Sacred Promises, Hope of Meeting Jesus in the Air :: By Jonathan Brentner
Our hope and comfort during these perilous times start and end with God’s amazing grace. It’s all because of Jesus that the blessings of Ephesians 1:3-14 belong to us both now and forever. I love the certainty of verses 7-8, which point to the finishing of our salvation:
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence” (KJV).
It’s easy to get caught up in our glorious future and overlook God’s great plan of redemption that makes it all possible for us. The words of 2 Corinthians 5:21 never cease to astound me. Not only did Jesus bear the punishment for our sins upon the cross, but we become the “righteousness of God” at the moment of our salvation. Is this not the best news ever?
In the midst of describing salvation by grace alone through faith in Ephesians 2:1-10, we come across this wondrous outflow of God’s great love for us in verse 7:
“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (KJV).
Is it any wonder we long for the Rapture? It marks the beginning of our never-ending experience of God showering His kindness upon us. It’s got to be a whole lot better than our experience in this world.
As we watch the world grow increasingly violent and lawless, how do we know that the Lord will rescue us before the world feels the full weight of God’s wrath? What if we are not walking with the Lord at the time of His appearing? Will we still meet Jesus in the air?
1 Thessalonians 5:1-10 answers these questions for us. For those of us in Christ, it’s a passage that drips with God’s mercy and love toward us as New Testament saints.
More than that, these verses base our hope on sacred promises that flow directly from God’s lavish outpouring of His unfailing grace upon us.
- The Lord Promises to Rescue Us Before the Start of the Day of The Lord
The first assurance that Paul gives us in this passage is that the Rapture will occur before the Day of the Lord wrath descends upon this world. 1 Thessalonians 5:9 makes this clear distinction:
“For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The “wrath” Paul mentions in this verse is not that of hell but rather that of the Day of the Lord. In verses 1-3, Paul refers to the “sudden destruction” that will overtake the world at the beginning of this time of God’s wrath described by numerous prophets in the Old Testament.
The prophet Isaiah, for example, wrote of a time when much of the earth’s population would perish (13:9-12). Zephaniah says this about the coming day: “A day of wrath is that day, / a day of distress and anguish, / a day of ruin and devastation, / a day of darkness and gloom, / a day of clouds and thick darkness” (1:15).
The salvation that Paul writes about in 1 Thessalonians 5:9 is not that of our regeneration but that of our deliverance from this time of terror upon the world. Over forty years later, the Apostle John further described these “Day of the Lord” judgments in Revelation 6-18.
With all the fires purposely set to destroy homes and kill people, the catastrophic worldwide flooding, and all the rumors of pending nuclear war, some might be tempted to despair, thinking that Tribulation period has already arrived. That’s why the promise of 1 Thessalonians 5:9 is so encouraging. We know it hasn’t yet begun.
What we see today are precursors to the horrific Day of the Lord that’s ever so close. They tell us as believers that Jesus’ appearing is ever so close. They warn those outside of Christ that God’s fierce judgment on this world is imminent.
- The Lord Will Take All Believers to Heaven
What’s also so very reassuring is the second promise found in 1 Thessalonians 5:10, which flows from God’s grace, “…who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.”
This verse assures us that Jesus will not leave any saint behind when He comes for us. Let me explain how I arrive at that conclusion.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul distinguishes between living and dead saints. Because of this, many assume that he has the same distinction in mind in 1 Thessalonians 5:10.
However, the apostle has something else in mind with verse 10; the words he uses for being “awake” and “asleep” differ from those he uses in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. As such, they align much closer with the preceding verses that distinguish between those spiritually awake versus those asleep in their walk with the Lord.
The Greek verb Paul uses for “awake” in verse 10 is gregoreo, a word that denotes moral alertness. In 5:4-8, Paul uses the word along with that of being “sober” to portray the idea of temperance in our walk with the Lord versus that of drunkenness or carelessness. “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober” (v. 6).
Jesus used the word gregoreo in Matthew 24:42 and Mark 13:35 to signify watchfulness for His return.
The word Paul uses for believers who are “asleep” in 5:10 is katheudo. This word most often refers to someone who is physically asleep, not dead. Of the 22 times this word appears in the New Testament, it only once refers to someone who had died, and then Jesus used the word to refer to the girl He intended to raise from the dead. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Paul uses a different Greek word, zao, to refer to living saints at the time of the Rapture.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8, the apostle uses katheudo to designate believers who are asleep in their walk with the Lord (v. 6) and contrasts them with the sober saint, or the one who is gregoreo.
Based on Paul’s usage of the same words in the preceding context as well as in 1 Thessalonians 5:10, we know that His reference to believers that are “awake” and “asleep” is much different than 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. It leads us to this wonderful assurance:
When the Lord comes for His church, He will take all those who are alert spiritually as well as all those who are asleep in their walk with Him.
Because of what the New Testament tells us about the Judgment Seat of Christ and our rewards, we know it will be more advantageous for those whose lives have been characterized by spiritual alertness rather than living for themselves. However, the Lord will not leave either one behind to endure His wrath during the Tribulation. Being “in Christ” guarantees our heavenward journey when He appears.
I’m grateful that the Rapture didn’t happen during my past, times that I now deeply regret because of my lack of trust in Him and even my anger toward Him. However, I would’ve met Jesus in the air just the same with the immortal and imperishable body that He had given to me a brief moment earlier.
Are You Rapture Ready?
I will close the same way that beloved prophecy expert Daymond Duck ends all his articles on the Rapture Ready website: “Are you Rapture ready?
The sacred promises noted above apply to those in Christ — those who, through faith, have put their confidence in Jesus alone for the forgiveness of their sins and the receipt of eternal life (Ephesians 2:8-9).
1 John 5:11-12 points to Jesus as the sole reason for our hope of eternal life and thus our inclusion in the Rapture:
“And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
Jesus alone is the reason for our hope and the sole focus of our eager expectation of glory. On the night before He died on the cross for our sins, He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
If you have not yet put your trust in Jesus, please see my post, Jesus Is the Only Path to Eternal Life. In it, I explain how you can know that God has forgiven your sins and that you possess eternal life.
Please don’t delay; call upon Jesus while you may! Tomorrow may be too late. Yes, people will turn to the Savior and receive eternal life during the horrific Tribulation, but you don’t want to risk such suffering.
I provide a detailed defense of the Pretribulation viewpoint in The Triumph of the Redeemed-An Eternal Perspective that Calms Our Fears in Perilous Times. I demonstrate, using an abundance of quotes, that the belief in a thousand-year reign of Jesus dominated the church during its first three hundred years. The historic view of the millennium is a literal view of Revelation 20:1-10 that places it between the Tribulation and the eternal state. There’s no such thing as a “historic premillennialism” that denies a literal interpretation of this text.
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