1 Thessalonians 5, Psalm 17
Approximately 30 years ago at my medical school graduation I took the Hippocratic Oath and began my profession as a physician. It was at about the same time that I gave my life to Christ having read through the Bible for the first time after my mother's death. But it wasn't until around 10 years ago where I allowed my profession to become my ministry. It was then that I realized that I didn't want to give God slivers of my life, but rather wanted Him to infuse into every aspect of my life. A large part in that decision was making God's Word an absolute reality in my life. This week, a young man in our church died. It is impossible for any of us to fully comprehend the grief that his parents are going through unless they have gone through a similar event. But, they can be at peace with his current residence. As we read today about the Rapture and end times, we must realize that they will absolutely occur, the question is only where will people wind up. People don't have to believe in gravity either, but the moment they step off the top of a building they can continue to not believe it until they hit the ground and die. As a result, of this absolute reality, I share constantly with my patients and have devised a system of putting an asterisk in a circle at the top of their chart to let me know in following years whether I have already given them the gospel message. If it is there, I encourage, if not and the opportunity arises I look for an opening to give them the gospel message. When any of my patients die, I ask for their charts to see if I faithfully planted a seed or not. We can't necessarily prevent someone from dying, but we can be a factor in helping them choose their eternal destination.
We read a clear presentation by Paul about the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord." In John 11:11-13, Jesus used this same terminology referring to death as sleep. When Jesus told Martha in John 11:25-26, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die." Jesus referring to spiritual death was saying that anyone who believes in Him will never be consciously separated from God. Paul wanted to reassure those who were witnessing severe persecution, that those who were dying were in reality simply getting to their destination sooner, and they were not to sorrow as those with no hope. Though we will undergo persecution, those alive before the Tribulation will be spared the wrath of God. In Jesus' words to the church of Philadelphia, He says in Revelation 3:10, "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth." In chapter 5, Paul goes on to describe the inevitability of end times and how it will come upon the world like a thief in the night, without warning. But goes on to comfort them in 5:9-10, "For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him." The judgment of God will not come upon the earth until the Lord has taken His church out of here.
Before World War II, Japan and Germany called their ambassadors away from America and back to their respective home countries. So, too, before the Lord declares war on the sin of our planet, He will take us-His ambassadors-home (Jon Courson commentary page 1346). So, when the Rapture occurs, and we know that it will, what will be our fate and the fate of those we know. The word Rapture comes from the Greek word, "harpazo", which means "snatched away" or "caught up". There was a popular Christian book series called "Left Behind", highlighting the difficult lives of those left upon the earth after the Rapture. So as we live our daily lives: at home, at work, at the gym, on vacation, etc; what are we doing to influence those surrounding us as to their final destination. Are we more afraid of their reaction, angering them, etc., than loving them and planting a seed for eternity. We can't make anyone accept God's Word but we can make it available and help them understand it's reality. We can control our conversation and our opportunities, are we willing to make the most these.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: