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Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life from the week ending 03/04/07
What it means to be initiated into the secret of the mystery. Part 52.
The Rapture will be the end of the age of no prophecy.

The doctrine of the Rapture of the Church is a vital doctrine to understand because it defines the spiritual life for Church-age believers. Believers that don’t believe in the Rapture can easily become involved in cleaning up the devil's world and trying to Christianize the world, forcing such things like the Mosaic Law and the Ten Commandments upon everyone. These things are blasphemous. The Mosaic Law was never given to Gentiles, DEU 4:8 “Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?” Israel was the client nation. ROM 2:14says For the Gentiles do not have the Law. The Mosaic Law was never given to the Church (ACT 15:5, 24; ROM 6:14;GAL 2:19). This is the fallacy of covenant theology. We have a higher code in the Royal Family Honor Code. The Church has no animal sacrifices, no Saturday worship, no specialized priesthood, etc. Codex three is the exception, since it belongs to the entire world especially when dealing with the military establishment.

So in our study of the Rapture of the Church, Point 1 is our Definition: While the Rapture is defined as being transported, Rapture is used here in a technical and theological sense for the resurrection of the Royal Family of God.  Since the Church or Royal Family of God is the first spiritual building to be completed, it is resurrected after our Lord. Christ is resurrected, ascended, and seated at the right hand of the Father as part of the strategic victory of the angelic conflict. This is known as our Lord's battlefield royalty. This is His only royalty with no family; therefore, God interrupted the Jewish-age with the Church-age to call out and provide the Royal Family of God. Once the Royal Family is completed, the Church is resurrected as the body of Christ to become the bride of Christ.

The Church-age is that period of human history when the Royal Family of God is being formed on earth (EPH 1:22-23;EPH 2:16; EPH 4:4-5; COL 1:18,24, 2:19). When the Royal Family of God is completed, the Rapture occurs (1TH 4:16-18;1CO 15:51-58). During the conclusion of the Jewish-age, called the Tribulation period, the bride is prepared in heaven by receiving a resurrection body exactly like that of the Lord. Then, the Big Genuflex, the acknowledgment of Christ (PHI 2:9-11).ROM 14:11 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God.” After that comes the Judgment Seat of Christ, when all Church-age believers are evaluated and rewarded, 2CO 5:10“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad..”

Point 2. Twenty-six Biblical principles that establish the Biblical position of a pre-Tribulational Rapture of the Church. 1) The great Tribulation is punishment for a Christ-rejecting world, and the nation of Israel, who rejected her Messiah, REV 6:12-17 “And I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. And the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?’”2) The nature of the Church, and the promises of Christ forbid the Church from going through the great Tribulation. COL 1:22yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.” The promise of Christ in HEB 13:5 “for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’”

3) There must be an interval of time between the Rapture and the Second Coming. This is when the Judgment Seat of Christ takes place and believers either receive or lose rewards (1CO 3:11-15, 2CO 5:10). 4) The scriptures which deal with the great Tribulation have particular reference to the Jew. MAT 24:1-9 And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He answered and said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” [He's talking about a Jewish Temple not a Christian church] And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what {will be} the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for {those things} must take place, but {that} is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are {merely} the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name [This is a reference to the Jewish nation]. In MAT 24:15-16, “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains;” The abomination of desolation has to do with Jerusalem and the Temple, DAN 11:31 And forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation. MAT 24:20-22, “But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath; [It says the Sabbath because we are talking to the Jews not to Christians, the Sabbath is for the Jews only, EXO 31:16] for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short.” In MAT 24:29-32, “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken, and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Now learn the parable from the fig tree [Israel]: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near;”

Who is the fig tree? In LUK 13:6 the fig tree represents the nation of Israel, And He {began} telling this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it, and did not find any.” So in MAT 24:33-34 “even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, {right} at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” So notice that the Sabbath is used (MAT 24:20). Jerusalem is trodden under (LUK 21:24). The Kingdom of God is near and at hand (MAT 24:14). But the Church is never mentioned.

