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Caught Up (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, John 14:1-3)

Updated: Feb 27, 2023

Sermon on 19 February 2023 by Ps Justin


1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 - “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.”


1 Corinthians 15:50-58 - “What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”


John 14:1-3 - ““Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”


Rapture has been a very contentious word as some Christians don’t like this word. The meaning is being forcefully snatched up to be with the Lord. Some Christians think that way because the word is not in the Bible. But it carries the same meaning as caught up. The word Bible isn’t in the Bible too. They refer to the same thing.


Jesus said that He would be coming after the tribulations. The six seals would be opened. The mountains and islands would be shifted. There would be total darkness and when people lift up their heads, they would see the glory of God. The whole world will mourn. The end would come like a snare.


The Thessalonians were overly concerned over brothers and sisters who died before the coming of the Lord, that they will miss this powerful glory. Paul told them not to be ignorant concerning those who have died. If you and I believe the truth, the fact about the resurrection of Jesus, He who called is faithful. There is an order during resurrection. Jesus was the first born among the dead. He conquered death. The dead in Christ will rise first then followed instantly by Jesus. The second coming of the Lord is in 2 appearances. In the first, He will appear in the sky. He will receive His bride, the church. In the second, He will be on Earth. There are 3 elements in His coming - a shout, with the voice of an angel and the trumpet of God. In verse 18, we see that we should comfort each other with these words. Those of us who are aligned on Earth will be the bride of Christ.


The greek word for caught up is ‘Harpazō’, meaning to be seized or snatched up with a sudden swoop. Rapture is an English word that originated from a Latin word, ‘Rapiemur’. They refer to the same thing.


Caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. The coming of the Lord is fundamentally different from His first and second coming. Jesus’ first coming on Earth is almost the same as the second coming. The only difference is that only a few people knew about His first coming. In the second coming, everyone would know. The tribulation is not for the church, so it would be caught up. At the coming of the Lord, believers will be caught up, raptured and resurrected.


1. Our Christian Hope


We need to comfort one another. Let’s not be sorrowful. Everyone will die because we have a perishable body. Hope = rising from the dead. The rapture is all about resurrection, our Christian hope. We have a corruptible body. We must put on hope so that we can live in eternity. The truth of resurrection is a new ‘incorruptible’ body. In a moment, the dead are raised into their new bodies and the living are ‘changed’. The Greek word of change is ‘allassō’, an exchange of one thing for another. This is our Christian hope.


1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 - “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.”


2 Corinthians 1:9-10 - “In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us.”


1 Corinthians 15:51-53 - “But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.”


1 John 3:2 - “Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.”


2. When will the Rapture be?


We must first understand the coming of the Lord. No one would know when He would come down. Jesus draws an analogy from Jewish marriage customs in biblical times to when the rapture would happen. They would agree on the value of the dowry and the bride would be handed over to the bridegroom. The prospective bridegroom would go back home to build a house for his bride once the marriage is sealed. He would receive His bride at night like a thief and give a big shout. They would then consummate their marriage while people wait outside. The party would then start for 7 days while the bride stayed in the bridal chamber for 7 days.


Matthew 24:36 - ““However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.”


John 14:1-3 - ““Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”


For the seven years of tribulation period, the church will be hidden. Christ will return to the church at any moment. Never commit spiritual adultery against Christ before she returns to take His church.


1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 - “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.”


Colossians 3:4 - “And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.”


Colossians 3:6 - “Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming.”


2 Corinthians 11:2-3 - “For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ. But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent.”


James 4:4 - “You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.”



3. The Rapture is also a moment of judgment


It is like an evaluation of what you have done on Earth to serve Christ. It is not a judgment of sin but a revelation and opportunity to receive rewards. Rapture, or a caught up, is a stand alone event between the first coming and the second coming of the Lord. The timing of this event is completely unknown and anything could happen. All we need to do now is in 1 Peter 1:13-16. Rapture is an ever-present possibility. Remain faithful, truthful, prayerful, watchful. It is all about getting ready for that day. The only answer the Bible offers is to always be ready. We want to keep ourselves blameless in holiness at the coming of our Lord. Let’s continue serving and loving one another as the bride of Christ.


1 Corinthians 4:5 - “So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time—before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.”


James 5:7-9 - “Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near. Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door!”


1 Peter 1:13-16 - “So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.””


1 Thessalonians 3:13 - “May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen.”


1 Corinthians 15:58 - “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”


Amen

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