MP3: The Rapture Road Thru 1 Thessalonians 4
Hosts: Nathan Jones & Vic Batista
Since the first installment of The Truth Will Set You Free podcast series titled “The Rapture Road,” Pastor Vic Batista and Nathan Jones have been teaching through the Bible’s prophetic book of 1 Thessalonians in a verse-by-verse study. We have finally reached that great passage which teaches about the Rapture of the Church.
Hope and Comfort
Nathan Jones: When you start getting older you begin to develop a greater concern about your own death. You start wondering more about what has happened to our loved ones who have already died, and also what will eventually happen to you. But, there’s a passage in the Bible that teaches that one generation in particular will not have to worry about dying. Let’s read that passage covering 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
“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. 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, and 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.”
Vic Batista: What an incredible passage! This passage contains the phrase “caught up” or “catching away” which is where we get the Latin word rapio transliterated into English as “rapture.” This Rapture event is the great event that Christians have been longing for, when Jesus Christ catches up all the believers in Him and takes them to Heaven.
Apparently there was some kind of misunderstanding in the church of Thessalonica about what death was, especially for “those who had already fallen asleep”? Please explain the confusion going on there.
Nathan Jones: There was indeed some confusion. When the Bible says “fallen asleep” it’s talking about dying. Yes, our bodies are buried in the ground are dead and gone, but our spirits are immediately upon death transferred up to Heaven. There our spirits are given a new body called an intermediate spirit body. The remaining buried body can be called “asleep” because it is waiting for that great day of resurrection when our bodies and our souls will be reintegrated. Then we will finally have our glorified eternal bodies. Christians are waiting for that great day of resurrection which will happen at the Rapture.
You know the world lives without hope. People see death as an escape from the oppressiveness of life, yet at the same time, they also fear death because they fear that there is nothing past it, or whatever is past it will be terrible. For example, from what I’ve read, Japan has the highest suicide rate in the world because they believe that when you die you don’t exist anymore, a teaching from one of the Buddhist sects. How terrible for them! They feel that there is no hope for the future. They work so hard, and for what? These poor Japanese have no hope of a future in Heaven. If only they had read the note Paul left us in 1 Thessalonians 4 saying there is indeed hope. There’s great hope for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ.
Not only does the Rapture provide Christians with hope, but also with a great comfort. Verse 18 confirms that Christians can comfort each other with the teaching about the Rapture. We can know that one day believers in Jesus Christ will be caught up to Heaven where a great future with our Savior awaits us.Nathan Jones: Not only does the #Rapture provide #Christians with #hope, but also with a great comfort. One day believers in #JesusChrist will be caught up to #Heaven where a great future with our Savior awaits us. Click To Tweet
Vic Batista: The world doesn’t offer up much hope, does it? Life for most is very difficult around the world, and many live under the false assumption that there’s nothing beyond this life, or at least an endless reincarnation to this life. The world doesn’t offer up much hope. But, you’ll learn there’s great hope when you read the Word of God. Turn to the Bible in these times of darkness, turn to Jesus Christ in faith and repentance and ask Him to be your Lord and Savior, and you will be given eternal hope.
Nathan Jones: Hope is indeed tied to this biblical concept called the Rapture.
Never to Endure God’s Wrath
Nathan Jones: Let’s look again at the origins of the word “rapture” from verse 17 which reads, “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up,” that is the word Rapture, “together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.” When it comes to the phrase “caught up,” remember that of course the New Testament was written in Greek which was the common language of the first century. The Greek word for “caught up” is harpazo. When the Bible was translated into Latin for the Latin Vulgate, the very translation which the Church used for nearly 1,100 years, “caught up” was translated into the Latin rapio. Rapio is where we get the term “rapture” which is the English or Anglicized version of rapio.
Therefore, since most today obviously don’t speak Greek and Latin, we can say the concept of the Rapture is taught there in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 in the English form as to be “caught up,” but it’s easier to just say the word Rapture. What Paul is teaching here with this concept of the Rapture he teaches again in 1 Corinthians 15. The parallel passage reveals that one day Jesus Christ will return for all those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus, and He will catch them up and take them to Heaven. We know from other passages that this will happen before the terrible judgments of God comes on the world, a time called the Tribulation, when God will take seven years to pour out His judgment on the unbelieving, sinful world.
Vic Batista: The Rapture is meant to be an encouraging teaching for Christians. Unfortunately, quite a number of people believe that the Church is going to live on this earth through the Tribulation, not believing in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. And yet, the Bible clearly tells us twice, in verse 15 and in verse 17, that “we who are alive and remain” will not taste death. That generation of Christians will not experience death or have to endure the wrath of God, for they are going to be taken up in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.
Nathan Jones: Exactly! Many passages teach that those who have accepted Jesus as Savior in this Church Age are not destined for the Tribulation time period. Ephesians 5:6 says, “Let no one deceive you with empty words for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.” Who are those who are disobedient? Those are the ones who have not accepted Jesus as Savior. We also are told then in Romans 5:9, “Since we have now been justified by His [Jesus’] blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him.” And, check out 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The best verse that proves the Church is never meant to endure the wrath of God is Revelation 3:10, “Since you have kept my commands to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.”
A prolific number of other passages could be read to prove this point, but again and again and again throughout the Bible Jesus promises that the Church is not destined to endure His wrath. Sure, Christians face the wrath of man. We face the wrath of Satan. But, the Tribulation is meant to be God’s wrath on this world for its sin; and also to bring a remnant of people, especially the Jewish people, to know Jesus as Savior. The Bride of Christ has never been destined to be beaten up by her Groom.
