ABRIDGED MANUSCRIPT OF SERMON:
It is appointed to man to die once, then the judgment.
You may end up being one of the chosen who never has to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. You may find yourself among the privileged who happen to be present on earth at the moment Christ returns in a future Biblical event known as, THE RAPTURE. That event and moment is where you'll finally be able to look death, sin and Satan in the eye and say, "YOU. AIN'T GO. NUTHIN. ON ME!!!!"
THE TWO RETURNS OF JESUS
When we think and talk of the return of Jesus Christ, many of us often think of it as a single point-in-time event, but that may be where some of the confusion about the end times lies because the return of Christ is actually a 2-stage event; the first of which is Jesus’ return for His Church in what’s known as the RAPTURE. The second is His actual physical return - the 2nd coming.
One way to help you understand the difference between the rapture and the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ is to view the rapture as a “STEALTH EVENT” where Christ is seen only by those who have put their faith in Him when He calls them to meet Him in the sky - 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. The 2nd coming, however, is different in that it happens 7-years after the rapture and will be a very “PUBLIC UNMISTAKABLE EVENT” in which everyone on the face of the planet will see Him - Revelation 1:7
NOT QUITE THE WALKING DEAD
The apostle Paul says in 1 thessalonians 4:15-16 that when Jesus returns, the dead in Christ rise first.
The hope of our loved ones in Christ who have died is that they will experience the same thing Jesus experienced. Jesus rose again, not just Spiritually, but physically. In His resurrection, Jesus had a physical body that was able to eat. It was tangible, touchable, and it is what our loved ones who have died in Christ will have on the day of the resurrection at the rapture.
If you have a loved one who has died and who knew Jesus, at the rapture, God will honor THEM first in that their bodies will come back to life (first), will be united with their spirits and glorified in Christ so that they now have resurrected glorified bodies like Christ's that is built for heaven to last for all eternity - 1 John 3:2
Uhh, ...what about us? we're still here??
At the trumpet call of God and the shout of the archangel during the rapture, the dead rise first, then 1 Thessalonians 4:17 says, “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. ”
So whereas, Christians who have died experience a resurrection at the rapture, Christians who are still alive at that moment will experience a translation into a new glorified immortal body. From the world’s perspective, it will seem like a sudden disappearance, a “zipping” away” of all Christ’s followers on earth, but from the your perspective, it will be a family reunion with your loved ones and your first-ever meeting with Jesus Christ in the sky.
It will be the culminating moment of your salvation when you will finally be able to taunt death and talk trash to Sin and Satan. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 says as much, “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That’s going to be a good day!
Jesus the carpenter has been building you a home
It's important to remember that at the rapture, though we’re meeting the Lord in the air, we don’t end up drifting there in the sky there forever. That lower atmosphere is simply a meeting place. From there, He will take us to the place He has promised that He was preparing for us in heaven which He talked about in John 14:2-3 (NKJV) when He said, “ In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
That is the hope of every follower of Christ. It is why we love when we are cursed, it is why we share our faith and invite people to Church, it is why we store up treasures in heaven through our good deeds to others ON earth, it is why we persevere though times are tough.
It has happened before. It will happen again
Now, let me say this, because the rapture is not an everyday common event, you will have people who will write it off as a pie-in-the-sky, futuristic Sci-Fi dream Christians have because we’d rather delude themselves than face reality. If that describes you, then you should know that such occurrences of people being raptured has biblical historical precedence.
In Genesis 5:24, and later in Hebrews 11:5, we are introduced to a man named Enoch, whom the scripture say, “…By faith, was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.” Enoch is our first example of what it looked like to be raptured.
In 2 kings 2:11, the prophet Elijah, at the end of his ministry and while in the middle of a conversation, was instantly and suddenly taken up to heaven by God, in a whirlwind of chariots of fire. So he never saw death.
The apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:2, speaks of suddenly being caught up into the heavens where he was shown visions of paradise.
In Acts 8, Phillip shares the Gospel with an Ethiopian Eunuch, baptizes him, and is suddenly "taken away" from his location to another location by the Holy Spirit.
And lastly, Jesus Himself in the book of Acts 1:10-11, after His resurrection, was physically taken up into the clouds and into heaven in the presence of onlookers.
All that to say, the rapture, though peculiar, is not something strange that has never occurred; God has often times in history supernaturally taken His people from earth for His own purposes and glory.
He did it before. He will do it again when it will matter most at the end of the age. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 affirms this, “For God did not appoint us (His church) to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ…”
Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.