The Church of Jesus Christ has a glorious, and victorious future in the world, in the air, and in eternity.
The church, built upon Christ, cannot fail. “The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” The gates of hell means, “The forces of evil shall not overpower it,” Matthew 16:18, “The powers of the underworld shall not overthrow it.” “The might of Hades shall not triumph over it.” Reformation. The church cannot fail because, Christ is its head.
The Holy Spirit is its power. The Word of God is its guide.
So much for the Church in the world, let us now consider the Church in the air. The subject of the Lord’s coming is mentioned in the New Testament, most of the references are found in the Synoptic Gospels…
The topic of the Rapture is not found in the Synoptics. The Rapture and the Coming are two distinct events and should not be confused. The Rapture is the “Catching up” of the church to meet the Lord in the air. For His saints.
The coming of the Lord is when He comes to the earth with His saints in power and great glory.
The Rapture is the first phase of the second coming of the Lord and takes place approximately seven years before the actual coming to earth.
The Rapture is the Parousia, or the Presence. No eye on earth shall see Him. The Coming to earth is the Epiphany, or the manifestation. Every eye. First century
THE RAPTURE WAS TAUGHT IN THE EARLY DAYS OF THE CHURCH—IT WAS LOST IN THE DARK AGES—AND REDISCOVERED IN 1828. Describe.
The first and only mention of the parousial Rapture in the Gospels is found in John Ch. 14. The disciples were alarmed that the Lord was going to leave them and they would not be able to follow Him. Ch. 13:33-36. In this crisis the Lord told them that He would come back for them and take them to His Father’s house.
Describe our thoughts of the Rapture.
To the Lord the Rapture is the moment of His supreme joy, the consummation of all His redemptive work. Rev. 19. “He shall see of the travail of His Soul and be satisfied.”
The next mention of the Rapture is when Paul introduced the subject in one of his earliest letters to the Thessalonian church. Each time the Rapture is mentioned there was a problem.
The young believers in Thessalonica were upset because they had believed that the Lord’s return was imminent. In the meantime some of their number had died. They were confused. What would happen to the dead? Were they lost? Would they be resurrected? “I would not have you to be ignorant.”
Because of this confusion Paul wrote by inspiration His thesis on the Rapture. From this account we learn that certain things will take place when the Church is “caught up.”
1. The Lord who ascended from Mount Olivet, literal…real…, will descend bodily from heaven to the atmospheric heavens. “THE LORD HIMSELF.” If I go I will come again. This same Jesus.”
2. His coming for His church will be signaled by a shout, the voice of the archangel, the trump of God. Signs and sounds. Roman Army.
3. At the shout the dead in Christ will rise and rejoin their souls and spirits. At the voice.
4. Living saints will be transformed. At the last trumpet they will rise to meet Christ without dying, accompanied by the resurrected saints.
5. After meeting the Lord in the air we will be transported to the Father’s house. “O the soul-thrilling rapture, When I see His blessed face.”
Some five years later Paul wrote to the Corinthians when they were having a problem and made more explicit what he implied in 1 Thessalonians. Resurrection—Christ’s Saints—Rapture. Notice how graphically he describes the new body.
1. We will receive a new body in contrast to our present corruptible, mortal, sinful body. We shall not all sleep but WE SHALL BE CHANGED. Made differently.
2. This heavenly body will be like the glorious body of our Lord. “It will be conformed to the body of His glory.” Phil 3:21.
3. The resurrection body will be incorruptible, it will not be subject to decay or deterioration.
4. It will be immortal and deathless.
5. The resurrection body will be sinless. 1 John 3:2.
6. This resurrection, change, and translation will take place in a “moment,” in “the twinkling of an eye.” Death and the grave swallowed up in victory.
“THE HEAVENS WILL GLOW WITH SPLENDOR,” Etc.
We have considered the Church in the world, and in the air. Let us now look at it in heaven.
The Judgment Seat of Christ or the “Bema.” The first event.
After the glory of the Rapture there will be the apprehension of the BEMA of Christ.
The Lord’s coming. 1 Thess 4
In these verses we have described the exact order of the Lord’s coming for His saints.
“The Lord Himself will descend from heaven.” Not an angel, He will com Himself. General MacArthur.
“He will come with a shout with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.”
“The shout” of the Lord Jesus will raise the dead in Christ and change the living believers.
“The voice” of the Lord sounding like an archangel will summon the angels as a military escort to accompany the Lord and His saints through enemy territory, back to heaven. Catching up.
