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What glorious Bible themes are revealed to us in this short six verse text!

Let's study it verse by verse!

Better yet, let's study it word for word!

               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 A Preacher in his Study

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 THESSALONIANS 4:13-18

"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.  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.  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."

 

LESSON 1, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2005:

The doctrine of the Rapture of the Church has certainly been under attack for many years!

Today books (several a year it seems) are being written to refute this great truth of Scripture.

Is Jesus coming again?

I mean coming to "take us away" into the heavens, to snatch or rapture us into His Presence?

Many say "NO!"

It looks to me like the Bible says "YES!"

But ... even before we get to our Thessalonians Text ... let's ask ourselves a Bible question.

Is there any "hint" in Scripture of a coming "Rapture?"  I mean other than the John 14:1-3 or 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 or 1st Corinthians 15 Passages?

(By the way, aren't three Texts enough to validate any Bible doctrine?)

Today we shall view the Rapture in a "typological" sense.

By that I mean we shall survey the entire Word of God, looking for any "pictures" or "symbols" or some "foreshadowing" of this great coming Day.

Here are three of them:

1. One day a godly man named Enoch was "walking with God."  Then, Genesis 5:24 tells us ... "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him."

God "took" him!

That verb "took" (in Hebrew = "laqach") means to snatch!  To seize!  To fetch!  To take away!  It is occasionally used in the King James Bible of one taking a wife!

In fact, the first time the verb is used in the Bible ... "And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man" ... a man was getting a wife!  (Genesis 2:22)

Jesus too is coming ... to get His Bride, the Church!

Our God, if you will allow me the use of this term, "raptured" Enoch to Heaven that glorious day!

And that "rapture" occurred just before a terrible time of judgment hit the whole world, the "Flood" of Noah!

I see here a "type" or a "symbol" of the Rapture of God's people ... just before the onslaught of the great Tribulation period!

2. Once again this happened in 2nd Kings 2:11.  This time the subject was another godly man, Elijah.  "And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven."

Elijah "went up" (in Hebrew = "alah") by a whirlwind into heaven!

The verb means to ascend!  Or "to be taken up," those very words coming right out of a Hebrew lexicon!

Sounds like a picture of the Rapture to me!

The first time our word is found in Scripture (Genesis 13:1) we are told:  "And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south."

Here's a man "leaving" (Hebrew ="alah") Egypt, a "type" of the world ... journeying back to God's Holy Land!

Isn't that a picture of the Rapture?

Surely so!

3. Then came Jesus!

He, being God's virgin-born Son, lived sinlessly and died vicariously on the Cross of Calvary.  He shed His precious Blood that sinners might be saved.

After His successful death, burial and resurrection ... forty days later, our Lord stood on the brow of the Mount of Olives ... "And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight."  Acts 1:9

Mark puts it this way:  "So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God."  Mark 16:19

And Luke even supplies further detail.  "And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.  And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven."  Luke 24:50-51

Let's examine the verbs used here to describe Jesus' "Rapture" to Heaven!

"Taken up" translates "epairo," a Greek verb meaning (when passive ... as it is here) to "be lifted up!" 

Here is its first Bible occurrence:  "And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only."  (Matthew 17:8)  Isn't that exactly what will happen when Jesus comes?  We shall be thrilled with Jesus only!

Then Mark's "received up" represents the Greek verb "analambano."  "Ana," the prefix, means "up" in direction.  "Lambano," the main verb stem, means "to collect!"  To "take hold of!" 

Folks, it's a symbol of Rapture!

And every time but one, when this verb is used in the very form we have here in Mark 16, it is speaking of Jesus!  The one exception is found in Acts 10:16 where Peter's famous dream is being described.  "This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven."  Where did that vessel go?  To heaven!

I know a day is coming when some other "vessels" (Paul's picturesque name for Believers) will be "taken up" to Heaven too!

Then enters Luke's massive vocabulary!   In the Lucan account Jesus is "parted" and "carried up" to Heaven!

"Was parted" (in Greek = "diistemi") means "to be disjointed!"  To stand apart!  Or just ... "to depart!"

One day we too shall be separated physically and finally from this old sinful world ... and taken to Heaven to be with our Lord Jesus Who loves us so!  Once "diistemi" is worded as "space" in the King James Bible!  "And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean."  (Luke 22:59)  The Rapture sure will put some "space" between us and this old filthy world! 

And in Acts 27:28 "diistemi" means "to go a little further!"  The Rapture will do that for us also ... take us "further" ... into the very Presence of God!

Then ... "carried up."

"Anaphero" means to be borne by another ... upward in direction!  To be lifted up!  It is first used in Matthew 17:1 where Jesus "bringeth up" Peter and James and John to a high mountain, the Mount of Transfiguration!

Yes, this has rapture overtones too!

Today we've quickly viewed three accounts of men being literally "taken up" into Heaven!

If God can do that for one person ... can't He handle a whole group too?

A whole Body of Believers?

The New Testament Church?

Why, yes!

I am more convinced than ever!

The Rapture IS a Bible Doctrine!

Not just one taught in specific verse-by-verse paragraphs either!

But also pictured in types and symbols ... at least three times in the Holy Word of God!

And I suspect ... a whole lot more than just three times!

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2005:

One of the most often stated attacks upon the Doctrine of the Rapture of the Church is ... "That whole system of belief, the church being "caught away" into the air, is a relatively recent teaching in theological history." 

But, when the critics say that, they are wrong!

One woman, a liberal seminary professor, is now teaching that people like John Darby and C. I. Scofield (Scofield Reference Bible) "invented" the Rapture!

She too is wrong!

