Monday, August 25, 2014

1 & 2 Thessalonians -- 1, we go up / 2, Jesus comes down

The Word for today:
1 Thessalonians 1
As we embark upon the letters to the Thessalonians, it is important to remember that the two letters are known as "First" and "Second" because they describe two very different events--one happening first, the other happening second!
1 Thessalonians describes the church going up--popularly known as "the Rapture."
2 Thessalonians describes Jesus coming down--popularly known as "The Second Coming." 
1 Thessalonians is about the event known as the Rapture of the Church. The very word "church" (Greek ekklesia) means "called out." We are called out of sin, called out of darkness, called out of death.
And one day we will be literally called out of this world. We will hear the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ and we will be caught up (Greek "harpazo") to meet him in the air:
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
Think of the Rapture as the ascension of the bride of Christ. Jesus has been preparing a home for her, and he will receive her to himself:
In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:2-3)
It is imperative to understand that it was Jesus himself who first taught the Rapture! It is also important to understand that Jesus himself was caught up--raptured--to heaven:
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. (Mark 16:19; cf. Luke 24:51, Acts 1:9)
The Bible student must also be aware that Enoch was caught up--raptured--to heaven (1);
and that Elijah was caught up--raptured --to heaven (2)
and that the apostle John was caught up to heaven (3);
and that the author of Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul, had himself been caught up to heaven:
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows-- and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. (2 Corinthians 12:2-4)
Many scoff at the idea of being caught up to heaven. But what would they know? What could they know? They've never been there!
But the clearest proponents of Rapture--Jesus Christ and Paul--have been there, done that. So I'd call them the experts, wouldn't you?
(1) Genesis 5:24; (2) 2 Kings 2:11; (3) Revelation 4:1

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