THE RAPTURE
OF THE CHURCH

TRADITION AND THE RAPTURE




 
 

"..you make void the Word of God by your traditions.."(Mat.15:6)
 

Jesus spoke directly and clearly to the Pharisees about Tradition and what it causes. He reminded them that even though their intentions seemed honorable to them, good intentions pave the road to Hell. Paraphrasing Mat.23:27, ...you're as the graves on the hill, painted white on the outside, but full of dead men's bones on the inside.... 

The subject is the Rapture of the Church, but the Traditions concerning, and surrounding this event have resulted in confusion. 

Confusion is a tool the enemy uses to keep you from any truthful understandings or realizations. God reminds us that He is not the author of confusion in ICor.14:33

So why is there so much confusion about The Rapture, as an event, as to its timing, as to its scriptural reference and as to its significance to End Times?

Tradition is the answer. Because people have come, over the years, to place such value on tradition, the revealed has become veiled and the true meaning of God's Word is now clouded, and interpreted as meaning many different things to as many different people. However, God's Word was never meant to be unclear. 

Traditionally so and Scripturally so are not necessarily, nor usually synonymous.

Understanding God's word stripped of tradition is what's required to meet the challenge of demystifying or un-confusing the soon coming event known as the Rapture of the Church. 

 

TIMING AND THE RAPTURE

"...But of that day and that hour knoweth no man..." (Mark 13:32 & Mat 24:36)

This scripture is most TRADITIONALLY quoted in confirming that we can't know the timing of the Rapture of the Church.

Mark 13:32/Mat 24:36, has nothing to do with the Rapture of the Church! At the time, Jesus was explaining to his disciples [Jews] about the passing away of Heaven and Earth in relation to the longevity of His Word. Heaven and Earth do not pass away at the Rapture of the Church. That is what only the Father knows, when Heaven and Earth will pass away, when He makes all things new again. The Rapture of the Church is the event when the Body of Christ, both living & resurrected are called to Heaven, by the head of that body, our Lord, Jesus, the Christ.

In fact, all of the scripture quoted to tell us that we can't know the time of the Rapture, is really directed towards the second coming of Jesus, when He returns with the raptured saints to do battle with his enemies. The second coming and the Rapture are two separate events.

Jesus warned us that TRADITIONS make void the word of God.

 

SUBSTANCE AND SHADOW

"Which are shadows of things to come..."(Col. 2:17)

God spoke to us through prophecy, which is His Word. His word became the substance that casts a shadow of things yet to come in the future. When that word comes to pass, that shadow becomes fulfilled, and at the same time becomes a substance, casting its own shadow into the future. In this way, God demonstrates His way, of gaining entrance into OUR future, to be used for His purpose, in His time. That's why Paul, when speaking about the Feasts, which means, set times, tells us that they are shadows of things to come, but the substance is Christ. God is able to use the time that He sets, over and over again, throughout time, to accomplish the purpose for which He originally set that time. And, Christ is the substance of the shadow each time. God demonstrates that He is definitely a time setter.

As an example, in the Old Testament, God established the Feast ['set time'] of Pentecost, and the shadow is cast. The shadow of the Feast of Pentecost is the establishment of a 'set time', fifty days after Firstfruits for a new offering to be made.

In the New Testament (Acts 2) God uses that time, the Feast of Pentecost, to fulfill His set time again, but this time, the fulfillment takes the form of 'sealing' the Apostles fifty days after Firstfruits, and they went forth with the new offering, Christ (the substance). The new shadow cast into the future, from that fulfillment of Pentecost, is still a new offering, with Christ, still as it's substance.

When God has a need to 'seal' a group of people again in the future for like purpose, to make a new offering, with Christ as it's substance, the feast of Pentecost will once again be the Feast, 'set time', He will use. In Revelation 7:3-8, 12,000 from each of the tribes of the children of Israel, 144,000 in all will be 'sealed', for the purpose of becoming servants of God. Their mission, will be to bring a new offering, to the children of Israel, and the multitude left on earth, concerning the Gospel of the Kingdom, and again the substance will be Christ! God will remain true to His time setting, because the plan was laid down before the creation of the world, Pentecost will be the day of that 'sealing'.