In fact, that woman is wrong on both on the "Rapture" Issue ... and about a hundred other things!

The Doctrine of the Rapture of the Church is NOT new.  It has not been around only since the mid-1800's!

"Hints" of it and "allusions" to it can be found in several existing writings of the so-called "early church fathers" and several ancient historians.

I will agree that few of them were advocates of the Rapture Position ... but they had to "name it" in order to combat it!  And their very naming of it proves that it existed in their day!

But ... think just a minute!

Any published fundamental Bible-believing material of antiquity was under attack!

The writings of such godly men were often confiscated and destroyed by "heresy-hunters" in the Roman Catholic Church.

They would not allow doctrines adverse to church policy to even exist ... if they could eradicate them!

Scriptural inerrancy, salvation by grace, blood atonement, the priesthood of all believers, and the premillennial rapture of the church all fell into this "forbidden" category!

You may rest assured that from the time of Scripture onward ... from Enoch's day forward ... the "Rapture" has been a viable doctrine of the Church!

The Blood-washed Church!

Many little groups, often meeting in seclusion for fear of persecution or death, believed and taught the imminent return of Christ Jesus ... His Coming in the clouds to "catch away" His Church!

Here is one of the enemy's attack methods.  I read it recently in a book questioning the Rapture. 

The author accused Dr. Cyrus Scofield, a leader in last century's fight for the Rapture, of being a "dubious character" who embezzled money and served a jail term and abandoned his wife and children!  These things, they said, occurred after his conversion!

Well, I have researched his life as best I can ... and I can't find a word about this at all!

His wife did leave him after he got saved ... because she rejected the Gospel and the Saviour he had come to so dearly love!

But that's not him abandoning her!  It looks to me like she abandoned him!

I am not saying by any means that these men were perfect.

They were sinners ... saved by grace.

BUT this process of attacking the messenger when you don't like his message is a tactic the devil often uses!

Yes, the Rapture Teaching of Scripture has been maintained and preached for centuries ... since it was first taught and pictured and dramatized in the Bible.

And ... folks, I believe it!

Jesus is coming again ... to get us!

How else can one explain these great words?  "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."  1st Thessalonians 4:16-17

                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2005:

Sometimes you can tell a lot about something or someone by the "enemies" he has!

This is certainly true of the Bible Doctrine called the "Rapture."

It is being mocked and ridiculed today perhaps more than ever before.

In my recent reading of "Rapture" related articles over the past few weeks, one group has been especially vociferous in their hatred of this blessed Doctrine.  The "liberals," the "theological liberals" of our land!

They are just NOT willing to cede the Rapture of the Church.

One reason for this is may be the fact that they do not believe in anything supernatural any more.  The miracles of the Bible are non-events to these people. They simply did not occur!

And needless to say, the Rapture as described in the Bible, will be a miracle!

The Lord appearing in the Heavens!  The Archangel's Voice!  The very Trump of God sounding!  Dead saints' bodies rising from their graves, being changed in a moment into glorified bodies!  And thousands of Believers yet alive on earth being "caught up" to meet the Lord in the air!

Yes, that's a miracle!

Here's another crowd that hates the Rapture:  Those who despise Israel!

You see, Rapture adherents have a strong reason to love and pray for the Jews!  The very timetable leading to the Rapture and its ensuing events connect fundamentally to the nation of Israel!

She (Israel) will be re-gathered in her Land!  She will be despised and abused by devilish creatures like the Anti-Christ ... along with his horde of anti-Semitic friends.  Then that nation, "the apple of God's eye," will come to the place of repentance (at Armageddon) and nationally trust the Lord God as her Messiah and Saviour!  Then for a thousand glorious years she will be the "gem" of nations, her Messiah physically ruling the whole world from her capital city of Jerusalem!  Go tell that story at the UN and see what happens!

Can't you see how a Jew-hater would have trouble with all that?

Here's another group of Rapture despisers:  The "politically correct" folks of today's wicked world!  They, after all, can't love Israel ... that would offend Arabs!  They can't believe in a rapture of the godly ... that would insinuate that others were wrong and sinful!  No, they can't accept Rapture beliefs! The miracles such a drastic Doctrine demands would offend the rationalists and scientists of our day!

Oh yes!  One more clique must be included!  Staunch Calvinists!  I mean the old fashioned hard-nosed "five-pointers" often (very often if they follow Calvin himself) hate the Rapture!  They will not accept it as a literal truth taught by Scripture. They DENY that 1st Thessalonians 4:16-17 and John 14:1-3 and other such Texts depict a "catching away" at all!  In fact, Calvin and his cronies really did not even believe in a literal millennium!

Well now, let me think!

Rapture haters include:  Liberals, Jew-haters, today's "politically correct" Sissies, and Strong Calvinists!

That's nearly enough information for me already!

Based on my Bible studies through the years ... I have decided to stick with the "Rapture!"

And when I see who is against it ... I just want to stick all the more!

I now like this great Bible Truth (the Rapture) for one more reason ... the enemies it has garnered through human history!

Now that's a new way of looking at it!

"Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, MONDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2005:

The Rapture Text we are considering, 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18, begins really with a word about death.

"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope."

The clause, "I would not have you to be ignorant," is used by Paul over a half-dozen times. 

This proves, among other things, that Paul certainly is a teacher!

The Greek word "ignorant" is a derivation of our English term "agnostic!"  It just means "without knowledge."

Paul longs to impart spiritual knowledge to His converts!  Really, they are Christ's converts ... but Paul led them to Jesus.)

Paul is here teaching them (and us) about saved people who have already died.

