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What Is the Rapture? And Why It Matters! | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
August 6, 2023 3:00 pm

What Is the Rapture? And Why It Matters! | Sunday Message

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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August 6, 2023 3:00 pm

God has great promises for believers who are living in the last days—of which the Rapture is one of the greatest. Listen in as Pastor Greg Laurie explores what the Bible says about this future event and how it changes the way you live today. 

Notes

When a believer dies, they go to Heaven, because death means separation, not annihilation. Humans do not cease to exist; we simply change our address. 

Our physical bodies will be transformed at the Rapture.

The world itself will not end or cease to exist, but this evil age will come to an end (1 John 2:17).  

One of the signs of the end times is a greater awareness of Bible prophecy (Daniel 12:4).

The return of Jesus Christ is described for us many times in Scripture. There are over 300 passages that deal with Christ’s return, and one verse in 25 mentions the Lord’s return.

One of the big signs of the Last Days is the gathering of Israel to their homeland.

Scripture tells us Israel will be attacked (Ezekiel 38; 39).  

After Israel is attacked, God will pour out His Spirit on them in a great revival (Romans 11:25). 

If the Antichrist is close, the coming of Jesus Christ is even closer!

What is the Rapture?

It is when Christ descends from Heaven, and we are caught up to meet the Lord—it is the moment we receive our new bodies.

 The word rapture is used 13 times in the New Testament, and it means, “to take forcibly, snatch, or caught up.” 

Why is there a rapture?

In Heaven, not only will you be with your loved ones, but you’ll be with Jesus Himself, too!

That is why the Christian grieves hopefully, not hopelessly.

“A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do.” —C. S. Lewis

When is the Rapture?

“About that day, no one knows the day or hour, not even the angels, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36).

The Rapture will happen in a moment of time, effectively immeasurable (1 Corinthians 15:51–52). 

When Christ returns for us in the Rapture, first up is the resurrection of the dead, then all who are alive will meet them in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17).  

Following the Rapture will come the emergence of Antichrist with the Tribulation Period.

  • In the Rapture, Jesus comes in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17).
  • In the Second Coming, Jesus comes to the Earth (Zechariah 14:4).
  • In the Rapture, Jesus comes for His bride.
  • In the Second Coming, Jesus comes with His bride.
  • In the Rapture, Jesus comes like a thief in the night.
  • In the Second Coming, the whole Earth sees Him.
  • In the Rapture, He comes before judgment.
  • In the Second Coming, Jesus comes with judgment.

“If you knew the Lord would return tonight, how would you spend the rest of the day? I wouldn’t do anything different than I do every day.” —D. L. Moody 

We should be shining lights in a dark place (Luke 12:35).

As a church, we need to be more known for what we are than what we’re against! 

The same sun that softens the wax, hardens the clay.

The same message that transforms one life can cause another to say, “I don’t believe!”

Scripture Referenced

Acts 8:2

Matthew 24:48–49

Ephesians 5:18

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Learn more about Greg Laurie and Harvest Ministries at harvest.org.

This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

Support the show: https://harvest.org/support

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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Hey there. Thanks for listening to the Greg Laurie Podcast, a ministry supported by Harvest Partners.

I'm Greg Laurie encouraging you. If you want to find out more about Harvest Ministries and learn more about how to become a Harvest Partner, just go to harvest.org. I turn to two passages, 1 Thessalonians 4 and Luke chapter 12. 1 Thessalonians 4, Luke chapter 12.

We're in a series that's part of a bigger series called Timeless. This part of that series is called The End of the World, What Does the Bible Say? And the title of my message is, What is the Rapture and Why It Matters? Let's pray. As we think about the soonness of your coming, as we have just sung, even so come, Lord Jesus come. That is the prayer of our hearts. Help us to see how this applies to us. Help us to see how we ought to live in the light of the fact that Jesus could come at any moment. We commit this Bible study to you now. Speak to our hearts, we pray. In Jesus' name we ask this.

