Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 4 * BOOK 11
THE ANTI-CHRIST: DEPARTURE: ESCAPING REMNANTS
Let’s jump ahead of prophecy a little bit. We have had so many requests to teach the Rapture of the Church. Many people have been waiting a long time for this, but I didn’t want to jump the gun and come in and teach the Rapture until some of the other things had been laid out correctly. We will begin in I Corinthians Chapter 15. Now, I am well aware of the fact, the word “Rapture” per se doesn’t appear in our King James or in most of our English translations, although the word is in the German translation. As I pointed out previously, the word used most often by the early translators, before 1611 AD, was the “departure,” or departing from one place to another. We have coined the word “Rapture.”
I Corinthians 15 deals with the resurrection. Paul uses various allegories to describe it, saying that throughout nature we have this concept of resurrection from one state to another. In explaining this, he reaches verse 51 (the casual reader may miss this). Paul starts out by talking about a mystery that is about to be revealed.
And the word mystery is translated “a secret.” And indeed it has been a secret. How many times over the last several lessons have I said that there is not a hint of a group of people who are going to be alive, and suddenly taken off the scene (which, of course, we call the Rapture). And the reason is, it is a Church Age phenomena and only one writer in Scripture writes concerning the Church, and that is the Apostle Paul. So it stands to reason that from this man’s writing we get the teaching of the Rapture, or the catching away the Body of Christ. It is a Church Age doctrine. No one else was ever told to look for this event except the Church.
Paul taught the Thessalonians this event would probably take place in their lifetime. You can’t put a date on it, but we are to expect it at any moment. The word we use is “imminent.” He may come this afternoon before we finish this lesson. We cannot speculate when He will come, but when the last sinner is saved, and the Body of Christ is complete, then we are removed, and the Anti-christ will sign a peace treaty with Israel. We do know according to Paul, the Rapture will happen before the Anti-christ is revealed. Verse 51:
I Corinthians 15:51,52a
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We (Paul always includes himself with us, the believers) shall not all sleep (or die), but we shall all be changed (how?), In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,…”
The Greek here implies, down to the smallest part of time (smaller than the blink of an eye). A lady asked the other night, “What will people think when they see our dead bodies and we’re gone?” They won’t see our dead bodies, they won’t see any trace of us except maybe our clothes and possessions left behind. This body is going to suddenly change. Maybe some theologians would rebel at my analogy, but I like to think of the metamorphosis of a butterfly (like all earthly illustrations of a spiritual truth, you can’t take this from start to finish). What does that beautiful butterfly look like before it is changed? An ugly old cocoon in which there is a ugly worm. And yet after it has gone through that metamorphosis, what comes out of that ugliness? That beautiful butterfly.
Now put ourselves in that same situation. Here we are in this old ugly frame of dust. People ask me, “Les, am I going to have a better looking body than what I have now?” Of course you will. It’s going to be a new body, it will be glorious. Here we are in this old frame of dust, prone to sin and corruption, sickness, and all of its faults. but, all of a sudden, in a split second, those of us who know the Lord and are alive are suddenly going to be changed. We won’t leave this body behind, but it will be changed to a new one.
I Corinthians 15:52
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump (now the trump has always been used in Scripture to announce. Even in Israel, they blew the trumpet for various reasons for the gathering the people together): for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
The first to respond to that trumpet call will be the dead. In verse 23 of this Chapter, Paul tells us that believers of the human race from Adam through the Tribulation are not going to be resurrected at the same moment. There are going to be divisions.
I Corinthians 15:23
“But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.”
The word “order” in the Greek is a military term – a term of organization or company. So there are going to be several resurrections of the believers, not at the same time. They will be close in proximity of course. But since Paul is writing to the Church, the only resurrection that he is dealing with in verse 52 and 53 is the resurrection of the Body of Christ. This will not include the Old Testament believers, and it can’t include the Tribulation believers because that will not have happened when we are raptured.
Here, Paul’s writing is strictly for the Church Age believer. If we have time I’ll show you how these resurrections are ordered throughout the Scripture. For now, let’s deal with the Church Age believers: those of us who have come into the Body of Christ by believing the Gospel, which Christ Himself revealed to the Apostle Paul for us. If we believe that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the grave – only believing for our salvation – not working for it. Paul writes this old body must put on incorruption.
I Corinthians 15:53,54
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal (prone to die) must put on immortality (an eternal body that will never die – fit for eternity. That’s what we get with our new body). “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, `Death is swallowed up in victory.'”
In I Thessalonians Chapter 4, the Apostle Paul states this more clearly than in I Corinthians, using almost the same language:
I Thessalonians 4:13
“But I would not have you to be ignorant (when I read something like that, I stop and think for a moment. Why would Paul think that I or anyone else would be ignorant of these things? Because we’ve never heard it before. Paul is the first one to reveal it. He says, “I’m going to bring you out of your ignorance by revealing something to you”), brethren, concerning them which are asleep (or have died a physical death), that ye (as a believer) sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”
What is Paul recognizing? When a pagan, or lost person, who has no concept of what’s out there in the future, loses a loved one what do they do? They weep and scream and fall apart. We’ve had missionaries from the darkest parts of Africa, and other uncivilized parts of the world, see unbelievers lose a loved one. They weep and wail for days. Why? They know they will never see that person again. They are gone. Now Paul says, “The believer doesn’t have to do that.” We can lose a loved one and suffer loss and mourn. But, I think it’s ridiculous when Christians try to put on a bold front saying, “I’m a believer; I will see my wife again, so I don’t have to cry at her death.” That’s not right. We should mourn the loss of our loved ones, but we don’t have to fall completely apart and weep for days on end, because we know we will see them again.
