Posts Tagged ‘rapture’

The return of Christ: comfort one another

May 31, 2017

1 Thessalonians 4_16-17

Each day we are confronted with this harsh reality: There is “a time to be born and a time to die.” Even though death can be one of the most challenging issues to confront us, the Scriptures provide great encouragement, comfort, and hope. Such a passage is found in 1 Thessalonians, an epistle whose focus is the return of Jesus Christ. Revised and re-posted, the Verse of the Day for May 31, 2017 speaks of the glorious appearance of our Lord and Savior in this way in the Message Bible:

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:

And then this: We can tell you with complete confidence—we have the Master’s word on it—that when the Master comes again to get us, those of us who are still alive will not get a jump on the dead and leave them behind. In actual fact, they’ll be ahead of us. The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God’s trumpet blast! He’ll come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise—they’ll go first. Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them into the clouds to meet the Master. Oh, we’ll be walking on air! And then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master. So reassure one another with these words.

Often recited at funerals or memorial services, this celebrated passage makes reference to a subject that continues to generate much discussion: the return of Jesus Christ. Whether referred to as “the Rapture” or “the Gathering Together,” or somewhat irreverently called “the Big Snatch,” the Return of Christ still stirs the hearts of believers. Although the term “rapture” is not used in the Scriptures, the Latin derivation of the word is translated from the Greek word harpazo, meaning “to carry off,” “snatch up,” or “grasp hastily.”

Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, the Bridegroom, went away to prepare a place and promised to return for his bride. That promise ignites passion in the heart of believers. Lately this “enduring flame” burns even more brilliantly, as we grow older and witness the passing of family members, friends and loved ones, especially contemporaries of our same age range. Such occasions bring to mind the words of the Psalmist who describes our lives as but a vapor.

Whether the person who dies is a celebrity in politics, entertainment, or some other area or an ordinary co-worker or neighbor who lived and died in obscurity, during such times we may experience the depths of sorrow and a sense of loss that can be overwhelming. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we take comfort and encouragement from the passage that includes the Verse of the Day. The New Living Translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 offers great comfort and assurance:

 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. 14 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.

15 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. 16 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 Christians who have died will rise from their graves. 17 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. 18 So encourage each other with these words.

The powerful lyrics to one of the classic hymns inspired by the hope of Christ’s return provide a vocal picture of what will occur “When He Shall Come”:

If the Lord tarries: Changing rapture views

May 31, 2015

1 Thessalonians 4_16-17

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 4:16-17 KJV]

The Verse of the Day for May 31, 2015 is a passage that makes reference to the return of Jesus Christ. Some refer to this event as “the Rapture” or “the Gathering Together,” while others may somewhat irreverently call it “the Big Snatch.” The Return of Christ, nonetheless, still stirs the hearts of believers. Although the term “rapture” is not used in the Scriptures, the Latin derivation of the word is translated from the Greek word harpazo, meaning “to carry off,” “snatch up,” or “grasp hastily.”

For the past almost 50 years, the return of Christ has been a vibrant hope that continues to burn within my soul. Despite the signs of the times that have occurred and that seem to foreshadow Christ’s imminent return, we are still awaiting the blessed hope of his appearing. As time passes, countless other believers and I are still “. . . standing on tiptoe, awaiting the golden note.” As time has passed, I have had to change my position, however.

In an article written in 2009, shortly after becoming a writer for Examiner.com, I outlined three of the traditional views regarding “the rapture” or the return of Christ. Here is an excerpt from that original article:

As prophecies are fulfilled in increasing measure, the question becomes not will Christ return, but when will he return. Various beliefs regarding the Return center on the 7-year period of devastation and persecution, such as the world has never seen, known as the Great Tribulation. Three popularly held positions are represented in the prefixes pre, mid, or post attached to the term Tribulation:

Pre-tribulationists believe that the Lord will return prior to start of that 7-year ordeal.

Mid-tribulationists take the position that Christ will return 3 ½ years after the start of the Tribulation.