Amen. Heard about a Sunday school teacher that was teaching her six-year-olds about how to get to heaven. She wanted to make sure the kids were understanding what she was saying, so she turned to the class and said, Now kids, let me ask you a question.

If I sold my house and it had a big garage sale and gave all my money away to poor people, would that get me to heaven? The kid said, No. And the teacher said, How about this? If I cleaned the church every day and mowed the church lawn, would that get me to heaven? No, the kid said. Well, what if I gave candy to all the other children and I was kind to animals, would that get me to heaven?

Again, the kid said, No. So the teacher asked, Then how do I get to heaven? A little boy in the back yelled out, You have to die first.

Pretty accurate, right? So death in the Bible does not mean annihilation, meaning that we cease to exist. It means separation. We're moving from one place to another. When we die, we leave this life and we go to the afterlife. If we're a Christian, we go immediately into God's presence. If we're not a Christian, we go and face an ultimate judgment. You know, it's interesting that the Bible describes death for the Christian as falling asleep. And by the way, it only describes death for the Christian as falling asleep.

Our body goes into the ground, but the Bible promises a resurrection of the physical body. It was Job who said, I know that in my flesh I will see God. I read about a tombstone in London that had these words inscribed on it, and I quote, Here lies the body of Solomon Pease, under the grass and under the trees. But Pease is not here, only the pod. Pease shelled out and went to God.

And that's pretty accurate. When our bodies go into the ground, we wait. We're waiting for the resurrection, the first resurrection as the Bible calls it, also known as the rapture. Now, I believe the rapture is the next event on the prophetic calendar. It could happen at any moment. It could happen today, it could happen tonight, it could happen tomorrow, or it could happen 10 years from now. Now, following the rapture, we have the emergence of this mysterious figure that the Bible calls the Beast, or the Antichrist.

He inaugurates a period that's coming on the earth known as the Great Tribulation Period that culminates in the Battle of Armageddon, fought in the Valley of Megiddo, and then Christ returns and establishes his kingdom on earth and answers the prayer that the church has been praying for 2,000 years, which is, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. I think even non-believers are concerned right now about the state of our world. The stakes are higher as we're experiencing what the Bible describes as a time where there is distress of nations with no way out. Even secular futurologists are sounding the alarms as they see converging lines of danger and instability around the world. It's an alarming thing when you hear a world leader use the word Armageddon in a sentence, and we actually see that happening. I don't know if you've heard about something that is known as the atomic clock kept by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, also known as the Doomsday Clock. So depending on how dangerous things are in the world, it's either moved forwards or it's moved back. By the way, it's the closest it's ever been to midnight. They literally have it set at this 90 seconds until midnight, and there was a quote by a woman named Rachel Bronson, president of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, who said, Russia's thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons remind the world that escalation of the conflict by accident, intention, or calculation is a terrible risk.

The possibilities that this conflict can spin out of anyone's control remains high. So we talk about the end of the world. Now when we use that phrase, we're not saying that the world will cease to exist, but we're saying that this present age of wickedness, under the control of Satan, who is described as the god of this world, that will come to an end.

There's a better world coming. Our best days are ultimately ahead of us when Christ comes back and establishes his kingdom. And many Americans believe this could happen in their lifetime. More than half of all Americans believe Jesus will return to earth someday. Over half of Americans believe in this event commonly called the rapture. In fact, 55% believe, quote, the rapture, they believe that they will be taken to heaven in the rapture.

And so there's a greater awareness of these things. And by the way, one of the signs of the end times is a greater awareness of and understanding of Bible prophecy. In the book of Daniel, chapter 12, verse 4, we read, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret.

Seal up the book until the time of the end. Many will rush here and there and knowledge will increase. God is saying that in the last days knowledge will increase. And also I think an awareness of what scripture teaches about end times events will increase as well. And so we're living in that time that I believe is known as the end of days. The Bible is the one book that dares to predict the future.