They are "asleep" in the Lord.  The word ""koimao" means to fall asleep literally, yet Paul here uses it as a picture of one who was saved ... but is now physically dead. 

Of course only their body lies there in the grave!  Their soul and spirit have gone to be with Jesus.  From the very second of death ... straight into Jesus' strong Arms! Here's how Paul words that:  "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord."  2nd Corinthians 5:8

Apparently several Believers in the Corinthians Church had died ... and obviously Jesus had not yet returned!

What would happen to the "dead in Christ" at the Second Coming?

Paul does not answer that question in this opening verse ...but he does quite soon, in this very same "Rapture" Text.

But here he does assure us that the "plan" God has for the dead in Christ will relieve our sorrows!

"Lupeo," the Greek verb for "sorrow," means to grieve, to be in heaviness or great emotional pain ... or just to sorrow!

The verb as used here is in the subjunctive mood.  Paul is expressing his desire or longing that the Thessalonians sorrow not over the deaths of their loved ones!

Why?

They have gone to be with Jesus!

And they are coming back with Him some day too!

I think Paul is not completely forbidding our tears at Mom's death (or whomever) ... but is telling us not to sorrow as others who do not know Jesus!

"No hope!"

That describes folks who are still lost in their sins!  See Ephesians 2:12 --- "That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world."

The Second Coming of Jesus in general ... and the Rapture in particular ... bring hope to the Christian!

Hope ... I shall see my dead loved one again!

Hope ... The reunion will be joyful!

Hope ... We shall; then be together for eternity!

Wow!

What a verse!

What a "comfort!"

"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope."  1st Thessalonians 4:13

What's coming next ... verses 14 and onward ... are exciting and edifying and very HOPEFUL!

Amen!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2005:

The Bible tells us that ... "There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."   2nd Peter 3:3-4

That noun, "scoffers," occurs only twice in our New Testament.  In its other location it is translated as "mockers!"  It comes from a Greek background ("empaiktes") and means one who "sports" or "jests" or "plays" as does a young boy!

These scoffers treat Jesus' Second Coming merely as a laughing matter!

Also their lifestyles are mentioned!

They live in "lust!"

The word ("epithumia") means sensual cravings!  Strong physical desires!

The likely reason this crowd does NOT want Jesus to come is this.  He would interrupt their wicked manner of life!  He would stop their fornicating and wild living!  Our Lord would judge their sin!

No wonder they refuse to believe!

"Where is He?" they ask!

We don't even hear the "promise" of His Coming!

This noun for "promise" (in Greek = "epaggelia") literally means a "message" or a "sermon" or an "announcement" from God!

The sad thing is ... they may be right in one sense!

In these last days there remains very little preaching on "His Second Coming!"

Where is the Promise, the Message, the Announcement of our Lord's victorious and literal appearance in the Heavens, calling away His Own Church?

Often it's heard far too little!

They reason like this:  "Since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."

"We're seeing nothing new," they declare!

No real increase in earthquakes!

Or hurricanes!

Or other "natural" disasters!

These things just follow natural "cycles!"

Don't be alarmed!  We're just on the "upswing" of such catastrophes right now!

Things will get better!

Of course, they tell us that there's no real increase in crime or wickedness either!

No nations are aligning to fit some end-time pattern for sure!

And "Anti-Christ," why that's a joke!

It's politics as usual!

Things have been going like this for all human history, "since the fathers fell asleep!"  Even "since the beginning of the world!"

Isn't that the very reasoning of today?

Yet ... in the very face of objective truth and many blatant facts to the contrary ... they are "willingly ignorant" says 2nd Peter 3:5.

The world does not want to acknowledge that Jesus is coming again!

His Presence would spoil their "fun!"

And maybe ... if those old fundamentalist Preachers were right ... even land all the wicked in a place called Hell!

Well, let me announce it one more time!

JESUS IS COMING AGAIN!

It will happen exactly like this:  "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."  1st Thessalonians 4:16-17

Are you ready?

Or ... are you going to go with the "scoffers?"

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2005:

In the fourteenth verse of 1st Thessalonians chapter four Paul reasons in a special way.

He takes a greater Truth and, having established that as concrete, proceeds to show how lesser Truths under the same "umbrella" must be accurate as well!

This is called reasoning from a Greater to a Lesser fact!

God Himself does this in Scripture.

The Holy Spirit prompts Paul to write:  "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"  Romans 8:32

See that? 

The Lord Who shared the GREATEST GIFT OF ALL, His Only Begotten Son, will certainly bestow the smaller gifts ... freely ... upon us all!

God the Father has saved us!

Will he not also meet our lesser needs?

Yes, He will!

He's going to safely take us to Heaven!

Can't He then safely take us to Church and back next Sunday?

Again, this is thinking from the Greater to the Lesser.

Now ... watch Paul do this in our Thessalonians "Rapture" passage.

"For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."

How many of you reading these lines believe that Jesus died for sinners?

And that He was buried?

And even rose again from the grave?

All of us Christians believe these three Truths!  In fact, that's the Gospel!

So ... if we believe that GREAT Truth; the Gospel ... the very Death and Burial and Resurrection of Christ Jesus ... then surely we can believe everything else the Bible says about Him!

For example ... that He is coming again!

That He is going to descend in the clouds!

That Jesus is then going to "catch away" the saints into the air ... to be with Him forever!

See the paradigm ("pattern") here?

Look at it again.  Remember now ... from the greater to the lesser:  "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." 

That part about those who "sleep in Jesus" being brought back with Him ... is very interesting!

Paul, in the previous verse of our Text, has been seeking to comfort those in Thessalonica who have had saved loved ones die!   They died ... before Jesus came back again, before the Second Coming!

