Is Jesus Return in the Rapture, Imminent? - by pastor Mike Taylor - https://pastormiketaylor.blogspot.com/2020/10/is-jesus-return-in-rapture-imminent.html
47 "The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.
48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 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.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 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." (1st Corinthians 15:47-54)
The above opening verses describe a reality that many of us will experience, I believe soon in this time of the end of this age. It describes the 'Harpazo" or the forceful removal of the church from this earth in a instant, or the twinkling of an eye. Some people just cannot wrap their minds around such a concept. Many don't believe what the Bible shows us to be truth.
Paul was the first to make this known to the world, as it had never been taught before Paul called it a "mystery" or something not revealed in the past. The prophet Isaiah approached the doctrine in chapter 26, when he described the coming of the Lord to those in his time period.
19 "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.
21 For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain." (Isaiah 26:19-21)
I've noticed that as you read Isaiah, much of the words the prophet writes lines up with the prophecy that John wrote in the final book of your Bible or Revelation of Jesus Christ. But until Paul fleshed out the concept and actually addressed the coming of the Lord for His church, then many people who read the Old Testament couldn't see what Isaiah was saying.
A FIRST CENTURY BELIEF
I've spoken of the doctrine that was believed in the 1st Century church but was squashed in the Middle Ages by the ruling theocracy of a "church" whose main goal was power and authority over other men. The doctrine was revived in the 19th century, as the Reformation gave men the ability to discern through God's Holy Spirit what the Words of God written actually meant. This doctrine was written for our time, not when it was written, as we are the last generation before Jesus comes again.
I've always believed that the Bible clearly teaches a Pre-Trib (HARPAZO) rapture of the church, not because I look for a so called "great escape" as some scoff, but because I embrace the belief that it is "Victory in Jesus" and that the church is not appointed to wrath that falls on this earth starting in Revelation chapter 6 all the way through chapter 19 of the destruction in Divine retribution of those who are in rebellion against Almighty God and God judges them as His patience has come to an end.
HOW CLOSE ARE WE TO THE COMING OF JESUS?
I use the word "imminent" in the title of this message...what does that mean? Definition is "about to happen"...an overhanging truth on the cusp of fulfillment.....Why do I think it is close to being fulfilled? As Jesus spoke in Matthew :
32 "Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." (Matthew 24:32-35)
Many people have been looking for the return of Jesus Christ, even from the first century, but down through the ages, even into the first of the 20th Century, one event had not happened, and was fulfilled in May, 1948 when Israel, "the fig tree" bloomed and became a nation again....THEN the time clock for the end of this Church Age began....Jesus said that "this generation shall not pass away" till all things be fulfilled. Then you ask, what is a generation? As Psalms 90 proclaims and man's generation to live is 70-80 years, and is filled with sorrow, then we fly away.
9 "For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.
10 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away." (Psalm 90:9-10)
Note that this year 2020, Israel is now 72 years old and we are pushing for 80 years. And if you look around you, and take to heart what Jesus said in that same chapter, you will see that world events are being fulfilled at "warp speed". How much longer will Jesus tarry before He comes for His bride as He promised all through your bible? I believe not long, hence it is "imminent".
The Bible clearly teaches a Pre-Tribulation rapture that puts the last days and the Tribulation into context that is consistent with the overall flow of Bible prophecy.
That is the only reason I teach and believe in the removal of God's church prior to the Tribulation as it makes no difference to me if someone else does not believe in the doctrine and embraces another point of view, as the timing of the rapture plays no role in our salvation. Of all the doctrines of the Bible, this one is hotly contested among "brethren" who do not believe what they read, or fail to discern the meaning of the Words.
We are saved by faith through grace and the person believes that He is coming again, as promised, and will keep all of the many other promises that are spelled out in your Bible, including being an Advocate before the Righteous Judge of all the earth.
The believers faith is in the scripture that I so love to quote and believed as a small boy that God the Father sent His Son into the world to save all who come to Him.
16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:16-18)
But,( there's that word) the timing of the rapture of the Church is central to the understanding of the overall BIG picture of the last days.
We are in the last days and it is a different era than the coming Tribulation period. The "last days" are used throughout the whole of the Bible in the context of the "Church Age" that we are now coming to the end of the period known also as the "Age of Grace".
It all began at Pentecost when the newly indwelt by the Holy Spirit apostles rushed from the upper room to the street proclaiming the salvation of God and the population thought they were drunk.
"Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But THIS IS THAT WHICH was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass IN THE LAST DAYS saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:" (Acts 2:13-17)(caps, my emphasis)
The last days that we speak of is the Age of the Church that we are living in and near at its end, whereas the 70th week of Daniel prophecy is called the "Time of Jacob's Trouble also known as the Tribulation. These are two different "dispensations" of God and it is central to the understanding of the times that we now live in.
The apostle Paul referred to this age, as the "dispensation of the grace of God".