In reviewing the other Feasts ('set times'), we find the following:

The Sabbath: Shadow cast - Rest. Christ fulfills the Sabbath, and now keeping holy the Sabbath, for the Church, is resting in the work of Christ.

The Passover: Shadow cast - Faith - Death - Salvation. Christ fulfills the Passover, as Faith (action based on belief, supported by confidence) provides salvation through His death.

Unleavened Bread: Shadow cast - overcoming corruption and evil. Christ fulfills the Feast of Unleavened Bread. He overcame corruption and evil. Then the bread is hidden for three days, and reappears on Firstfruits. Christ was hidden for three days and reappeared on Firstfruits.

Firstfruits: Shadow cast: Pledge of a full harvest yet to be gathered. Christ fulfills Firstfruits, rising on Firstfruits, the pledge of the full harvest yet to come - the resurrection and Rapture of the Church.

Pentecost: Shadow cast - New Offering made fifty days after Firstfruits. Christ fulfilled, He was the new offering.

All of the above Feasts, or 'set times', have been fulfilled by Christ and are also all shadows of the Church, also fulfilled by Christ. The Jews didn't accept Christ nor the church He started.

The remaining Feasts, Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles, not yet fulfilled by Christ, because they have nothing to do with the church. They are for the Jews, as Pentecost will be again, when the Church is gone. Then God returns His attention to the Jews, and on that day [Pentecost] returns the Feasts to them, in order that His promises to them might be fulfilled, and they will be, by Christ, after the Rapture. Pentecost is the day God used to give the fulfilled feasts to the Church, and He will now use it to give the unfulfilled feasts back to the Jews, in order that they may be fulfilled, for them, by Christ.

Using this same insight in relation to the Rapture of the Church we understand:

The Church, the ecclesia or out called ones (out called from the Wrath of God - pre-trib rapture), is the body of Christ, and at the time of the Rapture, that body of Christ will be called up by none other than Jesus, The Christ, the head of that body.

Has the Body of Christ ever been called up before? Yes, at the set time of The Ascension of Jesus, The Christ. The head of that body that is yet to be called up. Jesus' ascension cast the shadow into the future to foretell of the catching away of the Church. Therefore, The Rapture occurs in fulfillment of the shadow cast by Jesus Himself at His ascension --- His body called up in each instance. Again, the substance is Christ!

At this point the question becomes when did Jesus ascend? He died on Passover, was raised three days later on Firstfruits, and ascended forty days after that.

Therefore, God's timer for catching away The Church is set to go off forty days after Firstfruits, in a year when all the other elements pertaining to that time are aligned.

God never meant that the timing of the Rapture should be kept a secret, only that it be discovered and revealed in its time, as foretold to Daniel.

He is a God whose 'modus operendi' is to use sets times, and cast shadows, to identify things yet to come. His challenge to us is to seek and find, because all is revealed in His Word.

Just as the Church was withheld from the Old Testament people, and revealed to Paul at it's proper time, so it is with the Rapture. Had the Jews of the Old Testament accepted Jesus as the messiah, there would have been no need for the Church or the Rapture, so it's revelation was unnecessary until it's time. The Raptures timing has always been there. To say that it hasn't is to say that God's 'fail safe' plan, the Church, wasn't in place, but it was, just waiting to be revealed in it's time, if necessary. The plan was laid down, with all contingencies allowed for, before the foundation of the world, and once put into motion, it travels along it's own journey until completion. Now that we are so close, we have reached the time for it to be revealed to the world! Which leads us to believe that we are extremely close.

WAKE UP! Your redemption is even at the door.

The challenge then becomes ...which Firstfruits?

To find that out, just watch the signs of the times! As Jesus pointed out, you can tell by the signs when it's going to rain. All of the precursors to the "END TIMES" are clearly outlined in scripture. The prophecies are numerous, and have been addressed earlier in this study.

And, here is something else straight out of God's word, thus truth you can't deny.

 

WARNING! - WARNING! - WARNING!

