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A WARNING ABOUT THE RAPTURE

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, October 13, 2013
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

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


We cannot know the exact time of Christ’s return. Christ Himself said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36).

Yet there are many signs that show we are rapidly approaching the climax of history, and the return of Christ is near. Jesus said,

“When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Matthew 24:33).

Every “sign” seems to indicate that the coming of Christ is at hand. Dr. David R. Regan gave some of those signs.

1.  Signs of nature (Matthew 24:7): famine, earthquakes, plagues…

2.  Negative spiritual signs: false Christs and [false] prophets… (Matthew 24:24), apostasy and widespread heresy in the [churches] (2 Timothy 3:5; 4:1-4), religious and economic globalism (Revelation 17-18), persecution of [Christians] (Matthew 24:9-10; Mark 13:9, 11-13; Luke 21:12-19), outbreak of demonic and occult activity (1 Timothy 4:1).

3.  Positive spiritual signs:…worldwide evangelism (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10), understanding of Bible prophecy (Daniel 12:4, 8-9).

4.  World political signs:…wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6-7; Mark 13:7-8; Luke 21:10), the reunification of Europe (Daniel 2:41-44; 7:8, 24-25; 9:26).

5.  Accelerator signs: population explosion (Revelation 9:15-16), increase in knowledge (Daniel 12:4), increase in violence (Matthew 24:12).

6.  Signs of Israel: regathering of the people (Isaiah 11:10-12; Ezekiel 37:1-12), re-establishment of the state (Zechariah 12:1-6), etc.

(David R. Regan, Ph.D., “The Signs of Our Lord’s Return,” The Prophecy Study Bible, AMG Publishers, 2000, p. 1127).


We cannot know the day or the hour of Christ’s return. But the “signs” point to the fact that Jesus is coming, and He is coming soon! He said,

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

This refers to an event that theologians call the “rapture” – the catching up of real Christians to meet Christ in the air. This morning I want us to look at three major passages of Scripture that tell us about the Rapture.

I. First, the Bible tells us that true Christians will be raptured, caught up to meet Christ in the air.

Please turn to I Thessalonians 4:16-17. Please stand and read these two verses aloud.

“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” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).

You may be seated.

Notice that these verses do not say that Christ comes down to the earth. He will come down to the top of the Mount of Olives later. That is properly called the “Second Coming.” But the Rapture happens first. And the Rapture is described in those two verses.

Christ will descend from Heaven into the atmosphere above the earth. “The dead in Christ shall rise first” (I Thessalonians 4:16). The dead bodies of Christians throughout the centuries will be resurrected and caught up to meet Christ in the air. “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). Those who are truly converted to Christ will be “caught up” to meet Christ. In the Old Testament, “Enoch was translated that he should not see death” (Hebrews 11:5) and “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (II Kings 2:11). Enoch and Elijah are types of the Rapture, pictures of what will happen to real Christians when they are “caught up…in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” (I Thessalonians 4:17).

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).

“I will come again, and receive you unto myself” (John 14:3).

II. Second, the Bible tells us that the Rapture will happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.

Please turn to I Corinthians 15:51-54.

“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. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (I Corinthians 15:51-54).

“Behold, I shew you a mystery, We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” (I Corinthians 15:51). Dr. Criswell said, “A ‘mystery’ is a revealed truth which man cannot discern by human wisdom” (W. A. Criswell, Ph.D., The Criswell Study Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1979, note on I Corinthians 15:51). This is the “mystery,” the “musterion,” of the Rapture. It is a mystery because it is not something we could find out by human reasoning. It is a fact that had to be revealed by God Himself.

“We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed” (I Corinthians 15:51b). Not every Christian will die. “But we shall all be changed.” Those Christians who died, and those who are not yet dead, will all be “changed,” transformed, or made “different” (Strong).

“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” Dr. McGee said, “In the smallest particle of Time…in a moment, in a fraction of a second” (J. Vernon McGee, Th.D., Thru the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983, volume V, p. 80).

In that split second of time, Dr. Criswell said,

The dead in Christ shall be raised and glorified. Those who are still living will be caught up in the air and instantaneously changed to the permanent, undecaying, glorified body which is like the Lord’s resurrected body (ibid.).

The human bodies of Christians who have died, as well as the bodies of Christians who are still alive, will be transformed instantly into bodies like Christ had when He rose from the dead. We read in I John 3:2,

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (I John 3:2).

That is the Rapture, the great event Job prophesied long before Christ. In the oldest recorded book of the Bible, Job said,

“And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me” (Job 19:26-27).

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.”
(“Christ Returneth” by H. L. Turner, 1878).

And we shall behold Him,
   We shall behold Him,
Face to face, in all of His glory,
   We shall behold Him, We shall behold Him,
Face to face, our Saviour and Lord! Our Lord!
      (“We Shall Behold Him” by Dottie Rambo, 1934-2008).

III. Third, the Bible warns us not to miss the Rapture.

Turn to Luke 17:34-36. Please stand and read these verses aloud.

“I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left” (Luke 17:34-36).

You may be seated. I well remember this song from the late 1960s. The time of the Rapture is even closer today.

