Monday, May 30, 2011


As we continue looking at Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, we come to a very important but troubling group of verses. When the Holy Spirit is removed from the scene through the rapture of the body of Christ, those who have truly placed their faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, the man of sin will come on the scene with “all power and signs and lying wonders.” Paul is clear to declare that he will be working through the power of Satan.

2Thessalonians 2:9-10 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

The Antichrist will be able to perform miracles of obvious supernatural power as well as deceitful wonders (i.e., like a very adept magician).

I like the wording of the Complete Jewish Bible for verse 10: He will enable him to deceive, in all kinds of wicked ways, those who are headed for destruction because they would not receive the love of the truth that could have saved them.

The wording is clear that the reference is to those who are perishing and have chosen to reject the gospel message; they have rejected God’s revelation of truth. The wording is interesting because scripture tells us that Jesus is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). These people have rejected “the love of the Truth,” which I think we can truthfully read as a statement of their rejecting the love of Jesus. Had they accepted His gift of love, they could have been saved and headed for an eternity with Jesus rather than perishing and headed for an eternity without Him.

2Thessalonians 2:11-12 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

These are very powerful, frightening verses. As I read them in context, the reference is to those who have “received not the love of the truth,” those who are identified as perishing. God is going to send “effective deceit” (from the Greek for “strong delusion”). In other words, those who have rejected the Lord Jesus (those who have had an opportunity to receive Him and have refused it) will find the deceit of the Antichrist to be so effective that they will believe it. Even though Antichrist is working through the empowerment of Satan, we know that he has been granted this power and authority according to God’s own purposes in bringing all to pass according as He has determined from the foundation of the world. Verse 12 emphasizes that ALL will be damned who rejected God’s truth, accepted unrighteousness and approved wickedness. Reminder—this is speaking of those who have been left to go through the time of God’s wrath, the day of Christ, the day of the Lord.

I haven’t heard this point emphasized or taught (at least in my memory bank). We know that scripture teaches that many will come to know the Lord during this terrible period of time, but that group of believers will come from those who have not yet had the opportunity of hearing God’s truth and then choosing to accept it or reject it. I have talked to many who have told me that they’ll make sure they get right with God if we disappear and they find themselves in the “tribulation.” If I understand these verses correctly, those who have told me that will not have that opportunity. They will already have chosen to reject the truth.

The truth is that God is sovereign. God has chosen to offer His grace to all, but each person is only given a certain amount of “time” to take advantage of that grace. Again, this is according to God’s sovereign power and authority. As the Creator, He has every right to make such determination for each person He creates. Some people obviously live longer than others and some people end up with hardened hearts before they die. The important truth to grasp is that “today is the day of salvation.”

2Corinthians 6:1-2 We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)

If you do not yet know Jesus Christ as your Savior, please do not wait any longer. Acknowledge your sin before Him. Ask His forgiveness and accept the gift of salvation by believing that Jesus died on the cross for your sins. Ask Him to become the Lord of your life and begin living in obedience to the teaching of His word. Start reading His word and spending time with Him in prayer as you seek to learn more about how to obey Him and show your love to Him.

Dear reader, the time is short. The signs are all around us. Don’t reject Jesus as your Savior and don’t risk falling into the category of those whom God will send the strong delusion.

Friday, May 27, 2011


As we continue to look at the four main passages from scripture that support the pre-tribulation rapture, we come to the section on “the withholder,” the restrainer that is preventing the revelation of the Antichrist.

It is interesting to note that the Thessalonians were only allowed to benefit from Paul’s personal instruction for three weeks…

Acts 17:1-2 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures….

…and the coming of Jesus was part of his foundational instruction to this body of believers. He goes on to encourage them to remember what they had been taught.

2Thessalonians 2:5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

Paul now goes on to explain what is preventing the man of sin from revealing himself.

2Thessalonians 2:6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.

“withholdeth” = to hold down (fast)…. retain, seize on, stay.

These seemed to be the best choices from the Greek looking at the context of the passage. Who is the person about whom they are discussing his being revealed? The man of sin (cf v3). The context indicates that something or someone is keeping his identity secret until it is “his time.” This also indicates that he, the man of sin, has an appointment with destiny, a “set time” (from the Greek). Since we know that the “man of sin” will get his power from Satan (as shown in the previous post), this withholding force evidently has the authority to limit the power and authority of Satan. Since Satan is a supernatural entity, the force that limits him must be a supernatural entity of greater power and authority. According to Paul, the Thessalonians knew the identity of this being—the Holy Spirit.

