Will Christians be around for the end times or will they be raptured out beforehand?
Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor of Renovation Church.
I rarely ever do this, but I need to communicate a few things to you before we start this morning. Usually we can leave this sort of stuff for announcements, but there were a few things I wanted to talk to you personally about this morning
If you’ve been here for any length of time, you’ve probably heard us talk about the work our church does in Haiti.
In just 3 and a half weeks, we will be sending a team of 23 people to Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
One of the things that’s really important to us is that our WHOLE church is involved in the arena of World Missions.
We, AS A CHURCH, want to make a difference in Haiti, the poorest county in the western hemisphere… not just our team of 23.
And we’ve wanted to give you a couple of ways to participate.
Firstly, a few weeks ago, we had 100 people from this church participate in packing meals at Feed My Starving Children.
Meals that went specifically to Haiti.
And now, secondly, we want to give you an opportunity to financially be a part of what our church is doing.
In a sense you already are, in that part of our church budget goes to missions…but there’s something special we want to ask of you.
Starting last year, we began a tradition of doing one special offering a year for our work in Haiti…
So…a special offering is not a normal occurrence here at Renovation
But it’s a way for you to feel like YOU TOO are making a significant impact in Haiti…even if you can’t go…this year J
Much of our work in Haiti is with a Children’s Home in Lizon…which is just north of Port-au-Prince.
It’s called a Children’s Home, not an Orphanage, because most of the parents of the children are still living.
They just dropped their kids off there because they could no longer feed them.
Last year, we boldly came before the church, and set a goal of $5,000 to help fill in the land in the middle of the property, because the middle was a major lowland, and thus flooded, and thus was a significant malaria risk during the rainy season.
Our church amazingly met that goal, and we were able to fill in the land for the children…and they had virtually zero flooding this year!
(Show “HaitiShovelingcopy” Picture)
This year, we would like to ask you to participate again in helping us make a difference in Haiti.
Our team will once again be going to the same Children’s home and working with the kids there.
We will also be helping bring the good news of Jesus to the community around the Children’s Home and helping people repair their homes that were damaged in the earthquake and never fixed.
Our Children’s Home has a significant problem though, and they need our help.
During Hurricane Isaac in late August, the back wall of our Children’s Home was severely damaged…
Then, during hurricane Sandy, which we know what happened in New York/New Jersey, but what people forget is that over 50 people were killed in Haiti before it hit the US
And while the Hurricane went through Haiti…it knocked down the back wall of our Children’s Home that Hurricane Isaac had already weakened.
And, World Wide Village, the organization we go to Haiti with, has informed me it is a pretty serious security risk.
In a neighborhood where not everyone has food, these kids are supplied, through World Wide Village, food every day, and of course are also vulnerable children.
Now without a wall to protect them, so anyone can walk in.
So we would like to build that wall for them while we are down there.
However, it will cost us around $3,000 to do so.
By the way, this is what the wall looked like before:
(Show “Haiti Back Wall – Before” photo)
This is what it looks lke now:
(Show “Haiti Back Wall – NOW1” photo)
(Show “Haiti Back Wall – NOW2” photo)
We would also like to give them a propane stove and other kitchen accessories.
When we were there last year, they were mostly cooking over an open fire…
(Show “Haiti Cooking” photo)
Worldwide Village has since built them a structure for a Kitchen
But we would like to supply them with a propane stove and other items so they can better prepare meals for these kids
Last year, we asked our church to boldly pray, give, and believe we could raise $5,000.
This year…in order to complete all of these projects…We would like to raise $6,000…in ONE DAY…next Sunday.
And I believe God can do that through our church.
That’s a lot of money for a church our size to raise, but we serve a big God. I know we can do it.
If everyone gives $20, we can do it. And some of you can give more.
(SHOW “Haiti TyeDye1” photo)
And here’s the cool thing. This is not just giving money to some huge organization for some random project. WE’RE going to do this.