Not once, not twice, but hundreds of times with 100% accuracy. And the Bible tells us that the age is coming ultimately to a close. And we talk about the antichrist and I'm gonna deal with him in my next message. And people wonder, who is the antichrist? You will not know who antichrist is until the church is caught up to meet the Lord in the air in the rapture. So don't waste your time looking for antichrist. The Bible never tells you to look for antichrist. It always tells you to look for Jesus Christ.

That's an important distinction. Second Thessalonians 2, 7 says the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains will continue to do so until he is taken out of the way.

And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will destroy with the brightness of his coming. So the restraining force in the world today is the Holy Spirit working through the church. Think how our world would be if there were no believers standing up for what is right. Think how horrible this world would be if there were not believers speaking out against what is wrong.

The restraining force. Once we are removed, all hell is going to literally break loose. So the restraining force of the Holy Spirit is the church that will be taken out of the way, caught up to meet the Lord in the air.

I will explain that more in a moment. And then that wicked one, meaning the antichrist, will be revealed whom the Lord will destroy with the brightness of his coming. Okay, so with that in mind, let's make a few points about the rapture.

Let's start with this one. Point number one, what is the rapture? The rapture is that moment when Christ descends from heaven and we're caught up to meet him. It is at this moment that we receive our new resurrection bodies, and it's also at this moment that we are reunited with loved ones who have preceded us. The rapture is the first phase of the return of Christ. I've already said it happens before.

Antichrist is revealed. Now, I know some are asking, well, I've never seen the word rapture in the Bible. Well, to the point, I don't think you've seen the word Bible in the Bible, have you? Have you ever read the word Bible in the Bible?

I'll answer it for you. You haven't. Have you ever read the word Trinity in the Bible?

No, you haven't. But we believe in the Trinity, right? So the rapture is in the Bible, certainly the teaching. And even the word, depending on what kind of translation you have, the word rapture comes from the root word rapturus that is a translation of the Greek word harpazo. And that is a word that is used many times in the Bible. Harpazo means to be caught up or taken by force. And so it's translated rapturus, rapture in the Latin translation, and that's where the word comes from. I don't think it's important what word you use. You can call it the rapture. You can call it the harpazo. You can call it the great escape.

I don't care what you call it. But it's a moment that's clearly taught in the Bible. And here's the main text that we often go to for this teaching. It's 1 Thessalonians 4, verse 16. The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. And we which are alive and remaining shall be caught up. This is the word caught up.

Root word rapturus, taken by force, removed, snatched away, taken forcibly. We will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And we'll always be there with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. So why is there a rapture?

Why? Paul talks about this in 1 Thessalonians 4. The believers in Thessalonica were concerned about loved ones who had died. They wondered if they would ever see them again. They were filled with sorrow and grief. And so Paul gave them these words to reassure them. In fact, he says in 1 Thessalonians 4, 13, We don't want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who have died, so that you will grieve as those who have no hope. So guys, listen. It's okay. I want to comfort you and I want to give you a heavenly perspective on what happens to loved ones who believe in Jesus when they die.

You're going to see them again. So I want to establish that fact. And I don't want you to grieve like people who have no hope. But here's another thing I would point out. He says, I don't want you to be ignorant about these things. Sometimes people say, we don't need to study end times events. No one can figure it out anyway.

That's not true. We should study end times events. And we need to understand what they mean to us today. Again, Paul says, I don't want you to be ignorant. Jesus said, when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, let the reader understand. So he's talking about an event that's coming that I'll deal with next time called the abomination of desolation. But the key here is he says, let the reader understand.

So it is important that we understand these things. And also, I think when we understand prophetic teaching or eschatology, the study of last things as it's sometimes called, if we understand it as we ought to, it will bring hope to us because Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4, 18, therefore, comfort one another with these words. When you lose a loved one, it changes your world, doesn't it? How many of you have someone that you love that's a Christian that has died and gone on to heaven?

Raise your hand. That's pretty much everyone. Now, you think about them probably quite often. Some of you think about them all the time.