2Thessalonians 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

“the mystery of iniquity” – Satan’s power and authority, to limited degree, is already effectively at work on planet earth. The fact that it is described as a mystery (secret) is because he has not been allowed to manifest himself openly in the fullness of his power and authority. He has had to be content to work behind the scenes. The Greek word translated “letteth” is the same word translated “withholdeth” in verse 6. The context is clear that this being is restraining or limiting the power and authority of Satan by His presence. The fact that “He” must be taken out of the way indicates that He is a presence that must be removed. Logic concludes that the Holy Spirit is the person of Almighty God that is now “present” on planet earth because He indwells every believer.

Romans 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

When the Holy Spirit is taken away, the believers whom He is indwelling will be taken away. In his later letter to the Ephesians Paul makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is the down payment (so to speak) of our inheritance to come.

Ephesians 1:13-14 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

When Jesus taught of the coming of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, He was clear that He would abide with us forever. The Spirit cannot be removed without removing the believers He indwells.

John 14:16-17 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.“
(abide” = continue, be present, remain)

2Thessalonians 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

Only when the restraining power of the Holy Spirit as embodied in the church, the body of believers, is removed, will “that Wicked,” the man of sin, be revealed. The Greek for the word “revealed” states “to take off the cover, disclose.” In other words, Satan won’t have to work behind the scenes any more. He will be granted public fullness of his powers during the time of the day of the Lord. Even though he is going to be granted his reign of terror, Paul makes it clear that the Lord will:

• Consume him with the spirit of his mouth. – The Greek for "consume" is a reference to the destruction of the man of sin by the Word of Jesus when He returns as King of kings.

• Destroy him with the brightness of His coming. – The Greek for "destroy" is a reference to making the power behind the man, Satan, of no effect and putting him out of the picture; he will be made to vanish (from the Greek) when he is bound for the 1000 year period of Christ’s rule on planet earth before all judgment is finally declared and eternity begins. The Greek for “brightness” is a reference to manifestation; in other words, it is the physical appearance of the Lord Jesus that will result in the destruction of Antichrist and his power.

To be continued…

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


In the previous post we established that the “day of Christ,” the time of His wrath, would not start until the man of sin is revealed.

2Thessalonians 2:3-4 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

The rest of verses 3 and 4 go to great lengths to identify “the man of sin.”

• The son of perdition. – This phrase is only used twice in scripture—one in reference to Judas Iscariot and the other in this verse referencing the man of sin, the Antichrist.

John 17:12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

We know that Satan entered into Judas…

Luke 22:3 Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.

…and I believe this phrase indicates that this man of sin is the other person whom Satan has chosen to personally “possess” because of his significance in the war against the Son of God. Revelation 17 tells us that “the beast,” whom we call Antichrist, the title by which we know this “man of sin,” will go into perdition.

Revelation 17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

Revelation 17:11 And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.

The word "perdition" is a reference to eternal damnation.

• The one who opposes and exalts himself above any being called “God.” – The Hebrew for the word "God" makes special reference to “the supreme divinity.” It’s interesting that the Spirit inspires Paul to word this truth to include any person’s or group’s identification of God. (To point: Many people are confused into thinking that Islam’s “Allah” and the Jewish/Christian “God” are one and the same.) The “man of sin” will be a puppet of and eventually possessed by Satan, whose purpose is to present himself as “God.”

Revelation 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Revelation 13:2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

Revelation 13:4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?

• The one who opposes and exalts himself above any being that is worshipped. – To be doubly clear, this “man of sin” controlled by Satan will seek to position himself as the only being worthy of worship (adoration, devotion).

• One who will sit in the temple of God and claim to be God. – The temple of God being referenced in this phrase is the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. It is the only “temple of God” that would carry any significance to those who are the children of God through faith in His Son. This phrase in verse 4 is a reference to “the abomination of desolation” referenced in Daniel and in the Olivet Discourse by Jesus.