 

GOD ALWAYS WARNS HIS PEOPLE!

Throughout Gods word are the warnings of future events. He never fails to Warn the people about what's coming. And as always, the events occur, and those who heeded the warning were saved in one way or another.

The events are always right on time and accurate in every detail.

That's because they were all planned before the foundation of the world, and executed the day He put His plan into motion. One has nothing else BUT to expect that what He said would happen, will happen!

And when it comes to End Times, as we have seen thus far, He is very clear, and as we will see ahead, very accurate in every detail.

But the subject here is the Rapture of the Church - an event in God's plan occurring at the end times. It occurs in end times because that's the time in the plan He concludes His covenant with the old testament people, the Jews, and the "lost" tribes of Israel. This is the ‘heptag', the 7 years in the plan that He reserved for Himself, to come and conclude the episode he began when He called upon Abraham to begin his long days journey into the future.

And the end that He has scheduled for those who led His chosen astray, and for those whose intention it is to rid the face of the earth of God and His chosen people, is called the wrath of God in scripture. The description in Revelations of what takes place keeps me in awe that I will not be subject to it, because of my Faith in the work of Jesus, the Messiah. Because God closes his covenant with the grafted on branch of the tree of the root of Abraham before He returns to complete the covenant made with the rest of the tree.

And the event scheduled which completes our redemption, the covenant made with the "body" of the Messiah, the redeemed, is the catching away. And as we have seen, God has that scheduled to fulfill the shadow cast at the first Ascension of the body of Jesus, the Christ, the final event in the completion of His act of redemption.

And you can bet your everlasting life, that as with all the significant events in God's plan, He left us a Warning sign for the Rapture of the Church.

The substance and shadow of the resurrection on Firstfruits reveals that to be so. Lets examine the truths that Scripture reveals concerning the warning sign of the Rapture - truth you won't be able to deny - because it's straight out of the word of God!

Firstfruits, the promise of the full harvest yet to come, is the day Christ rose. Casting a shadow of a set time for resurrections into the future, setting the stage for the return of Jesus, the Christ in the future. But, Matthew, in his gospel wrote, at chapter 27, verses 52 and 53, that on that day of resurrection, after Jesus rose, the graves were opened and, my bible says, "and many bodies of saints that slept arose, and, came out of the graves after the resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many".

Do you remember a while ago when I told you that, I asked you if you believed that. Well, now it's time to answer that question, because what this is saying, is that these risen saints are the shadow cast of the promise of the full harvest of the saints yet to come.

And, on that day appointed for the Ascension, Ephesians, chapter 4, at verse 8, that's scripture by the way, tells us that when He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, fulfilling that earlier prophecy made in Psalm 68 at verse 18!

That means that when Jesus ascended, 40 days after He rose, he took with him those saints who rose with him 40 days earlier, those that were seen by many in the holy city. They were the token, of the full harvest yet to come, just as the omer of barley (the flour) , made from the sheaf's of barley picked on Firstfruits, and waved before the Lord, was the token of a full harvest yet to come.

That's what Paul means when he tells the Thessalonians, in chapter 4 at verse 16 & 17, that the dead in Christ rise first, then we which are alive and remain are caught up together with them in the twinkling of an eye, to be with the Lord forever.

And in fulfillment of the shadow cast by that event on resurrection day, many of the newly resurrected dead in Christ, will be seen by many, just as they once were seen in the holy city

That is the warning sign God gave us to know that our redemption is only 40 days away! With Daniel's on the scene, there is much new knowledge, and the new knowledge of the meaning of the end time for the Church makes it abundantly clear, and makes one wonder how it remained hidden from us, while still in full view. Those verses of scripture have always been there - why do they have this meaning to us now?

Because Now is the set time in God's plan for the Church to be alerted to watch, because their redemption draweth nigh! He is making His final call - just as He told the Laodiceans that He's coming a knocking on the door for the last time, and alas, only 50% answer the door.

Knock, Knock, Knock, Hello, are you there?