2 "If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:
3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)" (Ephesians 3:2-4)
Paul called the conclusion of this present time the "Dispensation of the fullness of times".
9 "Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
10 That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ." (Ephesians 1:9-12)
DISPENSATIONS OF THE BIBLE
During our current dispensation, believers are indwelt by God's Holy Spirit as the Apostle John reminds us:
2 "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:
3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." (1st John 4:2-4)
Note the context of what John speaks of? The spirit of anti-Christ is already in the world, even in John's day, but this spirit cannot overcome the Church saints, because He Who dwells in us (The Holy Spirit) is greater than the spirit of anti-Christ.
But this same prophet, writing of the same Anti-Christ who will come in the flesh during the Tribulation will over come the saints says:
"And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to OVERCOME them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations." (Revelation 13:7)
Since the Apostle John wrote both passages, and they cannot be simultaneously true, the flow of the Bible is interrupted if the Church Age is concurrent with the Tribulation.
I've spoken of this in past messages, that if the 'Anti-Christ' is given power to overcome the saints, will he also be given power to overcome the Holy Spirit? Since John tells us that He (Jesus) had overcome the world, the Anti-Christ cannot overcome those who have God's Holy Spirit, but John tells us that he will overcome the saints. So the only explanation is that those who are saints in the Tribulation are not sealed with God's Holy Spirit and are not the church, but Tribulation saints. The Holy Spirit will still be moving, but each saint must guard their salvation to the very end as they will not be sealed with a guarantee of their salvation.
This is showing that God is not given the Anti-Christ power over Himself, the Holy Spirit of God. That leaves two possibilities apart from the Pre-Tribulation rapture in an analysis of the passage.
The first is that Jesus lied to us, that He would come to us and never leave us and we would always have the Comforter, that is until the tribulation comes and the Comforter would be withdrawn from the Church or the vessels He indwells and leaves them on their own to battle the Anti-Christ. Now we know that Jesus is God and does not lie, and He said He would NEVER leave us or forsake us. So strike that possibility.
The apostle Paul makes that clear that the Holy Spirit will be withdrawn back to Pre-Pentecostal manifestations on the earth, before the "WICKED' is revealed:
6 "And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (2nd Thessalonians 2:66-10)
The Holy Spirit is the power of God holding back complete evil overtaking this world, and He indwells each believer who has come to Christ Jesus and proclaimed by faith, their Savior. For when the Holy Spirit indwelled believers are removed, then Satan will be allowed to attempt to destroy all mankind and receive worship for himself.
For a pre-Trib Rapture to be a false doctrine means our generation was chosen out of all others in Church history to face the greatest spiritual trial the world has ever known -- without the Comforter that Jesus promised would indwell us until He comes. That is a biblical contradiction.
The second possibility is that John was either lying or mistaken when he said the spirit of antichrist cannot overcome indwelt believers.
In either case, the promises of Scripture are broken. Since we know that Scripture cannot be broken, and that Jesus never lied, as He was sinless, then the only possible explanation is that the Pre-Tribulation rapture is the Truth of God's Word.
THOSE WHO DON'T BELIEVE.
In all my years in the ministry, I have heard every explanation of why the belief in a pre-Trib rapture of the church is nothing but a "great escape" and scoff that it is a false doctrine. Those who misunderstand the clear meaning of God's Word have not had their eyes opened to the words of Paul as I have spoken of this great Mystery, that only Paul reveals the truths of "Grace through Faith" and the "Harpazo or rapture of the church" which until the Apostle Paul had never been spoken of in the Words of your Bible. That is why in each case, Paul calls it a "mystery" or something that had been hidden. I believe the One who opened the "mystery" to Paul was none other than our Lord Jesus when Paul was in the wilderness for 3 years being taught before he even showed himself to the other apostles in Jerusalem.
But, its opponents will spare no effort to 'prove' that it is a false doctrine, as if the timing of the Rapture were somehow of eternal significance. It is not.
The eternal significance of the Rapture is this:
14 "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 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:
17 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.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words." (1st Thessalonians 4:14-18)
POINT AND COUNTER-POINT
Now with these two opposite opinions clearly in view, let us try and pull this all together by starting with the Words of Jesus in Matthew:
3 "And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet." (Matthew 24:3-6)
Jesus warned that there will be one who comes in his own name and will deceive many, as most of Israel will be fooled:
"I am come in My Father's name, and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive." (John 5:43)
Even today, Israel has been looking for a "political messiah" much as they did in the time of Jesus that would rid them of the Roman occupation and today, to give them "peace and security" in their own land from their enemies that surround them. There will come a man, possibly soon, who will give them what they have been longing for, at least temporarily, and will receive him as their "messiah".
They have never believed up to this point that they needed a "spiritual Messiah" to save them from their sins, as they had the Law of Moses, even though we know the law kills and no one is able to keep the law perfectly. Jesus was the only "Man/God" on earth who ever did. It is why the Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah, as they were looking for a warrior King, much like King David to destroy the Romans. Jesus just didn't fit their pre-conceived notions of who their "Messiah" would be, as they needed a warrior, not a suffering servant who came to die for the sins of the world.