In the Olivet Discourse Jesus is referencing a specific prophecy made by Daniel--Daniel 12:11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.

“abomination” = a detestation, i.e. (specially) idolatry:—abomination.

Even though we know that Antiochus Epiphanes seemed to fulfill this prophecy in history when he offered a pig on the altar in the temple to Zeus, Jesus is making the point that this prophecy was yet to be fulfilled (as was the case with many prophecies—foreshadowing and fulfillment); it was future to the time that Jesus was speaking. This would be a desecration of the temple, which means that there will be a functioning temple prior to the occurrence of the event being referenced. This abomination would be a thing or person standing where it ought not—that would seem to reference something like an idol. “The holy place” and “where it ought not” could reference any part of the temple, the whole of which is considered holy, but more likely refers to the inner sanctum of the temple and possibly even the holy of holies.

This phrase in verse 4 would certainly qualify as fulfilling the prophecy of that coming “abomination of desolation.”

In the next post we will discover what is preventing the Antichrist from revealing himself.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


As we continue to look at the four main passages from scripture that support the pre-tribulation rapture, we come to Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians.

2Thessalonians 2:1-2 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.

Evidently, the Thessalonians weren’t any more sure of their knowledge of prophetic events than are many in the church today. The KJV makes it read more like it could possibly be referencing two different things by adding the little word “by” (which is not in the Greek). It is obvious that he can’t be talking about the visible return of the Lord because that would be obvious. Paul is writing about the coming of Christ to take His Bride home with Him as He promised in John 14. That is an event that, as a professed believer, had you missed it would cause you great concern.

“gathering together” = This phrase is represented by one word in the Greek that means “a complete collection.” When I looked up the Greek, that definition made me smile. When Christ comes to gather the believers, it will be to get them all—not just some of them.

Paul tells them not to get “agitated or disturbed in their thinking” or to be “frightened” that the “day of Christ” had begun. The Thessalonian believers knew that the “day of Christ” (interchangeable with the “day of the Lord” and the “wrath to come” as referenced in his first letter to them) would be a terrible time of God’s wrath. They didn’t want to experience it and had been clearly taught that they wouldn’t.

1Thessalonians 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ….

In this letter Paul acknowledges that these believers were experiencing persecution and trouble. Maybe this time of suffering had increased such that they were more susceptible to the deceit that the “day of Christ” had begun. Paul is telling them to ignore any “spirit” (includes other humans as well as the possibility of demons), “word” (includes persuasive speakers or general conversation), or “letter” (written correspondence) that would tell them differently. The wording also implies that the Thessalonians had possibly received a letter from another source that either misrepresented Paul’s teaching or falsely claimed to be from Paul.

I think the best translation of the word “soon” would be “suddenly.” In other words, when someone confronts you with something that contradicts the truth as you know it, take the time to think about it carefully. Don’t make quick assumptions. You know the truth. Think it through.

2Thessalonians 2:3-4 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

This first phrase is restating the previous verse—Don’t let any person or thing deceive you in any way. Webster adds strength to the statement with his definition of “deceive,”—“ To lead into error; to cause to believe what is false, or disbelieve what is true; to impose upon; to mislead; to cheat; to disappoint; to delude; to insnare.”

Since I am not a Greek scholar, it was helpful to find a note in the NIV Commentary that was useful in understanding why the phrase “that day shall not come” was added by the translators: “In the second part of this verse, the Greek sentence is not complete; it presupposes something to be added from the previous verse; i.e., ‘that day will not come’ (lit., ‘that day is not present’).”

“falling away” = This phrase is one word in the Greek, and is one that causes much debate even among those who agree on a pre-tribulation rapture. I did quite a bit of research on this when I was preparing a topical study on the rapture. The following is a quote from a book by Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice regarding whether this phrase is a reference to a falling away from faith or a physical departure, i.e., the rapture; and it makes a lot of sense to me.

The words “falling away” were translated "departure" in the first 7 Bible translations. In 11/15 uses the root word for departure in the New Testament is used to reference departing from another person or place, a physical departure. The one time it is used re departing from the faith is 1Timothy 4:1, which uses the qualifying words “from the faith.”

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith,”

The other uses are:

Luke 8:13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

Acts 5:37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him:

Acts 5:38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men….

