This is Part 1 of 6 parts describing the Rapture and Tribulation generalities. A friend asked me about the Rapture and End Times, so here is my response to him. Parts 2-6 will be posted on succeeding days.
The End Times: Rapture and Tribulation
Where is this world going? What will happen in the end times? I had a friend ask me about the Rapture and the End Times, so here is a brief response to his question.
Jesus promised that He would return for the church Jn. 14:3. He said this during the Last Supper as He transitioned from the Jewish Age to the Church Age teaching. The disciples would be the first ones as believers and representative of all genuine believers in the Church Age, which began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) His words included the entire church, “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.” (John 14:3 NKJ) Let’s note several important facts from Scripture.
First, the Church Age is an age of trends. In John’s last letter regarding the Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, chapters two and three record seven letters to churches in Asia Minor. The letters represent trends in the Church Age on the seven kinds of churches that will exist. There are also excellent analogies of similarities of the church during the Church Age for periods of church history. We are currently in the Church of Laodicea part of history, which may mean we are very close to the last generation before the Rapture of the Church. I do not emphasize this to overshadow the principle of the church trends.
Secondly, the Church Age is an age of no prophecy. That is, there is no prophecy that has to be fulfilled in order for the Church Age to end and the Rapture to occur. The Rapture is called imminent because there is no trigger that will initiate the Rapture. There are several trends that will occur prior to the initiation of the Tribulation, but not the Rapture. The Lord Jesus, the Judge, is waiting God’s perfect timing to return,
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. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! (Jam. 5:7-9 NKJ)
Thirdly, the Lord could return at any time, so we anticipate with patience. No one can determine the exact time, nor can anyone dictate that timing to the Lord. There is no need to get upset or shaken by the extraordinary machinations of those setting dates for His return. No, the Lord wants us to be patient regardless of those who may fall away,
Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you,2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, (2 Thes. 2:1-3 NKJ)
Fourthly, when He does return, He will take all genuine believers in the Lord Jesus. Will those in sin be taken? Yes, the apostle Paul does not differentiate between saintly believers and those who are troubled by sinful choices. The Lord will “rapture” them all,
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. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 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. 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. (1 Thes. 4:13-17 NKJ)
Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.
In your fourth point were you saying then that the verses in 1 Thes. 4:13-17 aren’t talking about people who have physically died but is still talking solely about believers who are living but not actively living in obedience? We had never heard those verses with that commentary behind it, and wanted to clarify what you meant.
I don’t use this feature often and I think I lost what I typed, so let me re-type a few things. Use my email if you have other questions, so I don’t miss your message. Thanks.
1 Thes. 4 is about newer Christians who were afraid that those who had died had missed the rapture and were doomed to condemnation. They knew the rapture was imminent, but various incidents had happened that indicated to them that they would not make it if they died first. It’s not that they were disobedient, but had not been taught enough for them to have confidence in their understanding. Does that help and does that make sense?
Bless you and hope the ducks are well!