For a Children’s Home that WE are invested in. Long term.
OUR team will LITERALLY be down there in 3 weeks, building this wall and installing the oven if we can raise the funds.
We will bring back pictures.
(SHOW “Haiti TieDye2” photo)
It’s a pretty amazing thing to be a part of as a church!
So, we are going to take a special offering NEXT week at the end of the service.
So, this week, be praying about how God might have you give to help change the world through Renovation Church.
We are currently in the middle of our “End of the World” series at Renovation right now.
The Mayan Calendar is going to end on December 21st, 2012, and thus a lot of people are oddly talking about the end of the world…
Even though, as we talked last week, the calendar has nothing to do with the end of the world.
But we figured, since so many people are talking about it…what a great time to really dive in and see…what DOES the Bible say about the end of the world??
If you’re visiting today for the 1st time…welcome…let me get you caught up to speed on what we’ve talked about in this series.
It’s kind of a different series for us…as often we are talking about things like relationships, how to grow in God, the stages of faith, etc..
Sometimes we really, really practical. Sometimes the messages are really targeted towards your heart.
However, this is a different kind of series. It’s at your HEAD. We are just really diving in to see what the Bible says about it
If you’re a note-taker type, this series is for you.
SO kind of a different series for us…but fascinating, nonetheless.
Last week we talked about some of the signs we can look for before the end times come, and also how Jesus tells us that we can not KNOW the day and the hour of when the end will come.
TODAY…we are going to start diving into the topic of what will the END TIMES actually look like??
And this morning, we’re going to specifically focus on the question of: Will Christians even be around for the end times? Or will they be raptured out beforehand?
First of all, what does that word even mean? RAPTURE. Maybe you’re not familiar with it.
The rapture is a theological concept that at some point, before the end times start, Christians will be “raptured,” (taken up) and disappear into the sky…and into heaven with Jesus…and then, the end times will begin
HILLS TO DIE ON
Before we get to looking at 2 different views about the rapture, I have to talk to you about what I would call “Hills to die on.”
Whenever we really study a Christian theological concept like this…this is an important concept to understand.
In Christianity, there are theological hills to die on…these are first order issues.
They are things that make you a Christian church…or not even Christian
Key doctrines of the church:
Jesus is God. The Bible is True. Word of God. Jesus resurrected.
Second order issues are things that divide denominations:
Gifts of the Spirit…Calvinism…
Third order issues are things that Christians like to debate about…but they don’t have as serious of consequences for the church
Like: Do we each have guardian angels…style of music… should you have women elders?...will we have mansions in heaven…how much water should you use in baptism…
Now…it’s not that these third order issues aren’t important, or that people don’t feel extremely passionate about them…
But the main thing they have in common is that one could pretty conceivably come up with 2 different views on them while looking at Scripture.
Whereas, you aren’t going to look at the Bible and come up with the idea that Jesus isn’t God
Or Jesus didn’t actually resurrect.
That’s a 1st order issue. A hill to die on.
Today…we are looking at a 3rd order issue.
So…I’m going to go over two different views people can have about the rapture.
And I’m going to give you my opinion on what I think the Bible says.
However…this…unlike maybe a lot of the other things we look at…is a 3rd order issue.
If you leave there today going…I think David picked the wrong side today…it won’t bother me in the least.
There are plenty of brilliant, evangelical Christians who think differently than me.
And plenty that think the same J
Okay, so with that being said…let’s get into the actual issue: Will Christians be raptured out before the end times begin?!?
Let’s look into this view: The theological name for it is: Pretribulation…because the rapture would occur BEFORE the tribulation.
It’s in fact, very popular in America and England right now…
In part…because of a fictional book.
A book that is part of a 16-part novel series, which has sold 63 million copies, and been a top the New York Times best seller’s list: LEFT BEHIND
Just out of curiosity, I know many Christians and non-Christians alike have read it…just out of curiosity…how many of you have read the book Left Behind?