[End quote]

John Sweigert adds this information: “The history of translations of “apostasia” varied little for the first 15 centuries. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate contains the word “discessio” in 2Thess 2:3, meaning simply “departure.” Other translations up to the KJV of 1611 use variations of “departure.”

Though I am convinced the “falling away” is a physical departure, I believe the truth of a departure from the faith is also true, as stated in 1Timothy 4:1 above, as I observe how “Christian” leaders are putting their own spin on biblical truth, saying that the Bible doesn’t really mean what it says.

As I was listening to J. Vernon McGee this morning, I thought he tied together both understandings of the “apostasy” quite well. He, too, sees it as a departure or rapture of the true church that will result in the complete apostasy of the “church” that is left behind composed of people who profess but do not possess true faith.

Frankly, whichever you choose to believe, this is a proof point for the beginning of the “day of Christ,” not the rapture. The main truth is that after this falling away (be it the rapture or a mass departure from the faith), the man of sin will be revealed. The oldest Greek texts use “anomias” for the word sin in reference to no law, lawlessness, contempt for law and morality.

To be continued….

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


As we continue to look at the four main passages from scripture that support the pre-tribulation rapture, we will complete the passage from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians.

1Thessalonians 5:1-2 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

“times” = a space of time (in general, and thus properly distinguished from 2540, which designates a fixed or special occasion…) or interval; by implication, delay

“seasons” = an occasion, i.e. set or proper time: (the 2540 referenced above)

I thought the Greek was interesting for these words. It would seem that Paul is referencing the duration of the delay between the Lord’s first and second coming as well as the specific time designated for His second coming to establish His earthly kingdom. Paul had evidently taught these believers that these specific times (the delay and the actual return) had not been revealed to man.

Matthew 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Paul’s tone indicates that the Thessalonians had been well taught regarding the subject of Christ’s return. They had been specifically taught that the “day of the Lord” would come as a thief in the night—in other words, without warning. That the “day of the Lord” is a time of judgment, destruction and darkness is clarified in the following verses (cf 1:10).

1Thessalonians 5:3-4 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

It jumped out to me that Paul is making a distinction between believers, his brethren, and unbelievers through the pronouns he used. “They” (unbelievers) will think they are living in a time of peace and safety when the day of the Lord begins. Verse three indicates that this time will begin with “sudden (unexpected, unawares) destruction (ruin, death, punishment).” He then goes on to compare the scenario of events to a woman going into labor. Jesus used this same comparison when teaching His disciples about this very subject prior to His death. In reading this through again, I am reminded that the woman knows the general time of her expected delivery; she just doesn’t know the day or the hour.

The last phrase of verse 3 is quite specific—“they shall not escape.” As this passage continues to make distinctions between “they” and “ye/we,” the implication seems to be that “ye/we” will escape.

Verse 4 declares that the believer will not be overtaken as a thief (“should” is supplied by the translators). Why? Because we are not “in” darkness; the Greek for the word "in" denotes position.

As I continue to consider previous study in the area of prophecy, it is obvious that verse 3 cannot be referencing the actual return of Jesus as King because that will happen at a time when the whole world seems to be gathering together at Armageddon to make war—not a time of peace and safety. This supports the understanding of “that day” as a “period of time” (and is supported by the Greek) preceding His return. We identify that time as a 7-year period known as the tribulation or the 70th week of Daniel.

I think it is important to note that the “day of the Lord” and “the 70th week of Daniel” that we often reference as the 7-year tribulation period are not synonymous, but run almost concurrently with one another. The “day of the Lord” is directed toward the wicked on planet earth, and the 70th week of Daniel is directed toward the nation of Israel. The “day of the Lord” is a time of God’s vengeance; the “70th week” is a time of refining and reestablishing a holy relationship between God and Israel.

1Thessalonians 5:5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

We are “children (a “son”) of light.” We are positioned in the family of God in Christ, The Light of the world.

John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 12:46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

Galatians 3:26 & 28 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

1Thessalonians 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.

Now a clear statement of beautiful truth. We, true believers, are “not appointed to wrath.” Again, we have to remember to stay in context. What is the wrath being referenced in this passage? The Day of the Lord. The phrase “obtain salvation” is reference to a deliverance or rescue that has been purchased (from the Greek) by OUR Lord Jesus Christ. What was the price? His life; He willingly laid down His life on the cross and shed His blood to atone for my/our sin.

