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I BELIEVE IN THE RAPTURE!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, October 3, 2010

“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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:16-18).


I listened to Dr. J. Vernon McGee on the radio every day for over eight years in the 1960s. I have listened to him many times since then. I highly recommend his daily Bible studies, which can now be heard in English, as well as over 130 other languages(!), every day on the Internet (www.thruthebible.org). Every one of Dr. McGee’s daily Bible studies begins with the song, “How Firm a Foundation.” I love that old hymn from the Second Great Awakening. The fourth stanza has often been a comfort to many,

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
   My grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
   Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
(“How Firm a Foundation,” “K” in Rippon’s “Selection of Hymns,” 1787).

In many parts of the world terrible trials and afflictions are being experienced right now by faithful Christians. The latest issue of “The Voice of the Martyrs” (October 2010) says that in the former Soviet Union nation of Uzbekistan, a man named Aimurat “was severely beaten while awaiting trial in prison” (ibid., p. 4). He said, “My whole guilt is that I believe, and will continue to believe with all my heart, in Jesus Christ, and I will never conceal from anyone what I believe in” (ibid., p. 5). A pastor in that small country “remains in prison after being arrested at his home almost four years ago…[He] is not allowed to have a Bible or Christian books in prison” (ibid.). His fourteen-year-old daughter said, “In the beginning they told my father, ‘It’s better if you stop…all your ministry, and then we won’t touch you.’ But my father…continued to serve God. People continued to come on Sunday; then one Sunday they took him away. In the beginning of prison, he asked himself, ‘Why? I am serving God! Why just me?’ Then he [said], ‘Yes, Lord, you are testing me and I want to pass this test.’ I am proud of my father’s strength, that God gives him power. I am proud that my father is passing this exam…When I think of him, I think of a lion…he is so brave and noble. He is in prison because he is pastor of a church. I ask you to pray for him” (ibid.).

In another former Soviet country Voice of the Martyrs says that “For the past eight years, Baptist house churches have regularly been raided and fined” (ibid., p . 6). A third former Soviet country “banned the Bible, bulldozed Baptist churches and persecuted church leaders relentlessly. Still a body of believers estimated at about 1,000 perseveres, holding house church meetings when they can and growing in faith despite ongoing oppression” (ibid., p. 7).

The African country of Mali is 98% Muslim. When a young man became a Christian there recently…“his family beat him unconscious and threw him out of the house…Three months later, his family kidnapped him. They took him outside the city, where they bound him to a post and tortured him for six days. [He fled and] is now involved in Christian work” (ibid., p. 9).

In China, it was reported last July that a raid took place “…on a Christian gathering in Qi district. During the raid, officials detained 45 people and confiscated 23 Bibles…Meeting organizers were handed over to the Public Safety Department for education [brainwashing]” (ibid.). To read more accounts of persecution throughout the world go to www.persecution.com (click here)

Amid persecution, torture and imprisonment, thousands of Christians throughout the world have learned “…that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). To them the promise of the Rapture is very precious.

“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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words”
       (I Thessalonians 4:16-18).

The promise of this resurrection was given by Christ when He said,

“I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3).

During the 1960s I worked all day, forty hours a week, and went to college at night. I also spent every Friday night and all day Sunday working in my church. I had to use every spare moment to study and only got a few hours of sleep each night. During those long, dark, exhausting years I constantly thought about Bible prophecy and the Rapture. I was always comforted by “these words,” as verse eighteen says, “Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:18).

What a comfort to know that Jesus is coming from Heaven! He has been seated at the right hand of God the Father interceding for us in prayer. I doubt that any of us would be able to remain Christians during the trials and problems of this world if Christ did not pray for us!

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

But soon Christ will leave the right hand of the Father. He will “descend from heaven…and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (I Thessalonians 4:16). Then, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…we shall be changed” (I Corinthians 15:52). “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” (I Thessalonians 4:17). Caught up, raptured, to meet Christ in the air!