Post-tribulationists believe that the Return does not occur until the end of this intense period of calamity.

Over centuries, proponents of the varying positions have used the scriptures and other sources to support their positions. Volumes have been written, and the topic continues to provide material for sermons and position papers, pamphlets and tracks, and lively conversations among Christians across the globe.

Sometime ago I was asked my position with regard to the Return (Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, or Post-Trib). After considerable study of the Scriptures and examining the various positions, I concluded my position to be Pre-Trib with modifications. I concur with Marilyn Agee and others who take the position that there will be “two raptures”:

Pre-Tribulation rapture, spoken of in terms of Noah in Matthew 24:37-39

Herein lies one of the points of difference. Christ will return to gather “his bride,” but in a similar way that Eve, the first bride, was taken from the body of the “First Adam,” so the “Second Eve,” the “Bride of Christ” will be taken from the Body of Christ, the “Second Adam.”

Pre-Wrath rapture, expressed in terms of Lot in Luke 17:27-32

Those believers who remain following the extraction of the “Bride of Christ” will have to endure the Tribulation, but they will be saved from the wrath to come, just as Lot was taken out of Sodom and Gomorrah just before the fire fell.

Obviously the details of these contrasting views and their variation cannot possibly be related in a single brief article. The original article was designed to provide an overview of the rapture and three commonly held positions with regard to the Tribulation. The position that I maintained at that time I have also changed. In thinking about the matter, I recall this poem which I have previously recited numerous times and which certainly speaks to the subject at hand:

“If the Lord tarries. . .”

James 4:13-15

“If the Lord tarries” and “If the Lord will”:

May these phrases ever be my preface.

With each decision may I learn to be still

And never presume to know your desire.

Though I may read your Word and apply

It diligently to my heart to do

All you ask of me, some secrets are not

Mine to know. Once more you tell me to watch,

To prepare my heart and to look above.

Whether I understand or misconstrue,

I cannot deny I have tasted your love.

God is faithful and His word is true.

In my heart the hope continues to burn

As I yearn even more for Christ’s return.

Although views and attitudes may change in light of changing seasons, one thing remains sure: the Return of Christ is closer now that it has ever been. Even so, Maranatha!

Ron Kenoly offers an inspirational reminder that “We Shall Behold Him”

He shall return

May 31, 2014

1 Thessalonians 4_16-17

The Verse of the Day for May 31, 2014 comes from 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:

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.

This particular passage makes reference to a subject that continues to generate much discussion: the return of Jesus Christ. Whether termed “the Rapture” or “the Gathering Together,” or somewhat irreverently called “the Big Snatch,” the Return of Christ still stirs the hearts of believers. Although the term “rapture” is not used in the Scriptures, the Latin derivation of the word is translated from the Greek word harpazo, meaning “to carry off,” “snatch up,” or “grasp hastily.”

Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, the Bridegroom, went away to prepare a place and promised to return for his bride. That promise ignites passion in the heart of believers. Lately this “enduring flame” burns even more brilliantly, as we grow older and witness the passing of family members, friends and loved ones, especially contemporaries of our same age range. Such occasions bring to mind the words of the Psalmist who describes our lives as but a vapor.

Whether the person who dies is a celebrity, such as Maya Angelou, who recently passed away at age 86 or a co-worker who lived and died in obscurity, during such times we may experience the depths of sorrow and a sense of loss that can be overwhelming. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we take comfort and encouragement from the passage that includes the Verse of the Day. The New Living Translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 provide great comfort and assurance:

 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.

14 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.

15 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.

16 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 Christians who have died will rise from their graves.

17 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.

18 So encourage each other with these words.

The lyrics to this song remind of the certainty of the Savior’s  promise:

He Shall Return

 

He shall return.

He shall return.

Look up toward the Eastern sky.

He shall return.

He shall return.

Look up, your redemption is drawing nigh.

 

He shall return.

He shall return.

He shall return.

 

Derrick Drover provides a vocal picture of what will occur when “He Shall Come.”