The Rapture, Part II


Jesus promised a rapture to one of the seven churches. "Husbands,  love your wives, even as Christ also  loved  the church,  and gave himself for it." (Ephesians 5:25) "..  and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18)  The seven  churches in the Book of Revelation (see  Revelation  12:1-3:22)  began with the Church of Ephesus and represents the  Apostolic  period from A.D. 30 - 100.

According to their  description they  did everything right, in fact they were  so  conscientious about  their works that they forgot God, their first love.  Jesus warns  them  that  they needed to overcome that  problem  to get saved.  (See Revelation 2:1-7) The Church of Smyrna  had  members who  suffered great persecution because they would  not  worship Caesar,  the political leader, through 300 A.D.  (See  Revelation 2:8-11)  His advice to them was to be faithful and  overcome,  to get the crown of life.

The  Church of Pergamus, a place where an immense  altar  to Zeus,  the chief of the Greek mythological gods stood, one  thousand feet above the plain. It was referred to as Satan's seat. It represents the age of the state church which began with  Constantine, A.D. 313 - 590 in Rome.

"To him that overcometh..  will  I give..  a new name.. (See Revelation 2:12-17) The church did  not deny the faith, but they were running with people who held to the Doctrine of Balaam. The Church of Thyatira who suffered the woman of  Jezebel,  prophetess "to teach and to seduce my  servants  to commit fornication.. " said Jesus. They were Baal worshipers  and repented  not.

In Revelation 2:22 Jesus said: "I will cast her into a bed and them  that  commit adultery with her, into great tribulation, except they repent  of their  deeds." "He that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations. " (Revelation 2:26) This period corresponds to A.D. 590 - 1517  during which  time the first Pope, Gregory the Great, was  placed  which eventually  forced the Protestant Reformation. Advice was  again: he  that overcomes is saved. (See Revelation 2:18-29)

The  Church of Sardis pictures the Reformation Era of the Church in A.D. 1517 -  1790. The richest man alive lived in Sardis. Jesus  told  them that  their works are not perfect before God and that they are  a dead church." Again the advice was: "He that overcometh, the same shall  be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot his  name out  of the book of life, but I will confess his name  before  my Father, and before his angels." (Revelation 3:5)

Finally  the Church of Philadelphia which  represented  what Jesus  had in mind. "I know thy works: behold I have  set  before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength,  and  hast kept my word, and thou hast  not  denied  my name.. I will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which  shall come  upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the  earth. Behold I come quickly hold that fast which thou hast, let no  man take  thy  crown,"  said Jesus in Revelation 3:8-11. This represents the  age  of the missionary church which began with rise of modern missions  under William Carey A.D. 1730-1900.

Revelation 3:7-13 is said to  promise  the  Rapture. The Church was mentioned 76 times in  the  New Testament  but after the third chapter of the Book of  Revelation it  was  not referred to again. Scholars claim the reason  to  be that  it  was removed from the world to allow  the  remainder  of Revelation to transpire.

There  is  yet one more Church mentioned, which  is  of  the Laodiceans.  Jesus complains: "I know thy works, that  thou  art neither  hot  nor cold: I would thou wast cold or  hot..  Because thou  art lukewarm.. I will spew thee out of my mouth.." He  goes on  to  describe our present situation that we have too  much  of everything and no need of God.. He wants us to repent of that and to him that overcomes, he will grant to sit with Him. (see  Revelation 3:14-22) Laodicea was known as a banking center and had  a famous  medical school. The city is in complete ruins  today.  It portrays the apostate church of the last days (A.D. 1900-present) which ends up deceived.

The  Apostle  Paul reassures the truly  born  again  Gentile Christians:  "Ye are all the children of light, and the  children of  the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as [do] others; but let us watch and be sober." (1 Thessalonians 5:5,6) "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. And if I go and prepare a place for you,  I  will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also." (John 14:2,3) "Much more then, being now  justified  by  his blood, we shall be saved from wrath  through  him." (Romans  5:9)  "For whether we be beside  ourselves  (1839  Greek `Existemi' to remove out of its place or state, to be transported beyond  oneself with astonishment) [it is] to God: or whether  we be sober, [it is] for your cause." (2 Corinthians 5:13)

"For we know that if our earthly house of [this]  tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands,  eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan,  earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from  heaven: If  so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For  we that  are in [this] tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not  for that  we  would be unclothed, but clothed  upon,  that mortality might  be swallowed up of life.