“sleep” = to lie down to rest, i.e. (by implication) to fall asleep

Interestingly enough, I expected to see a different Greek word for “sleep” in verse 10, one that referenced death (as used in chapter 4)----but it wasn’t. The truth jumped out at me as even more assuring. Whether the child of God is in the right attitude or mindset or not, whether he is being vigilant and watchful or not, his/her position in Christ is sure. We will live together with Him. We are not to experience the wrath of the “day of the Lord” because it is designated specifically as a time of wrath for those who are His enemies, those who have rejected Him. It’s all about what He has done—not what I am doing! Jesus has already suffered God’s wrath to spare me.

1Thessalonians 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

“Wherefore” – Based on the above truth…..

In other words—Based on these truths, believers should come together with one another to strengthen one another when the times are tough and the enemy is trying to deceive you and/or cause you to doubt. When you get together, pray. The Lord promises that where two or three are gathered together in His name, He is in the midst of them. He also promises that if we ask anything according to His will, it is ours.

Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

1John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

The main truths presented:

• We, believers, are positioned in Christ as children of light.

• It is not God’s will for His children to experience the wrath that He has purposed for His enemies and those that reject Him.

• Jesus has purchased our “rescue” from God’s wrath.

• Our deliverance from this wrath is based on the work Christ has done on our behalf—not on what we are doing or not doing at any given point in our Christian walk.

• God’s wrath will be poured out on planet earth at a time often referenced in scripture as “the day of the Lord” and is for a specific time and purpose.

• Those who are unbelievers, who have rejected Christ as Savior, will not be able to escape experiencing that wrath once the appointed time begins.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


As we continue to look at the four main passages from scripture that support the pre-tribulation rapture, we will find that the most information concerning that time is provided in Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians.

1Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

“ignorant” = not to know (through lack of information or intelligence); not understand

The first part of this verse indicates that Paul is introducing a truth that he wants to be sure the Thessalonian believers know and understand. This information pertains to believers who have already died physically. Their deaths should not cause those to whom Paul was writing to sorrow as though there was no hope—the type of sorrow that leads one into deep despair because of no hope of future fellowship with that loved one.

1Thessalonians 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

“if we believe” – Each person has to examine his own heart for affirmation of his faith.

IF it is true that Jesus died and rose again (and it is), then we can confidently expect that God will bring those who precede us in death as believers in Jesus with Him when He comes for His own.

I found this quote by R. A. Coombes (I forgot to note from where) in support of my understanding of this verse: “The word ‘if’ is what grammarians term a ‘first-class condition,’ meaning a condition that is assumed to be true.”

1Thessalonians 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

This verse clarifies that this truth is directly connected to the truth Paul wrote to the Corinthians that was discussed in the previous post. It is truth Paul received from the mouth of God.

1Corinthians 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

Paul is referencing a coming of Jesus at a time when those members of the body of Christ who are still alive will experience an amazing transformation—from a corruptible/mortal to an incorruptible/immortal body. This will only happen once in the life of every believer. This time of transformation will happen simultaneously with those believers who have died physically before that event occurs.

1Thessalonians 4:16-17 For 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.

Paul now gives a chronological flow of events associated with the rapture.

1. The Lord will descend from heaven with:

• A shout – The Greek indicates a “command.”

• The voice of the archangel – Michael is the only archangel identified in scripture. He is designated as the “great prince that stands for the nation of Israel.” (Daniel 12:1)

• The trump of God. – This would seem to reference the voice of God the Father. The voice of the Lord is described as a trumpet in Revelation.

Revelation 1:10-11 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last….

The Greek for the word "trump" references “a reverberation or vibration as well as a trumpet.” In that regard, it makes me think of thunder, and there are other scriptures that equate the voice of God with thunder.

Job 40:9 Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?

Psalm 29:3 The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth….

Then again, this could be a special musical trumpet used by God in announcing His purpose.