And you miss them. And you have sorrow in your heart. And sometimes well-meaning but misdirected Christians might say, don't cry, they're in heaven. Well, I actually think you should cry. I think the depth of your sorrow is an indication of the depth of your love. I mean, when I die, you better at least shed one or two tears.

Come on. I mean, this is a way of saying I care about that person. And the Bible even says there's a time to mourn.

There's a time for that. It's important. I think it's a process of letting go and committing it to God. But we don't mourn like those who have no hope. The Christian does not mourn hopelessly.

The Christian mourns hopefully. So though I mourn, though I miss the person that has gone on before me, I also mourn with hope because I know I will see them again. And I know they're not just a part of my past. I also know they're a part of my future. So here's how it's going to work.

You're just going to be going about your business, and in a moment that will happen so quickly you can't really measure it in human time. You're going to be caught up to be reunited with your loved ones again. Mothers and fathers will be reunited with sons and daughters. Husbands will be reunited with wives and wives with husbands. Children reunited with their parents. Siblings reunited.

Friends reunited. Your sorrow immediately vanishes and is replaced by ecstatic joy. Describing this same event that we call the rapture, Paul says in 1 Thessalonians, don't be uninformed. We do not grieve like those who have no hope. He knows this is going to be an event that will happen, and he describes it in 1 Corinthians 15, 51. I tell you a mystery.

We will not all sleep. We'll be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet, for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible. The twinkling of an eye. How long does it take for an eye to twinkle?

It comes from the Greek word atomos. It's about 1,000th of a second. And so people might say, well, I'll just accept Christ when the rapture happens. You better be fast.

Let's play that out. OK, the Lord just raptured us. Lord Jesus, that took way too long. The event's already over with.

You missed it. No, you need to be ready ahead of time and be ready to meet the Lord. See, I think it's important for us to understand these things because it gives us a heavenly perspective. You see, there's no theology without doxology. And by that I mean I'm always interested in what these great theological truths mean to me in day-to-day living. It's a good thing to think about heaven because you'll live a better life on earth. Sometimes people will falsely accuse Christians of being disconnected, and they'll say things like, oh, you're so heavenly-minded, you're no earthly good.

And to that I would say in great love, shut up. No one does more for people than Christians. It doesn't matter if they even share our faith. We say we want to love you and show compassion to you in the name of Christ. This event that we did for all those children, many of them who are out, they don't have stable homes, and they're in foster care, and they have to go to school, and they don't have clothes, they don't have shoes, they don't have backpacks, and we're giving them all these things in the name of Jesus Christ, right?

So that's tangible love shown to people. Those that think, yes. Those that think the most of the next world do the most for this one.

It was C.S. Lewis who said, a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not a form of escapism or wishful thinking. It's one of the things a Christian is meant to do, end quote. So think about heaven. Dream about heaven. Look forward to heaven.

These are good things to do. Number three, when is the rapture? Here's where we get into trouble. Here's where that problem develops that I identified last time as rapturous nuttiness. By the way, there is no such term.

I just made it up. But to me, rapturous nuttiness is when everything is a sign of the times. Everything is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy, and I start losing perspective, and then I engage in date setting.

We should never do this. No man knows the day or the hour when the Son of Man will return. If we were to go back to the original language, it would translate out to say, no man knows the day or the hour when the Son of Man will return. And what it actually means is no man knows the day or the hour when the Son of Man will return.

So when someone says, I've cracked the code, I know the date, I'm telling you it's wrong. No one knows the date, and we shouldn't worry about the date. We just need to be ready to be caught up to meet the Lord. And what's going to happen? We're going to be reunited with loved ones. Again, 1 Thessalonians 4, the dead in Christ rise first, and we which are alive and remaining shall be caught up, harpazo, together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. So when we die, our body goes into the ground, but our soul goes into the presence of God.

So if you're wondering, where are your loved ones right now? Are they in the grave? No, they're in heaven, but their body's in the grave, yes.