Life was filled with guns and war,
And everyone got trampled on the floor.
I wish we’d all been ready.
Children died, the days grew cold,
A piece of bread could buy a bag of gold,
I wish we’d all been ready.

Man and wife asleep in bed,
She hears a noise and turns her head – he’s gone.
I wish we’d all been ready.
Two men walking up a hill,
One disappears and one’s left standing still,
I wish we’d all been ready.

There’s no time to change your mind,
How could you have been so blind?
The [Saviour called, but you declined],
The Son has come, and you’ve been left behind.
You’ve been left behind, you’ve been left behind.
    (“I Wish We’d All Been Ready” by Larry Norman, 1947-2008;
       chorus slightly altered by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.)

I altered the chorus of the song. I changed the third line of the chorus from “The Father spoke, the demons dined” because I can’t quite figure out what it means. I changed it to, “The Saviour called, but you declined.” I think that makes more sense.

You see, that’s why you will be left behind when Jesus comes for “His own.” Jesus is only coming for “His own,” and no one else. If Jesus calls you to come to Him, and you decline the invitation, and will not come to Him, you will be left behind – because Jesus is only coming to Rapture “His own,” and no one else.

Those who decline His invitation to come to Him will not be ready, and will not be Raptured. I know that some otherwise good commentators say that Luke 17:34-36 and Matthew 24:40-41 do not refer to the Rapture, but they are wrong. I agree with Dr. John R. Rice, who said of these verses,

This [passage]…speaks we think, about the rapture…Here then will be a great division. Living saints will be changed, and the Christian dead will be raised. The Christian will be taken [in the Rapture] and the unsaved person left. Even in [the Rapture] of the saved, the unsaved will be left behind… Verse 34 [Luke 17:34] indicates that in some parts of the earth it will be night when Jesus comes: two people in one bed, one taken and the other left. Verse 35 indicates it may be morning in some places: the woman grinding the meal of the day, one taken and the other left. Verse 36 indicates that perhaps it will be midday or afternoon: two men in the same field, one taken and the other left…Christ…knew that it is night at one place on earth when it is morning at another and noonday at another. This Scripture clearly indicates the revolution of the earth, although it was not known then to people (John R. Rice, D.D., Litt.D., The Son of Man: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary on Luke, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1971, pp. 421-422).

That’s why the Bible gives a warning connected with the Rapture. Those who refuse to come to Christ, will not be ready, and will not be taken up to meet Christ “in the air” (I Thessalonians 4:17). They will be left behind – to face the horrible persecutions of the Antichrist during the Tribulation, and the horrors of the bowl judgments of Revelation 16. They will experience great pain and untold suffering – because they refused to come to Christ while there was still time.

Are you ready for the Rapture? If you say “no” to Christ you will not be ready. If you have declined His invitation to come to Him you will not be saved. You will not be ready when the Rapture comes. I therefore urge you to come to Jesus. He died on the Cross to pay for your sins. He shed His Blood to cleanse your sins in God’s sight. I urge you with all my heart to come to Him. The prophet Isaiah said,

“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6).

Seek the Lord while He may be found. May you do so soon. Time is running out for this world. The time is short.

“Strive to enter in at the strait gate [Christ]: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24).

“I Wish We’d All Been Ready.” Think carefully about the words as I sing it again. 

Life was filled with guns and war,
And everyone got trampled on the floor.
I wish we’d all been ready.
Children died, the days grew cold,
A piece of bread could buy a bag of gold,
I wish we’d all been ready.
There’s no time to change your mind,
The Son has come and you’ve been left behind.

Man and wife asleep in bed,
She hears a noise and turns her head – he’s gone.
I wish we’d all been ready.
Two men walking up a hill,
One disappears and one’s left standing still,
I wish we’d all been ready.

There’s no time to change your mind,
How could you have been so blind?
The [Saviour called, but you declined],
The Son has come, and you’ve been left behind.
You’ve been left behind, you’ve been left behind.
    (“I Wish We’d All Been Ready” by Larry Norman, 1947-2008;
        chorus slightly altered by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.)

If you want to speak with us about trusting Jesus, please leave your chair now and walk to the back of this auditorium. Dr. Cagan will take you to a quiet place where we can talk and pray. If you would like to become a real Christian, please go to the back of the auditorium now. Dr. Chan, please pray for someone to trust Jesus and be saved this morning. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: I Thessalonians 4:13-18.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“In Times Like These” (by Ruth Caye Jones, 1902-1972).


THE OUTLINE OF

A WARNING ABOUT THE RAPTURE

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

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

(Matthew 24:36, 33)

I.   First, the Bible tells us that true Christians will be raptured,
caught up to meet Christ in the air, I Thessalonians 4:16-17.

II.  Second, the Bible tells us that the Rapture will happen in a moment,
in the twinkling of an eye, I Corinthians 15:51-54;
I John 3:2; Job 19:26-27.

III. Third, the Bible warns us not to miss the Rapture, Luke 17:34-36;
[Matthew 24:40-41]; Isaiah 55:6; Luke 13:24.