"Now he that hath wrought  us  for the  selfsame  thing [is] God, who also hath given  unto us  the earnest  of  the  Spirit. Therefore [we  are]  always  confident, knowing  that, whilst we are at home in the body, we  are  absent from  the  Lord:" (2 Corinthians 5:1-6) To explain just the verse 5:1, the Key Study Bible  explains on  p. 1446: "The phrase `we know' is translated from  the  Greek word `oidamen' (1492), meaning "to know intuitively" as a  result of being a child of God. It is knowledge that accompanies the new birth  in Christ Jesus. Verse 5:1 continues; ".. if  our  earthly house  of this tabernacle [tent].." What Paul is saying  here  is the  spirit  is the real person found in the body.  The  body  is represented by the Greek word `skenon (4633) `tent', which refers to the material portion of a person.

Paul continues on to explain that  though this earthly body (house) will be  `dissolved', God has  promised that there will be a `building of God'. This  is  a description of death of the mortal body, yet it is intended to be encouragement  for  the believer as he looks at death.  The  word that  is  tranlated  `building', is the  Greek  word  `oikodomen' (3619), which means `the process of building something'. The  basic idea in this verse is that God is building a  new house for the believer's spirit which will be disembodied at  the point  of death, leaving the body remaining on earth. This  indicates  that God will create something completely new.  Then  Paul uses the word `oikian' (3614), `dwelling place', which refers to the completion of the `eternal body'.

There are two qualities  to this new body that must be understood. First, it will be  similar to the present one and identifiable, yet not identical because it is  not going to be made by human hands, but it will be  produced by God. The word translated `not made with hands' is acheiropoieton (886). This is the same word that the Lord used in Mark 14:58 when  He  spoke of destroying the temple, which was made  by  the hands  of men, and in three days, building another, not  made  by man. Christ was speaking of His body following his resurrection.

Although His own body was `made of woman' (Gal. 4:4) at  His birth, yet no human being was involved at the time of His  resurrection.  The believer's human body will have the  same  outcome. The  first time, one is born into this world, the body is  physically  produced.  However, at the resurrection by Christ  of  the righteous dead (1 Thessallonian 4:15-17), God will change them to new glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:50-57). The second quality is  that it is going to be `eternal', translated from  the  Greek word `aionion' (166).

This idea of eternalness focused in on what characterizes God Himself. The life that is given at salvation to believers  is  the promise of eternal life  (aionios  [166],  zoe [2222]), not  denoting  duration of a period of  time,  but  the quality  of the life. This life can never be lost or  taken  away once a person accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The word, aionios,  however, is always related to time using the form  aion (165),  `age or generation'. ..

Paul recognized this place to  be where  God is and where the believer will find his ultimate  rest (1 Thess. 4:17,18)." "For  what  [is] our hope, or joy, or  crown  of rejoicing? [Are] not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy." (1 Thessalonians  2:19,20) "To  the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in  holiness before  God,  even our Father, at the coming of our  Lord  Jesus Christ  with all his saints (the believers) ."  (1  Thessalonians 3:13)  

Referring to the seven year Tribulation, Paul teaches:  "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all  ungodliness and  unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth  in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for  God hath shewed [it] unto them. For the invisible things  of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood  by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but  became vain in their imaginations, and their  foolish  heart was  darkened.  Professing  themselves to be  wise,  they became fools,  And  changed the glory of the uncorruptible God  into  an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and  fourfooted beasts,  and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up  to uncleanness  through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into  a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than  the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen." (Romans 1:18-25)

And  a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, [even  to them]  which  stumble at the word, being  disobedient:  whereunto also  they  were appointed." (1 Peter 2:8) In  other words  they don't understand the Word of God. Also ".. there are certain  men crept  in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this  condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness,  and  denying  the only Lord God, and  our Lord  Jesus Christ." (Jude 1:4)

Proof  text that the end does not come until  the  following order has been fulfilled. First: Jesus comes back and the  church is made alive, or resurrected in Him and His kingdom is delivered up to God. Second: at the end the rest are made alive. "For as in Adam  all die, even so in Christ shall all be  made  alive.  But every  man  in his own order: Christ the  firstfruits;  afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then [cometh] the end, when he  shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the  Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For  he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his  feet. The  last enemy [that] shall be destroyed [is] death." (1 Corinthians 15:22-26)


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