Rapture- the belief that both living and dead believers will ascend into heaven to meet Jesus Christ at the Second Coming. Britannica.com
Where does the word “rapture” come from?
The term “rapture” comes from 1 Thessalonians 4:17, translated “caught up.” The Greek word is harpazo, which means “to snatch or take away.” When Jerome translated the Greek into the Latin bible called the Vulgate, he used the Latin word “rapturo,” where we get the word rapture.
Why is The Rapture Important?
The rapture of the church is not an incidental but a fundamental doctrine of the New Testament. It is the greatest hope that Christ gave to the church. Jesus encouraged His followers to the great hope that He was “preparing a place for you and I will come back to take you to be with me.” (John 14:1-3) The biblical writers speak of it as an “encouragement” (1 Thessalonians 4:18) and a “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13).
Have you noticed a loss of hope lately? In America we have technology, food and entertainment at our fingertips, but something that is fading away from our American culture is hope. Can you see the symptoms? All around are people struggling with worry, fear, anxiety and drug abuse; we see lots of division and unrest in our country.
Do you have hope? 1 Thessalonians 4:12-18 gives us a great deal of hope. It starts out talking about one of the most hopeless situations in the world – when someone you love dies. And God here gives us hope. We can hang on with patient expectation, and the Apostle Paul tells us how.
Let’s read this passage…
13Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.
Do you see how that first verse describes so many? To be ignorant about those who fall asleep means that you have no clue what happens to a person after he or she dies. To grieve like the rest of men who have no hope.
When someone you love dies and you can’t believe it, you’re in shock and your whole world is turned upside down. How do you deal with that that’s not like the rest of the world? How do you have hope?
Here’s how – verse 14 – it starts with believing in Jesus Christ – We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” This section is talking about Christ’s 2nd Coming and look who’s coming with Jesus: “Those who have fallen asleep in him.” That’s your Mom or Dad or loved one that died in Christ. The Bible uses that term “fallen asleep” for those who die believing in Jesus Christ.
What will happen…Verse 16: The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Why do we (as Christians) have hope when a loved one dies? Because that person is with Jesus and will be resurrected! What will that look like, rising from the dead? 1 Corinthians 15: 52-53
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
And so very quickly, in a flash, that loved one you cared about that died that person very quickly is resurrected, in a flash, in a twinkling of an eye. And now that mom or dad or brother or sister of yours that is alive again looks different – “immortal and imperishable.”
Hope is knowing that, that person who died will come back again, as an indestructible, immortal person. And then what? “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
Do you believe this? Do you realize that great things are waiting for us in our future? Our culture is losing hope, but we have it. Our culture doesn’t know how to process the death of a loved one. But we do. Our culture doesn’t know how to deal with it when life gets difficult or painful or challenging. But we do. We have great expectations.
- “We believe that Jesus died and rose again…“
- We believe we too will be raised!
- We believe that He is bringing loved ones with Him!
- We believe that He is coming back for His Church!
- We believe that He has a home prepared for us!
Let’s not keep this hope to ourselves. Let’s share it with others. Because the world needs it.
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