5) The Tribulation is mentioned as a gross time of darkness, evil and sin, where none have faith (ISA 60:2; JER 13:16). LUK 18:8 “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” 6) Satan persecutes the woman in the Tribulation (Israel). The Church is not to come under condemnation (REV 12:1-4; ROM 5:9; 8:1; 1TH 1:10; 5:9; 1CO 15:55-57; 1TH 4:13-18). 7) The Church is not of the world (JOH 17:14;PHI 3:20; 2TI 2:3-4). The Church is a spiritual extension of Jesus Christ, with promises that are heavenly related (EPH 1:3; 2:6). 8) Christ is preparing a home for His body the Church, and has promised to return and to take His bride back with Him, JOH 14:3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, {there} you may be also.” 9) The Church has been promised deliverance from the wrath to come. 1TH 1:10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come. In 1TH 5:9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10) The believer is told to watch, have an attitude of anticipation, for the Lord's coming. If believers are to go through the great Tribulation they would be advised to watch for the signs of the prophecies of the coming of Jacob's trouble. Instead we have ROM 8:23And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” In 1CO 1:7 we await eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. In TIT 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; If there was no Rapture, why would we eagerly wait and anticipate the Tribulation period? 11) God has always protected His people in the face of judgment (Enoch before the flood, 2PE 2:6-8, Lot from Sodom and Gomorrah). 12) The instructions by the apostle Paul never include any preparation or warning that the Church will encounter the great Tribulation. 13) If the Church goes through the Tribulation then the Jews, as well as the Gentiles, of the Tribulation period would become part of the Church. After the Tribulation, the Jewish remnant would go into the promised earthly Millennial reign; but the Gentiles of the Church would be caught up to be with Christ in glory. Thus, the body of Christ would become dismembered. 14) The church at Thessalonia would not be concerned of any disadvantage of the dead in Christ if those who were alive had to go through the great Tribulation (1TH 1:4). 15) The message of the Church is the message of the Gospel of grace and peace which was secured at the cross by Jesus the Christ (EPH 2:8-10). The message of the great Tribulation is one of God's judgment (REV 7:4-8; 12:17; 19:10; MAT 24:14). 16) The iniquity of the anti-Christ cannot be released until the Holy Spirit, the restrainer, is removed with the Church (2TH 2:3-10 mystery of lawlessness). 2TH 2:3Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.” 17) The Church is called to pray for those in authority (1TI 2:2); if the Church was on earth in the great Tribulation why would those who come through the great Tribulation pray for the destruction of those in authority? (REV 6:10). In 1TI 2:1-2, we read “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” Yet in REV 6:10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 18) Christ's return for His church is unconditional, and He returns to heaven (JOH 14:1-3). The great Tribulation is conditional, and based upon the abomination of desolation (MAT 24:15-16). 19) Christ returns for His bride in the air and does not touch down upon the earth at the Rapture. He then returns to heaven (JOH 14:1-3). At the Second Coming He comes down to the earth. 20) The Bema Seat Judgment takes place after the Rapture. This is when all believers will be judged according to their works, whether it is wood, hay or straw, or gold, silver, and precious stones. This represents divine production in the Spirit, or works done in the flesh (1CO 3:12-15). 21) Time is needed for the Bema Seat, and the marriage of the Lamb, and His pure bride dressed in white, the Church. The seven years of the great Tribulation provides for this time. 22) The Rapture is a mystery and secret while the Second Coming is a world display of power. 1CO 15:51-58 “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” InREV 1:7 “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so, Amen.” 23) The Rapture comes at a time of false peace and safety, the promise of the anti-Christ. 1TH 5:2-3For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” 24) After the Rapture (Rev 4) the day of the Lord begins with the opening of the first seal (Rev 5). 25) The Church is never mentioned from Rev 4-19. 26) The 144,000 Jews from Twelve Tribes, the two prophets, probably Elijah and Moses, and the angel witness the gospel (REV 11:3). The Church is never mentioned as fulfilling her great commission during the great Tribulation. So the hope of the Church is the return of Christ at the Rapture, who will deliver them from the greatest outpouring of judgment in the history of the universe (TIT 2:11-13; 1TH 1:10; 4:18; 5:11).

We are living in very exciting times especially when you consider that the Bible gives many examples of the trends that would take place before the Lord comes back. Notice trends not prophecies; there's a difference. A trend is simply the general direction in which something tends to move. A prophecy is an inspired utterance of a prophet, viewed as a revelation of divine will or a prediction of the future, made under divine inspiration. While we are told that we will not know the time of the End, God obviously wanted us to know when that time was getting closer. As the Church is increasingly drawn into the interfaith movement, and as more and more churches go into isolation, preparing to sleep through the growing attacks on their faith, perhaps God knew it would take a few signs to wake us up and remind us that we have work to do.

There are at lest six signs given by The Lord Jesus Christ to indicate His coming and the end of the age: 1) False prophets and false Christ's (MAT 24:5,11). 2) Wars (MAT 24:6). 3) Famines (MAT 24:7). 4) Earthquakes (MAT 24:7). 5) Tribulations (MAT 24:8-9). 6). The Gospel will be preached throughout the world (MAT 24:14). In the United States Christians still enjoy freedom to worship God without suffering much more than ridicule, hatred, or discrimination at work and school. However in many other countries such as China, Sudan, many African nations, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Russia, and many Muslim nations, Christian suffer persecution and often times death for their faith.

