Wednesday, February 26, 2014

P2 Next Big Thing#2 : Catching Away of the Church

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

Introduction and review:
In yesterday's post we began considering "The next big thing - The catching away of the church".  This phrase "catching away" is the Biblical term for the theological term "rapture". Hence what yesterday's post and today's treatment are proposing is that quite literally, the next big thing on the prophetic horizon is the rapture of the church. We used the acrostic "catch" to walk our way through the doctrine of the rapture. We noted yesterday the following points:

Christ is the rapture's pattern
Aim of the rapture is the church
Timing is before the tribulation

Today's post will conclude this focus on the next big thing: the catching away of the church.

Comforting doctrine. 1 Thessalonians 4:18
I'll never forget listening to Dr. John MacArthur preach on the rapture of the church and how he pointed out how in every rapture passage there is a tone of comfort. Certainly Paul closes out his instructions here in 1 Thessalonians 4:18 with this exhortation: "comfort one another with these words". I decided to see for myself if this were the case and the findings are quite comforting indeed:
1. John 14:1 "Do not let your hearts be troubled..."
2. 1 Corinthians 15:58 reminds us that our labor is not in vain in the Lord
3. Philippians 4:1 states after a brief statement of the rapture - "Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved."
4. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 "comfort one another with these words"
5. 2 Thessalonians 2:2 alludes to the rapture "that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come."

We are living in a world that is riddled with fear and anxiety. It is my understanding that there are over 500 categories of fear or phobias. If anything else, one of the chief fruits of consistent preaching and exposure to Biblical teaching of the rapture is that of comfort. The blessed hope is rooted in the fact that we will see our Savior again! So we have seen thus far the following truths about the rapture: the pattern is Christ; the aim of it is the church; the timing will be pretribulational or before the tribulation and the comfort of it. Lets consider one more truth, namely...

Happen at anytime. 
The one thing that distinguishes the rapture of the church from the similar but later event of Christ's second advent is that the rapture has no definite indicators of when it will occur. This character of the rapture, called "imminency", simply refers to the "unknown" beginning point of the rapture event. In the New Testament we see the idea of "watching for the Lord" being attached to this event. (Philippians 3:20-21) 

Dr. John Walvoord, a Pretribulational scholar and Bible teacher wrote these words concerning the character of the rapture as an event that could happen at anytime: "As the day of the Lord comes without warning, so also the rapture. The placing of this doctrine next to the revelation of the Rapture is because of the similarity between both events not having signs prior to their beginning. Like a thief in the night, who comes without warning, the Rapture will occur and also the Day of the Lord will begin."1 Dr. Dwight Pentecost writes this comforting thought about imminency or the truth that the rapture could happen at anytime: "The fact that no signs are given to the church, but she, rather, is commanded to watch for Christ, precludes her participation in the seventieth week (that is the tribulation period).2

In this post we have considered the next big thing: the catching away of the church or what is also called the rapture of the church.  In utilizing the acrostic "c.a.t.c.h" we noted the following points:
Christ is the rapture's pattern
Aim of the rapture is the church
Timing is before the tribulation
Comforting doctrine
Happen at anytime

1. John Walvoord. Prophecy Knowledge Handbook. Victor Books. page 486. 

2. Dwight Pentecost. Things to Come - A Study in Biblical Eschatology. Kindle Edition. Location 4103

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