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Afterlife: The Rapture

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
September 13, 2021 3:00 am

Afterlife: The Rapture

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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September 13, 2021 3:00 am

If you want to visit Europe, there’s a lot of information online. If you want to tour the Brazilian rainforest, you can find books, and videos, and even personal travel guides. But if you want to know what heaven is like, there’s only one definitive information source. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us dig deep into what God tells about heaven in His Word. You’ve joined us for a fascinating study of the book of Revelation – and today we consider what life is like on the other side.



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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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Hey, everybody. You're listening to A New Beginning, which is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. If this program has impacted you, I'd love to hear from you. So just send an email to me at Again, it's

You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to When we're in heaven, we're going to know so much more than we know now. So many mysteries will be revealed to us. Many problems will be solved.

Many questions, if not all, immediately will be answered. But then we'll spend the rest of eternity just discovering more about the Lord, more about the afterlife. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. Again, you hear all the angels are singing. This is the day, the day where life begins. If you want to visit Europe, there's a lot of information online.

If you want to tour the Brazilian rainforest, you can find books and videos and even personal travel guides. But if you want to know what heaven is like, there's only one definitive information source. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us dig deep into what God tells us about heaven in His Word. You've joined us for a fascinating study of the book of Revelation, and today we consider what life is like on the other side. The title of my message is Afterlife. Let's pray together. Now, Father, as we open Your Word, speak to our hearts because there's so much we need to discover about what is next in the afterlife. So we ask Your blessing on this Bible study. In Jesus' name we pray.

Amen. I'd like you to turn in your Bibles to Revelation chapter 4. Again, the title of my message is simply Afterlife. And we close chapter 3 with a closed door, and we start chapter 4 with an open door. Remember, chapter 3 ended with the words of Jesus as He spoke to the church of Laodicea, and He said, He was trying to get into that church. So this reminds us, if we will open the door of our hearts to Christ, one day He will open the door of heaven to us. Now as we come to Revelation chapter 4, the camera swings. So we've been looking at earth and what's happening here. Now suddenly we're looking at it from a heavenly perspective.

We're seeing it from God's viewpoint. There's a major shift from Revelation 3 to Revelation chapter 4. Because Revelation 4 and 5 are the introduction and background of the tremendous sweep of prophetic events that we'll look at for the remainder of this book. And it is worth noting that the church is nowhere to be found from Revelation 4 to Revelation 19. Let's read Revelation chapter 4 verses 1 to 2. You might underline those words. It begins by saying after these things.

In the Greek it's metatalta. The book of Revelation, as I pointed out to you before, comes complete with its own outline. And there is a golden key to unlocking the book. There is an encryption key or a password, if you will, that makes Revelation understandable. This is what John writes about in Revelation 1.19. It says, So Revelation is broken into three sections. Number one, the things that you've seen. This is what John writes about in Revelation chapter 1. He sees the glorified Christ with all power on heaven and earth in control of all that is about to happen. Number two, the things which are. This is a reference to the seven churches spoken of in Revelation chapters 2 to 3. As I described it, it's the seven love letters of Jesus to his church.

And finally, category 3. And that's where we're at now. Those things that will take place after these things. So we basically have the Lord's person, his people, and his program.

It's all laid out. Again, to review, chapter 1 is a revelation of the glorified Christ. Chapters 2 to 3 is a flyover of church history. Chapters 4 and 5 were taken up into heaven in the rapture. Chapters 6 to 19, we have the great tribulation period that will last for seven years. Chapter 20, we have the millennium. Chapters 21 to 22, we have the new heavens and the new earth. So let's talk about the next event on the prophetic calendar.

I already mentioned it. It's called the rapture. Look at what John writes in verse 1. The first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me saying, Come up here and I'll show you things that must take place after this. After this? After what? After the things of the church on earth. So now the church, or all believers in Jesus, are caught up to meet the Lord. First Thessalonians 4 says, The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout. And the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first. And we which are alive and remaining shall be caught up together with them in the air.

So if you're taking notes, here's point number one. Truly a question. What is the rapture?

Listen very carefully. The rapture is a future event when Christ will descend from heaven and resurrect the bodies of believers who have died. Their spirits have gone to heaven but their bodies are still here on the earth in the grave. At the same time, we who are alive, if it happens in our lifetime, we will be caught up together with them.