God's going to take care of that later. There's going to be a bodily resurrection. But for now, their soul is in the presence of God because the Bible says, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Paul even talked about his struggle with the believers there, and he said, I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better, but it's important for me to be here with you. When a believer dies, they go to be with Christ, which is far better. But then there is coming the day when God will resurrect their physical bodies.

It's amazing. In fact, there's even sort of a sneak preview of this. I went to a movie the other day, and I watched a bunch of trailers, and none of those trailers looked interesting to me. I think one of those films I might want to go see and the rest I don't care about.

But a trailer, in theory, should make you want to go see the movie, right? So there's sort of like a trailer or a sneak preview of what will happen on the day of the rapture with those that are in the graves, and it's found in Matthew 27. It says after Christ was crucified, and we read that the temple was torn, the veil in the temple was torn in two, top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split, and the tombs opened, and the bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead after the resurrection of Jesus. Listen, they left the cemetery and walked into the holy city of Jerusalem and appeared to many people.

Imagine that. So you're walking around in town and going, I think I just saw Uncle Harry. Didn't we bury him two days ago? Sort of a prototype, a sneak preview of things to come. So these folks will go and be made alive again. Let's draw a contrast between the rapture and the second coming. When we talk about the coming of the Lord, we're really talking about an event, but it in a way has two expressions, the rapture and the second coming. In the rapture, he comes in the air, and this is all on the screen if you're taking notes. In the rapture, he comes in the air. In the second coming, Christ returns to the earth. In the rapture, he comes for his bride. In the second coming, he returns with his bride. In the rapture, he comes like a thief in the night. In the second coming, the whole earth will see him. In the rapture, he comes before judgment. And in the second coming, he returns with judgment. Sometimes people ask, will Christians go through the tribulation period? My belief is the answer is no, because God has not appointed us to wrath, the scripture says, but to obtain salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. In speaking to the church of the last days, Jesus says, because you have kept my word, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole earth to test it. We'll be caught up to meet the Lord before these things happen. So this is the promise, I believe, of scripture. Now, here's that takeaway truth. I said earlier, there is no theology without doxology.

In other words, what does it mean to me? How should I live in light of the fact that Christ could come back at any time? Let me ask you this. If you knew somehow, we couldn't know this, but let's say for the sake of a point, we could. If you knew somehow that Jesus was coming back today at three o'clock in the afternoon, I think we would all be living, breathing saints at 2.45, don't you? We'd be wearing our Sunday morning smiles and our come quickly Jesus attitude.

Wow, 15 minutes and it's going to happen. But we don't know when that day is going to be. So we need to live every day as though it could be the day that Christ returns. The great evangelist, D.O. Moody, was once asked the question, Moody, if you knew that Christ would return tonight, how would you spend the rest of the day?

Moody replied, and I quote, I wouldn't do anything different than I do every day, end quote. That's how we ought to live. So here now are the words of Jesus to people who are waiting for the return of the Lord and what we ought to be doing and what we ought to not be doing. Let's read Luke chapter 12. I'm going to start with verse 36.

I'm reading from the New Living Translation. Jesus says, be dressed for service, keep your lamps burning, as though you are waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat. He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn, but whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready.

Understand this, if a homeowner knew exactly what a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into. We'll stop there. Now, it's hard for us to wrap our mind around what Jesus is saying because this is a first century wedding. Weddings back in those days were a lot different than they are today. For instance, a wedding today may last for two hours at the most, and it can cost a lot of money, thousands, sometimes even millions of dollars. Kathy and I, we had a hippie wedding.

It cost like $80, okay? So this is us on our wedding day. First of all, look at Kathy, what a beautiful bride she is. Now let me ask you, look at her parents.

Do they look happy? If you saw the Jesus Revolution movie, you know, they weren't that thrilled at first, but they grew to love me, and what is the deal with my tuxedo? Look at that thing. That is the ugliest tuxedo ever made. Why couldn't I have dressed like Kathy's father? Classic tux, timeless look, and look at this thing I'm wearing.

