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The Rapture: What & When - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
February 2, 2024 5:00 am

The Rapture: What & When - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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February 2, 2024 5:00 am

Pastor Skip begins his message “The Rapture: What & When” and examines the time of great distress known as the tribulation.  


We know that there is coming a period of suffering for this world called the tribulation period. We know that there is no precedent for that coming period of tribulation. That is, it is going to be the worst period in human history in terms of suffering.

It goes by several names. It goes by the name the day of the Lord, the time of Jacob's trouble, the 70th week of Daniel, the tribulation, the great tribulation, the day of wrath, the wrath of the Lamb, the hour of testing, the day of vengeance of our God, and the indignation. Today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Pastor Skip begins his message, the rapture, what and when, and examines the time of great distress known as the tribulation.

Now we want to tell you about a resource that will help you gain a better understanding of the current state and future of Israel. How have conflicts and wars in the Middle East set the stage for a future apocalypse? That's the question Ron Rhodes takes head-on in his new book.

Listen to this. What do you see coming in the next five or six years that might do injury to the church? And without hesitation, I said I really feel like we're going to see an explosion of subjectivism, experientialism, and mysticism, along with occultism and some paganism. How conflicts and wars in the Middle East have set the stage for the end times. This new book by Ron Rhodes addresses issues such as understanding Islam, rebuilding the temple, and the annihilation campaign from the Antichrist.

Here's Ron Rhodes commenting on Middle East events. Did you know that in Revelation 2 and 3, we read about the church 19 times? And then in the discussion on the tribulation in chapters 4 through 18, you don't see the church a single time.

It is gone. In 1 Thessalonians 1 verse 10, we are told that the church is to be delivered from the wrath to come. That word delivered literally means snatched, snatched away from.

We are to be snatched away from the wrath to come, which is a reference to the tribulation period. With your gift of $50 or more to connect with Skip Heitzig, you'll receive a copy of this new book from Ron Rhodes. Your gift will support the production and expansion of the Connect with Skip broadcast. Call 1-800-922-1888 or go online to with your donation, and we'll thank you with a copy of Ron Rhodes' new book, How Conflicts and Wars in the Middle East Have Set the Stage for the End Times. That's 1-800-922-1888 or Okay, ready to get started?

Let's turn to 1 Thessalonians 4 and join Skip. Whenever there's a natural disaster that occurs, there are evacuations that take place. Emergency services will sometimes go door to door or make phone calls to get as many people out of a hurricane or earthquake or mudslide as possible. But I was reading an article this week about one man who didn't get the message it seems. He was in Southern California.

It was last year when there were forest fires and then after the forest fires rains and when there's forest fires and rains there are mudslides out there and this occurred up in the San Bernardino Mountains just where I grew up in that area. Cars were buried, buildings were buried, and there was one man who was missing and his relatives were naturally concerned about their relative, even concerned about themselves because they were in that area. What could happen to them? They were in distress because he wasn't evacuated. Well, that is the concern that the Thessalonian church has because of a thing that is going on in their lives at the moment that Paul writes this.

I'm going to explain that to you. They're worried about themselves and they're worried about those who have died who are believers in Christ that somehow they all missed the great evacuation that Paul had obviously told them about, what we call the rapture of the church. Now of all the end time events and we've covered quite a few so far, I think the rapture of the church generates both the most interest and the most controversy. I have a friend who wrote, the rapture, this word belongs in the number three position of the top 10 topics that have most divided the church right after COVID vaccinations and the Harry Potter books. Number three, rapture of the church.

My guess is that all of you have probably had conversations about this topic with friends at some point or another, even arguments about it. So there are some things we have learned in the last 11 weeks. We know that there is coming a period of suffering for this world called the tribulation period. We know that there is no precedent for that coming period of tribulation, that is it is going to be the worst period in human history in terms of suffering. It goes by several names. It goes by the name the day of the Lord, the time of Jacob's trouble, the 70th week of Daniel, the tribulation, the great tribulation, the day of wrath, the wrath of the lamb, the hour of testing, the day of vengeance of our God, and the indignation.

There are probably a few others but you get the point. It is predicted often in this scripture, this coming period of tribulation. We know that it's going to come in two distinct periods, a period of seven years, yes, but two distinct periods, the first half, the second half, the first three and a half years, the second three and a half years, the second will be worse than the first. And we know that at the end of that time Jesus is going to return all the way to the earth. He said so in Matthew 24. It is depicted in Revelation chapter 19. We know also that that coming of Jesus Christ all the way to the earth is going to be preceded by signs, unmistakable signs in heaven and on earth. But because of that, there seems to be another event that Jesus, Peter, Paul, John, all spoke about. A coming event that is an imminent event, I-M-M-I-N-E-N-T, imminent forthcoming could happen at any moment.

So that confuses us and we spoke about this early on in the series. The confusion is on one hand we're told to be ready. He could come at any moment. On the other hand, we are told He can't come until certain signs are fulfilled.

So what is the solution to that? The solution is a two-staged coming, a rapture of saints and then a second coming of Christ to the earth so that He'll come first for His church. That is an event that has no signs before it.

It's a sign-less event. It could happen at any moment and then He will come with His church in glory and that is the event that is preceded by several signs. Now today we're going to look at this classic passage in the New Testament epistle of Paul, 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, on the rapture of the church. We introduced the subject last week in John chapter 14 with the promise of Christ in the upper room, but this is the classic passage on the rapture. When will it occur? How will it happen exactly?

That's what we want to look at. Look at verse 13 of 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, but I do not want you to be ignorant brethren concerning those who have fallen asleep lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. I've always found it interesting that whenever Paul says I don't want you ignorant about something, you can rest assured many people are ignorant about that very thing. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For 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 will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and thus we shall always be with the Lord.

Therefore, comfort one another with these words. Basically, there are three views of the timing of the rapture. There's the pre-tribulation rapture. There's the mid-tribulation rapture. And yes folks, you guessed it, there's the post-tribulation rapture. These are all different views of the timing of the rapture of the church. I hold to the first view a pre-tribulation rapture.

Others do not. They love God. They worship Christ. But they believe that the rapture will happen right in the middle of the tribulation. Then there are those who believe that the Lord will rapture His church at the end of the tribulation. I like to think of that as sort of the elevator theory. You know, they get on the elevator, they go to the top floor, but they don't get off.

They come right back down. But then there are variations of that timing. Some hold to a partial rapture. That is, some people get raptured.

Some believers are left behind, believers. Others think that the partial rapture is people getting raptured at different times. And then there is the pre-wrath rapture view. All variations of those pre-, mid-, and post-tribulation rapture. And then some people just get so, I guess, fed up with all these theories on the rapture, they throw their hands up and they have a pan-tribulation view of the rapture. That is, I don't know, but it'll all pan out in the end.

I don't care to even think about it. So we want to look at this passage a little bit more today. And I want to look at it in three slices, three features that Paul has when he writes to the Thessalonian church. I want to look at perplexities, participants, and particulars.

It'll be self-explanatory. First of all, the perplexities. In verse 13, he goes, I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. One of the reasons Paul wrote the letter was to ease their minds, to comfort them, to clear up the confusion about a situation that they were experiencing.

Now get this. The church at Thessalonica was a young church. It was a few months old when Paul wrote this letter. Paul had been there. He established the congregation.

You can read about it in the book of Acts. But this church at this point is only a few months old, less than a year old. He has already told them about end-time events, which I find fascinating because a few years ago I was asked to speak on the east coast to a church.

It was sort of a radio rally because we have our radio program over there. I was asked by one of the leaders of the church, one of the elders, to speak on the end times. I said, sure. I had the message all prepared a couple days before the pastor of the church called me and said, please do not talk on that topic. And I said, okay, why? He goes, this church is a young church.

It's only 11 years old. And they would be overwhelmed by a teaching on the end times. I'm thinking in my mind, 11 years old, the Thessalonians weren't even 11 months old. And Paul had already spoken to them about this.

What has he told them so far? Well, we can piece a few things together and realize that Paul taught the Thessalonians that Jesus Christ is going to gather believers to Himself before the tribulation, and they should wait for that return. Go back to chapter 1 for just a moment.