What happens to them?

"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope."  1st Thessalonians 4:13

A Christian having fallen "asleep" is simply an euphemism for his or her having died in Christ!

And when a loved one who is a Christian dies ... he (specifically his soul and spirit) goes to be with the Lord ... even though his body is buried beneath the earth.

Paul explains this in 2nd Corinthians 5:8.  There he says that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord!

So ... when Jesus returns to rapture the Church ... just imagine whom He brings with Him!

The saints (souls/spirits) of the long since dead in Christ!

Their bodies, having been planted in the ground, will then (in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye) be raised (a vile body) and changed to a glorified body ... evermore to be with the Lord!

So, Believers in Thessalonica, be comforted!

Yes, your departed loved ones WILL take part in the Second Coming of the dear Lord!

They are returning with Him!

They will be reunited with their then glorified bodies!

And anyone still living, saints I mean, will (without dying) just be "caught up" into the air (being changed on the way) to meet our dear Saviour!

Now ... does that bring comfort?

Yes!

A thousand times, Yes!

Listen to Paul explain it from another context:  "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."  Philippians 3:20-21

So ... verse 14 is critically important to our whole Rapture Paragraph!

"For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." 

Now, if you do not believe the Gospel in the first place ... you will probably doubt that the dead in Christ are coming back with Jesus at the Rapture!

BUT if you do literally believe the Death/Burial/Resurrection of Christ ... then a simple little thing like transporting millions of folks from heaven back to earth in a split second will just not be a problem!

If He can do the GREATER thing ... He can handle all those lesser things too!

So reasons Paul ... under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

I say "Amen!"

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7, SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2005:

The Apostle Paul, in his great Text on the Rapture of the Church, claims authority for each word he speaks!

Listen to him:  "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."  1st Thessalonians 4:15

Today we concentrate on that first clause.

"This we say unto you by the Word of the Lord!"

The key root word visible here is "logos," which occurs two times!  Once it's a verb, then a noun!  ("Say" and "Word!")

We "say," translates the Greek word "lego."  It means to speak, with the emphasis on the content ... not on how it is communicated!  Our word is derived from a verb that means "to choose or select!"  Paul believes his words here are pre-chosen for him to use!  This is called Bible inspiration!  "Lego" and "logos" give us our English word "logic."  God has put much forethought into this verse ... before ever having Paul write it!  (This is so of ALL Scripture!)

The preposition "by" translates the Greek word "en," meaning ... with the dative case as here ... inside!  Paul describes himself as having been overtaken, overshadowed, consumed, engulfed ... by the Word of the Lord as he writes!  Wow!

And the technical expression "the Word of the Lord,"  which is spelled "logos kurios" in Greek, obviously means that God the Holy Spirit has authorized each word spoken!

I wondered as I studied these words, where else in Scripture is this formula used?

I mean ... "By the Word of the Lord."

Here are a few examples:

1 Samuel 3:21 --- "And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD."

1 Kings 13:1 --- "And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense."

1 Kings 13:5 --- "The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD."

And then Psalm 33:6 --- "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth."

See the authority and sheer power of God that phrase involves?

Therefore, these 1st Thessalonians verses on the Rapture of the Church, being so clearly authenticated as God-given, should be taken with great gravity and seriousness!

Hundreds, if not thousands of so-called writers and preachers and professors today are tearing apart the teaching of Jesus' Second Coming in the clouds to "catch away" His Church!

I say unto them ... be careful!

You may be adding to or taking away from the Word of the Lord!

Better yet, let's let the Lord Himself give the warning.  "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."  Revelation 22:18-19

If we are going to teach 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18, we had better get it "right!"

It IS the Word of the Lord!

To me the "clouds" mean clouds.

And "air" means air.

And "caught up" means caught up.

And "ever be with the Lord" means ... just what it says!

"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."

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8, MONDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2005:

Our verse for today is ... "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."  1 Thessalonians 4:15

Since we have already discussed the expression "the Word of the Lord," we shall especially notice the middle section and those precious words ... "that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord ...."

The point today simply being that Paul expected to be ALIVE when Jesus came back to "catch away" His Church!

Now I have read several times where some preachers vehemently believe that the longer Paul lived, the less he expected Jesus to return in his very lifetime.

These men teach that in Paul's earlier Epistles he says much about the Lord's Return, but later ... as an old man and with apostasy occurring all around and with persecution and imprisonment looming ... Paul rather taught other pertinent doctrines! 

Well, I believe these suggestions about the great Apostle are misguided.

Even in his later life ... he was still expecting Jesus!

Listen to a couple of things he said in 2nd Timothy, his last Epistle!

In writing to this young preacher Timothy, whom Paul knew would likely face persecution, he says ... "If we suffer (with Jesus), we shall also reign with Him."  (2nd Timothy 2:12)  Is this not a reference to Jesus' Second Coming? When He literally rules and reigns on earth?  When else will we literally reign with Him?

And in 2nd Timothy 2:18 Paul condemns two men, Hymenaeus and Philetus, for ... "saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow(ing) the faith of some."   Now here he is again talking about the Rapture!  This wicked duo was telling folks that Jesus had already come!  What confusion that brought!

And 2nd Timothy 3:1 warns us about "perilous times" that will come "in the last days!"  Isn't this about the Second Coming too?  That's an eschatological term, "the last days."

Then listen to 2nd Timothy 4:1-2a.  "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom ... Preach the Word!"  The Second Coming is sure highlighted here!  Preach, Timothy!  Jesus is coming!  He will hold us accountable for our ministries!  Preach faithfully the Word of God!

