth as He had promised. Whoa! This is deep, right? See, there is only one Second Coming, but it occurs in two phases. The first phase is only for His Church — that is, all living and dead believers since the church was founded in 33A.D. after Christ died. The second phase is for all of those living on earth at the end of the Tribulation. That the Glorious Appearing will take place at the end of the Tribulation just before the Millennium cannot be questioned, for Jesus predicted that His Glorious Appearing would come immediately after the distress of those days (Matthew 24:19). Meaning, the Glorious Appearing cannot come today. So, what I’m saying is, there are two big events. There is The Rapture of the Church, the Tribulation, and then the Glorious Appearing after that. Alright, that’s actually three. {laughs} Okay? So, right now, millions of Christians all over the world are expecting Christ to return at any moment as the many passages listed above reach and teach. He won’t disappoint us. He will come, and His Coming will be at any moment, but that Coming is for His Church only which is made up of all the true believers everywhere who have received Him personally by faith. But to expect His Return in power and majesty to take control of the whole earth and set up His Kingdom for at least seven years, is to expect the impossible. The different passages relating to Christ’s Coming are harmonized when we see that there are some exclusiveness for His Church and others that include the entire world. I am convinced that these two phases of Christ’s Return are what the apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote in Titus looking for that blessed hope and the Glorious Appearing. The blessed hope is the confident way we put our deceased Christian loved ones to rest in anticipation of that day, just before the Tribulation, when we will be gathered together with them to meet the Lord in the clouds, and then be taken to His Father’s House. The Glorious Appearing obviously refers to His Coming to the earth in power and great glory. But, what could happen, is that the Rapture could happen at any moment, and all of the sudden I feel like I just swallowed mouthful of sand, so I’m going to stop for now, and we’re going to continue on with the Rapture — if it doesn’t come between now and next week — next week.

Quick shout out and a word of thanks for all of those who have been supporting the podcast. We are real close to being able to pay off this doggone computer. And, I thank you so much for your attendance, for sharing, for your prayers, for just being a part of the ministry. There is so much stuff yet to do, and I can only do it with your help. And, my voice is shot! You can check out the show notes at speaklifechurch.net thanks to Sarah, whom I’m happy to share had a praise report this week! God is still in the blessing business. Don’t think that He doesn’t know what’s going on with you and your life. As always, He’s asking that you would trust Him and have faith in Him, and He will make a way that nobody else can believe.

I know sometimes I put the pressure on you to join our Patreon, or Givelify, or something, but do you know the biggest thing you can do for me personally, is to pray for me? Even to send a note of encouragement to my email address, or to share something that was said that you think will bless somebody else — it’s all about the work here, actually.

“He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

Well, that’s it, my friend. Until next time, may the Lord continue to bless you and keep you. May heaven’s face continue to smile upon you and give you great peace. Until that great day when there is no dawning and there is no sunset, I will see you at the Feet of Jesus. Thank you for being a part of Speak Life Church online. If you’d like to contribute, there are links on the show notes. God bless you.

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