Now a lot of people like pick on Left Behind because it does take some curious theological viewpoints at times…but Left Behind…of all books, believe it or not…has a special place in my heart.
I came to Christ over a period of 6 months, and the very last thing that happened was Lindsey recommened I read Left Behind.
And I wasn’t scared of the end of the world or anything…but it was where I first understood that being a Christian wasn’t about being a good person.
It was about accepting Jesus into my life and that he died for me.
And I first understood that…reading a fictional book about people accepting Christ in the end times.
Left Behind…if you’re read it…is a book that takes the Pretribulation stance.
That the RAPTURE comes before the end times.
In the book, the people are going about their daily lives, when all the Christians just disappear…and only their clothes are left.
They are “raptured” up to meet Jesus.
So why do people believe this? Where does it come from?
Well, people of the Pretribulation (or Pre-Trib) view point to passages like 1 Thessalonians 4
(1 Thessalonians 4:14-17) – NIV
14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
So it looks like believers who are still alive at the rapture will be “caught up together” with the Lord…
And that’s where the word Rapture actually comes from.
Also, people who are Pre-Trib point to the book of Revelation
(Revelation 3:10) – NIV
Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
So it kind of looks like maybe God is going to spare Christians from the end…and that they would be raptured up beforehand
They point to other Scriptures as well about God saving Christians from wrath (1 Thes 5:9; Romans 5:9)
There are a couple of other hallmarks about the pretribulational view:
They believe that there will be a rapture of the Christians, and then a 7 year end times period will begin (based on a prophecy in Daniel), and then at the end of the 7 years…Jesus will come back in full view (WITH the believers)…and will come to reign on earth in the millennial period (which will talk about in week 4 of the series)
So you have Rapture….7 years of tribulation…Jesus comes back
The Pre-Trib view really stresses IMMINENCE….if the first sign of the Great Tribulation is the rapture…then…it really could come at any time!!
The Pre-Trib View is also almost always held by a Christian Theological minority called the Dispensationalists
In short, dispensationalism theology believes that God relates to mankind in different ways under different covenants in different times
And one of the distinctives of dispensationalism is that the church era is the “parentheses” in God’s divine story.
The full story is really about His people Israel…and thus the Great Tribulation is when God’s people again become the people of Israel…because the Christians are raptured out…
So there is a heavy, heavy emphasis on the roles Israel will play in the end-times in the Pre-Trib view.
Let’s take a look at the other view.
And, while I believe one view is better than the other, remember…this is not a hill to die on issue. This is not something to split a church or a denomination over.
You can see both views in Scripture.
The other view is called Post-tribulation
And the idea is that the end times will begin…either for 7 years…or possibly for a longer amount of time, and then, at the end, Jesus will visibly come back to earth…Christians will be “raptured” up with him…only to be changed to their heavenly bodies…and then will reign on earth with him for 1,000 years (again…we’ll talk about that in week 4
So in this view…Jesus comes back only once (not twice)…and AFTER the Great Tribulation
SO thus…Christians WILL be around for the end times.
The wars, the anti-Christ…the earthquakes…plagues etc.
People who are Post-Trib point to Scriptures like Matthew 24. While talking about the end times, Jesus says this:
(Matthew 24:22) - NIV
22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.
Post-Trib people would say…Jesus is saying that he’s cutting short the end times (making it so that it’s not endless & unbearable) for the sake of his elect.
Which…in Paul’s letters etc…is always a term for Christians.
So it looks like they will be there in the End.
Pre-Trib people by the way would say…that Jesus is actually referring to the Jews here
Subscribers to Post-Tribulation would say that from the beginning of the church…when people talk about “Jesus coming back” they’re always just referring to Jesus coming back at the END of the End times
This is what people have always historically understood from these passages:
(John 14:3) – NIV
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
(1 Corinthians 15:51-52) – NIV
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
In fact, look again at that “rapture” passage in 1 Thessalonians…it doesn’t look like a secret rapture at all where people just disappear…and leave behind their clothes
(1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) – NIV
16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
There’s Jesus coming down w/ a LOUD command…Trumpet calls and everything! (Same thing in 1 Cor 15…at the last trumpet!