And near the very end, in 2nd Timothy 4:8, Paul reminds us of his expectation ... "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."  He just taught us to keenly "love" the Appearing of Jesus!  Such love will even be rewarded!

Five times in Paul's last Letter he mentions the Lord's Return!

He never got away from believing in ... and hoping for ... and preaching regularly the Second Coming of Jesus!

Now ... back to today's verse.  It definitely concerns the Rapture.

"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." 1st Thessalonians 4:15

Now I ask you ... was Paul expecting Jesus to come in his lifetime?

Read carefully again ... "we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord ...."  The great Preacher Paul fully planned on being alive when Jesus came to "catch away" His Church!  He was going to be among those who would be so "raptured!" 

I say his whole ministry, from the beginning (the Thessalonian Letters are early) ... to the end (2nd Timothy was last of all) Paul was a "Second Coming" man!

We too should be daily awaiting His Arrival!

Jesus, in Luke 19:13, put it this way:  "Occupy till I come!"

Amen!

                                                                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2005:

Today we continue verse 15 of 1st Thessalonians chapter four.

"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."

Men of God often are expected to speak words of comfort in times of sorrow.

Especially at funerals.

In a Christian service surely the most used Bible Texts are those about Heaven.

And of course that is fitting and proper.

However Paul took a slightly different approach one day.

I think he was answering a question from the Thessalonian Believers.

They were wondering what would happen to their dead brethren ... when Jesus comes to "rapture" His Church.

Those whose bodies rested in graves all over the countryside.

Paul answers that immediately!

"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." 1st Thessalonians 4:15

See that verb "prevent?"

It (in Greek = "phthano") means to come before!  To precede!  To go ahead of someone!

When Jesus comes to get us, as His Bride ... the Church, He will not get just the living Christians!  No!

Those who are "asleep" in Jesus, whose dead bodies have laid in their graves for years, will be involved in the Rapture too!

Now know this please.  Their souls and spirits have already gone to be with Jesus. That Trip was made the instant they died!  "Absent from the body ... present with the Lord" says Paul in 2nd Corinthians 5:8.

Remember when that saved man Lazarus died in Luke 16, immediately the angels carried him to Heaven, Abraham's Bosom! 

Saints go to be with Jesus when they die.

It's just their bodies that remain behind!

But at the Rapture ... even those shall be "changed" in a moment!

"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, iIn 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."  1st Corinthians 15:51-54

Their "vile" bodies will be raised and transformed!  The Lord Jesus is coming ... "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself."  Philippians 3:21

Grieving folks, take comfort!

That loved one you just buried will not be forgotten on Rapture Day!

Even the living saints will not get one inch off the ground until ... the dead in Christ rise first!

Then ... we all (the Blood-washed Believers) are going to meet the Lord in the air!

So "comfort one another with these words!"

Hey Preachers, I think we've just found another "Funeral" Text!

Tell them about what's going to happen down at the cemetery when Jesus comes again!

What a delightful place to be ... when Jesus comes to get us!

The local graveyard!

The living will not "prevent" the dead that Day!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

Lesson 10, Friday, September 21, 2005:

When it comes to the Rapture of His Church, THE LORD HIMSELF is going to handle matters!

Paul fully describes it this way:  "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."  1st Thessalonians 4:16-17

Notice those three words "the Lord Himself!"

He is coming!

Often when on earth Jesus delegated authority!

When He needed that little colt to ride into Jerusalem, He sent two of His Disciples to get it!  See Mark 11:1.

When He desired a room to be prepared for Passover, again two Disciples were dispatched!  Mark 14:13

And when a small tax bill had to be paid, Peter was sent fishing! 

Even when food was needed, Jesus sat by a well near Sychar ... allowing His men to handle the grocery needs!

He often used others to do various tasks!

Of course not everything can be assigned to others!

Some things are just too important!

And the Second Coming is one of them!

When time comes for the Church, the Bride of Christ, to be called Home ... the Lord HIMSELF is going to do the job!

Yes, He will allow Michael the Archangel to participate.  And a heavenly trumpet will also sound.  Even the saints now in Heaven will return with Him. But, again, the Lord HIMSELF will "catch away" His people!

This Rapture event must be critically important to God's Plan!

No, Peter is not coming back to get us!

Or even Paul!

Neither are Moses or Abraham or David!

THE LORD HIMSELF IS!

Here's another interesting fact I discovered this morning before daybreak. 

In searching for things only "the Lord Himself" has done or will do ... I learned that this exact phrase occurs only twice in Scripture ... at least in the sense of its being a promise!

Watch!

Isaiah 7:14 prophesies:  "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

Wow!

Then our Text:  "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."  1st Thessalonians 4:16-17

Wow again!

Do you see what I see?

THE LORD Himself promised to handle two Events!

His First Coming

And His Second Coming!

In His First Coming A Virgin gave Birth to the Saviour, a sinless Saviour, God the Son!   (Isaiah 7:14)

In the Second Coming a Rapture will occur!   (1st Thessalonians 4:16-17)

I guess the Lord knows what's really important!

Number one --- getting sinners saved!

Number two --- getting the Church home to Heaven when it's all over!

And for those two jobs ... only THE LORD HIMSELF is capable!

Praise His Name!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 11, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2005:

The Lord is some day going to "descend from heaven with a shout!"  Along with that victorious cry will be heard the sound of a "trumpet."  Today I would like to associate those who words ... "shout" and "trump."

This "Coming" of our Lord is known by thousands of fundamental Bible-believing folks as the "Rapture" of the Church.

