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The Mystery of the Rapture of the Church (John 14:1-3)
I. The church age and the rapture of the church are both mysteries of God.
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory
Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed
( 1 Corinthians 15:50-52).
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 them which are asleep. 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 together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord
(1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).
II. Purposes of the rapture
A. To bring to an end to the Church Age and the day of grace
( 2 Corinthians 6:2).
(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
B. To remove the church from the awful judgment of the tribulation period. The tribulation period is for the Christ rejecting world not the church
For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, & to stand before the Son of man
C. To give the church their new, eternal spiritual bodies
( 1 Corinthians 15:53-54).
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
D. To stand at the judgment seat of Christ to receive rewards, reproofs and assignments for the future work in the Kingdom and eternity
(Romans 14:10-12, Matthew 25:23)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.
Well done thou good and faithful servant. Thou has been faithful over a few things I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter in to the joy of the Lord
E. To take part in the celebration of the ages, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
III. When will the rapture take place
A. When life is going on as always.
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
B. When politicians are making promises of peace and safety.
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape
(1 Thessalonians 5:3).
C. When all those things Jesus predicted have come to pass.
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh
IV. The greatest preparation for the future is to be ready when Christ comes.
And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, & to stand before the Son of man (Luke 21:34,6).