Come up Here

“After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” (Revelation 4:1)

I have not heard an argument against the Rapture of the Church but there are two confusions that are related to the subject. One misunderstanding is the Rapture and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This is why I have given each of you a handout with the verses that support the differences between the two events. The other confusion is when the Rapture is to take place. There are several positions but I will only mention three of the most common. There are those who believe the Church will be caught up before the tribulation, those who believe the Church will be caught up during the tribulation and those who believe the Church will be caught up after the tribulation. Pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation and post tribulation. Rather than have a meaningless argument against those who oppose my view I will just state why I believe what I believe for my own edification and yours.

The word rapture is not found in the Scriptures so the first thing we want to find out is where this term comes from. We will start our journey in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians where he writes, “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. 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. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) In verse seventeen we see the words “caught up.” In the Greek the word caught is translated from “harpazo” and from Strong’s it is defined as to seize, catch, pluck, pull, and take by force. To translate this word to rapture comes in two steps. Harpazo became the Latin word raptus which is where the English ward rapture comes from. The dictionary gives three definitions to this word “rapture.” 1) The state of being transported by a lofty emotion; ecstasy. 2) An expression of ecstatic feeling. Often used in the plural. 3) The transporting of a person from one place to another, especially to heaven. In this conversation we will lean more to the third definition but all three certainly fit into the rapture experience.

No one knows but God when this event will occur but we do have some strong clews in the Scriptures. As Christians, followers of Christ, we should always be at the ready for the rapture as this is when Christ will come for His Church. The Church needs to be properly prepared as we see in the parable of the Ten Virgins. (Matthew 25:1-13) Chasing a little rabbit let us look at verses 4. “But the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.” (Matthew 25:4) Five of the virgins were prudent and five foolish. They both had lamps representing the good of faith but only the prudent one had the oil of love in them. When the Bridegroom, Jesus, came the foolish virgins did not have the good of love in their faith. We cannot please God without faith but faith without love is an empty faith. “But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) The Christians, the Body of Christ, must remain ready for the rapture is soon coming. “But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36)

In the Scriptures there are passages that clearly tell us that we will not know the hour of time of the Lord’s return. “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:13) Then again we read in the book of Revelation that the Jews will have to wait on the Lord for 1260 days. “Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.” (Revelation 12:6) This time line starts when the Antichrist declares himself to be God while standing in the Temple. “Who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:4) In the book of Daniel this will happen at the mid-tribulation point when the abomination of desolation occurs. (Daniel 9:27) There are three and a half years of bad followed by three and a half years of unthinkable evil events. At this point the Jews will flee to the wilderness knowing that they only have to survive 1260 days until their Messiah comes. The time of the return of their Messiah (Jesus) from this point then is known to the day. It is not correct them to apply “for you do not know the day nor the hour.” This cannot be in reference to the Second Coming of Christ but it is in reference to the Rapture. This Scripture separates the two events as distinct. One the Rapture of Christ Church which must come before the tribulation and two the return of the Lord Jesus Christ after the seven year tribulation.

At the Second Coming of Christ He is followed by an army. “And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.” (Revelation 19:14) We see them riding on white horses and robed in fine linen which is white in cleanliness. In Revelation 19:8 we learn that fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. If the saints in Christ are returning to battle the evil forces with Christ then they must be removed before the tribulation.

The only force in the world today to combat the spiritual evil forces (Ephesians 6:12) is the Body of Christ the Church. The power of the Church is the indwelling Holy Spirit. There is no other force for righteousness in the world. The Church is the only restraint to prevent the rise of the Antichrist. That restraint must be removed for the advent of the Antichrist. “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.” (2 Thessalonians 2:7) Without the work of the Holy Spirit no one could be saved either now in the Church age or during the tribulation. The power that the Church has through the Holy Spirit must be removed in order for the Antichrist to appear on the scene. There will be people saved during the tribulation so even as the Church is removed the Holy Spirit will still be in the world accomplishing His work. But the influence of the Holy Spirit will be greatly diminished without the good soldiers of His Church.

The Church has not been appointed to suffer God’s wrath. “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9) The wrath of God will be greatly poured out during the tribulation. Pre-tribulation believers clearly see that the Church must be removed before the tribulation. Post-tribulation believers have a different view. Their belief is that the Christians will be protected through the tribulation and that God will pour His wrath on the unbelievers only. But this thinking is not in alinement with the Scripture in Revelation. “It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.” (Revelation 13:7) If this were the case then God’s promise that the believer was not destined for wrath would be a lie. It is not possible for God to lie.

In Matthew Jesus refers to His followers as the salt of the earth. “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.” (Matthew 5:13) When the Rapture happens the believers in Jesus Christ will be suddenly removed tossing the world into spiritual darkness. This spiritual darkness will leave a void which will allow the Antichrist to fill with his power and presence. The Antichrist will then be free to control the world and thus the beginning of the tribulation of mankind.

The first three chapters of the book of Revelation contains the seven letters to the Churches. After chapter three the Church is not mentioned in Revelation. The focus of the Scripture switches to the Jews living in Israel. In Revelation 4:1 we read, “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” (Revelation 4:1) I believe as one who supports a Pre-tribulation Rapture that the words “Come up here” is a prophetic reference to the Rapture of the Church. If you want to avoid the tribulation that is coming upon the world repent and call upon the name of the Lord and be sure your lamp of good faith is filled with the oil of good love, for God is Love. “We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, September 24, 2014

Durant Bible College

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