The Rapture – The Best Thing That Can Happen to a Christian!

As Christ ascended into heaven, two men in white apparel were standing by.  They told His disciples that this same Jesus, whom they watched being taken up into heaven, would so come again in like manner as they had seen Him go.  

And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.  And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;  Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.  Acts 1:9-11

The return of the Lord, as promised above, is described as follows by the Apostle Paul:  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep (the dead in Christ).  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up (snatched away) together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words.              I Thessalonians 4:16-18

According to the Analytical Greek Lexicon (Zondervan Publishing House – sixth printing 1970), the word translated caught up is from the Greek word harpazo.  The form of this word in this context is harpagisometha which means we shall be caught up or  taken away suddenly.

Why do we call this event the Rapture?  According to Wikipedia the wordRapture” is derived from Middle French rapture, via the Medieval Latin raptura (“seizure, kidnapping”), which derives from the Latin raptus (“a carrying off”).   The American Heritage Dictionary definition #3 defines rapture as; “The transporting of a person from one place to another, especially to heaven.”  At what point, in church history, was this use of the word rapture applied to the return of Christ?  I am not sure. 

The idea of the rapture or being snatched away is not without precedent in Scripture.  Enoch walked with God and was not for God took him (Genesis 5:24).  Elijah was taken up bodily to heaven in a whirl wind (II Kings 2:11).  Philip was snatched away by the Holy Spirit after he had witnessed to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:39) and Paul speaks of being caught up to the third heaven or paradise in II Corinthians 12:2&4.

Just as the OT Jews had difficulty in distinguishing the Messiah’s coming as The Prince of Peace from His coming as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, so there are many in Christendom today that cannot distinguish between Christ’s coming in the Rapture and His coming in judgment to rescue Israel from the Great Tribulation and set up His Kingdom.  Many believe the two are the same event.

The key to distinguishing The Rapture from His Second Coming in judgment is to compare all the verses in the NT that deal with the Lord’s return.  This comparison will reveal that there are different characteristics of His coming among these verses.  This can only mean that these are separate events regarding  the return of Christ.  See John MacArthur’s NKJV study notes on I Thessalonians 4:17.

Some of these verses are all about Christ’s coming in judgment.  These would apply to His return to save Israel and set up His kingdom.   See  Matthew 13:34-50,  Matthew 24:24-44, Revelation 19:11-21.  

The other verses are encouraging to believers and are spoken to comfort Christians.  These verses would apply to the Rapture.  See John 14: 1-3, I Corinthians 15:51-52, Revelation 3:10.  See John MacArthur’s NKJV study notes on I Thessalonians 4:17.

The Rapture is imminent.  It can happen at any time.  All believers will be removed from this world in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.    Even so Lord Jesus, come quickly!  

Are you ready?

Whose Friend Are You?

Are you a friend of God or a friend of the world?

YOU CANNOT BE BOTH!

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.  James 4:4

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.  James 1:27

From my blog article entitled “Overcoming the World” in the August 2016 archives: Friendship with the world is the practice of fulfilling legitimate human needs outside the clear commands and boundaries of Scripture.

Tentmakers

Many years ago while living in the southeast, we became acquainted with an organization called Worldwide Tentmakers.  Worldwide Tentmakers seeks to come alongside and assist local churches in the promotion, preparation, and placement of self-supporting witnesses.*

The biblical model for tentmakers is the Apostle Paul.  Paul was a tentmaker and could support himself as he evangelized and planted churches.  

The idea of modern tentmakers was for a Christian businessman and/or tradesman to take a job where a missionary or church planter was already working to establish a ministry in order to help  them with financial support and lay ministry. 

At the time we came across WWTM, they were publishing lists of international jobs that were available for qualified individuals.  We began to use their lists to look for jobs in places with ministry needs.

There was an opportunity to teach history in Soldotna, AK.  I sent a resume’, but the position was filled from within the existing faculty.  There was a need for a Master Plumber at the US Embassy in Moscow, but no dependents were allowed.  We also had missionary friends ministering to Micronesian people in Hawaii, so I sent resume’s there as well, but without results.  Many other opportunities were pursued, but no doors opened.

I had always had a burden for the rural people of the Midwest, which was home for me, but I didn’t want to go there because it was home.  Wherever my family and I went, it needed to be where God wanted us to be, not where I wanted us to be.  

We eventually sent resume’s to the largest city near my hometown.  On a trip home that summer I followed up and was hired by a commercial plumbing/HVAC subcontractor in that city.  

We returned to South Carolina, sold our home there and moved back to the Midwest in about two months time.  No other opportunity opened up for us.  I knew we were right where God wanted us.

Both of my parents passed away shortly after we arrived home.  Dad was gone within thirty days and mom about seven months later.  I have an older sister who is a dependent and who was living with mom and dad at that time.  

We were able to purchase the home place from the estate and to build an addition to the house with a  small living area for my sister.  With the exception of a couple of years with other family members, she has lived with us since.

I have had dreams and visions of things that I wanted to accomplish for the Lord, but didn’t.  Perhaps my motives were questionable.  Perhaps these dreams, visions  and goals were just mine and not really according to His purpose.   In recent times, I’ve begun to wonder if His purpose all along was for us to come home and care for my sister.

We often want a showy place to minister.  A position that shows we are successful at what God has called us to do.  Something that we can report on when we go back to the place where we began to serve God.  The sad thing is that we are usually looking somewhere other than our home for that fulfillment.  

Are you where God wants you?

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.  James 1:27

*www.worldwidetentmakers.

A Favorite Psalm

Psalm 34

I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.

O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.

I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.

This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.

The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.

Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?

Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.

Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.

The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.

Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.

The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

KJV

………let the word of Christ dwell in you richly……