Horrible. So Kathy's this beautiful bride marrying one of the members of Duck Dynasty. But she could see that underneath all of that hair was a bald man, so. But hey, it may not have cost a lot, that hippie wedding, but we're going 50 years strong, so that counts as something. But back in the first century, in Bible times, weddings were different. They could go on for a week or longer. And the sort of fun element was you never knew when the groom was going to appear. So it could happen in the morning or the afternoon or the evening. A cry would go out, the bridegroom is coming. And if you weren't ready, you would miss the wedding, right?

Snooze, you lose. So that's the backdrop of what Jesus is saying. So how are we to live in light of the fact that Christ could come back at any moment? Point number one, we should be a shining light in a dark place. We should be a shining light in a dark place. Look at verse 35. Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning. The King James version puts it this way. Let your waste be girded and your lamp burning.

What does that mean? Well, back in those days, they wore long flowing robes. So to gird your waste simply meant that you cinched your robe up above your knees, giving you freedom of movement and mobility. To have your lamp burning just meant you had oil in your lamp. So back in those days, their version of a flashlight was a little saucer with some oil in it and a floating wick. And they'd just walk around holding it in front of them.

And as we read in Scripture, your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path. You'd sort of light your way. That was their version of a flashlight. So if we were to update this statement, it would be like have fresh batteries in your flashlight and make sure your cell phone is fully charged. Because most of us don't carry flashlights anymore. We just use the flashlight feature on our phone, right? And I don't know about you, but my cell phone is always drained.

I'm always plugging it in and recharging it. So this is the idea. It just mainly means be ready to let your light shine. Jesus said, let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Let your light shine.

Be a bright light in a dark place. Back to the movie theater. I don't really like going to theaters anymore.

I just decide it. And one of the reasons I don't like it is because people are looking at their cell phones all the time. And when you're in a dark theater and someone pulls their phone out, my eye goes immediately to it. But that's what happens when it's a dark place. A little light goes a long way.

Well, there's a positive aspect to that. A little light goes a long way. We need to let our light shine.

You know, as our culture gets darker, Christians need to shine brighter. Our objective in this ministry that we call Harvest is to go to unexpected places to reach unexpected people with an unexpected message. We try to do this in every way that we can. We do this through our crusades. We do this with radio and television. But more recently, we've been doing a lot with films.

The Lord has opened up some great doors. In fact, when COVID hit and we weren't able to meet in the stadium that year, we produced a film called A Rush of Hope. And it was seen by so many people, far more people than would have seen it if they had actually come to a crusade in person. We've done documentary films like Steve McQueen, The Salvation of an American Icon. And I've had so many people tell me they came to Christ watching that movie in a theater who would have never come and visited us in a church. Then we did another movie called Johnny Cash, The Redemption of an American Icon that reached many more people. But I think the thing we've been so amazed by is the Jesus Revolution film. It's on Netflix now and it immediately started trending on Netflix.

And this is very exciting. Because Netflix has an audience of 75 million subscribers. So when you're trending on Netflix, that's a lot of people you're potentially reaching. And we have other projects that we're working on.

Even a little animation project that's going to be coming down the road because we want to reach out to young people as well. So lots of ways to reach people with the gospel. We need to let our light so shine before men that they can see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven. Here's the problem. Sometimes in the church we're more known for what we're against than what we're for.

And let me frame that. There is a time to speak out against evil. There is a time to say that's wrong. There is a time to speak out to the wickedness in culture which is so prevalent right now. But at the same time, our primary energy should be expended into the proclamation of the gospel because that is the only thing that will change a human heart.

The only thing. So we should be looking for Him, watching for Him. Point number two, verse 37.

Blessed are those servants whom the Master when He comes will find watching. You know a Christian can hold a Bible in one hand. They can hold a newspaper. Do people even read newspapers anymore?

They can hold a news site on their phone or whatever on the other hand. And you can see how these things are happening in our lifetime. So many fulfillments of Bible prophecy.

