Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 PART 4 BOOK 42
I Thessalonians 2:15 – 4:18 – Part 2
Now I know we’re not going to be able to finish everything that I wanted to teach today, but we’ll pick it up again next month with our next taping. I suppose as I teach that we have people from umpteen denominations even here in the studio. I made a comment when I was down in Florida in our last newsletter and it mentions that we’re in a Baptist Church on occasion and in a Methodist in another, and in a Lutheran Church when we go some place else, and I made the comment that I’m not ecumenical. Now an ecumenicalist will comprise whatever he has to comprise in order to get along with the whole, and I will not do that. I am uncompromising, but anytime I get an open door and the freedom to teach, I’ll go anywhere.
And then the Lord always confirms everything. After we got back from Florida, someone had sent me a book written by the old Bible teacher William R. Newell. In one section of the appendix he had some quotes from some great Bible teachers of the past, and it just thrilled my heart. One of the quotes was by Dwight L. Moody who said, “There’s not a drop of secularism in my veins, and if I thought there were, I’d drain it all out before night.” Well that helped, and the next quote was by John N. Darby the great Bible teacher of England back in the 1800’s, and he said, “I will go wherever they let me preach the Word without any opposition.” And the third one he quoted was by Doctor A.C. Gablelene, and he said almost word for word what I told the folks in Florida. “Any place there is an open door that I can proclaim the Word without any argument I’ll go.” Well that’s just the way I am.I will go anywhere they’ll let me teach the Word without compromise, and without watering it down.
There’s a world out there that’s hungry, we know they are, and hopefully we’re doing our little part in satisfying. Now so much for that, we’re going to get right back into the Book in I Thessalonians chapter 4, and we’re going to start in verse 13, one of my favorite subjects, “The Rapture of the Church.” Now that’s going to make a lot of people flinch, I know it does, but bless their hearts, I have learned of all the letters and books that I read that oppose the Rapture, the number one reason that they can’t see the Rapture as I see it is because they do not recognize Paul’s apostleship. They will mix what Jesus said in His earthly ministry about His Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation with what Paul said about the Rapture. They can’t separate the Word, and see that they are two different events. Oh they may use a few things out of Paul, but for the most part they reject Paul’s letters as authoritative and his apostleship, and consequently they can’t agree to the Rapture, and when you do that, it’s understandable why they think the way they do.
My, if you don’t realize that the Body of Christ is a Pauline revelation – and he’s the only one that uses that term, and the beginning of the Body of Christ began with Paul, then the end of it also has to come from Paul. So Paul alone teaches this monumental thing that we look for at anytime, and that is the silent out-calling of the Body of Christ in what we call the Rapture of the Church.
Now always remember that in the last year or two I have started to use two timelines whereas I used to use only one. And I’ve put them on the board ahead of time to save a little time. What I’ve learned now to use, is that on this bottom timeline is the first part is the Old Testament program, and all of prophecy which includes even Christ’s earthly ministry, and even Peter in the early part of Acts, when he quotes from Joel chapter 2 and 3. Remember as the timeline unfolds we have, beginning with Abraham, this constant promise of a coming Redeemer, Messiah, a Tribulation, and Christ coming back and setting up His kingdom. This is prophecy and it’s laid out so clearly in all the Old Testament prophets.
I’ve always liked to use Psalms chapter 2 to illustrate this timeline. It’s a perfect illustration where Israel, along with Rome, rejected Christ. Psalms chapter 2 didn’t speak of crucifixion, but it speaks of their rejecting Him, and after that rejecting then would come the wrath and vexation of God in what we know will be the Tribulation. And then the next verse Psalms 2:6, says, “Yet have I sat my King on my holy hill of Zion.” Which we know as the thousand year reign of Christ. And then you have Psalms 110:1 which says –
“The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.”
Well what was that? That was a depiction of His ascension in Acts 1:9, and that one day He would return, as we see in Matthew 24:29-30. Well that was all prophecy. All the way through the Old Testament, the four gospels, and early Acts, and of course the Book of Revelation fills in the rest of the details, so this timeline is prophecy. It appears as one continuous line. Christ’s rejection, the 7 years of Tribulation, the Second Coming, and then the kingdom. Now of course wherever I teach the timeline the first thing I ask people is, “What does the Old Testament program lack?” What’s missing? Well the Church Age is missing from that timeline. It’s not mentioned one time. They had no concept that there would be 1900 + years where God would go to the Gentile world without Israel.
So since we know that the Church Age is missing from the timeline, we make another timeline and put in this parenthesis (the Age of Grace, the calling out the Body of Christ, which is the Church) Since the 7 year Tribulation, the return of Christ at His Second Coming, and the 1000 year Kingdom Age still must happen, we know that, in order for those events to happen, that God will take the believing Church out of the way, He has to resurrect the Church Age believers so that we can all be reunited and go on up into glory and face the Lord at the Bema Seat for rewards, so that has to include those who have died in Christ.
So what has happened? God has merely pushed the Tribulation, the return of Christ and the 1000 year Kingdom Age out into the future while He is filling up the Body of Christ. So the next event on God’s time-table after the Church is gone will be the 7 years of Tribulation, and then the Second Coming, and then the King and His Kingdom. So by putting the Age of Grace in this parenthesis it just clarifies all the controversy so far as I’m concerned. This parenthetical period of time was something that only Paul had a revelation of and that’s why he calls it then, “The revelation of the mysteries.” These things that were kept secret in the mind of God. And then I always like to use Deuteronomy 29:29. You’ve heard it on this program over and over.