2. The dead in Christ shall rise first. – The Greek indicates that the word dead is referencing “a corpse.” In other words, Paul is making it clear that it is our earthly bodies that will be physically resurrected to immortality. This is just as it was with Jesus. “In Christ” would be inclusive of all men and women of faith. Those from the Old Testament who were men and women of faith are “in Christ” just as surely as are we of the church. God’s provision of salvation for all men of all time is “in Christ.” I think this truth is supported by the following verses from Hebrews regarding the great men and women of faith of the Old Testament.

Hebrews 11:39–40 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

3. We who are alive will be caught up together with them (those who had preceded us in death). – The Greek for “caught up” implies being “seized, taken by force.” This just means that this is according to God’s plan and on His timetable; we have no choice as to the timing or the method.

4. We will meet the Lord in the air. – Notice that the reference is to meeting the Lord “in the air”—not on the earth.

5. So shall we ever be with the Lord. – From that point on we will never be separated from the physical presence of the Lord.

1Thessalonians 4:18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

The truth of this teaching should bring every believer great comfort. The Greek for the word "comfort" states “to call near, i.e. invite, invoke (by imploration…or consolation)…(give) exhort(-ation), intreat, pray.”

• This truth should be a reason for gathering together in fellowship as we look forward to its fulfillment.

• It should encourage us to implore others to accept the gospel so as to be able to be part of this great ingathering.

• We should desire the coming of that day and encourage one another to live so as to be prepared and not ashamed at His coming.

• It should also be a truth that causes us to approach the Lord in prayer and personal communion regarding how to best serve Him as we look forward to this time when we get to go home to heaven.

• This truth should also provide great comfort to us when faced with the death of others we love in the body of Christ.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


What is the rapture? My definition: The time when Jesus comes to take the body of believers, both dead and alive, home to heaven transforming our bodies to be eternal and incorruptible in the process.

There are four main scripture passages that provide a solid foundation for the belief in the rapture of the church before the beginning of the tribulation. In this next series of posts I am going to make use of my verse-by-verse studies of these sections of scripture. Using the plain sense of scripture, I honestly don’t see how anyone can make any other conclusion than that true believers will be rescued from the wrath to come during the “tribulation” and prior to the revelation of the Antichrist, the man of sin, who initiates the beginning of that 7-year period by confirming a peace covenant with Israel for that specified period of time.

The first passage we will check out is found in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. It is in this letter that Paul reveals the mystery of the rapture. The context of this revelation is instruction regarding resurrection from the dead.

1Corinthians 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

At this point Paul gets everyone’s undivided attention; he tells them that he is going to reveal to them a secret, something that God has not revealed to anyone before. The Greek for "sleep" states, “to slumber, to decease, be dead.” It’s obvious that in the context of this passage the reference is to physical death. Paul is telling this body of believers that not everyone is going to die. Also in context, Paul is sharing this revelation with people who have trusted Christ as Savior. The exciting new truth—“we shall be put on incorruption and… immortality.”

One of the first things I notice is that Paul seemed to think that he could be part of that group—“we shall not all sleep.”

The next truth revealed is that whether dead or alive, the believer will be changed, made different. The question begs, “What kind of change?” Our mortal, corruptible bodies will be made immortal (eternal) and incorruptible (not subject to decay or depravation).

There are so many other questions that this truth poses, such as how and when? Paul gives a general answer to both in verse 52.

• In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye – an instant, less than a second

• At the last trump – I did quite a bit of study on this in conjunction with my topical study of the rapture. Suffice it to say that many scholars have given varying explanations regarding this trumpet. I want to share with you a few paragraphs from that study as quoted from Renald Showers that make good sense to me.

1Corinthians 14 talks about the trumpet from a military perspective, so it would appear that thought would be continued in chapter 15. In Bible times, “when they went to war, they had a “last trump” that would be blown that would tell the fighting men, ‘Your time of fighting is over. It is time for you to go home and rest.’ A ‘last trump’ ended their time in the warfare.”

There were also two trumpets related to guard duty. “They had a first trump that signaled when a man was to start his watch…then they had a ‘last trump’ which signaled that his time on guard duty was over and it was time for him to go home.” The comparison to the Christian is obvious.

“The fact that Paul, when he mentions the last trump, doesn’t explain to the Corinthians what he meant by that indicates that they understood what he meant by ‘the last trump.’ They were very familiar…with that terminology of ‘the last trump’ signals used for Roman soldiers, whether their fighting is done or their tour of duty on the watch is over for that day.” [End quote]

This passage only focuses on the truth that the time is coming when every true believer will receive a new body that will no longer be subject to the sin nature and will never again be subject to death. That transformation will take place for most will take place after they have died physically, but some will experience that transformation without experiencing physical death.