The emergence of China as a major military and economic superpower. Is that spoken of in Scripture? I believe it is.

I will tell you why next time. Also the decline of the United States as a superpower. Is that spoken of in Scripture?

It may be. The isolation of and hostility toward Israel. Is that spoken of in Scripture? One hundred percent.

The emergence of Iran as a terrorist nation. Desiring the complete annihilation of the Jewish nation. Is that spoken of in Scripture?

One hundred percent. The prevalence of wickedness and depravity. Is that spoken of in Scripture? Yes it is.

Random acts of violence. Is that spoken of in the Bible? Yes. These are all signs of the times. So we need to be ready to go. Actually when Jesus says gird your loins and have your lamps shine bright would be like saying have your walking shoes on. You know have your comfortable shoes on.

Be ready to move at a moment's notice because you never know when that day will come. So good question. Ask yourself. Before you do something ask would I be embarrassed if I were doing this thing and Christ were to come back again?

Point number four. We should be anxiously awaiting His return. Anxiously awaiting His return. Verse 36. Be like those who wait for their master who will return from the wedding and they will open to Him immediately.

Anxiously awaiting His return. These things that I'm sharing with you right now. If they scare you a little bit.

If they cause you to be alarmed, worried. Maybe something is not right in your life spiritually. But if you get excited and you say I can't wait then that would indicate to me you are where you ought to be spiritually. But you should want to immediately open the door. Have you ever had someone coming to visit you? Maybe it was a friend or a relative and they are coming to your house and they text we just landed. We are getting our luggage.

We are in the car. We are on our way. We are in your neighborhood. We are pulling up to your house.

You can't wait and you look through the window and here they come walking up your stairs and you open the door before they can even knock on it. You are anxiously awaiting their return. That is how we should be as we look at the imminent return of Jesus Christ.

Point number five. We should not only be waiting we should also be working. Working. Verse 43. Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. The Bible says faith without works is dead. Watching for the Lord's return will help us prepare our own lives.

But working will assure we bring others with us. And notice he says in verse 43 blessed is that servant. The word blessed can be translated happy is that servant. See it is not a miserable repressive confining way to live. Looking forward to the return of Christ.

It is something that is joyful. That is how we all should be as we wait for him to come back again. Now in contrast to this believer who is ready. Here is a person who appears to be a believer but is not one at all who is not ready. Look at Luke 12 verse 45. But if that servant says in his heart my master is delaying his coming. And begins to beat the male and female servants and eat and drink and be drunk. The master of this servant will come in a day when he is not looking for him.

Wow. This person appears to be a believer. They are called a servant. But they are a disobedient servant. Saying you are a Christian doesn't make you a Christian.

Jesus says why do you call me Lord Lord and not do the things that I say. And there are people today that profess to be Christians but are living an ungodly life. This is what is happening here. But it is interesting that they are called a servant.

Listen to this. One of the easiest places to get a hardened heart against God is in the church. What? Oh yeah in the church.

Because the same sun that softens the wax hardens the clay. The same truth that transforms one life can cause another to say I know this. I have heard this.

And you have no willingness to make any changes in your life. Listen. The greatest inoculation against the gospel is the gospel heard but not heeded. So when you are going to travel overseas you might get a shot to be inoculated.

In effect they put a little bit of that sickness into your body to build your immunity up for it in case you are exposed to it. And in the same way you hear the gospel over and over again. And if you don't respond to it your heart can actually get hard. That appears to be the case in the story before us here. This person has a hard heart. And verse 47 says they know what their master wants but they are not prepared to carry out those instructions and they will be punished.

It even says that they are getting drunk. Some people are living a lifestyle of getting drunk and partying and disobeying God. And you will be caught unaware. And this is not the way you want to be living as you wait for the return of the Lord. A Christian should never get drunk.

Should I say that? The Bible is so clear about this. I don't want to be under the control of the spirits. I want to be under the control of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says...

