Will, there be a rapture of the Church in the way we believe it to be, or will there be a rapture as it is being taught in many church circles? What we were told was, there will be a coming rapture, and when it occurs, we will be taken to heaven for a thousand years to what is called “The wedding feast.” But what do the prophets have to say, and even more recent than the prophets, what do the apostles have to say about the rapture?
Did they teach there will one day be a catching away of the Church to a wedding feast in heaven for a thousand years? Or were they assuring us of the reality of Christ’s return to recuse us out of the hands of the Antichrist? I believe it was the latter, the apostles and the prophets were not teaching we will be raptured away from the earth for a thousand years. Instead, they were providing us with the hope of Christ’s return to recuse us from the hands of the antichrist.
We have a role to play, and because of that role and the things we will face as we approach the tribulation, 1 Thessalonians 4:18 “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” What words? 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 “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.”
That is where we get the idea from concerning what we called a rapture, the statement that reads, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.” We have, however, missed a lot of information in that one statement, such as, the fact that the statement did say, “We which are alive and remain.” And focusing all of our attention on the phase caught up in the air,” no one thinks to ask the question “Remain after what?”
Why would Paul, Silvanus, and Timotheus write such a statement? They wrote this down and preached this to the early Church because of the persecution they will face before the return of Jesus Christ. And what they wanted the early Church to know is, that their faith in Christ has been recognized and that the apostles are joyful in the reality that, although they are facing such persecution even unto death, they are refusing to turn away from Christ and the work of the kingdom.
1 Thessalonians 1:6-10 “Ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were examples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not speak anything. For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”
“And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” It was with many afflictions the Church in Thessalonica had received the gospel. Because on account of their turning away from the traditions of idol worshipping, the traditions of their fathers and all they were custom, did they came under great persecution. They were rejected by their own families, by the religious order of the day, and was found to be blasphemers by the Roman authority and so, many were put to death for their faith in Christ Jesus.
Writing to the early Church in Thessalonica, Paul, Silvanus, and Timotheus were not preaching a message concerning a rapture, instead, they wrote to encourage, and praise the Church for their faith in Christ and their steadfastness in the work of the kingdom. Therefore, when it was concerning among the Church for those who had lost their lives for the sake of the work and the kingdom of Christ to come. Paul, Silvanus, and Timotheus wrote to inform the Church they will again be with those who had died in Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:1-7 “Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.
For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Ghost: So that ye were examples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.”
It was with much affliction and persecution did the converts and Chruch of Thessalonica received the gospel, it was not like we are today looking for an easy escape from the persecution to come. Instead, the faith of the early Church in Thessalonica was made known on account of their endurance despite the persecution they faced. In the face of persecution, they pressed on in Christ even to death.
Matthew 16:24-27 “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or, what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”