"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."  1st Thessalonians 4:16-17

The word used here for "shout" is unique.  This is the only place in Scripture where it's found as a noun.  As a verb ("keleuo") it means to give a command! As such it occurs around two dozen times in the New Testament.  One lexicon defines the word as "a stimulating cry" designed to urge someone to action! 

The verb "shall descend" is obviously in the future tense.  Paul was looking forward to a yet future time.

And the word "trump" ("salpigx" in Greek) means a musical instrument that "vibrates."  The word is found in the New Testament 11 times ... nine times as "trumpet" and two times as "trump")

Put them all together ... shouts and trumpets and the Lord descending for His saints!

Now I saw something several years ago that might help explain this sequence of events.

I particularly mean the "shout" ... and the "trumpet."

Psalm 47 will be our focus for a few minutes.

It has historically been called the Psalm of Jesus' Ascension.

"God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.  For God is the King of all the earth: sing ye praises with understanding. God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness."  Psalm 47:5-8

The old Rabbis taught it this way. 

God is "gone up?"

Yes, at the Ascension of Jesus!

And with a "shout!"

Plus this event is accompanied by "the sound of a trumpet."

And the next thing we know ... "God (Jesus) is sitting upon the throne of His Holiness!"

Again, that's exactly what happened when Jesus ascended to Glory two thousand years ago!

Even to His sitting down!

When our dear Saviour ascended to Heaven, this immediately happened:  "The LORD (God the Father) said unto my Lord (God the Son), Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool."   Psalm 110:1

Now these observations lead me to say this:  If at Jesus' Ascension there was a "shout" and a "trump" ... little wonder that at His Second Coming (the Rapture) there will also be a "shout" and a "trump!"

God has elsewhere certainly told us that Jesus would return "in like manner" as He had gone!

"Men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."  Acts 1:11

This helps me to better understand a few of the particulars of His Return to receive His Church!

Yes, the Rapture will be accompanied by certain sounds!

I'll not soon forget the day I heard an old preacher say something.  I was just a teenager when it happened.  He said, "When it comes to the Coming of our Lord ... I've stopped looking for signs and started LISTENING FOR SOUNDS!"

That will be one series of sounds that will ring true in the ears of God's people!

Certain sounds of victory!

Paul once spoke of a trumpet giving an uncertain sound.  That could cause confusion!  Well, the "Rapture Trump" will be loud and clear!  So will the shout !

Amen!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 12, OCTOBER 24, 2005:

He is only mentioned a few times in Scripture.

I mean the Archangel.

Michael by name means "one who is like God!"

We read of him three times in the Book of Daniel, once in Jude and yet again in Revelation.

And he is mentioned by title only in 1st Thessalonians 4:16.

The prefix "arch" is derived from a Greek verb ("archo") that means "to be first" in rank or power!

"Arch" can also convey the idea of "the beginning," as in archaeology.

Michael as Archangel is supreme in power and rank among the other angels of God!  An "innumerable" group of angels I might add!  I am using the terminology of Paul from Hebrews 12:22.  "But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels."

As chief angel, we believe Michael is given special jobs or assignments from the Lord!

The Scriptures I've mentioned suggest three areas over which Michael has oversight!

He is often associated with the Jews.  He "cares" for Israel!  Daniel 12:1 is my "proof" text.  "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." Notice that Michael is plainly called "the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people!"

God loves Israel so!  She is "the apple of His eye!"  See Lamentations 2:18 for an example.

So ... our Lord puts the BEST, the Archangel in charge of Israel's well-being!

Secondly, Michael seems to be the angel especially endowed with the task of fighting the devil!

Once when Daniel was in spiritual conflict, intense battle, with an evil spirit known as the "prince of Persia," Michael was dispatched from Heaven to come aid in the fight!  And Satan was subsequently defeated!  Daniel 10:13 --- "But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia."

Here's another example:  "Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee."  Jude tells us about this incident! (Jude 9)  The devil lost that fight over Moses' body, too!

Michael ... Champion of Israel!

Michael ... Warrior against Satan!

Then ... what else is he to do?

What other critically important assignment yet belongs to the Archangel?

HE HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH GETTING THE SAINTS HOME TO GLORY!  SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH!

Again our verse ... "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."

See that?

The Archangel!

When it comes to calling us away from earth and to heaven ... only Michael is qualified to help!

Preeminently The Lord Himself ... and then Michael His helper, the Archangel come for the beloved Church!

How important is the Church to Jesus?

How important is a Bride to the Bridegroom?

How important are the branches to the Vine?

How important is the building to the Foundation?

How important is the safe exit from earth for the children of God?

Important enough for the Lord Himself to come!

Along with Michael His chief angel!

That's high-level work!

Every bit as significant as the safety of Israel!

Or as the defeat of the Devil!

The "catching away" of all Believers at the Rapture!

How thrilled we should be!

Malachi once called God's children "His Jewels!" 

Here's the verse I have in mind:  "And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him."  Malachi 3:17

Talk about being "special!"

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 13, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2005:

Today we must finish that great sixteenth verse!

"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."

We have recently learned that the "shout" that will accompany the Rapture has "military" implications!  "Keleusma" means an order or command given to arouse action! 

Then we learned that the "Archangel" Michael specializes in combat!  He fights FOR Israel and AGAINST the Devil ... and will be with the Lord when He comes to "catch away" His Church!  Michael is perhaps sort of a Body guard! 

Now today we read of the "trump" of God!

Often In Scripture the trumpet also has battlefield implications! 

Remember the trumpet sounds at Jericho?  See Joshua 6:5.

Or Gideon's trumpet in Judges 6 and 7?

But Jeremiah can prove my point with just one verse.  "My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war."  Jeremiah 4:19

As Paul describes the events of the Rapture, he frames everything in "soldier" terminology!