Oh, joy! oh delight! should we go without dying,
   No sickness, no sadness, no dread and no crying,
Caught up through the clouds with our Lord into glory,
   When Jesus receives “His own.”
O Lord Jesus, how long, how long,
   Ere we shout the glad song,
Christ returneth! Hallelujah, hallelujah!
   Amen, Hallelujah! Amen.
(“Christ Returneth” by H. L. Turner, 1878).

It’s number six on your song sheet, the fourth stanza. Stand and sing it!

Oh, joy! oh delight! should we go without dying,
   No sickness, no sadness, no dread and no crying,
Caught up through the clouds with our Lord into glory,
   When Jesus receives “His own.”
O Lord Jesus, how long, how long,
   Ere we shout the glad song,
Christ returneth! Hallelujah, hallelujah!
   Amen, Hallelujah! Amen.

“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” (I Thessalonians 4:17).

Sing the chorus of Dr. Rice’s song, “Caught Up Together.”

Caught up to greet Him together, together,
   Caught up with Jesus and never to part;
Changed in a moment to be with my Saviour,
   Caught up together and never to part.
(“Caught Up Together” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

The Apostle Paul went through great trials, persecutions and suffering.

“Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches”
       (II Corinthians 11:24-28).

How did he make it? What kept him going? I think a great deal of the answer is revealed in I Corinthians 15:58. After speaking about the Rapture in verses 51 through 57, Paul said,

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord”
       (I Corinthians 15:58).

“Therefore” (because of the hope of the Rapture) “be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Paul knew this by his own experience – if you keep Christ’s Second Coming in your thoughts, it will help you go through the trials of life!

Also, in I Thessalonians 4:16-18, he ends by saying, “Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:18). Paul undoubtedly knew this by his own experience. As he went through great hardships and terrible tribulations in his work for God, he himself was greatly comforted by thinking of Christ catching up all true Christians to meet Him in the air! Sing Dr. Rice’s chorus again!

Caught up to greet Him together, together,
   Caught up with Jesus and never to part;
Changed in a moment to be with my Saviour,
   Caught up together and never to part.

Now, may I ask you – do you have that blessed hope? Or does it seem like a myth or a fable to you? I know I didn’t believe it until Jesus saved me! Then, suddenly, I knew it was all true! Suddenly I knew that Christ was alive, and that He was coming again! In that moment everything came together. I knew Christ died on the Cross to pay for my sins. I knew that He had risen bodily from the dead. I knew He was coming back from heaven to Rapture the saved of all the ages. I knew He was coming for me – for even me! Hallelujah! Sing it again!

Caught up to greet Him together, together,
   Caught up with Jesus and never to part;
Changed in a moment to be with my Saviour,
   Caught up together and never to part.

How we pray that you will come to Jesus and experience a real conversion. Then you too will have great comfort in thinking of the Rapture, and be deeply motivated to live for Christ as you think about meeting him “in the clouds” (I Thessalonians 4:17). Sing hymn number six again.

It may be at morn, when the day is awaking,
   When sunlight through darkness and shadow is breaking,
That Jesus will come in the fullness of glory,
   To receive from the world “His own.”
O Lord Jesus, how long, how long,
   Ere we shout the glad song,
Christ returneth! Hallelujah!
   Hallelujah! Amen. Hallelujah! Amen.

It may be at midday, it may be at twilight,
   It may be, perchance, that the blackness of midnight
Will burst into light in the blaze of His glory,
   When Jesus receives “His own.”
O Lord Jesus, how long, how long,
   Ere we shout the glad song,
Christ returneth! Hallelujah!
   Hallelujah! Amen. Hallelujah! Amen.

While its hosts cry Hosanna, from heaven descending,
   With glorified saints and the angels attending,
With grace on His brow, like a halo of glory,
   Will Jesus receive “His own.”
O Lord Jesus, how long, how long,
   Ere we shout the glad song,
Christ returneth! Hallelujah!
   Hallelujah! Amen. Hallelujah! Amen.
(“Christ Returneth” by H. L. Turner, 1878).

(END OF SERMON)
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or you may write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015.
Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Corinthians 15:51-57.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Caught Up Together” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).