A Fantastic Mystery
Vic Batista: So true! And, the Rapture is going to happen so quickly that 1 Corinthians 15:51 calls it a mystery.
Nathan Jones: It does. It’s a fantastic mystery, too, but not without its clues. We can glean from this passage in 1 Thessalonians 4 quite a number of those clues.
For one, Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead makes it possible for Christians to be resurrected as well. In other words, if Jesus didn’t beat death, then there would be no way that people could also beat death. Jesus being the First Fruits, as the Bible calls Him, the first to be resurrected from the dead and continue to live forever, well He is the model for us. Because of Jesus’ resurrection, God’s faithful can be resurrected as well.
We are also told that Jesus will come down from Heaven, then He’ll stop in the clouds, and there He’ll receive those who are raptured up from the earth. Those raptured will meet Jesus there in the clouds and then finally travel up with Him to Heaven.
Here’s an important point that’s often confused, as some people equate the Rapture with the Second Coming of Jesus. At the Second Coming Jesus comes down to the earth and actually lands on the planet, not just staying up in the clouds. He then defeats the Antichrist, the False Prophet, Satan, and their armies. He’ll at last set up His Millennial Kingdom. That account is not the Rapture. The Rapture is a different event because Jesus doesn’t come all the way down to the earth, but rather stops in the clouds and gathers those raptured and takes them back up to Heaven. We can conclude then that the Rapture and Second Coming are two different events, though some would say they’re two stages of Christ’s return.
Vic Batista: Excellent point! When we talk about the Rapture of the Church and how believers are going to be snatched up in a moment in the twinkling of an eye, and that they will never have to endure any of the seven-year period called the Tribulation which is the wrath of God, we can conclude that the Rapture is an event separate and apart from Christ’s Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation.
Nathan Jones: Quite a number of supernatural events are going to happen along with the Rapture. Christians will hear a loud command announced by the Archangel Michael. Michael will make an announcement. Maybe he’ll proclaim, “It’s time!” or “Time for victory!” or “Come!” We don’t know what Michael will proclaim, but he’ll be accompanied by a loud trumpet that beckons believers to look up.
The passage also reveals that the dead in Christ are to be resurrected first. The dead in Christ are those who have died from Pentecost up until the Rapture. Those are the Christians who have lived and died. Their spirits had been living up in Heaven in their intermediate bodies. But, at the Rapture, these dead saints will be resurrected first, and they will be reunited with their earthly bodies to be given their glorified eternal bodies. Then those Christians who are alive will join the resurrected saints and then all will be raptured together up to Heaven.
That sounds like a lot happens, but it all will happen so very fast. Paul says in a twinkle in the eye, like a snap, like a thunderclap. We are here one minute and gone the next, it happens that fast.
Heaven will be our destination and where all who are saved will end up going. No wonder Paul concludes chapter four by saying that the teaching of the Rapture gives us comfort. What a great hope knowing that Jesus Christ loves us so much that He wants to take us up to Heaven to dwell with Him forever.
Vic Batista: John 3:16 reads, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” Mankind’s only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone.Vic Batista: Mankind's only way to #Heaven is through #JesusChrist and Jesus Christ alone. #salvation Click To Tweet
Nathan Jones: Jesus Christ is our promise. He is our hope. He is our future. And, what a great future we have!
For those who have yet to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you know that you fear your own death. Your death is scary. The reason you feel that way? Because the Bible teaches that those who have rejected God remain in disobedience and under God’s wrath and so are destined for Hell. That doesn’t have to be your destiny, though. If you place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and ask Him to forgive you of your rebellion and your sins, then you are promised to be forgiven. Once you have been saved and are living a life for Jesus Christ, then you can be assured you will be going to Heaven. Jesus promises that at the Rapture of the Church you will be taken up off this earth before His judgment comes upon the world. Not only will you be exempt from His judgment in the Tribulation, but also exempt from the final judgment in Hell, which is the eternal punishment for our sin and rebellion against Him.
Vic Batista: Turn to Jesus Christ, now, while there is still time. It’s no coincidence that you have encountered this message. It’s a divine appointment. Know that God loves you and has a plan for your life. He wants you to have hope for your future. Start a relationship with the Lord, even right now!
Nathan Jones: Reading John 3:16 again, “For God so loved the world… that whoever believes in Him,” meaning believes in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, “shall not perish but have eternal life.” To become saved, surrender your life to Jesus Christ. Pray from your heart in faith and repentance something like, “Dear, Jesus, please forgive me of my sins and be my Lord and Savior.” That heart change — repentance — that turning away from your sinful life and turning towards Jesus Christ by putting your faith and trust in Him, means that your sins will be forgiven and the penalty for your sins which is eternal life in Hell will be gone. You can then claim the hope of the Rapture of the Church and that you will live in Heaven with your Savior forever.
Vic Batista: We are praying for those who are following this study, “The Rapture Road,” and that all would accept Jesus as their Savior and so one day soon be caught up to Heaven. My fellow Christians, we are going to be Heaven bound, and we believe that this is an event that can occur at any moment.
In the sixteenth part of our travels along the Rapture Road and our verse-by-verse study of 1 Thessalonians, we will finish looking at the Apostle Paul’s letter with chapter five.