The Rapture!

One of the cornerstone doctrines of our Faith is the Rapture of the Church.  This is when, according to 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, Jesus Christ will “airlift” the redeemed from across the ages to be forever with Him.  The late Dan Ronsisvalle used to say, “It will not be an airplane ride, but a plain air ride!”  The Scriptures are clear.  This glorious event will take place “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:51).  This is called the Church’s Blessed Hope. 
Yet as a kid, I feared the Rapture because of my unhealthy theology.  During my youth, a popularly acclaimed Christian film hit the church scene.  Most of my Christian acquaintances gave A Thief in the Night raving reviews, but I left the theater greatly disturbed.  I remember thinking, “I don’t have a chance.  I’m not as holy as those people who disappeared!  Certainly, I’m not good enough to go in the Rapture.”  I’m not blaming the producers of the film, but I viewed it through the lens of fear and law-based theology.
My fear of the Rapture continued for several years.  The blessed hope became the terrible tormentor.  The Scriptures tell us that “the trumpet will sound and the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). 
During my boyhood, my family lived seven miles south of Ashtabula Harbor.  Distant train whistles and ship foghorns penetrated the still summer nights and I can remember lying in bed crying – afraid that I missed the Rapture.   That’s how tormented I was.  It was wonderful when later I saw godly people and realized I had not been left behind.
Subsequently, a sermon on the “Catching Away” was the catalyst the Holy Spirit used to bring me under conviction and to saving grace!   It was Tuesday, August 4, 1970.  The late Donald Schorsch used as his text,  “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
He painted wonderful word pictures when he preached.  I “saw” Jesus stepping down on a cloud, as those who died in Christ rose from their graves.  Then we who were alive on earth joined them in the clouds.  I “saw” teeming masses of people “caught up.”  I “heard” the trumpet blast.  I was SO READY to give my life to Christ.  I couldn’t wait for him to quit preaching and to give the invitation to accept Christ.  That night, I became “Rapture-Ready!”
I still love to hear preaching on the Rapture.  It never grows old!   During difficult days, the Holy Spirit reminds me that Jesus is coming again!  “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).  I’ll see you on the way up.  Get ready.  It could happen today!



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