This doesn’t appear to be a secret rapture, but merely referring to what will happen at the end of the Tribulation period
If you’re looking for my opinion on it…J…I think the better interpretation of Scripture is that Jesus only comes back ONCE…after the Tribulation/ “EndTimes”
Nowhere in Scripture is there explicitly taught that Jesus comes back another time that is distinct from his return after the end is over
The postribulation response to Revelation 3:10 – the passage about God sparing the people from the hour of trial that will come upon the whole world…is that those were words, if you read them in Revelation, that were written to a specific church at a specific time…
And just because it says guarded (which is what the greek is), doesn’t mean they won’t be there.
PRE-Tribulation theology says that God would SPARE his believers from the Great Tribulation
But yet, TRIBULATION has been the experience of the church throughout the ages, has it not?
(John 16:33) – NIV
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
God doesn’t take us out of everything.
But yes, he does spare us from his wrath…which is eternal punishment.
But often, even in Biblical history…believers are sometimes guarded from the Tribulation…but not removed.
Think Noah on the ark…or the Israelites during the plagues in Egypt.
Here’s to me possibly the biggest kicker when deciding between this THIRD ORDER theological issue (NOT a hill to die on):
The concept of a “pre-tribulation” rapture…and thus the first view…wasn’t even talked about until the 1800’s.
So prior to the 1800’s NO ONE was pretribulational…because throughout the 1st 1800 years of Christian history and theology, no one even SAW this view in the Bible.
Now…that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not true…some other views took a little while to formulate theologically…but we’re talking 200-300 years here…not 1800 years of no one seeing it.
Every early church writer that you read has a POST-Tribulation view of the Bible.
Also…every early church writer always wrote that Christians would suffer in the end times…NOT that they wouldn’t be there.
And, what I also like about the Post-tribulation view, is I think it takes a more correct view of Scripture that Christians are the true descendants of Abraham (the beginning of the Jewish faith)
(Galatians 3:29) – NEW LIVING TRANSLATION
And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.
In other words, Christians are the heirs. When many of the Jews missed the messiah (Jesus)…Christians aren’t just a parentheses until the end times when the Jews come back to prominence.
The true Child of God…are those that belong to Christ by Faith.
By the way, there is one more view…that’s called Mid-Tribulationalism. It’s like Pre-Trib…it’s a 7 year, period…but the Rapture happens at the 3.5 year mark…and then jesus comes back again at the end of the 7 years.
However…it’s a minority, minority viewpoint, so it’s not worthy spending much time on.
But it is out there…
So what do we do with all of this stuff?? Besides just fill our heads with Biblical knowledge about the end?
Well, for 1…we dig into the Bible. My prayer in this series…is that all of this studying…causes you to look more into the Bible. There’s some amazing stuff in there.
And secondly, we LIVE…not just to study…but like this all is going to happen someday.
Maybe in our lifetime…maybe not…but maybe it will.
And if it is…if a rapture were to come unexpectedly…or the Great Tribulation was going to begin…
Then…how important would your hobbies be? How important would watching 3 football games in one day be? How important would Pinterest be?
But how important would it be that when this started to go down…that your friends and family knew Jesus?
It would be of critical importance!
I think we can honestly say it would be by far away the most important thing to us…and the first thing we probably would act on…when we started to see the Tribulation take place (which we will talk about what happens in the Tribulation next week)
But here’s the deal:
If that’s what we would most certainly do then…why not now? WHY WAIT??
What are we waiting for?
We don’t know when this will happen? WHY WAIT?
God has already put these people in your life for you to talk to.
I pray that He gives you NOW the boldness you would have at the end.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.