Now, that's just like the Apostle!

He writes to Timothy ... "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ."  2 Timothy 2:3

And he, in Ephesians 6, dresses us in "the whole armour" of God!

He warns us about the devil's "fiery darts" too!

Yes, the Christian life ... from start to finish ... involves spiritual warfare!

Little wonder then that, when the Church is called out of here, it is described in "military" terminology.

Perhaps you could say we are being "evacuated!"

"Rescued!"

Our Captain has determined that our "tour of duty" has ended!

It's time to go Home!

Fellow soldiers, let's await that glad day with joy and anticipation!

And in the meantime, fight THE DEVIL!

Fight, FIGHT, FIGHT, AND FIGHT SOME MORE!

Fight until you hear the "shout" and the "voice" and the "trump!"

The Rapture ... It's coming!

"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."

That's a promise!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 14, WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2005:

Perhaps never has the Doctrine of the Rapture of the Church been the subject of such ridicule!

More books than ever are being published to discount that blessed Truth!

Yet Paul plainly teaches that some day the Lord is coming again ... and He will take His saints away ... ever to be with Him!

"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."  1st Thessalonians 4:17

See the verb he uses?

We shall be "caught up" together ... to meet the Lord in the air!

The Greek word used here, "harpazo," means "to pluck, to pull, to catch or even to take by force!"

It occurs just over a dozen times in the New Testament.

Using our verb here, Acts 8:39 describes a miraculous event in Philip's life. "And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing."   Philip was "raptured!" Not to heaven ... but to another place of service for the Lord!

And in 2nd Corinthians 12:2 Paul knew a man (himself more than likely) who was "raptured!"  This time he went to "the third heaven!"  Read with me:  "I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth; such an one caught up to the third heaven."  Paul further explains in verse 4.  "How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." 

Our word "harpazo" is even used once of the Ascension of Jesus!  "And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne."  Revelation 12:5

The verb plainly means to be taken from one place ... to another!

Then to investigate the idea of its being a "forceful" removal, look with me at the following two verses.  I will capitalize the words that translate "harpazo" in the King James Version of Scripture.

John 6:15 --- "When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone."

Acts 23:10 --- "And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle."

The verb also has somewhat of a negative connotation in the New Testament as well!  Watch:  "Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house." (Matthew 12:29)  He will upset the whole house and take away the valuables!

Read also Matthew 13:19 --- "When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side."  Here's the devil, stealing the good seed!

And John 10:12, look where the wolf "catches" the sheep!  "But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf CATCHETH them, and scattereth the sheep."   Harpazo = catcheth!

Here's yet another place where "harpazo" implies less than noble intent: "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand."  John 10:28-29

Perhaps we are being taught that when Jesus comes to rapture His Church ... he will search and ravage this whole wicked world, looking for His Own children!  And He will not miss a one of them!  He will "pluck" them out of the devil's domain, this old wicked world!

He will "catch away" the good seed!

He will not overlook a single little born-again lamb!

And if this view is anywhere near accurate, there will be supporting Scripture to validate it somewhere! 

Well, read 1st Thessalonians 5:2 where Paul, under Holy Spirit inspiration says: "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night." 

Or notice Revelation 3:3, where the Lord is warning His Church at Sardis:  "Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." 

Here are two verses that say "as a thief!"  A holy sinless One who is returning to claim His Own possession, His Bride!  

Of course here our Lord's integrity is not being questioned!  He is sinless!

These verses are simply showing us the unexpected nature of the Rapture!

And the precious treasure our Lord is coming to retrieve!

And the fact that a perfect "getaway" has been planned!

And that it all could be compared to a "rescue" operation! 

Rescue?

Yes, I have saved one more "harpazo" verse to use now. 

Jude 23 says:  "And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh."

"Pulling them out!"

"Pulling them out" just before the "fire" of world-wide tribulation hits too!

That's the same Greek word as "caught up" in our Rapture Text!

Rescued!

Our Lord is coming to rapture us ... to catch us away ... to pull us out ... of this old wicked world!

Thank God for this Truth!

No wonder the devil hates it so much!

He is therein again defeated!

                                                                               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 15, THURSDAY OCTOBER 27, 2005:

Today we study two short prepositional phrases.  I've marked them here with all capital letters.

"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."   1st Thessalonians 4:17

The "place" where we shall be "caught up" to meet the Lord is described in two ways in this Text ... Paul's great Rapture Passage!

It is said to be "in the clouds."

The Greek phrase here, "en nephele," means "in, on, near or by" the clouds!  We have the preposition "en" used with a dative case object.

And the noun "clouds" ("nephele") ... in the exact form as used here ... is twice used in the New Testament.  Here's its other location:  "And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory."  Mark 13:26

Both Bible occurrences of "en nephele" have reference to the Second Coming of Jesus, one at the Rapture and the other at the Revelation!

Of the 25 total uses of "nephele" (or its derivatives) in the Bible, most are in connection with the Life and Ministry of Jesus!

And it looks to me like each use describes a literal cloud or clouds too!

Some Preachers tell us that the "clouds" here at the Rapture are clouds of saints, all rising simultaneously to meet Jesus.  This is possible, but you can't prove that by the grammatical definition of the word.  Although Paul in Hebrews 12:2 does mention a great "cloud" of witnesses.

At Jesus' Transfiguration, a "cloud" (a literal one) is involved.  This well may be the Shekinah Glory Cloud of God's Very Presence too!  See Matthew 17:5 and Mark 9:7 and Luke 9:34-35 too.

