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Old 01-29-2009, 12:39 PM
CKG CKG is offline
Join Date: Dec 2008
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Default Rapture Studies

More Bible studies from Pastor Dan Proctor of CrossRoads Baptist Church of Daytona Beach


The Rapture - A Mystery Revealed Through Paul
1. The dispensation of grace that we live in was revealed to the apostle Paul. It was a mystery time period of grace that was hidden in God and kept secret since the world began. Colossians 1:25-26; Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:1-6

2. Likewise, the event that will end this dispensation is also said to have been a mystery (a secret, something not revealed and made known yet). 1 Corinthians 15:51-52

3. If the Rapture of the church is the event that Jesus taught about in Matthew 24:36-42, there are two serious issues to consider:

• First, what Paul taught about the Rapture would not have been a mystery at all. It would have been a well-known truth to the twelve, made known and revealed by Christ on earth. Paul would have been mistaken and our Bible incorrect.

• Second, this would also mean that the church will go through most all of the tribulation time period. This is the context of “the return” of Matthew 24. This "taking away" coincides with Christ's Second Coming to earth.

4. What is the answer? The answer is to look at the context. In Matthew 24 Jesus is describing a time period that he breaks into two sections:

• The Beginning of Sorrows - Matthew 24:4-8

• Great Tribulation - Matthew 24:15-21

5. All of this ends with Christ returning in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (vs.30). Christ then sits on a throne in Jerusalem and all nations of the earth are gathered before Him for judgment. Matthew 25:31-33

6. All of these events will happen quickly and the generation that begins to see these things unfold (the events of Matthew 24) will not pass until Christ returns and sets up His kingdom on earth. Matthew 24:32-34

7. So who are the people that are taken away in Matthew 24:37-41?

• These are the "tares" of Matthew 13:38. They are the children of the wicked one.

• When Christ returns to the earth, the "tares" are gathered out of Christ's kingdom, and the angels take them out and cast them into a furnace of fire. You don't want to be taken out at the end of the Tribulation! Matthew 13:40-42

• Those who are designated as "righteous" will stay on earth and will shine forth in Christ's kingdom. Matthew 13:43

• Redeemed Israel, who has been scattered by the anti-Christ, will be gathered together by the angels and placed in their land never to be removed again. The tares are gathered out, Israel is gathered together. Matthew 24:31 cf. Isaiah 11:10-12

8. To summarize, when Christ returns to the earth, there are three groups in view:

• Those taken or gathered out of His kingdom and cast into a furnace of fire.

• Those left on the earth (the righteous) who are allowed to stay and shine in His kingdom.

• The elect (redeemed Israel) who are gathered together from the four corners of earth and heaven and placed in their land with Christ their Messiah reigning on the Davidic throne.

9. None of this is said to be a mystery. It is all part of God's prophetic plan for Israel and this earth and made clear during Christ's earthly ministry.

10. Many years later, Paul reveals "a mystery" to the church, body of Christ. It is an event in which believers (both living and dead) are instantaneously changed and given bodies that are incorruptible and immortal. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53

11. This event involves Christ descending from heaven and those who are in Christ (both dead and living) being caught up from the earth to meet Christ in the air. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

12. Never confuse the Second Coming of Christ to earth with the Rapture of the church, the body of Christ.

• The Second Coming involves deliverance for Israel; the Rapture involves deliverance for the body of Christ. Romans 11:26-27

• At the Second Coming, Christ comes to the earth; at the Rapture, Christ descends from heaven and the body of Christ meets Him in the air.

• The Second Coming of Christ is a public appearance that the world will witness (Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7); the Rapture takes place quicker than the blink of an eye. 1 Corinthians 15:52

The Rapture: Before Daniel's Seventieth Week

1. There are many today who teach that the church, the body of Christ, will have to endure part or all of the Tribulation time period described in Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation in detail.

2. One of the primary reasons for this is a lack of understanding concerning what God is doing today in the formation of the church, the body of Christ.

3. In this lesson, we will examine the prophecy of Daniel concerning the 70 weeks of Israel in Daniel 9:24-27. This will help us to understand why the church, the body of Christ, will not be involved in the Tribulation time period.

First, 70 weeks of years are determined upon Israel. vs. 24 1. This prophecy is very clear. Seventy weeks are determined upon Daniel's people.