 

THE RAPTURE
SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES

"...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..." (1Thes.4:16,17)

Paul, in his first letter to the Thessalonians in response to their questions is telling them that he would not have them ignorant concerning those who have already passed away. He tells them that the dead in Christ will rise first, and then those that are alive and remain will be 'caught up' together to meet the Lord in the Air. This is the Rapture of the Church both the living and the dead.

"...every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming"... (ICor.15:23)

Here, Paul is explaining three things: That Christ is the firstfruits of resurrection; That the they that are Christ's, are the dead in Christ of I Thessalonians 4:16, who, at the Rapture will rise first. And finally, the at His coming is in reference to Christ's coming at the Rapture of the Church, not His coming at the end.

"...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..." (ICor.15:51,52)

Here Paul addresses the 'living' of IThes.4:17 at the time of the Rapture, and tells us of a mystery of the dead and living being changed when we meet Jesus in the air.

Directing attention to the reason for Paul's 2nd letter to the Thessalonians, you find that it was to refocus them on the teaching that they (the Church) were the restraining force keeping back both the man of sin as well as the return of our Lord, at His second coming. When you examine the content of the first eight verses of the 2nd Chapter you understand that Paul is addressing three separate issues; The second coming of Christ (v.1), The Rapture of the Church (v1), and the revealing of that man of sin (the son of perdition) (v.8). He's reminding them that their concerns about being in the Great Tribulation are premature (v.5), because they are forgetting his teaching on the Rapture. As long as they remained they would be the restraining force and would remain so until they be taken out of the way (v.7).

In Revelation 3:8&10 God clearly identifies the body that will be Raptured. Speaking to the Church of Philadelphia He says:

"...I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name." (Rev.3:8)

And verse 10 continues:

"Because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth..." (Rev.3:10)

This is the promise to the true believers, represented as the Church of Philadelphia, that they will not go through the Great Tribulation, but will be Raptured.

"...because God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ".(IThes.5:9)

It is only the Raptured that are not appointed to wrath, confirming Rev.3:10.

Then Revelation Chapter 4 opens with John saying:

"...After these things, I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, "Come Up Here", and I will show you things which must take place after this". (Rev.4:1)

John now is shown the same open door of Rev.3:8 and when he hears the call to "Come Up Here" he experiences God's promise of Rev.3:10 to Rapture true believers.

These are some of the scriptural references that clearly demonstrate the Rapture of the Church as an 'Event'. We have addressed the Timing of the Rapture (40 days after Firstfruits), and next we will consider the significance of the Rapture to "End Times".

 

THE RAPTURES
SIGNIFICANCE TO "END TIMES"

By definition, "End Times" is specifically referring to the seven year period of Daniel 9:27 known as the 70th week of Daniel.

Daniel's prophecies were expressly directed at the Jews as a Nation, and Jerusalem as their Holy City. In the 27th verse he presents an overview of the beginning, middle and end of the final week, or last seven years that precedes The Second Coming of Christ.

By Definition The Rapture is the 'catching away' of the true believer in Jesus, as described in IThes.4:16,17, thereby fulfilling His promise that the Church was not appointed to wrath (IThes5:9), and completing the age of the Church.

The Rapture is significant to "End Times" because, the Rapture must occur before the identity of the individual, who confirms the pact, leading to peace for the Jewish Nation, can be revealed. This action (the confirming) also initiates a seven year long series of events that ends with the Second Coming of Christ.

Matthew, Chapter 24, has Jesus foretelling of the signs that would precede His second coming [not the rapture], and issues a warning concerning those future events. He instructs us to know that the end of Daniel's 70th week is "even at the door" when we see these signs happening. However, before it can end, at the second coming of Christ, it must begin.

Daniel clarifies the beginning of the seven year period when he says: (speaking of a future ruler from v.26). "...then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week..." (9:27). Here Daniel is referring to a 'pact' that a particular individual will make with the Jews and their adversaries, that bring them peace. It is the confirmation of this 'pact' that begins the seven year period, not the Rapture.

To grasp the significance of that event, we turn our attention to Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians to realize that the Rapture of the Church must precede the confirmation of the pact and the identification of the individual responsible for it.