In the next post we will look at Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians and learn more regarding this time.

Monday, May 9, 2011


I woke up recently with thoughts of a poem and the following composition based on Matthew 24 was the result.

False Christs that deceive
Causing men to believe.
The horrors of war
Killing men by the score.
Though frightening to see
These are things that must be.
Neither trouble nor fret
For the end is not yet.

Plague and disease will continue to spread.
Hunger and earthquakes will cause men to dread.
These are just the beginning of birth pains that bring
More sorrow and pain than the world’s ever seen.
Those who love Jesus will face the world’s haters
And friends and family will prove to be traitors.

False prophets will gain
As they rise to fame.
Those who sin will be bold
As their love waxes cold.
Keep a faith strong and sure
And your future’s secure.

The gospel to all of the world will be told.
The end will then come as foretold long ago.
Mankind will suffer a great tribulation
But God will prevent his complete decimation.
Then Jesus will come with great glory and power
To reign as earth's King in man’s finest hour.
So stay strong in your faith, on the scriptures rely.
We’re going home soon, our redemption is nigh!

Friday, May 6, 2011


As we bring this discussion about heaven and hell to a close, we will address the folly of man’s choice to question God.

This world is cursed by sin. I believe all disease and all the destructive forces of nature that we identify as “acts of God” are a result of the curse of sin. God does not isolate His children from the effects of that curse any more than he withholds the benefits of nature from those that reject Him.

Matthew 5:44–45 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Does He ever intervene supernaturally in nature to bring about judgment? Yes. Does He ever intervene supernaturally to perform miracles of healing and protection for His children? Yes. Scripture is everywhere clear that God is working out His plan according to His will. Sometimes that plan allows “bad” (from our perspective) things to happen to those who have placed their faith in Him. Though we may not understand His ways, we can cling to His promise that He is working “good” (from His perspective) through the process.

Isaiah 14:24 “The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand….”

Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

In my humble opinion, those who refuse to accept the reality of hell and/or refuse to believe that God will not condemn those who reject Him to eternal punishment as taught in the scripture are declaring themselves to be more righteous than God. Through human reasoning based on a limited understanding, they have determined that a loving God cannot possibly condemn one to eternal suffering. The important truth is that we cannot understand or reason like God; if we could, He would not be God.

Isaiah 55:8–9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Furthermore, they are basically calling God a liar according to the truth revealed in scripture based on all the scripture presented in this series of posts. I am reminded of the words of Paul: “...let God be true, but every man a liar….” (Romans 3:4).

Though there is much that we can’t understand about the workings of God in our lives. I am confident that we will understand one day and that understanding will cause us to praise and glorify our Lord.

1 Corinthians 13:9–12 “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

“That which is perfect” is a reference to Jesus and when we shall see Him “face to face.” And when we see Him, we will understand the holiness and righteousness of all His actions.

Revelation 15:3-4 “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed.”

Click on image for larger picture.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


As we continue this discussion regarding the reality of heaven and hell, we will continue to look at scriptures that teach the reality of both.

People try to stumble the faith of believers with questions like, “Will Ghandi be in hell?” I unapologetically answer, “Yes, if he did not place his faith in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.” God is absolutely no respecter of persons. It is not one’s reputation as a peacemaker before the world or as a great humanitarian or as an outstanding citizen etc. that qualifies one for eternal life. It cannot be earned. It is only available as a gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Ephesians 2:8–9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

The Lord Jesus very clearly taught that that we should not fear anyone just because they could kill us physically. The One we should fear is He that has the authority to condemn “soul and body in hell.”

Matthew 10:28 “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Revelation 20:12–15 “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

In other words, our existence doesn’t stop with physical death. The message of this posting has been necessarily pretty bleak to this point. Praise God that those who choose to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior have a glorious eternity awaiting them in the presence of God. That eternal future is well worth any “sacrifice” we may be asked to make in this life.

1 Corinthians 2:9 “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

Revelation 21:1–4 “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away….And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

... to be continued