What we believe about the future will directly impact how we live in the present. The Bible teaches that in light of the reality of the rapture…
1. We ought to be hopeful.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 says, “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.”
I’ll never forget the funeral of a good friend of mine who died a Christian. People were telling his mother “I’m sorry for your loss” and she replied right back with a smile on her face “My son is not lost. I known exactly where he is.” That’s the power of hope. It changes the way you both death and life.
As Christians (because of the reality of the rapture) we have a wonderful and glorious hope! You see, the Bible teaches a linear view of history. There was a beginning, a central event – the cross (and resurrection) – and there will be an end, in which God will bring His salvation plan to its glorious fulfillment. World events will not continue in an endless, unyielding procession. There is coming a moment when the present order will come to an end. In other words – the devastating consequences of sin will not continue to wreak havoc on us forever. Things will be restored to God’s original plan for us in due time. So when you see injustice, poverty, suffering, death, disease, war and pain….know that “this too shall pass”. Even in the midst of suffering and injustice we can be filled with joy because of the HOPE provided by the reality of the rapture. Before we know it, Jesus will return for us to be with him in heaven forever!
Secondly, the Bible says that in light of the reality of the resurrection…
2. We ought to be holy.
The awareness that Jesus will return should stir those of us who are Christians to right living. Ephesians 5:25-27 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” The word picture given in Ephesians 5 is that we are the bride of Christ. Sin results in a filthy, defiled bride for Christ instead of a pure and radiant one.
On our wedding day Kristin woke up and spent most of the day making herself look beautiful. She had her hair and make up done and put on a beautiful white dress and jewelry. Knowing that I would see her soon, she made herself beautiful. Well, knowing that we will see Jesus soon, we ought to make ourselves beautiful in holiness. We want to present ourselves without stain, wrinkle or blemish when Christ returns.
So in light of the reality of the rapture, we ought to prepare ourselves for his return through holy living. Titus 2:11-14 says, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Jesus died to set us free from sin. When he returns he doesn’t want to find us entangled with it. This is why Hebrews 12:1 says “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.”
Thirdly, the Bible says that in light of the reality of the resurrection…
3. We ought to be helpful.
After Paul finishes teaching about the rapture of Christ’s church in 1 Corinthians 15 he ends his teaching in v.58 saying “Therefore [in light of the reality of the resurrection], my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” As we learned last week, Jesus is working through his church to bring salvation to people far from God. And He expects us to be helpful towards that end. In other words, in light of the reality of the rapture, we must give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord. What’s the work of the Lord? According to Matthew 28:19-20 the work of the Lord is to make disciples – that is, help people become followers of Jesus. Leading people to Jesus is only something we can only do for a limited period of time. Once we’re raptured we can’t lead people to Christ anymore. This is why Jesus said in John 9:4, “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” We don’t have forever to win people to Jesus – we have a limited window that we must take advantage of.
Let me explain it this way. I mentioned earlier that in the Old Testament God commanded the Jews to observe a holy festival called The Feast of Trumpets (also know as the Feast of Ingathering). Let me tell you a little more about this sacred festival. This was a fall feast and in the fall the Jews were working in their harvest field. At the proper time, the high priest would blow the trumpet to gather God’s faithful from the harvest fields to the Temple for worship. What does this have to do with us? Well, as the high priest called God’s faithful from the harvest fields to worship at the Temple, so Jesus, our High Priest (Hebrews 3:1), will one day call God’s faithful from the harvest field (this earth) to worship in the heavenly Temple.
The Israelites reaped a literal harvest, but the church reaps a spiritual harvest of souls. Jesus said in Matthew 9:37-38 that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. He commands therefore that we pray, asking the Lord of harvest to send workers into his harvest field. The Bible is clear: In the church age (the age we are now living in), Christians are workers in God’s harvest field (the world). And we’re to keep working to win people to Christ until the trumpet call of God signals us to gather to the Lord to worship him in his heavenly Temple.
Do you see and understand therefore, that until Jesus returns for us, we’re to give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord – to winning people to Jesus. This is why God doesn’t take us directly to heaven when we get saved – because He wants us working in the harvest fields – that is, working in the world to harvest souls for Jesus.
So I ask you…
- When is the last time you shared the good news about Jesus with a friend or family member?
- When is the last time you invited someone to church so they could hear the good news about Jesus?
- When’s the last time you heard a good salvation message and sent a link to the video to someone you know needs Jesus?
- Who are you investing in relationally right now so that when an opportune time comes, you’ll have earned the right to share the gospel with them?
- Do you have a My Circle Card in your wallet or purse so you can be reminded to pray for people far from God?
- Have you participated in our New Day University group, where in Share 401 you learn how to effectively share your faith with your friends and loved ones?
- Have you found a place to serve at New Day? (This by far is the most effective way to lead people to Jesus) The local church is the hope of the world! God is the one who decided that salvation and the message of the cross be brought through the local church. A healthy Christian partners together with their local church to advance the kingdom of God in this world. My question is “Are you contributing or just consuming?” Contributors faithful pray for their local church, they faithfully serve at their local church and they faithfully give to their local church, so that the work of God can advance. Jesus is coming back and God’s wrath will be poured out on those who remain after his coming. God showed his love for the lost world by sending Jesus, and we ought to show our love for the lost world by doing everything in our power to advance the cause of Christ. Are you contributing? Are you helping? Or are you just consuming?