There are two characteristics of the end of the age from the Apostle Paul: Godlessness in the last days (2TI 3:1-5,7) and Apostasy, falling away from the faith (1TI 4:1-3). There are twelve fulfillments of Bible prophecy required for the end of the age: 1) The existence of a 200,000,000 army in the East (REV 9:16). 2) Redevelopment of the Roman Empire, the European community (DAN 2:32-33). 3) Return of the one pure language, Hebrew, to Israel (ZEP 3:9). Prior to the restoration of Israel in 1948, Hebrew was a basically a dead language. Now Hebrew is spoken throughout Israel. 4) Rebuilding of the Temple, restoration of Temple worship and animal sacrifices in Jerusalem (REV 11:2; DAN 9:27). 5) Appearance of the red heifer after 2000 years (NUM 19:2-7). 6) Increase in knowledge and travel (DAN 12:4). 7) Return of the Ethiopian Jews to Israel (ZEP 3:10-11). 8) The rise of Russia (EZE 38:2,4,8). 9) Return of Russian Jews to Israel (JER 23:7-8). 10) Technology for the mark of the beast (REV 13:16-17). 11) Plans for the one world government. 12) Instant communication around the world (REV 11:3,7-10). The point is that all these things should cause us to become excited about the time in which we live. It should also cause us to invest in the kingdom of God and not the world controlled by Satan.

Point 3. The doctrine of imminence. Many signs were given to the nation Israel which would precede the Second Coming, a totally different event than the Rapture. This is so the nation would be living in expectancy when the time of His coming should draw near. Although Israel could not know the day nor the hour, they could know, through these signs, that their redemption is drawing near. To the Church however, no such signs were given. The Church is told to live in the light of the imminent return of The Lord Jesus Christ (JOH 14:2-3; Acts 1:11; 1CO 15:51-52; PHI 3:20; COL 3:4; 1TH 1:10; 1TI 6:14; JAM 5:8; 2PE 3:3-4).

Such passages as 1TH 5:6; TIT 2:13; REV 3:3 warn the believer to be watching for the Lord Himself, not for signs that would precede His coming. 1TH 5:6so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober-minded.”

So, if there was no Rapture of the Church, the many signs given to Israel would also be given to the Church! The multitude of signs given to Israel to stir them to expectancy would then also be for the Church, and the Church could not be looking for Christ until these signs had been fulfilled. We would be looking for world wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in several places at the same time (MAT 24:7). We would be looking for the regathering of Israel (Ezekiel 36-37). We would be looking for the Rise of Russia and her allies in preparation of fulfilling (Eze 38-39). For the increase in travel and knowledge, DAN 12:4“But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.” Although many of these things are around us and seem to be the signs of the last days, the Church is not told to look for these signs. These things are said to be the historical trends of the last days. Trends include all the scoffers who will come and criticize God's people (2PE 3:1-2), and the current moral breakdown in society (2TI 3:1-5). Some of those trends of moral breakdown during the last days are read almost every day in the newspapers: a rise in lawlessness (2TH 2:7-10), a rise in occultism and cults (1TI 4:1-5), and apostasy (1TI 4:1).

So the Church is to live in the imminence of the Rapture. Imminence means impending, or threatening to occur immediately; it does not mean immediately.
Imminency is used technically for the fact that no prophecy has to be fulfilled before the Rapture occurs, and the Rapture will occur when the last member of the body of Christ is saved. This is why the Church-age is the only dispensation in which there are historical trends and no prophecy. The Church age began with an event prophesied—the Baptism of the Spirit. Our Lord prophesied this in the upper room discourse and just before He ascended. The Church-age terminates with the Rapture, which was also prophesied. There is no prophecy between these two events. This is the dispensation of the mystery doctrine.

So, no prophecy between the Baptism of the Spirit and the Rapture means that the Rapture is imminent. It could occur at any time; no one knows the day or the hour. The resurrection of the Church, like our dying, is completely out of our control. Before the Second Advent occurs, there are prophecies which must occur, the Rapture, the events of the Tribulation, and this is the message behind Rev 6-19. Distortion of the imminence of the Rapture results in instability and foolish explanation or speculation about the time of the Rapture; hence, James gives us an admonition in JAM 5:7-8Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord [the Rapture]. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” Patience is a system of thinking Bible doctrine, a system of concentration, the application of doctrine to experience.

Every day of the Church-age, the Rapture is drawing closer. Remember that every day that the Rapture approaches, you still have control over your life as long as you live — in the sense that you can be a winner or a loser, and a winner believer lives as though the Rapture could occur at any moment.

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