The Catching Away of the Believers
October 25, 2020 AM
Pastor Craig Ledbetter
Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland
I. Introduction (John 14:1-3)
A. The news, social media, talk of the town stirs up mainly fear, and disappointments, even depression
B. But this Bible Event that I am teaching you about today stirs up Encouragement, Comfort, Joy, and THRILL in the hearts of Christians
C. The Big Event that is coming is …
1. Not the coming of the Anti-christ, even though it is HIS second coming anyways
2. Not the coming Tribulation and the GREAT Tribulation
3. Not the coming one-world government and economic collapse
4. Not the mark of the beast
5. The Big Event that is coming is… the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the battle of Armageddon!
D. There is a lot of interest in world events and especially the Rapture… for good reason!
E. This morning, I want to clear up some confusion about the soon Rapture of Christians
A. The Second Coming of Jesus is in two parts – TWO, not one single event, but TWO parts
2. The first part is secret (“like a thief in the night”), and thrilling, and immanent (very soon, “behold he cometh…”), and instantaneous – it will happen in the twinkling of an eye
3. The second part is visible all over the world (“every eye shall see Him…”, and terrifying, it is at least 7 years from now, and it is progressive across an entire day
4. The first part, Jesus in the Rapture comes for PEOPLE, His people, Christians
5. The second part, Jesus in the Revelation comes to a PLACE, Armageddon
6. The first part of Christ’s second coming is the Blessed Hope of the believer – what we look forward to
7. The second part is the World’s Worst Nightmare!
B. “But, Isn’t there only ONE Second Coming? Otherwise it is very confusing”
1. That shows great ignorance of the Bible
a. Jesus said, “ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures” (Matthew 22:29)
b. That’s the problem – people only know bits and pieces, but not the whole Book!
2. And more than that, you need to RIGHTLY DIVIDE the events and the subjects of the Bible
a. 2Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
b. Pay careful attention to every word we read
c. Don’t jump to careless conclusions like the cults do
d. Listen as if our sanity depends upon it all – because it does
e. Separate different things from each other and then put them in their proper places – not just where you want them to fit! You set aside the blues, the browns…
f. You are going to have to learn to TEST what you think you know, and RIGHTLY DIVIDE what you do know, so that you put all the pieces of the future into their right place in your thinking and believing.
3. Because many events in the Bible have more going on than we might first imagine
a. Like the fact that the Messiah was coming to save Israel not ONCE, but TWICE
2) What the Old Testament Believer saw in the future LOOKED like one big event – the coming of the promised Messiah
3) But there are actually TWO comings of the Messiah Jesus
a) His First coming as the Suffering Saviour
b) And the Second coming as the Sovereign King of kings
c) The first time, the Messiah was coming to save their SOUL from sin on the cross
d) The second time, He will come to save their nation from the Antichrist at Armageddon
4) And unless they rightly divided the Scriptures they would overlook the first coming of Jesus, and miss their Messiah – which is exactly what they did
5) So, If there are TWO Comings of Jesus (first coming 2,000 years ago in a Manger in Bethlehem, and the second coming in the near future at Armageddon), you already are admitting to the fact that God does some things in parts
b. EXAMPLE OF DIVIDING THE WORDS OF GOD: Isaiah 61:1 and Luke 4:17…
1) Isaiah 61:1,2 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God
2) Luke 4:1-20 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
3) Luke 4:20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
4) Jesus STOPPED at a COMMA, because he DIVIDED His TWO comings:
a) The acceptable time of the Lord, to be saved
b) And the coming DAY of the vengeance of our God at Armageddon!
C. There are two major passages that describe the Rapture: 1 Thessalonians 4:13 - 5:11 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-58
1. They tell of the Resurrection of all the bodies of those who died believing in Jesus
2. And the snatching away of believers from this world
3. And it all happens faster than you can
III. Message – The Events of the Rapture
A. Concerning the Dead in Christ (1Thessalonians 4:13)
1Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
1. Speaking to Born Again Believers Only – not to everybody
a. Born again, Bible believers – not religionists
b. Not just believers in God, but believers in Jesus as the only Saviour from sin
2. Don’t be Ignorant of what Paul is about to teach…
a. It is easy to be ignorant of future events (the resurrection, and rapture) – lulled into a sleep by everything going on
b. People are very confused about future events
c. And therefore are easy to be deceived into believing all sorts of weird things
d. Study the Scriptures yourself
1) There are so many books, videos, youtubes about the Rapture and the Second Coming. And I have read dozens and dozens of BOOKS, not blogs.