So this is what Paul is referring to when he says, “that ye sorrow not” Now, here in verse 14, Paul makes it as simple as anyplace in Scripture, how to be involved in this departure if we are alive, or how to be resurrected from the dead if we do go through death. How can we know that we will not be left behind to go into these awful terrible days of Tribulation? How can we know we will be in that group that departs? Here it is in simple language:
I Thessalonians 4:14
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again (the Gospel), even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” We will explain the last part of this verse in a few moments.
“For if we…” Repent and are baptized and have joined a church? It doesn’t say that! Paul never makes that a requirement. But what is the requirement? If we believe. But not just anything. A few lessons ago I told you there was a big difference in believing in God and believing God. Now when you believe God, that is being a man or woman of faith. You are doing what God has said. You are resting on it. And here is a perfect example of it. What has God said concerning the Gospel? That it is the power of God unto salvation. And here Paul puts it right into plain language. Turn back with me to I Corinthians 15 where you will find the clearest and simplest language in the New Testament of the Plan of Salvation.This will take a person to heaven whether by death and resurrection, or by way of the Rapture. And it’s the only way, whether we are Methodists, Catholic, Baptists or whatever, to be assured of heaven. Here it is. This isn’t my idea or my interpretation. This is what the Book says in plain English. Now verse 1:
I Corinthians 15:1,2
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel (watch it. It doesn’t say a Gospel. If a translation does, it is violating Scripture) which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; (positionally, what are we to stand in? This Gospel. And remember it’s the Gospel). By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” Let’s break that verse down:
“By which also ye are saved (many people don’t like that word. But it is a simple word we use in the secular world, and it denotes a salvation. How many times have you heard of an individual being saved from financial ruin? We use that term in salvation the same way. You have heard people say, “The death of that rich uncle was his salvation.” It saved him from financial ruin. And Paul uses it the same way in the spiritual as he says, “It’s by this Gospel by which you are saved.” But we have to understand and know what we believe, so he says), if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” Too many people don’t know what they believe. They have some idea but can’t put it into words. They just hope they make it. It is so plain we are to believe the Gospel. Here is the Gospel that saves each of us in verses 3 and 4:
I Corinthians 15:3,4
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins… And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” Now let me explain:
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received (now where did he receive it? From the Ascended Glorified Lord. God reveals to this Apostle of the Gentiles – remember he calls himself that over and over – how that salvation is not in Law, works, repentance and baptism, but in believing the Gospel. It is too simple for most people, yet I have said over the years that the power of this Gospel is so complex that we can’t understand it, so just believe it.), how that Christ died for our sins… (but He didn’t stay dead ), he was buried and rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” Now that is the Gospel!
Come back to I Thessalonians Chapter 4. Let’s identify the vehicle for being in on this great event. It’s believing that Christ died, was buried and rose again (that’s not just head knowledge). When every believer can come to the place that he genuinely, totally and completely can rest on the fact that when Christ died, he died; when Christ was buried, he was buried; and when He rose from the dead, he rose from the deadness of sin, and He has imparted eternal life to him. It was that same beautiful picture of Israel coming out of Egypt. What was Israel’s lot? Slavery and bondage; but as a result of the blood of the Passover Lamb, they escaped the death Angel. But they didn’t stay in Egypt. Where did they go? Through the Red Sea event which was a picture of the burial and the death of Christ. They come out on the other side a redeemed people, a picture of the resurrection. They didn’t work for it; neither do we. It was and still is, the power of God. Now verse 15:
I Thessalonians 4:15
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord (the ascended Christ revealed this to Paul), that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (or go ahead of) them which are asleep.” Or have died. Why?
I Thessalonians 4:16
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” There will be no lost dead come out of the grave here. This is only for the believers of the Church Age, the Body of Christ. Then in the next split second:
I Thessalonians 4:17
“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them (the ones that have died) in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air (not on the Mount of Olives; that’s at His Second Coming. This meeting will take place in the air): and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
All the way since the Body of Christ, saints have been dying and are buried. They are in the grave around the planet. But when the trumpet sounds and Christ leaves Heaven, He is going to bring the souls of those who have died with Him. Remember the Apostle Paul tells us that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. And they are there in Christ’s presence. We don’t know their state or anything like that. The Bible doesn’t tell us. But we know they are waiting for the Great Resurrection Day. When Christ leaves Heaven coming to get us believers, He will also bring our loved ones and all the Church Age saints who have died with Him. Their bodies will rise with us (who are alive when this event occurs) to meet in the air. They will at last, again, have a new body when their souls and bodies once again become united in the air. We will then be escorted back up into Heaven with Him.
Remember at the Rapture, Christ comes for the Saints. And at the Second Coming, Christ comes with the Saints. Turn with me to the Old Testament, to the Book of Zechariah 14 verse 4. Now here is the language of the Second Coming. Paul says, “We will meet the Lord in the air.” The Old Testament prophecy says:
“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives,…”
Do you see the difference? For the Church, He only comes to the air. For the Second Coming, He comes to the Mount of Olives.