1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 / Up Up and Away!

Posted on March 15, 2015

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This message was delivered at Hillcrest Baptist Church on the morning of March 15, 2015. This is given as part of a series on Revelation, and serves as a transition from Revelation chapter 3 to chapter four, where we see preparation being made to begin the judgments of the tribulation. This message gives the Scriptural basis of a pre-tribulation rapture. I have included my sermon notes along with the audio.

SERMON AUDIO:

The Rapture

SERMON NOTES:

Some things to keep in mind as we begin this study:

  • The church and Israel are separate, they fulfill different aspects of God’s plan.
  • The church does not replace Israel. God still has unfulfilled plans for Israel, which are on hold during this present age (the church age).
  • The church did not exist on earth prior to this church age (O.T. times) nor will it exist on earth after the church age (post-rapture, great tribulation), until the millennial reign.

AS TO WHEN IT WILL HAPPEN:

No one knows when the rapture will take place. There is no single event that has to happen prior to the rapture. As such, the Bible gives us no warning signs for the rapture. There is no need, as far as believers are concerned, the rapture is nothing to be scared of.

1 Thessalonians 4:18-5:6

The warning signs that are recorded, deal with the tribulation, not the rapture. We only know that the church will not have to suffer God’s wrath. The great tribulation is a time of God’s dealing with Israel and of His wrath upon the godless nations (detailed later).

Revelation 6:15-17

The tribulation period is called by Jeremiah “Jacob’s trouble”.

Jeremiah 30:5-7

God has not appointed the church to wrath.

1 Thessalonians 5:9

The Church has suffered and will suffer many trials and tribulations, but not the great day of His wrath (as revealed in Revelation 6:17). The Lord has promised the faithful that they will be kept from that hour of wrath:

Revelation 3:10 2

Peter 2:9

Luke 21:34-36

The great tribulation is not part of the church age:

Daniel 9:24-27 details Daniel’s prophecy of 70 weeks, which is a time of God’s dealing with Israel, and His wrath upon the Godless nations. This period (490 years) is divided into three parts, with an undetermined gap of time between 2nd and 3rd weeks.

  1. 7 weeks (49 years) marks the rebuilding of Jerusalem by Nehemiah.
  2. 62 weeks (434 years, for a total of 483 years) until the cutting off of Christ.
  3. 1 week (7 years) marks the tribulation period yet to come. All 490 years deal specifically with Israel. The church age is the present time, which ends when the tribulation begins.

There is no Scripture that necessitates (or suggests) placing the church in that period! The wrath and persecution that the church faces, is from the world/satan – not God.

The church will be removed before the antichrist is revealed.

2 Thessalonians 2:7-8

The restrainer is the Holy Spirit. The believer can never be separated from the Holy Spirit, because Christ prayed that the Spirit would abide with believers forever.

John 14:16

That prayer cannot go unanswered.

Therefore; when the restrainer is “taken out of the way”, the church must be removed with Him. It’s impossible for it to be otherwise. The appearance of the antichrist will follow the removal of the Holy Spirit and the church, and will mark the beginning of the 7 year tribulation period.

Daniel 9:27

It MUST be understood; therefore, that the rapture occurs prior to the 7 year tribulation period.

The several arguments against this are simply poor exegesis, because they do not take the totality and unity of scripture into account, and take a less literal approach to the Bible.

For example, one may call attention to the trumpets in 1 Corinthians 15:52 and Revelation 11:15, asserting that these both refer to the rapture (as in our opening scripture), and that the church is not raptured until midway through the tribulation.

  • These trumpets are not the same. Paul’s is the trumpet call of the rapture. John’s trumpet is the seventh in a series of judgments, and encompasses many events. The period of this seventh trumpet reaches to Christ’s return, which is its conclusion. This trumpet introduces and includes the seven bowl judgments of the wrath of God, revealed in Revelation 16. Therefore, they cannot be the same trumpet call.
  • It is clearly established that the church will not have to endure the wrath of the tribulation. Since God’s wrath IS also poured out during the first half of the tribulation, not just the second half (beginning in Rev. 6), the church must be raptured prior to the beginning of the tribulation.
  • Both mid and post tribulation views remove the “any-moment” expectation of the rapture. Being able to tie the events of the tribulation to the rapture, the timing of the rapture could then be calculated. Yet, scripture says that this is impossible.
  • Both opposing theories require us to look for the antichrist’s coming before Christ’s coming. But, Scripture tells us to watch for the coming of Christ. (Mat. 24:42; 25:13; 1 Thes. 5:6, etc.)

There is scripture in Revelation that makes it clear that people will be saved during the tribulation period, but Scripture is CRYSTAL CLEAR that ALL existing believers will be raptured PRIOR to the tribulation.

  • Again, I stress: This doesn’t mean that you won’t face tribulation/wrath from the world, it simply means that believers will not face God’s wrath. Jesus Christ has saved us from that. The seven year tribulation period is a time of God’s wrath being poured onto the world.

There is NO scripture that warns the church of the tribulation as though she is in danger of it. In fact, this is the very reason that we should be comforted by these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:18

As long as one can still draw a breath, it’s not too late for salvation.

The study of this doctrine, as fascinating as it is, should ultimately inspire us to be more evangelistic. If we are going to be effective in spreading the Gospel, we need to be sure that what we teach is Biblically sound! We should want everyone to escape the wrath, both of the tribulation and of Hell.

We simply don’t know how much longer we have to spread the Gospel. We need to get busy!

Our desire should be God’s desire.

Ezekiel 33:11

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Posted in: Eschatology, Sermons