2) But have you EVER just read your Bible through a few times, and taken notes and asked yourselves questions and sought answers YOURSELF???
3) Most people I know are very ignorant of the Scriptures as a whole
e. And Don’t neglect this single HOUR in a week that is designed to equip every believer with strong truths that keep you from being deceived and ruined by fear. Your church exists to teach!
3. Believers have HOPE – confidence, expectation, anticipation
1Thessalonians 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
a. Because of our Gospel Faith (1Thessalonians 4:14)
b. “if we believe that Jesus died and rose again” is only belief that God looks for in us… (THAT’S IT, Romans 10:9,10)
1) Jesus [not Mary, the Pope, or some saint] DIED and ROSE AGAIN three days later
2) If we truly believe in THAT event… then we are believing in:
a) Life beyond death – that the grave is not final – that death does not win
b) A Resurrection of dead bodies back to life again one day – as impossible as it is, our dead bodies will not stay dead
4. So, We don’t sorrow like the world does at death – Why?
a. Because our souls are SAVED from the coming wrath of God on all mankind – and believe me, it is coming!
b. Our souls go UP at death – “absent from the body, present with the Lord” even though our bodies go down into the grave
1) 2Corinthians 5:6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:
2) 2Corinthians 5:8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.
c. Our bodies simply go to sleep at death – that’s why Christians believe in BURIAL, not cremation – because Jesus comes back to reclaim what we will have left behind when we die
d. One day Jesus will change our vile bodies into new bodies, and put us back together again!
B. There are Two Groups of Christians at the Rapture (1Thessalonians 4:15)
1Thessalonians 4:15 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.
1. Those who are alive at Christ’s coming “we which are alive”
2. Those who have died already/their body is asleep “them which are asleep”
3. They BOTH are going to go up in an instant!
4. Christ’s priority is those who have died first
a. There has to be a resurrection of the dead FIRST – Christians who are alive don’t get in the way (prevent) the resurrection of the bodies of those that have died
b. And then a RAPTURE of the living, following them UP to Jesus
C. The Sequence/Chain of Events at the Rapture (1Thessalonians 4:16,17)
It is not just one event, it is several events in rapid succession! And they are THRILLING! LIKE A ROLLER-COASTER RIDE!
1Thessalonians 4:16 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:
1. The Lord Jesus himself descends from His throne in heaven – enters this universe, travelling faster than the speed of light
a. He is fulfilling His promise in John 14:1-3
b. John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
c. John 14:2 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.
d. John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you [TAKE YOU] unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
2. He is not coming alone! All those who have died in Christ, are coming back with Him at that moment – marvellous!
1Thessalonians 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
a. Notice that someday soon, the Bible says that GOD is coming back WITH those that have died before us
1) Those which are gone already, GOD will bring back with Him HERE
2) Clearly referring to Jesus as GOD coming again! Proves the deity of Christ
b. He is bringing, NOT the bodies of believers back (they are still in the ground at that point), but their SOULS from heaven – they have been there since they died
c. He is going to do something wonderful with them as you will soon see
3. Jesus lets out a SHOUT
a. I wonder what He is shouting?
b. He will be CALLING US TO HIMSELF
c. Revelation 4:1,2
1) Revelation 4:1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
2) COME UP HERE!
3) Revelation 4:2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
4) WHERE DID JOHN GO IN AN INSTANT? To the throne of God in heaven!
5) John was snatched away from this world and taken to heaven in an instant!
d. Song of Solomon 2:8-10
1) Written about king Solomon’s by his bride, but points to and symbolises the Rapture…
2) Song 2:8 The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.