Who were Daniel's people? Israel. The next phrase makes this clear beyond doubt when the angel says, "…and upon thy holy city…" This is the city of Jerusalem.

• This is 70 weeks determined upon a physical people and a physical city.

2. The word "weeks" simply means "seven." The idea is "seventy sevens."

3. When we look at the context of the passage it is clear that the prophet is referring to seventy weeks of years.

• Each week is not seven days, but seven years.

• Seventy weeks would equal 490 years.

4. What would happen at the end of the 490 years according to this prophecy in verse 24?

• Neither Israel nor Jerusalem will ever be transgressed again.

• There will be full reconciliation for iniquity.

• There will be a bringing in of everlasting righteousness.

• The most Holy (Jesus Christ) will be anointed as King.

5. This is the fulfillment of the New Covenant that God promised Israel.
Ezekiel 36:16-38, 37:21-28; Jeremiah 31:31-40

Second, these 70 weeks of years are said to begin with a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. vs. 25
1. The Persian King Artaxerxes made this decree in Nehemiah 2:1-10. He made a decree that Nehemiah could return and lead a rebuilding project in Jerusalem. Don't confuse this with the decree from Cyrus in Ezra 1. This decree dealt with the rebuilding of the temple.

2. When did King Artaxerxes make this decree to kick off the first of Daniel's 70 weeks of years? It came on March 14, 445 B.C.

3. In the first 49 years (7 weeks) the city would be rebuilt, including the street and the wall. vs. 25

Third, after 69 weeks (483 years), Messiah would be cut off. vs. 26 1. The Bible breaks it down this way:

• Seven weeks (49 years) of rebuilding.

• After 62 more weeks (434 years) Messiah would be cut off.

• This equals a period of 483 Biblical years.

2. This takes you exactly to the time period in which Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem and presented Himself as Israel's Messiah. Luke 19:28-44

3. Only His disciples (the little flock) recognized Him as the Messiah. The leadership of Israel refused to acknowledge Him as their Messiah. Luke 19:39-40

4. Jesus then proceeds to weep over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44) because they are oblivious to the fact that this day was the time of their visitation.

5. This was Israel's decision day, but as a nation they chose to cut off their Messiah which culminated a few days later in the crucifixion of their Messiah.

What happened to the last week of years?
1. Just like Daniel prophesied, Messiah was cut off after 69 weeks of years, but Daniel was told that 70 weeks were determined upon Israel, and after 70 weeks Messiah would bring everlasting righteousness and the transgression of Israel and Jerusalem would be finished.

2. We are also told that during the 70th week, a prince will come and make a seven-year covenant with many, but at the mid-point of the seven years he will bring an end to the temple worship and commit great abominations. He will eventually (within the seven years) destroy Jerusalem and the temple. vs. 27

3. None of these events happened in the seven years after the cross. Nor has Christ brought everlasting righteousness to Jerusalem or made an end of sins in Israel.

4. What happened to the 70th week?

Fourth, the 70th week of Daniel still awaits its fulfillment.
1. After Israel cut off their Messiah, God's wrath was supposed to come on the nation of Israel. Christ (the rejected King) would ascend to heaven and begin to make His enemies His footstool by opening up the seal judgments that would kick off the 70th week. Revelation 5-6

2. This was the prophesied program (Psalm 2), but hidden in God was a secret purpose that He did not reveal to anybody until the "due time."

3. Instead of bringing wrath on Israel, Christ appeared suddenly to the ringleader of Israel's rebellion (Saul of Tarsus) and saved him in sheer grace. Acts 9:1-9

4. He then revealed to Paul the mystery that He had kept hidden from the foundation of the world. There would be a time of unprecedented grace for the world in between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel.

5. During this time God would form a new creation, a new organism called the church, the body of Christ. Paul called it "the dispensation of…grace." Ephesians 3:2; Colossians 1:25-26

6. We are living in a grace time period in between Daniel's 69th and 70th week. The prophetic program for Israel has been temporarily postponed and suspended. The prophetic time clock has stopped.

7. Daniel's 70th week is determined upon Daniel's people - Israel. The body of Christ was not in the first 69 weeks, nor will it be in the 70th.