“The trumpet of God,” has to do with the Rapture of believers. It calls the saints to eternal blessing.
This is the last trumpet for the church. 1 Corinthians 15:52.
“The dead” in Christ “will rise.” “Lazareth comes forth.”
This resurrection and Rapture will only affect those who have died “in Christ.”
The phrase “in Christ” is never applied to believer who lived before the church age. These believers will be resurrected at the end of the tribulation. Dan 12:2. Rev. 10:6.
Finally, the living will be “changed” and “caught up” together with them, in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.
We will meet the Lord in “the air.” This is Satan’s territory. Ephesians 2:2. The Lord will show the triumph of His work at Calvary to Satan, His archenemy, in His own stronghold. Eph 3:10.
Think of all that is included in these verses.
The earth and the sea yielding up the dust of all the dead in Christ. Then the dust, being transformed into glorified bodies free from pain, sickness and death.
Then the space-flight to heaven. All this taking place in a moment, the twinkling of an eye. 1 Corinthians 15:52. “The heavens will glow with splendor.”
In connection with Christ’s coming:
There is a sound to hear.
A sight to see.
A miracle to feel.
A meeting to enjoy.
A comfort to experience.
Note the recurrence of the word LORD in these verses.
The Word of the Lord. V.15
The Coming of the Lord V.15
The Lord Himself V.16
To Meet the Lord Vs.17
Always be with the Lord Vs.17
Note the successive steps of a Jewish wedding:
1. At the moment of conversion we are espoused to the Lord Jesus and receive the “engagement ring” which is the earnest of the Holy Spirit.
Presently the Lord is preparing a place for us in the Father’s house.
2. Not at the Rapture. The actual wedding will take place after the Judgment Seat when the Bride will be made ready. Dressed in white robes. Then she will be presented to the Lord, “not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing.” Eph 5:27, Rev 19:7.
3. Thirdly, John wrote, “Blessed are they who are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Rev 19:9. The Church is the Wife. Who will attend? The redeemed of all ages are the guests, the friends of the Bridegroom. John the Baptist.
The esteemed patriarchs will be there, with the prophets, princes, and seers; the scribes, sages and saints will be there—all whose names are written down in glory will be there. These will greet the Bridegroom and His wife. These will partake of the supper.
We will come to earth with the Lord—share in His glorious millennial reign—then in the eternal state dwell in the New Jerusalem.
This judgment will determine our reward for our service. At the Bema the bride will be made ready to meet the Bridegroom—then there will be the marriage of the Lamb—followed by the Marriage Supper.
During this time of blessing and joy in heaven, the unrepentant world will be ravaged by the wrath of God. The Supper of the Great God. Rev. 19.
2 Corinth. 5:10 says that “We must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ.” No exceptions. The word “appear” means “to be made manifest.” This is a public manifestation. We will not be judged “en masse,” or in groups, but one by one. Quality not quantity.
SIN IS NOT A FACTOR IN THIS JUDGEMENT
This is not a Protestant Purgatory. We have been justified—our sins have been atoned for and will never be remembered against us again.
Roman 8, “Who is he that condemneth?” “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” It is God who justified. Who shall separate us?
At this judgment our good works will be rewarded. Our bad works will be burned up.
From my reading on this subject this will be a difficult time for us all, but for some more than others. Apprehension.
This fear was the fear of regret that his life would be revealed as wasted, having lived for self, rather than in devotion and obedience to Christ. 1 Cor. 9. Tears in heaven. See other sheet. Disapproved.
As believers we contemplate the Rapture with joyous anticipation, but we should temper our joy with the fact that our lives will be brought under review at the Judgment Seat.
Paul uses three figures to illustrate the principles of judgment the Lord will use at His Judgment Seat.
Romans 14:11-12. “As surely as I live saith the Lord.”
EVERY KNEE—EVERY TOUNGUE—EVERY ONE OF US. Shall give account.
We preach the Gospel to the unsaved reminding them that “it is appointed unto men once to die.”—“Prepare to meet Thy God.”—“Be not deceived.” etc. Gal 6:7-8.
We too will appear before the Judge at the Bema. We will be called upon to give an account to our stewardship. GOD IS ULTRAMETICULOUS IN HIS RECORD KEEPING. Hairs numbered. Nathaniel—Widow—Peter, “Thou knowest all things.”
What have you done with the gifts God has given you? Cup of water. Giving—praying—fasting. Showing mercy—cheerfulness.
Paul gives his second figure in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15. IT IS THE FIGURE OF A BUILDING.
