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9:45 am Sunday School
10:45 am Sunday Worship

Echo Evangelique

(590AM WEZE Boston)
Saturday 9:00-10:00PM
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7:30pm Bible Study
8:30am Bible Study
Sunday School
9:45am  10:30am

Basis for believing in the Rapture of the Church

Text: 1 Thess. 4: 13-18

Key Concepts:

  • What is the Rapture of the Church?
  • Eschatological doctrines should comfort the believer, not frighten us.
  • What meaning should the Rapture hold for us?

    Whenever there is great national or international disaster, such as the kind we are currently experiencing, especially when thousands of lives are affected, there is one question that is often raised: “is this the end?” Christians also inquire if this or that catastrophe constitutes a sign to the return of Christ. Those questions, among others, push us to run to eschatological [the study of the end of times] prophesies. People often raise those questions out of fear, wondering if they are ready to face the end. Some people ask the questions for themselves and others out of concern for loved ones whom fear they might not be ready to meet their maker. And finally, some ask out of curiosity. Often this question is clouded with confusion due to many interpretations and teachings of eschatological doctrines. These questions remain most relevant and prevalent in our days.

The Thessalonian Christians raised the question in a different manner, with different motivations, and for a different purpose. We know, based on the previous three chapters, that they were facing awful persecutions. Some even lost their lives. They were distressed, afflicted and sorrowful. They wondered, in their grief, about the fate of their departed loved ones. They wanted to understand the facts of the Rapture, the resurrection of believers and their possible reunion with those who preceded them into death. The church also wanted to know about the wrath of God and the second coming of Christ. Paul sought to answer their questions in 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18 to chapter 5: 1-11. The two chapters include very critical doctrines for us, mainly the Rapture of the Church. How should we apply this passage in times of grief and anguish? To find the comfort of this scripture, one must first seek to understand them. Paul obviously intended his message to alleviate the pain they were enduring (1 Thess. 4: 18). Already in chapter one (1 Thess. 1:9-10), Paul gave them a glimpse of what to expect, the hope they should have in end times and what attitude to have while anticipating the return of Christ. These truths should be the source of reassurance. First, Jesus is coming back. The end does not depend on any calamity, not even a pandemic. Second, there is a wrath to come. And last, believers will be delivered from that wrath.  

Our text today points to the doctrines of the Resurrection of Christ, the resurrection of the believers, the transformation of all believers, the Rapture, the reunion of all believers, and best of all, our reunion with the Lord. This is the blessed hope of the believer! What about the terrifying events of Revelation? The terror in the book of Revelation and that of Matthew (24-25), are not for Christians. We, the children of God, are eagerly awaiting our Savior’s return to fulfill His promises. We will be delivered from the wrath to come. This is the blessed hope that gives us peace, good sleep at night and wipes away tears (Tit. 2:12-13). Indeed, the resurrection of our Lord should determine how we deal with life’s tumults. Paul used the Thessalonians’ own faith and knowledge of God to reassure them of the coming resurrection of their departed loved ones (1 Thess.4 :14). Christ announced His return before he mentioned judgments. To console His disciples over His departure, Jesus told them of His return (Jn 14:1-4). In the first phase of His return, He will receive His own unto Himself. We will meet Him in the air “in the blink of an eye” (1 Cor. 15: 52). That is the Rapture of the Church. The book of John (14) shows certain similarities in language with our text (1 Thess. 4:13-18) bringing encouragement from promises. At the second phase, Christ will set foot on this earth, on The Mount of Olives, to establish his millennial kingdom with His saints. We should not be afraid of the signs of His return; rather, we should rejoice.

Why would God plan His return in two phases? Why rapture the Church? In order for believers to avoid “the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10), the Church has to be removed, for we are not appointed to wrath (Rev. 3:10). It will be a period of hardship, judgment, and persecution for the world but Israel in particular due to their unbelief. Everyone who has rejected Christ, along with Israel, will be under the wrath of God. The day of wrath will also be the last opportunity for the world to repent. Believers are no longer under judgment or condemnation, so they cannot be in the same boat as the unredeemed. God will not punish the righteous with the wicked. Which should indicate that this pandemic is not God judging the world. Instead, this is the fate of a fallen creation. A fate that is under the sovereign control of God.

There will be no cohabitation between the Church and the antichrist, the man of lawlessness, ruler of the earth. In fact, he has not appeared yet because of the Holy Spirit’s work through the Church (2 Thess. 2). His ministry of restraining the antichrist, through the earthly Church will stop when we are raptured. The other reason why the Rapture is necessary is because of God’s plan for Israel. Indeed, some of the promises made to the Jews are yet to be fulfilled. In spite of their unbelief and rejection, God is faithful to His chosen people. Yes, Israel rejected God, but God has not rejected Israel back (Rom. 11:25-26). Israel will be given the opportunity to repent and be restored. The day will come when the Jews who accept Jesus by faith, will be saved through grace (Zech. 12:10). Many nations will come to Christ during the tribulation as well (Rev. 7). 

Because of Christ’s faithfulness, we will have the Rapture and Israel will be saved. The children of God do not look to the end of the world with fear, despair, depression, or anxiety. No pandemic can alter God’s plan for His Church because we serve a God who keeps His word and who has the power to fulfill His promises. He is a God of covenant. There is no reason to panic. We have a blessed hope. We belong wherever He is. We will see Him in glory and be glorified with Him.  We will see Him face to face one day. We will be just like Him, true image bearers. The struggles of this world will cease. This is our assurance, our comfort, the future we are eagerly awaiting. There is no greater vision of grace. This is our reason for living with joy. No matter our circumstances, we are looking forward to the return of Christ. We can thank Jesus for His faithfulness and the blessed hope He has supplied us with.

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575 American Legion Hwy
Roslindale, MA 02131
Phone: 617-323-3107
Fax: 617-323-3165
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