So if one looks at the coming Anti-Christ, should you be so unfortunate to actually see him in the flesh, then if he is standing on the ground, instead of meeting you in the air, then you will know that he is an imposter, no matter what magic trick he performs to attempt to deceive you.
In summary, the Pre-Tribulation rapture is NOT a "great escape" for the church, is is a necessary evacuation of the Holy Spirit's restraining influence and allowing Satan to have full sway of men and women upon the earth to deceive and destroy them. So since the Holy Spirit resides in each of the Church members, or the body of Christ as a deposit of future glorification, then with the Holy Spirit being withdrawn, so will every believer that has His Spirit residing within our spirit.
If you remove the doctrine and the removal of God's people from this earth in the coming rapture of the church, then the chronology of Bible prophecy is thrown into chaos.
Although the doctrine of the rapture of the church has no "salvation value" as we are saved by "Grace through Faith" not of works, lest any man should boast, it has no eternal consequences to anyone that they must believe in the Pre-Tribulation rapture. They can believe or choose not to believe in this doctrine, as it has no salvation attached to it. I find no particular need to convert a believer to my own understanding of the last days. BUT, I stress the doctrines, as those who have not come to faith in Jesus Christ will be faced with the coming horror known as the Tribulation and the even more destructive Great Tribulation that will destroy nigh 80-90% of all mankind. Prophecy is a great witnessing tool to those who are lost.
I believe those who are found in Christ, when the trumpet sounds and they realize that they are being taken to meet Jesus Christ in the air will be as I am, raising my hands and praising God, knowing that they have been wrong to reject the doctrine. I have people in my own family who fear the coming tribulation and what will happen to their children and other loved ones. Sadly, they have no blessed Hope of being removed from this planet before the wrath of God falls upon all who are left.
10 "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." (Revelation 3:10-11)
Our Risen Lord proclaims to the Apostle John when speaking of the coming Tribulation that He will remove each of us from this planet, not through the Tribulation as some believe, but completely away from the time and space of this coming event. I have proclaimed in the past of the Greek Word that tells us this in the phrase "will keep thee" which states to be forcefully removed from point A to point B away from the time period or place.
But those who fear the coming Tribulation who do not have the assurance that "we are not appointed to wrath".
8 "But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do." (1st Thessalonians 5:8-11)
Yes, my reader, Jesus is coming soon and will catch many believers asleep, and the whole world will wonder where millions of people have gone to. The left behind leadership will attempt plausible excuses and explanations of what has happened, but they speak falsely and attempt to blind the masses to the "snatching away" of the Church of the Living God who has been their blessed Hope.
11 "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Titus 2:11-14)
To re-emphasize I must restate that salvation is given by God as a gift of His grace. It is through faith in the finished work of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, when He shed His blood on a Roman instrument of death, the cross. His shed blood if full payment for our sins, and His resurrection is our guarantee of our future glorification to be just like Him.
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
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.
3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (1st John 3:1-3)
SO WHY TEACH THE RAPTURE?
But I have said all this to answer the question, "Why teach a pre-tribulation rapture of the church?" Because without this doctrine that draws the Bible's prophecy into a coherent chronology of events, then Bible prophecy has no context, as without it, it makes no sense. I believe God has been most clear in the concept of the removal of the Church and I warn those who are playing church, warming a pew, or use the church as nothing but a social event, have missed the message of salvation and are doomed to endure, or most likely die in the coming Tribulation.
Those whose eyes are opened by God's Holy Spirit feel the dread of being cast into the tribulation without God. And those who do eventually find God in the coming period of "Jacob's trouble" will most likely die a martyrs death. I warn those who are lost in their sins and have not made Jesus Christ, Lord of their life, changed their mind about God, repented of their sins, and asked Jesus into their heart and lives that there is coming a time that I would not want my worst enemy to endure. Not them and not you. The obligation to preach the Word of God in prophecy looking forward to the coming of our Lord for His Church and the beginning of the Tribulation is what I have been called to do. As a minister of Christ I can do no other.
Search your Bible, and be a good Berean and find out if what I have said is true. Ask God to lead you into all Truth...as Jesus said "Thy Word is Truth".
8 "But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:8-13)
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2nd Timothy 2:15)
We are to study diligently, as it is our insurance of not being fooled by false teachers or false prophets and succumb to end time deception that Jesus said would be a sign of our times. As a Watchman on the Wall, I plead with you to look to Jesus now, the Author and Finisher of our faith. The Harpazo of the Church, (rapture) is close, even at the door, as Jesus will someday soon burst through the clouds and cry with a loud voice "Come up hither".....WILL YOU BE READY?
This is Pastor Mike Taylor, praying you find Jesus before the Trumpet calls. If you need prayer, counseling, or just a listening ear, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, God bless you all.
TILL WE MEET AT JESUS FEET