He tells us that the foundation of this building is Christ. V.11 The building here is not the Church. Every believer is building a building on Christ. Describe the building materials.
At the Judgment Seat this building will be tested by fire which “will determine each man’s work of what sort it is.” 1 Corinth 3:13
If any man’s work shall withstand the fire, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he will suffer loss; but he will be saved as through fire. ALBERT. V.15
In view of this judgment by fire believers are urged to build their houses with gold, silver, and precious stones. Costly stones. In contrast to wood, hay, and stubble.
We should build with gold—our lives should manifest the glory of God. Silver—we should declare redemption through Christ in the gospel.
Costly, precious stones—we should build many things of value for the glory of God.
In contrast we should not build with wood—hay—or stubble. Stubble is fit for nothing. Bulky but worthless. Recent examples.
Hay is of some value and is suitable for animals—not fit for human consumption. Stones—snakes. Wood can be made beautiful in many forms, but it is easily destroyed by fire. Indian with wooden eagle.
THE LESSON HERE IS THAT WE SHOULD BUILD OUR BUILDING WHICH EMBODIES ETERNAL VALUES.
Tell the story of the rich man and his gardener.
The third figure Paul uses is found in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
The object of the race was to win the prize. The first Olympics. The Olympian runner sacrificed everything—self denial. To win the race. As “we” run this race we should lay aside every weight—and the sin which doth so easily beset us. Unbelief. Heb 12. Encumbrances, entanglements.
WE MUST DO THIS TO WIN THE PRIZE.
Paul not only likens the believer’s life to a race. He likens it also to a boxing match. I have fought a good fight.
He describes how he beats his body black and blue to keep it in subjection. I keep under my body. Paul agonizing.
So intense is the battle that he buffets his body and makes it black and blue as he fights his lusts and passions.
THIS SPEAKS OF DISCIPLINE AND SELF CONTROL.
Paul ran the race to win the prize, and boxed his body to…
Some thoughts on the Judgment Seat of Christ
Believers will be tested, not for the quantity of their works, but for their quality.
The Bema. Describe this.
The Judgment Seat will be at a time of truth for each of us.
When Christ makes His judgments there will be no missing information. Everything will be naked and open. There will be many surprises. Many who were prominent in life will take a back seat to others who toiled behind the scenes.
Will there be tears shed in heaven? Many believe that there will be no tears in heaven. I believe there will be tears. Service and fruit.
Revelation 21: 4 describes conditions at the end of millennium. The eternal state. The kingdom of God has been established and THEN “He will wipe away tears from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain.”
This statement would imply that there will be tears before that time.
Tears will flow at the Bema because of opportunities of service neglected, because of gifts left unused. Because of a selfish life…pleasure…flowery beds of ease.
Tears will be shed because of motivational neglect.
Tears will be shed because rewards which could have been earned will be lost.
Some men and women have served God faithfully all their lives and then in the last few years have wiped it all out because of carnality and immorality.
For such the Judgment Seat will be a time of regret. They will be devastated as they see their life’s work go up in smoke right before their eyes.
A great reward will be given to those who have been persecuted for Christ’s sake.
“Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Every one of the New Testament writers was horribly persecuted. Matthew was beheaded. Mark was dragged through the streets of Alexandria by a team of wild horses until he died. Luke was hanged in an olive tree. John was thrown into a boiling cauldron of oil and survived but was horribly disfigured. One extra biblical legend records that when John saw his face reflected in a river he was shocked.
Then God told him to write, “We know that when He appears we shall be like Him.” 1 John 3:2.
Paul was beheaded. Peter and Jude were crucified. James was battered to death with a club.
These men, of whom the world was not worthy, didn’t have elaborate funerals with satin-line caskets, but their rewards for suffering for Christ’s name will surpass the twenty-one-gun salute given for fallen heroes.
Small things that had great results. A Christian businessman picked a young man who was hitchhiking on a cold November day. His clothes were worn and he was suffering from the cold. This small kindness led eventually to the salvation of the man, his family and some of his friends.
A 12 year old boy names Cliff Miller went daily to the fence surrounding the athletic field at Georgia State Penitentiary to talk and witness to Harold Morris. These testimonies played a large part in the conversion of Harold, who was later pardoned. Today he speaks of thousands to young people around the country about Jesus Christ.
The Judgment Seat of Christ. See small sheet.
Talk a little more about tears. Two men upset.
God is ultrameticulous in His record keeping.