I want you to see some of these things. 1 Thessalonians chapter 1 verse 9, for they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. Chapter 2 verse 19, for what is our hope or joy or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? Go over to chapter 3. Look at verse 13 of that chapter. So that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. So He's making reference to this, and He does so quite a bit in both Thessalonian letters because He has taught them about these events. Moreover, He has taught them about the day of the Lord that is coming, the tribulation period, that time of judgment that God will pour out on the world on the ungodly. Look at chapter 5 of 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 1, but concerning the times and the seasons brethren you have no need that I should write to you for you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night for when they say peace and safety then sudden destruction comes upon them as labor pains upon a pregnant woman and they shall not escape He's taught them on the rapture He's taught them about the tribulation but there's a problem that has happened in this church and the problem is they are now experiencing because of their faith in Christ severe persecution they have never experienced this before severe persecution from the unbelieving world their hardships are increasing and God hasn't delivered them from that so some of them are quite worried about that they're thinking okay we've never experienced this level of hardship before maybe we missed that rapture maybe we missed the evacuation maybe we're experiencing the tribulation that Paul told us about maybe we're in it moreover what about our dead relatives if that's over then they missed it and where will they be in heaven what's going to happen to our dead loved ones who have gone before us maybe they missed it all too now let's just hold that thought for a moment and let me make this note they obviously held to a pre-tribulation rapture or they would not be concerned the fact that they are concerned because of the tribulation that they are experiencing indicates that they anticipated Jesus would come and deliver them from tribulation if they believe they were going through the tribulation then they would go eh not a big deal this is what we would expect would happen so they're perplexed and Paul writes to comfort them and instruct them and say this is not the tribulation from God this is quite different now likewise even as they were perplexed over this issue likewise people today are perplexed when it comes to the rapture and the tribulation and when I say perplexed many assume that this idea of a pre-tribulation rapture theory is recent and I hear this a lot when you talk to people they want to argue and say well you know no one held to a pre-tribulation rapture until the 1800s and they they like to talk about Darby John Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren in 1830 and they say well Christians had a different view before he came along it's not an early view they say well to that I have two responses number one something being early doesn't necessarily make it right just because people have long held a belief doesn't mean it's true heresies were early in the church Gnosticism was believed by many people in the early church and John had to write against it number two it actually was an early view of the church that we would be delivered from tribulation in fact I would even say this if you look at the writings of our church fathers and I spent a lot of time this week looking through them they not only believed in a pre-tribulation rapture but they were strongly strongly pre-millennial we've covered those doctrines before in this series so let me throw up a couple and and I had about 20 some quotes I was merciful to you I'm only going to give you three from early church fathers so early church fathers so this is from the shepherd of Hermas early second century quote he spoke of the great tribulation that is coming if you prepare yourselves and repent with all your heart and turn to the Lord it will be possible for you to escape it escape what escape the tribulation that is coming well that's a pre-tribulation idea Irenaeus who was in the second and third century said when in the end the church shall be suddenly caught up from this it is said there shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning neither shall be and then finally Ephraim of Syria in the 300s wrote of being prepared to meet Christ and he wrote all saints and the elect of the Lord are gathered together before the tribulation that is to come and are taken to the Lord in order that they may not see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world now that's just a sampling that's not to even talk about Clement of Antioch or Ignatius or the epistle of Pseudo-Barnabas or the Didache or Irenaeus or Tertullian or Cyril of Jerusalem or Commodianus etc etc etc all of them had something to say that Jesus could come back at any moment and we should be ready and several of them talked about escaping the tribulation so it's not an early or it's not a late view it's not like we just came up with this in the last you know few years since Hal Lindsey was around it's been going on for thousands of years so that's perplexities let's look at the participants who will be involved in this event well there's two groups that are mentioned those who are alive when it happens and those who are not alive when it happens those who have died so those who have died are talked about as those who sleep notice I don't want you to be ignorant concerning those who have fallen asleep lest you sorrow as those who have no hope verse 14 we believe that Jesus died and rose again even so God will bring with him those who sleep in Jesus again at the end of verse 15 those who alive and remain will not precede those who are asleep now what does that mean to be asleep in Christ it means to be dead not mostly dead but all dead these are dead loved ones who have gone before at any era of church history those who have died in Christ are given this beautiful euphemism those who are asleep or have fallen asleep or who sleep in Jesus now let me clear this up just briefly there's no such thing in the bible called soul sleep soul sleep is a doctrine invented by the seventh-day Adventists and by the Jehovah Witnesses that says when a believer dies his soul is dormant and sleeps until the resurrection that is not true when you are absent from the body you are present with the Lord so when the bible talks about sleep it always always always did I mention always always refers to the body not the soul it's the appearance of the body the body looks like it is sleeping the word for sleep is koi ma'o and it means to rest to sleep often it is used to sleep in death that's Skip heitig with a message from the series the end is near find the full message as well as books booklets and full teaching series at now here's Skip to tell you how you can connect others with the truth of God's word with a gift to keep these messages you love going around the world through connect with Skip heitig when we remember all that God has already done to fulfill his promises it helps us to trust him to fulfill every word in scripture and that's why we share these teachings to encourage you to put your faith in God and follow him with confidence and we want to invite you to help keep these messages online and on the air so more friends like you can experience God's presence in their life as they keep growing in their faith would you give generously today here's how you can do that visit slash donate to give a gift that's slash donate or call 800-922-1888 800-922-1888 thank you for your generosity and did you know the connect with Skip app is designed to put tons of great resources right at your fingertips from sermon notes an entire series as well as reading plans you'll love the features of this app so be sure to download it today wherever you get your apps come back next week to hear more verse by verse teaching to connect you with the God who holds the future and you with care Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the cross and cast all burdens on his word Make a connection, connection Connect with Skip Hyten is a presentation of Connection Communications connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-09 13:44:45 / 2024-02-09 13:53:23 / 9

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