Jesus, often when preaching about His Own Second Coming, used "cloud" terminology.  For example, in Matthew 24:30 He says:  "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."  Jesus is also speaking in Matthew 26:64 and Mark 13:26 and 14:62 and Luke 21:27.  In each of these texts He mentions His Return in the clouds!

Even John in Revelation focuses on this truth.  "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen." Revelation 1:7

Even when the two martyred (then later resurrected) witnesses of Revelation 11:12 are "raptured" to Heaven, we are told:  "And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them."

The clouds certainly are significant in that future Event known as the Rapture.

Bear in mind, we have discussed three possibilities:  literal clouds, "clouds" of believers, or the Shekinah Glory Cloud of God's Presence!

Next Paul tells us we are to meet the Lord "in the air."   In Greek that's spelled "eis aer."  It means "into the air," the atmosphere above our heads!

When Jesus, earlier in the New Testament, spoke of the air, He often used the word for "heavens."  (As found in the expression "the fowls of the air.")

But here the Holy Spirit leads Paul to use the noun "aer," particularly the lower atmosphere rather than some point in outer space.

Jesus is coming closer to earth than we might think ... at the Rapture. Yet at that precise time His feet will not touch the earth itself.  That is reserved for a later time. 

Indeed the Rapture seems to convey the idea of miraculous flight, divine transport to the atmosphere above us ...to meet our dear Saviour!

And, lest someone fear this exodus, let me remind you it will be a "quick" one!  "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."  1st Corinthians 15:52

Saints, be ready!

Jesus is coming ...!

And we shall be "caught up" to meet Him "in the clouds!"

Safely being transported to His side "in the air!"

Then, for evermore, we shall abide "with the Lord!"

Praise His Good Name!

                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 16, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2005:

The last few words of our Text, 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18, are so encouraging!

Jesus is coming again ... to "catch away" His Church!

When He does, "So shall we ever be with the Lord!"

That little adverbial term, "ever," translates "pantote" in Greek ... "at all times!"

Once we are united with our dear Lord "in the clouds" and "in the air," we shall never again be parted from His Presence!

The verb "we shall be" is "esometha," the future tense middle voice  first person plural form of "eimi."  We shall eternally exist there ... where Jesus is!  The middle voice component suggests that we shall be impacted and influenced and changed by being with Him too!  I think so!  Living right beside Holiness Personified!

Even the preposition "with" is significant!  (As is every word of Scripture!)  "Sun" (pronounced "soon") means (with the dative case, as here) "in the company of!"

In Jesus' company ... for evermore!

It interested me to learn that those words, that "string" as the teachers call it, "with the Lord" occurs 19 times in the King James Bible. 

Only thrice in the New Testament however:

2nd Corinthians 5:8 --- "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord."

1st Thessalonians 4:17 --- "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."

2nd Peter 3:8 --- "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

It's first use in the Bible, Exodus 34:28 says:  "And he (Moses) was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments."

Deuteronomy 18:13 --- "Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God."

1st Samuel 2:26 --- "And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men."

Solomon, in  1st Kings 8:61, said to Israel:  "Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day."

2nd Chronicles 19:7 --- "Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts."  So said Judah's King Jehoshaphat.

And this one is beautiful!  Psalm 130:7 --- "Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption."

And Isaiah 49:4 declares:  "Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God."

Sounds to me like "with the Lord" is a great place to be!

Amen!

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 17, MONDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2005:

The last verse of our Text is a "key" to the whole Passage!

Paul writes:  "Wherefore comfort one another with these words."  1st Thessalonians 4:18

The first word in the sentence ... both  in the English and Greek Texts is "wherefore."  It ("oste") means "for the purpose of, in order that, with the result that, thus or therefore."

Paul is telling us the main purpose for his great Rapture Teaching in this Thessalonian setting!

Of course knowledge of the Rapture can do more than just encourage us!

It can educate us!

It can motivate us!

It can thrill us!

And so much more!

But here ... it can "comfort us!"

Some in the Thessalonian Church had apparently experienced death in their families.  Loved ones had passed away, obviously prior to the Rapture!  What would happen to them when Jesus comes again?

Paul answers those kinds of questions here.

And when we realize that no separation from a saved loved one is permanent, that Jesus is bringing them with Him when He comes, and that we shall be reunited with them in the air at the Rapture ... we can be greatly "comforted" in that Truth of God's Word!

Thus 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 is a GREAT Text of Scripture to use when sadness has come!

Even at a graveside or a funeral service!

"Comfort!"

That's "parakaleo" in Greek.

It means "to call" ("kaleo") someone "alongside" ("para") another to help them and uplift them and love them!

One old Greek Teacher said that the word is best illustrated by an often occurring scene during military combat!  The night before the big battle, the General appears! He summons his troops who just might be fearful and apprehensive.

He speaks to them of the power available for the fight!

The resources and the reserves and the strength of the King himself ... all solidly behind their efforts!

Then he promises them victory!

And reminds them of his presence, leading the charge!

The finally he leads them in a "cheer," many "cheers" in fact! 

"Cheers" and "affirmations" of a decisive outcome to tomorrow's warfare!

That's what "exhortation" means!

The General was being an "exhorter," a "parakletos," to his men!

And, in case you don't remember, "paraclete" is the very word Jesus uses for the Holy Spirit Himself!

"Paraclete" and "Comforter" are the same words!

Christians, we have every reason to be "comforted!"

Now in Latin "com" means with and "fortis" means strength or stamina!  In English, it's fortitude!

Praise the Lord!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

OUR PRAYER IS THAT THIS SERIES OF BIBLE STUDIES WILL BE A "COMFORT" TO YOU INDEED!

 

 

 

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