"...And now you know what with-holdeth that he might be revealed in his time . 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 the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy him with the brightness of His coming...".(IIThes.2:6,7,8)

Paul is referring to the particular individual who is responsible for establishing the pact, that brings the Jews peace, as the lawless one, son of Perdition, Man of Sin. He is reminding the Church at Thessalonica that there is a 'Restraining Force' withholding the identity of this singular person.

'...only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way...'. (v.7)

They (the Church) are the 'HE' that is the restraining force and until they are Raptured this individual cannot be revealed.

By linking Daniel's and Paul's prophecies together we can understand that the significance of the Rapture to end time is the fact that the Rapture is the first event that must happen before the pact and the individual behind it can be revealed beginning Daniel's 70th week.

The fact is, the true believers will not see peace come to the Jews. They will only see the events leading to an eventual peace, but peace can't come until after the Rapture happens. And then, with the agreement on peace, the seven year clock begins to tick.

It is important to note that even though Paul is describing him as a man of sin' and 'son of Perdition', initially this individual comes onto the scene with an offer instrumental in making peace for the Jews. John describes him in Revelation, Chapter 6, as riding in on a white horse, carrying an unloaded bow, and wearing a crown of authority given to him in honor. It isn't until he breaks his covenant and turns on the Jews three and a half years later that he shows his true nature as the of son of Perdition (The Antichrist -- meaning Substitute, or false deliverer). That's when the Jews find out that they've been deceived, and why Jesus issues such a strong warning in Matt.24:8-51 concerning what this substitute deliverer has in store for them between the time he shows himself to be false, and the end, when Jesus returns in Revelation 19.

Also the Rapture has significance to these times because of the state into which the world has 'evolved'.

It is time that this generation becomes aware of the significance that scripture has placed on the Rapture.

We addressed what tradition has done to veil a clear and direct message, from several sources, that the Rapture is a coming event with a set time for its' occurrence. Then, we cited the pertinent scriptures, and placed them in the order that demonstrates: who will be raptured; in what order; how it will happen and why it will occur.

The Rapture is so clearly identified by God, that it becomes obvious that the confusion surrounding it is a deliberate attempt to hide it from those for whom it is intended. That's the result of tradition! God made it clear and easy to understand, confirming that He's not the author of confusion.

"...you make void the Word of God by your traditions..." (Matt.15:6)

You owe it to yourself, believer and nonbeliever alike, to be skeptical, and go find out for yourself. This is too important to overlook! The only way you can ever have Pistis (faith, the kind that God meant) is to take up His challenge yourself, and draw your own conclusions.

Two thousand years of accumulated Tradition has so confused the truth concerning Jesus Christ, that the knowledge and understanding of his promise of resurrection or rapture from ITh.4:16,17, has been hidden away. Is that the adversary at work or what!

 

Seek And Find

"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart". (Jer.29:13)

In this most important scripture, God challenges us to seek Him out, and assures us of the outcome if we do. Acceptance leads to finding He who lives in the fulfillment of His word as being His bond. Find Him keeping His word, and you've found someone you can trust ...someone to believe in ...someone in whom to have FAITH.

 

FAITH

"For by grace, are ye saved through FAITH; and that not of yourselves: It is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast". (Eph.2:8,9)

Salvation is dependent upon Faith and the channel to FAITH is by hearing the word of God.

"Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God". (Rom.10:17)

The word FAITH in English, by definition means belief. The Greek word is PISTIS. This word, chosen by God, has a more in depth meaning. PISTIS (Faith) is defined as an ACTION, based on a belief, supported by a confidence.

The meaning of having FAITH is the action you take, based on your belief, supported by the confidence you get when you accept the challenge, and do the seeking for yourself. The action becomes the confident acceptance of the unmerited gift of salvation, based on the beliefs acquired during the search conducted.

In this way one can truly live faith, because you have independently explored the subject to a level of understanding that permits your actions to be based on your findings.

The search begins where the word is left. In Scripture.


 

Jesus is Lord

 "God is not a man that He should lie, neither the son of man that He should repent, hath He said, and shall He not do ? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?"(Num.23:19)

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