John 1: Nathanial—Luke 21:1-2: Widows mites…Peter said “Thou knowest all things”, etc. Hairs of our head are numbered, Mathew 10:30 Sparrow. John 21. Neh 3:5 Tekoites.
Reward for a healthy stewardship. Money—time—opportunities—talents. Stewardship—the use of spiritual gifts.
Showing mercy. Cup of cold water…giving…praying…showing mercy. Matt 6 Reward for those who love their enemies, curse them, hate them.
CROWNS 1 Corinth 9:25. Those who strive to win the race are temperate and will receive an incorruptible crown.
2 Tim 4:8 Those who love the Lord’s coming will receive a crown of righteousness.
James 1:12 Those who overcome temptation will receive the crown of life.
1 Peter 5:24 Those who shepherd well will receive a crown of glory.
Rev 2:10 Those who are faithful unto death will receive a crown of life.
Serving and Fruit bearing
Concern. John 15. Wood—hay—stubble.
There will be some who have been engaged in all kinds of service, working early and staying late working hard, who will suffer loss at the Judgment Seat because they have been following their own rules instead of going by the Word of God. The fruitless fig tree. The unfruitful branch. James Thorpe. Keeping the rules. The flesh. Martha—see sheet.
Fruit bearing is conditional and contingent upon our abiding in Christ. John 15:5.
Fruit bearing is the life of Christ flowing through me.
1. The most valuable fruit for a believer to grow more like Christ. Conformed to the image of His Son. Romans 8:29.
2. To demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. Gal 5:22-23.
3. Winning precious souls for Christ.
4. To build up the body with Christ exalting and Spirit-filled ministry.
There will be a reward for this.
1 Corinth 9 would lead us to believe that Paul lived his life in the fear that he could become a castaway.
He introduces his second and third figure of the runner and the boxer to illustrate how he agonizes to avoid being disqualified.
1. The picture of the runner. The runner sacrificed everything to win the race. Paul practiced strict self-control—he denied self. Paul says, that we must do this if we are going to win the prize. Returned again to Lystra. Acts 14. The writer of Hebrews says that in the race we are to lay aside every weight = encumbrance. Lay aside the sin which entangles us. Unbelief. Finally, we have to run the race with perseverance = endurance. Looking unto our example = Jesus. Ch. 12: 1-3.
2. Paul likens his struggles to a boxing match. His opponent is his body, i.e. the lusts and passions. He says, “I am not shadow-boxing, I’m not punching the air.” Conflict of two natures. I keep on bruising my body and making it my slave. Romans 7:19 “The good that I would do I do not, but the evil I would not do, that I do.” Paul ran the race to win; he boxed his body to subdue its lusts and passions. “O wretched man that I am,” etc. He did this to keep him from becoming a castaway. O the tragedy of being set aside in this life and being disapproved by the Lord in glory, and watch our life’s work being consumed by holy fire. Mediocre Christians. Saved by fire.
The burning of the dream house. The evangelist who went wrong. Demas has forsaken me.
“So run that you may obtain.” Ch 9:26
“I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” Henceforth, etc.
Be carried to the skies, be any stars in my crown, must I go empty handed.
Control its lusts and passions, lest he become a castaway, rejected or disapproved. Put on the shelf. “You did run well, what has hindered you.”
Disapproved in this life, O the tragedy of a ruined life. The evangelist who went wrong. But O the tragedy of meeting the Lord and seeing our life’s work going up in smoke at the Judgment Seat. The burning up of the dream house. Saved though by fire.
As we live, from this day forward, may we remember that nothing is hidden from the eye of God. Your life is an open book to the Lord.
In addressing the seven churches of Asia Minor the Lord said, “I KNOW THY WORKS.” Thyotira: love—service—faith—patience.
John says “he that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as He is pure.” 1 John 3:3.
In view of the imminent return of the Lord “what manner of men ought to be in all holy living and godliness.” 2 Peter 2:11.
How shall we then live?
“Shall I be carried to the sky,” etc. “Will there be any stars in my crown?” “Must I go and empty handed,” etc.
In the land of fadeless day the crowning day is coming.
Paul’s persecution of the Church.
Acts 22-The Mob. Stephen. “I persecuted this way unto death, binding and delivering into the prisons both men and women.”
I did many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
Many of the saints I shut up in prison. When they were put to death I gave my consent. I punished them in the synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme and being exceedingly mad against them I persecuted them even unto foreign cities.
1 John 4:15
Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in Him. Ch. 5:1
“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.”
Eastern Europe—China—Africa. Acts 5, Acts 6.