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Transcript: Welcome to “5 Minutes with Pastor Lutzer.” We’re continuing our series, entitled, “The King Is Coming” and as I have previously emphasized my goal is not to settle all the arguments regarding prophecy. Many believers disagree as to exactly the sequence of the return of Jesus Christ. I want to simply emphasize truths that really all of us should agree on.
Now, I am going to be mentioning the pre-tribulational rapture, but there are many who are post-trib and who hold it with the same kind of conviction. The reason that there are differences of opinion is because—think of a puzzle, there’s no one passage in the Bible on prophecy. There are numerous passages. So the goal is to take all of them, put them together in the best way that we can, and establish a sequence. That’s where the disagreement comes in. But let’s agree that there is going to be a rapture. I’ve had people say to me, “Pastor Lutzer, do you believe in the Rapture?” And I like to emphasize, and I mentioned this last time, that all Christians believe in a rapture. Here it is in 1 Thessalonians 4. Now, we’re going to go through this passage again because I want to emphasize that the apostle Paul is saying that when Jesus comes, in this coming (I distinguish this coming from His glorious appearing, which we will talk about in a later session together)—when he comes here, He brings the dead in Christ with Him. I explained how the souls of those who have died return with Christ and they are joined to their bodies.
But now notice: How is this going to happen? The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command. This is a “shout of command.” It’s like Jesus standing at the tomb of Lazarus and what does the Bible say? He shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus come forth!” I think it was Augustine who said that if He had not named Lazarus the whole cemetery would have arisen. Because, after all, He is the Lord of the dead. So there’s going to be a shout of command, there’s going to be the voice of the archangel (almost certainly Gabriel), but there are going to be lots of angels. It speaks about that in other passages. But the archangel is going to be shouting with a voice and with the trumpet of God. Now, in the Old Testament times the trumpet of God referred to the time when the trumpets were blown and it was time to move on. So this is now the trumpet of God.
I love what the text goes on to say. “We who are alive (if we are living during the time of the return of Jesus Christ), we’re going to be caught up (that’s “the Rapture”) and we are going to be with the Lord in the air.” We will meet the Lord in the air. What a wonderful imagery that is. Actually the words that are used here are used of a delegation going forth to meet the King. So here’s Jesus, returning in the clouds and we who are alive—we go up. Our bodies are translated into eternal bodies. The dead are translated into eternal bodies. All of those who know Christ as Savior. We are going as a delegation to meet the King. Imagine you’re just having a regular day in the office. It’s just another boring day and suddenly, as we’re going to learn next time, in the twinkling of an eye all of this is going to happen.
But before I leave you I have to say that there is a distinction between being pre-trib (that is the Lord returns before the tribulation, and then there’s another return at the glorious appearing)—there’s a distinction between that and those who believe that it’s all one event. Let me give you two reasons why I’m convinced of the pre-tribulation position.
Notice it says that “the dead in Christ shall rise.” Who are the dead in Christ? Was Abraham? Did he die in Christ? I don’t think so. “The body” of Jesus Christ was formed on the day of Pentecost. It is the church that Jesus is coming for. Now, Abraham is going to be saved and we’ll talk about that in a future session. But it’s “the dead in Christ.”
And then there’s the other reason. I want you to read this passage, 1 Thessalonians 4. But then go to Revelation 19, where Jesus comes on a white horse and takes vengeance on His enemies and ask yourself—are these two events the same? Or should we separate them?
Well, regardless of where you come down on that I want to leave you today with this thought: That we are going to be seeing Jesus Christ. Years ago I remember singing the song, “Face to face with Christ, my Savior, face to face—what will it be? When in rapture I behold Him, Jesus Christ who died for me? Only faintly now I see Him with a darkening veil between, but a blessed day is coming. When His glory shall be seen.” Today live and enjoy your life but do so with the return of Jesus Christ in mind. And as I like to emphasize, I trust that you will subscribe so that you will receive these sessions always direct. Tell your friends about it. And as for today you just go with God.