1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
There are in the NT 260 chapters and 318 references to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The OT abounds with passage which speak of Christ’s return to reign upon this earth.
There are different aspects of His coming:
1. In relation to the Jew.
2. In relation to the Church.
There is not one reference in the OT which points to the Lord’s coming to take a people out of the world to the Father’s house.
The NT also contains many references to this event, but also introduces to us the fact of His coming to rapture the Church. Perhaps the only reference in the Gospels to this aspect of His coming is in John 14.
We are indebted mainly to Paul and his writings for the revelation of the rapture of the church.
Paul, in writing to Titus, brought the two aspects of his coming into sharp relief: “Looking for that ‘blessed hope’ and the ‘glorious appearing’ of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”
In John 14 Jesus foretells his coming for his own. In 1 Thessalonians 4 Paul describes the “Rapture” and shows that it is sign-less and timeless. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul by revelation supplies some of the detail.
We shall not all die, but all will be changed. This changed will be instantaneous, and shall take place at the blowing of the last trumpet.
After receiving our incorruptible bodies we shall be translated or raptured in clouds and meet the Lord in the air.
After meeting the Lord, and meeting with loved ones, certain great events are going to take place:
1. The Judgment Seat of Christ.
Described for us in 2 Corinthians 5:10 and Romans 14:10. Every believer will be required to be examined by the Lord. This event is explained in more detail in 1 Corinthians 3:9-15. This examination takes place immediately following the rapture.
Revelation 19:8 shows us the bride already rewarded prior to the Lord’s return with His Bride. “And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Judge. All judgment is committed unto the Son in John 5. this judgment is not to determine our salvation but rather to make manifest what we really are. It is our works that will be brought under judgment. It is not the Lord’s purpose to chasten us for our sins but to reward us for our service. Our work is going to be tested by fire. That which is God glorifying will stand the test. That which is not will be burned up.
2. The Marriage of the Lamb.
Each one clothed in garments of fine linen—Revelation 19:8. This “marriage” takes place in heaven. It is from heaven that we descend with Him on His glorious return—Revelation 19:14. Then throughout eternity we shall dwell in perfect bliss, showing forth His glory, and displaying to wondering angels the glory of His name. Will you be one of these happy people?
What happens to those who are left behind when the Lord comes?
First of all, there will be the shock and consternation caused by the rapture of the born-again believers. There will be abject misery and anguish among those who know the truth and yet have rejected it. But this will be of short duration. With the rapture of the believers and the removal of the Holy Spirit, there appears on the scene one whom Paul describes as the “Wicked or Lawless one.” He is the head of the Roman Empire and as such he is the political leader and rules relentlessly over the nations of the earth. He is known as the Beast.
Then there arises the “second beast.” His power comes from Satan through the “first beast.” He is the religious head. He promotes and compels all peoples to worship the first beast instead of God. He is given power by Satan to do miracles, Paul describes them as “powers, signs and lying wonders”—2 Thessalonians 2:9.
These men with their power, subtilty, and deceit will enslave the bodies and minds of the people, so that they will believe a lie rather than the truth.
Someone asks, “Will there not be some saved during the tribulation?” The answer to that is, “Yes.”
But who will be saved? Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2 talks of some who are perishing, “who received not the truth,” prior to the rapture.
God will send these strong delusions so that they will believe the lie. That they all might be damned who believe not the truth—verses 10-12.
This being so, no one who rejects Christ outright before the rapture, will be given the chance to accept him after.
Apply this solemn truth to present audience. The tribulation period will be a time of unprecedented suffering. This is described for us in Revelation 6 to 19.
Those who survive the awful calamities of the Tribulation, and those who don’t will stand before the “Great White Throne,” then banished into eternal hell.
The reason why we stay with you is to warn you of these things, to tell you to flee from the wrath to come, and to tell you that “Jesus saves.”