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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” I’m so glad that you joined us again today as we continue the series that we began last time, titled “The King is Coming.” Because as I like to emphasize, we should be looking forward to the return of Jesus Christ. Paul says, “There’s a special crown for those who love His appearing.”
As I emphasized last time, we’re not going to spend a lot of time arguing about the details of prophecy. You’re not going to hear a lecture on ten reasons why Christ is coming before the tribulation period— though, as we go through the text, I’ll be giving you some reasons why I believe that’s the case. But these are not the issues that we’re going to spend a lot of time with. I want you to be edified. I want you to look forward to the return of Christ. And I trust it’ll change our lives.
Well, if you have a Bible, the text is 1 Thessalonians 4. I’m beginning here at verse 13. Context: Paul taught the early church to look forward to the return of Christ. I don’t think most church planters today would do that but Paul did. So, some of the believers were asking this question, “Well, what about our friends who have died? They aren’t going to be around when Christ comes” and Paul answers that and assures them that everything is going to be okay. As a matter of fact, the dead in Christ shall rise first. But let me look at the text: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep (that is, those who have died), that you may not grieve as others who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen sleep.”
I‘m going to stop there for this reason—when a believer dies today, their body goes to the earth but their soul or their spirit goes to heaven; the personality goes to heaven. And there in heaven the soul, or the spirit, takes on the characteristics of the body. We can show that through the Book of Revelation where it talks about the spirits of those who have died, the souls of those who have died, are speaking. That’s why I fully expect my parents in heaven today are able to communicate with each other. They also communicate, of course, with the Lord Jesus Christ.
But Paul says that when the Lord comes in the Rapture (and we’ll l see how the doctrine of the Rapture is found in this passage)—when the Lord comes, He will bring those who have died with Him; their bodies will be raised from the dead and finally soul and body will be reunited forever. The friends that you have in heaven today do not yet have their permanent bodies. But they will someday. And so the text tells us that God is going to, through Jesus, bring with Him those who have died. The souls of those who have died. And then it says, “For this we know through the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, (it says) we who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not go ahead of those who have died. For the Lord will descend from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangels, and with the trumpet of God. The dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up.” I’ve had people say, “Pastor Lutzer, the word ‘rapture’ doesn’t even occur in the Bible.” Well, strictly speaking, it doesn’t, but that phrase “caught up”—”raptura” in Latin means to be caught up. That’s what the rapture is. And every Christian believes in the Rapture. The only dispute is does it happen before the tribulation? Does it happen after the tribulation? Is this event the very same as the return of Jesus Christ mentioned in Revelation 19? Those are the kinds of questions that are debated but be assured of this: if you are a believer you will be caught up.
I want to leave you with a thought today because many of you are going through physical ailments. I’m talking to people who perhaps are struggling with cancer, with Covid, or a host of other issues. All of our bodies are wearing down. Notice that there is going to be a resurrection. So I leave you with this: I want to give you the assurance that there’s nothing that you are enduring physically today, nothing happening to your body, that the resurrection won’t fix.
Please join me next time because we’re going to continue our study of the Rapture of the Church and then we’re going to go on to some other subjects in future sessions together. Be sure to let your friends know that we are having this study. Be sure to subscribe. And as for today, just go with God.