With who? With those others who are having their resurrection bodies given to them. We'll be caught up together with them in heaven.

It'll be a great reunion. And it's going to happen for a generation of believers. Now let's look at the chronology of these things and try to understand it because sometimes people confuse the rapture and the second coming. The rapture is what we might call a stealth event. Jesus coming like a thief in the night.

In contrast, the second coming is a big global event and everyone is aware of it. Jesus says, As the lightning shines from the east to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. The rapture is when he comes in the air. In the second coming, he returns to the earth. In the rapture, he comes for his bride, for his church. In the second coming, he returns with his church. In the rapture, he comes before judgment. In the second coming, he returns with judgment. So here's John on the lonely island of Patmos writing these words and he's concluded again with the words of Jesus.

Standing at the door and knocking. Now a door is opened for John in heaven and he's hurtled into the after life. Revelation chapter 4 verse 2. John writes, Immediately I was in the spirit and behold a throne set in heaven. And one sat on the throne and he who sat there was like a jasper and sardius stone in appearance. There was a rainbow around the throne.

I find that interesting. A complete circular rainbow around the throne in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were 24 thrones and on the thrones I saw 24 elders sitting clothed in white robes and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire burning before the throne which are the seven spirits of God.

Before the throne, verse 6, there was a sea of glass like crystal. And in the midst of the throne and around the throne were four living creatures full of eyes in front and back. The first living creature was like a lion. The second living creature like a calf. The third living creature had the face of a man. And the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle.

And the living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they don't rest day and night saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Who do you know that needs a message of hope? Bring them with you to Angel Stadium of Anaheim for SoCal Harvest, Sunday night, October 3rd. A compelling interactive experience. A message of hope from Greg Laurie and music from For King and Country.

And Phil Wickham. SoCal Harvest with Greg Laurie, October 3rd at 7 p.m. Get more information at slash SoCal. Well, we're getting a glimpse of eternity today by way of Pastor Greg's study in chapter four of Revelation. And you can find out even more by way of Pastor Greg's new book on Revelation, which we'll tell you more about a little later.

Or get information now at John is now in the afterlife. And what does John see in heaven? First of all, he sees the Lord seated on his throne. You know, that's a phrase we use often as Christians. Well, God's on the throne. And that's our way of saying God's in control. And indeed he is. John sees the Lord sitting on his throne in control of all things.

And it's beautiful to behold. John's trying to describe these things. He says in verse three, they were like. Were like. You know, it's not like the way a teenager says it.

You know, when they'll say like, I'm all and she's all and he's like and I'm like, you know, it's not that kind of thing. It's John is trying to the best of his ability with first century language to describe this amazing thing he has seen. How can he describe heaven? The apostle Paul was caught up to heaven, the third heaven. And he said, what I saw was indescribable.

There's hardly even words I can use to explain it to you. But Paul said it was like a paradise. Imagine trying to describe paradise to someone who's never seen it.

Imagine trying to describe the island of Maui to a two year old. How are you going to convey that information? So here is John trying to convey to us what he has seen as he has taken into the afterlife. But he sees the Lord on his throne. Also, verse four, he sees 24 elders. Who are these elders?

Nobody knows. They could be angelic beings. Perhaps it's 12 patriarchs from the Old Testament and 12 apostles from the New Testament. But they're given crowns. And we know already that there are rewards promised to us who faithfully serve the Lord and their crowns. The Bible speaks of a crown of life and a crown of rejoicing and more. And so the elders are given crowns.

But this is what's important. What do the elders do with the crowns? They cast their crowns down before the Lord.

So when we're in heaven we're not going to be walking around saying, hey check out all my crowns man. You know check out all the medals and the ribbons. I have a friend who has been in so many track meets and other athletic events. He has so many ribbons.

I don't think I won a single ribbon or award throughout my childhood. But this guy has so many. And I said you ought to just put them all on at one time.

Just hang them around your neck and wear them all out. Well that would be a little ridiculous. So no one is going to be walking around with heaven saying, hey look at all my rewards. You know otherwise a guy like Billy Graham.

Man who could touch them. It's not about that. We take these things that we've done for God on earth and we present them back to the Lord in heaven. In heaven there are also ominous storm warnings. Look at verse 5. John writes, From the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices.

Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. This is all symbolic of judgment in scripture. From the safety of heaven John can see that a storm is brewing on earth.