3) Song 2:9 My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice. [PEEKING THROUGH]
4) Song 2:10 My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
e. Let me describe what a wedding symbolises
1) A woman is alone in her life
2) A man approaches her, because he has fallen in love with her, and makes a promise to her, to one day come back for her and marry her
3) They spend a brief amount of time together, and then he leaves
4) They stay in touch through letters and they are bound together in spirit
5) Every day she looks for him to return, and he delays
6) She does not know why, but he delays and delays and delays
7) But she never stops waiting, and looking for him to return
8) While she waits and watches, she keeps herself clean, and her garments pressed and ready to wear on her special day
9) Wars rage around her, famines come and go
10) Yet she still waits and looks for her groom to return for her
11) Then one day, when she wasn’t looking, he shouts from a distance
12) And a trumpet blows calling all those invited to the wedding to quickly assemble
13) And in that moment, he comes for her, and sweeps her up and carries her to the wedding, and then, to His Home that he has prepared for her
f. THAT is what the RAPTURE of CHRISTIANS will be like when Jesus comes back for US as His Bride!
g. 2Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused [ENGAGED] you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
4. An Archangel Blows a Trumpet Loudly
a. Only the saved will hear it
b. The unsaved will hear only thunder – this sound will be a diversion
c. Probably a flash of bright light across the entire world, brighter than the sun
d. John 12:27-29 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him.
e. It will be like a bomb going off in the distance
f. Confusion, disorientation – the entire world will be distracted
5. In an instant, millions and millions and millions of grave burst open, and the dead bodies of believers will break out, resurrected back to life again, and race up into the sky, and are instantly changed into new bodies that are just like Jesus
a. 1Corinthians 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
b. 1Corinthians 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
c. 1Corinthians 15:52 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.
d. 1Corinthians 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
e. 1Corinthians 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
f. Our frail, vile, stinking, rotting sinful bodies will put on perfection and immortality
1) Philippians 3:20,21 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
g. ALL in an instant, on the way UP
D. And Then Those Still Alive… (1Thessalonians 4:17)
1Thessalonians 4:17 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.
1. Next go the believers that are still alive at His coming - Those of us who are alive at the Rapture
2. PAUL INCLUDES HIMSELF
a. He was not thinking the rapture would happen way off in the future
b. He was personally looking for it to happen in HIS lifetime!
c. No wonder he had no fear! He expected Jesus to come back at any moment
d. Every Bible believer throughout history has looked at the troubles in their life, the hardships, the world order around us, as passing away…
e. And instead has believed that at any moment, Jesus could come and whisk us all away home, like a Groom sweeps his new bride off her feet and takes her away to their honeymoon!
3. Are Caught UP
a. 2Corinthians 12:2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
b. NOT AN EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE, but a PHYSICAL MOVE
c. 2Corinthians 12:3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
d. 2Corinthians 12:4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.
4. Meeting Jesus in the air – not at the battle field of Armageddon, but in the air
5. Never separated from Him again
6. And then it is back to heaven for about seven years
a. While the world experiences hell on earth
b. As the wrath of God poured out
c. And we receive rewards for how we lived for Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ in heaven
A. The Lord Jesus will personally come back for His bride
B. He is not coming alone! All those who have died in Christ, are coming back with Him at that moment to get their new resurrected BODIES!
C. Jesus lets out a SHOUT, calling all born again believers to Himself
D. An Archangel Blows a Trumpet Loudly to distract the world
E. In an instant, millions and millions and millions of grave burst open, and the dead bodies of believers will break out, resurrected back to life again, and race up into the sky, and are instantly changed into new bodies that are just like Jesus
F. And Then Those Who Are Still Alive, Are Caught UP
G. Meeting Jesus in the air – not at the battle field of Armageddon, but in the air
H. And then it is back to heaven for seven years
I. And it all could happen at any moment!
A. Where will YOU be when this happens? What will you be doing?
1. If you think you can wait until it gets REALLY bad, you are wrong
2. There is NO waiting – now is the right time
3. If you think you can ignore this as a fairy tale
4. I warn you, that you will one day believe the most fanciful cock and bull story ever dreamed up when 200 million people disappear
5. And you won’t miss us at all
6. God will delude your mind, and harden your heart
7. There are no second chances after that trumpet blows
B. I know what “I” need to be doing…
1Thessalonians 4:18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
1. Comforting, Encourage each other. How could it comfort someone if they couldn’t believe it could happen to THEM?
2. Serving God and not this world – doing the will of God
3. Looking forward to the moment Jesus returns, waiting for Him (EXPECTING) like a Bride waits the return of her husband for her!
1Thessalonians 1:9,10 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
4. Listening for that SHOUT, that will rattle us to the bones, and will WAKE the dead, just a split second before we all disappear into the clouds to go away with Jesus!