The Bible says don't be drunk with wine that leads to excess but be filled with the Holy Spirit. So let's conclude. Jesus is coming. We need to be ready. Number one.

We should be shining lights in a dark place. Number two. We should be watching for Him. Number three. We should be ready to go.

Number four. We should be anxiously awaiting His return. And lastly we should be working. What if this were your last day on earth? What if Christ were to come tonight? In a moment in the twinkling of an eye.

Caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Jesus said two will be in a field, one will be taken and the other left. Two will be laying in a bed, one will be taken and the other left. Years ago when we were newly married, Kathy and I were laying in bed.

It's okay, we were married. And we're talking about the rapture. And Kathy says, Greg, imagine how exciting it would be.

We would be laying here in bed and suddenly we'd be caught up into the presence of the Lord. Can you imagine as she's saying this, I have a devious thought. I thought it would really be funny to slip quietly out of the bed, which I did. And I'm laying on the floor, she's still talking about it. Greg, just think, we'd be in heaven together.

Greg, she'd be, Greg, Greg, she screams. I'm laying on the floor laughing. Don't try this at home. I'm a professional.

A professional idiot. That's a joke. But it will happen to a generation of people that one will be taken and the other left. What would happen to you if the Lord were to come back?

Would you be taken or would you be left behind? That's entirely up to us. As I said earlier, we decide in this life where we will spend the afterlife.

You don't decide later, you decide now. And there's only two ways we're going to leave this world, either through death or rapture. So the Bible says, prepare to meet your God. You want to be ready to meet God. Are you ready to meet God? If Christ were to come back tonight, would you be caught up to meet Him in the air?

Or would you be like one of those wicked people living a compromised life that would be left behind? And that can all change because Jesus died on the cross for your sin. And He paid the price for every wrong you've ever done. And if you will turn from your sin and put your faith in Jesus to be your Savior and Lord, you can be forgiven. And you can be given a fresh start, a new beginning. And Jesus rose from the dead three days later. And He stands now at the door of our life and He knocks. And says if we'll hear His voice and open the door, He will come in.

In a moment we're going to pray. And I'm going to extend the invitation to anybody here who is not sure if their life is right with God or not. You're not certain you would be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. You don't know if you're ready for the rapture.

Or maybe you're living a compromised life. Or doing things you know you should not be doing as a follower of Jesus. And you can make a recommitment to Him. So we're going to pray and I'm going to extend an invitation for you to get right with God. Let's all bow our heads. Father, I pray that your Holy Spirit will convict and convince every person listening to this of their need for Jesus. And help them to come to you and believe.

Let's all bow our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed and we're praying. Maybe there's someone here that would say I need Jesus. I'm not sure if I'm ready for His return. If Christ were to come tonight I don't know if I'd be one of the ones who would be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.

I might be one of the ones who would be left and I don't want that to happen. I want Jesus to come into my life. I want Him to forgive me of my sin. Listen, if you want Christ to come into your life, if you want Him to forgive you of your sin, if you want to know that you will go to heaven when you die or you want to know that you'll be ready for the Lord's return, wherever you are I want you to lift your hand up and I'm going to pray for you. Just raise your hand up if you want Christ to come into your life and I'll pray for you. God bless you. Wherever you are let me pray for you. God bless you.

Some of you are watching on the screen there at Harvest Riverside in one of the overflow areas. You can make this commitment to Christ. Raise your hand up saying I need Jesus right now. Pray for me. God bless you. God bless every one of you.

While our heads are still bowed and we're praying there might be someone else who would say, Man, I've been living the compromised life. I've been trying to live in two worlds and I'm miserable. And I want to get right with God. I want to recommit my life to Jesus. Pray for me. If that's your desire, if you want to make that recommitment to Christ you raise your hand up right now and let me pray for you. God bless you. God bless all of you. Father, give each one of these a strength to stand up and follow you and begin to live for you. We commit them to you now in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-07 05:14:21 / 2023-08-07 05:31:30 / 17

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