He is in a shelter from the storm. But ominous things are coming to planet earth, which of course will be the great tribulation period. And I already pointed out earlier. God has promised to keep His children from the great tribulation period. Because remember earlier we read in Revelation 3 10, Because you have kept My command to persevere, Jesus says, I'll keep you from the hour of trial which will come upon the whole world to test those that dwell in the earth. Think of Noah. Judgment came on the earth in the form of a flood. What did the Lord do? He got Noah and his family safely in the ark. And as the rain came down, as the judgment came down, the ark went up. God will preserve us. He will deliver us before this time of tribulation that is coming upon the earth. And it is interesting to think about the simple fact that when we are in heaven we are going to know so much more than we know now.

You ever seen those little bobble head dolls and the head is really big and it kind of moves around. And it is not like we are going to be bobble heads in heaven. Oh I know so much. But it is interesting because the Bible says we will continue to learn in heaven. But we are told in 1 Corinthians 13 we will know as we are known. So many mysteries will be revealed to us. Many problems will be solved. Many questions if not all immediately will be answered. But then we will spend the rest of eternity just discovering more about the Lord.

More about His glorious nature and His plan etc. But in heaven you are also remembering earth. I think sometimes people think that we have sort of a brain wipe.

You remember that movie Men in Black and people would see an alien so they would do that little thing where their memory would be erased. And people think their memory will be erased in heaven. Because they will say well we can't remember what happened on earth because we will be so sad.

That is not true. The Bible never says that actually. Because the fact is in heaven you will have perspective. You will see things the way God sees them. As an example in heaven you are aware of the passing of time.

Because over in Revelation 6 10 we have those folks that have come out of the tribulation period saying, How long O Lord, holy and true, until you judge and avenge our blood on those that dwell on the earth. So they are remembering earth. How could you have a reward for something you did on earth in heaven if you had no recollection of what you did? What is this ribbon for? This crown?

Why do I have it? I don't remember anything. No you will remember but with perspective. Now do people in heaven know what is going on on earth? Immediately people say no they are oblivious to it.

I don't know that that is completely true. They may know some things that are going on on earth as an example. Every time a person comes to Christ on earth there is a party in heaven.

Right? Jesus said, I will tell you there is joy in heaven in the presence of the angels over one sinner that comes to repentance. So that shows a direct connection between an earthly event and a heavenly awareness. So we need to expand our thinking about heaven. We have a lot of unbiblical ideas. We are going to know more than we know now.

That is for sure and we will see it with perspective. I remember when my granddaughters were younger. I have four granddaughters and one grandson. And they were in a doll phase. And they just loved dolls. There was a little doll I used to buy for them.

If I am not mistaken I think it was called Lala Loopsie. They collected them and so they were losing them or they would come apart. So I bought a couple of extra boxes of these little dolls. And one day one of my granddaughters gave me, Papa my doll's head came off. And there she was holding a decapitated doll. I said everything is ok. No Papa you don't understand. The head came off. It will be ok. No. And she is so upset I said look.

And I pulled out the box and gave her a brand new doll. So we come to God. Lord everything is a mess.

It is horrible. Lord says it will be ok. Because He sees it from a different perspective. As will we when we get to heaven. Also John sees angelic creatures. Look at verse 8. Four living creatures. He is having six wings full of eyes around and within. And they don't rest day or night saying holy holy holy Lord God Almighty who was who is and who is to come.

Now I know. This is so hard to visualize. If you did a drawing of this it is almost a little scary right? This is symbolic what John is saying. The presence of the eyes just conveys the awareness of the angelic beings. The Bible tells us there are different rankings of angels. It seems to me that at the top of the heap if you will of the angelic world is Michael who is uniquely identified as the archangel. So he is a high ranking angel. He plays a singular role going back to 1 Thessalonians 4.

The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout and with the voice of the archangel. So Michael is a part of the great rapture event. We read of him elsewhere in Scripture. But there is also Gabriel. Now I don't know if Gabriel is an archangel but certainly Gabriel is a high ranking angel. Gabriel was given the special blessing of revealing to Zechariah that he would be the father of John the Baptist. And of course it was Gabriel that came to Nazareth and revealed to the young lady Mary that she was going to have the privilege of being the mother of the Messiah. Also we read about cherubim and seraphim. Spoken of in Isaiah 6 when it says, I saw the Lord sitting upon His throne.