8. Daniel's 70th week will happen, and God will have a little flock to witness to Israel and the world (Revelation 7:4-8). God will complete the prophetic program.

9. But prior to Daniel's 70th week, God will bring this dispensation to a close by means of the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The body of Christ will take its place and fulfill its purpose in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:6-7).

The Rapture and the Boy Who Cried Wolf – Part 1

1. Remember the story of the little boy who cried wolf? He cried, "Wolf!" when there was no wolf so many times that people stopped taking him seriously. When the wolf finally did show up, it was a disaster.

2. I believe that the evangelical community has cried wolf so many times in regards to the Rapture of the church that there has been a serious loss of integrity. Many people fail to take us seriously because of how many times we've cried wolf.

3. Here is how it works - a world event occurs and the church cries wolf. They say things like, "The end is near.” “You better pack your bags because we are about to leave.” “It's ‘the signs of the times.’” “The fig tree is budding.” “It can't be long now."

4. This makes for good drama and sensationalism. It may sell books, it may work people up into hysteria, it may even guilt-trip some Christians to do what the preacher wants them to do for a little while, but in the long run it is destructive.

5. Let me provide two examples of this:

• The book "88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be in 1988" - Edgar Whisenant

• Brochure from church about the fig tree

6. I was thinking back through my years of ministry here at Crossroads and the different world events that led preachers and Christians to say that the end was near (Gulf War in 1990, Clinton's elections in 1992 and 1996, Israel's 50-year anniversary in 1998, Y2K in 2000, 911 in 2001, the war in Iraq in 2003, Obama's election). These are just a few.

7. I am so thankful that I have never jumped on the bandwagon of sensationalizing these events in an effort to get people to believe that the end of the world was near or the Rapture was sure to happen any day.

8. In this Bible Study, there are three biblical facts we will examine that would alleviate this foolishness and confusion if people would understand them.

First fact: We are living in the time of the mystery, not prophecy.
1. Your Bible can be broken into two major divisions - mystery and prophecy.

• The subject of prophecy has been revealed by God to his prophets since the world began. Luke 1:68-70; Acts 3:21, 24; 2 Peter 1:21

• In contrast to this, the mystery of the body of Christ was kept secret since the world began (Romans 16:25), and was not made known in other ages (Ephesians 3:9), was hid from ages and from generations (Colossians 1:26) until revealed to and through the apostle Paul (Ephesians 3:3).

2. It is amazing how many believers are ignorant as to these two distinct programs.

3. Who do these programs deal with?

• Prophecy deals with Israel and their relationship to the Gentile nations. This distinction is seen throughout the Bible. Example: Isaiah 2:1-5, 59:20-60:3

• The mystery is all about a new living organism that God has created called the body of Christ (Ephesians 2:14-16). In the mystery program there is absolutely no distinction between Jew and Gentile (Galatians 3:28; Romans 10:12). In the mystery program, God is not dealing with nations, but individuals.

4. God has two distinct ultimate purposes for these two programs:

• The earth would involve the subject of prophecy, that is, Christ one day ruling and reigning over a visible kingdom on the literal earth in Jerusalem, with Israel as the head, and the nations of the earth subject to Christ and the nation of Israel. Zechariah 8:20-23, 14:9, 16

• The heaven would involve the subject of the mystery, that is, a people whose citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), raised with Christ and seated in the heavenlies (Ephesians 2:6), and blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3).

5. When people fail to understand this great division of the Bible, they begin to do ludicrous things like set dates for the end of the present-day mystery program based on Scriptures and events in the prophetic program.

6. To tell the church that the Rapture could happen at any moment is absolutely right and should be reiterated. But to convince people that it has to occur soon based on a world event is subjective and very speculative.

7. People have been engaging in this kind of thing heavily for the past 60 years and we are still here and the Rapture has not occurred.

8. There are no timetables for when this mystery program called the dispensation of grace must end. Only God knows how long He will continue to extend this time of grace. It could be a day or a thousand years. God is under no time restraint.

• Trying to look at world events and determine the timing or nearness of the Rapture is an exercise in utter futility. The church needs to quit doing this and focus on preaching the gospel of Christ with the time we do have.

9. On the other hand, there are timetables for the prophetic program which we will discuss in the next point.

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