He was high and lifted up and His glory filled the temple and the angels cried holy, holy, holy. So cherubim, seraphim, archangel, all kinds of angels doing the work of God. And they are doing a work in your life too. Because the Bible says the angel of the Lord encamps around those that fear Him. Sometimes the question is asked, do we have guardian angels?

I don't know. Maybe we do. But no matter what know that angels are actively involved in your life. Pastor Greg Laurie with eye opening insights on the eternal realm from our study in Revelation 4 here on A New Beginning.

It's fascinating insight. And if you missed any part of what Pastor Greg presented or you'd just like to hear it again or even share it with a friend, you can get a replay at Just look for the one word title Afterlife, part of Pastor Greg's new Revelation series. You know Pastor Greg, when we look at world events, global hostility toward Israel, of course a worldwide pandemic, contempt for biblical values, it sure seems like the time is right for the Lord to return.

But many people our age remember Pastor saying that back in the 70s. What can we learn from your new book on Revelation? Well I think we want to always live our life ready for the Lord's imminent return. He may come tonight. He could come in a year. He may come in 10 years, 20 years. We don't know when He's coming.

I've always avoided any kind of date setting because Jesus says no one knows the day or the hour. However, there are so many passages that tell us to wake up spiritually and to put on the armor of God because the day of the Lord is coming. It will come. It could come in our lifetime.

It may come after. But no matter what, life will come to an end and we will enter eternity so we want to be ready for that moment. But there are many signs of the times happening right now that I think we should pay attention to. The Bible tells us that in the end times it would be like a woman having labor pains.

Now you know when a mother is ready to give birth, her labor pains become more frequent and they're closer together. And that is exactly the analogy Jesus issues. When you see these things begin to happen, He says, look up for your redemption is drawing near. We've had an increase in many things the Bible said would be happening. As an example, the Bible predicted that one day there would be a cashless society.

A hundred years ago that would have seemed absurd. But today with modern technology, with cryptocurrency, with all of the tech that's happening around us, we can see how we could step into that immediately. The Bible tells us in the last days that there would be a spread of plagues globally.

I think that you could say that this pandemic, COVID-19, was a plague. And that is a sign of the times. I could go on and on and things that are happening, the tension in the Middle East and much, much more. As we see these things happen, they're reminders that Jesus is coming again. Well, I'll tell you what, the book of Revelation unlocks this for us. And I've written a brand new book simply called Revelation, subtitled A Book of Promises. This is a thick book. This is a hardcover book that will be a resource that you can go to again and again. And it's going to help make the book of Revelation more understandable to you.

And you'll begin to understand, perhaps for the first time, how to apply these truths in your own life. Listen, I want to send this book to you for no charge. It's actually for your gift of any size. So we're encouraging you to send something to help us continue to reach out through this radio broadcast, A New Beginning, and our other outreach efforts, as well as how we proclaim the gospel. This is how we do it. You pray for us, you support us, you give us the ability to reach new people. And as our way of saying thanks, we'll send you your copy of this brand new book I just wrote, Revelation, subtitled A Book of Promises. Yeah, and we'll be glad to get it on its way to you immediately. And we'll also include a custom bookmark we've produced that lays out the timeline of the events of Bible prophecy. The rapture, the second coming, the tribulation, the millennium.

See them all displayed in proper order. It's very helpful. And the bookmark is automatically included with Pastor Greg's new hardcover book. When you send your donation, be sure to ask for Revelation, A Book of Promises. You can write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or call 1-800-821-3300. Our team is standing by around the clock, so dial 1-800-821-3300.

Or go online to And then, you may have heard, something exciting is coming up in less than three weeks. It's SoCal Harvest at Angel Stadium, Pastor Greg's first live evangelistic event since everything stopped for the pandemic. On October 3rd, he welcomes Phil Wickham and For King and Country and presents a powerful gospel message. If you're here in Southern California, be sure to join us and bring someone who needs to meet the Lord. Elsewhere, be sure to tune in online and invite someone who needs to meet the Lord to watch along with you.

You can get all the details at slash SoCal. Well, next time, more of this fascinating look into life and the hereafter. We'll continue in Revelation 4 and the finale of Pastor Greg's message, Afterlife, next time. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins. A New Beginning is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. If this show has impacted your life, share your story, leave a review on your favorite podcast app and help others find hope.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-23 09:58:45 / 2023-08-23 10:08:51 / 10

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