“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us…”
Well it’s still true for us today. God has seen fit to keep this Church Age phenomenon and that’s what it really is, it’s just something out of this world. But He has kept it secret, and even the Lord Jesus Himself in His earthly ministry was so careful not to reveal the Church Age. He was meticulous in not giving a hint of a day coming when God would reach into the Gentile world with Israel out of the land, no temple, no priesthood, no place of blessing, and scattered amongst the Gentile world. Then out of that scenario He would call out one by one the Body of Christ, by Grace through Faith + Nothing!
Now here in I Thessalonians is 1 of 3 portions of Paul’s letters that deal with the Rapture. This is one, and if we have time in this lesson, we’ll go look at I Corinthians and we may have to pick up the third one in our next program. So these next 5 verses are the Rapture of the Church, and as we teach, notice the difference between this and the Second Coming. In the Second Coming it is attendant with humongous, cataclysmic events falling on the earth. War, famine, pestilence, earthquakes, outer space phenomenon, stars falling out of their orbits, the great hundred pound hailstones, the great Battle of Armageddon. That is all part of the Second Coming, and is never mentioned in Paul’s letters as part of the Rapture, and that’s why the Lord could come this afternoon before we leave. He could come tomorrow, next year, we don’t know when, but the Rapture is not accompanied with great prophesied disasters.
The Rapture will be just that silent disappearance, when we believers will all be gone. And as I said in an earlier program, when we’re gone nobody but our lost immediate family, our lost next door neighbor will miss us. The world will go right on without us, and as one old boy told me one time, “You know Les, they’re going to have Church next Sunday morning as usual.” That’s quite a statement isn’t it? I didn’t say it, he did, and he wasn’t from my denomination, but I would think it would be true of any denomination. After we’re gone there will be Church next Sunday as usual for many who thought they were ready. Now let’s look at the Rapture.
I Thessalonians 4:13
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, (and oh, isn’t that the case today? Most people are so ignorant of this. Every place we go, people tell us, “They don’t hear this from the pulpits anymore.” Pastors have almost become afraid to let people know that the end is near. But you see Paul writes not to ignorant) brethren, concerning them which are asleep,(Paul is writing to believers concerning their loved ones who have died as believers) that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”
Now you know what Paul is saying here, that for the unbelieving family who have no knowledge of salvation, if they lose the mother and she was lost, then they also will probably never be saved, they will never see each other again. The unsaved person will never see their loved ones again. Hell is not going to be a country club, nor a place of reunion, it’s going to be total isolation and torment. But we as believers will see our loved ones again. The minute we get to the clouds of the air we will be aware of those who have departed earlier. So we don’t have to sorrow as those who have no hope. Now verse 14. Here is the qualification for being in the Rapture when it happens. This is so simple for everyone, that there should never be an excuse for missing heaven.
I Thessalonians 4:14
“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, (that’s Paul’s Gospel salvation message of I Corinthians 15:1-4) even so them also which sleep (or have died) in Jesus will God bring with him.”
Now here we have God and Jesus used in the same verse and they’re one and the same. So the departed soul and spirit of the believer is in the presence of the Lord in glory. They’re not walking in body tonight I do not believe, but rather they’re in a place of bliss, they’re in paradise much like Abraham and Lazarus were in Luke chapter 16. They’re in a place of comfort in the Lord’s presence, but are not walking the streets of gold bodily. What are they waiting for? Resurrection day! Because they too are going to be given a new resurrected body. So the soul and spirit of all believers now who have died during this Age of Grace are waiting for that new body. I think this resurrection is only for the New Testament believer. The Old Testament believer will be resurrected I think over on the timeline here at the beginning of the Kingdom Age, as Daniel chapter 12 gives us a glimpse of that. But every believer that has died during this last 1900 years, their soul and spirit is up in glory waiting for this great resurrection day. Now read on in verse 15.
I Thessalonians 4:15
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep.” (or who have died) In other words, the Lord is going to use a split second of time to bring these dead bodies, the ashes, bones, dust, whatever may be left in the grave.
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:”
The Lord is going to give Himself a second of time to bring them up from the grave first so that they can be reunited with that soul and spirit that Christ is bringing back with Him in glory. And that new body and their soul that has been waiting in glory will be reunited in the air. Now let’s read about that.
I Thessalonians 4:17a
“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up…”
I know it doesn’t say Rapture, but that’s a term that most Bible scholars have applied to the two words, caught up. Now I read something the other day that I had never known before, and I hope I’m not quoting wrong, the Latin word here is ‘Raptura,’ which is where we get the word Rapture no doubt. So those of us who are alive and remain when the Lord should come will be caught up –
I Thessalonians 4:17b
“…together with them (the ones who have died previously) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall ever be with the Lord.”
Remember, Christ is only going to come for His Church to the air compared with His Second Coming when He will come all the way to the earth to the Mount of Olives to fight the battle of Armageddon. So in the Rapture He comes for us, and at His Second Coming 7 years later we come with Him to reign and rule. Now verse 18.
I Thessalonians 4:18s
“Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
And that is such a comfort to know we will miss God’s wrath, and will be with Him forever. Now the other companion portion of Scripture is found in I Corinthians chapter 15, and we use them in parallel. This is where study comes into play. Just compare, what one portion neglects to cover the other one does. So let’s pick it up in verse 51 of Chapter 15 which of course is the great resurrection chapter. In this chapter Paul says, “that if Christ be not risen from the dead, then we of all men are most miserable.”
The whole basis of the Christian faith is resurrection! As I put it on the program a while back, I don’t know of another religion, and I don’t like that word, but I don’t know of another religion on the planet that teaches this concept. Now the oriental religions speak of reincarnation, but never resurrection. So remember only Christianity teaches that concept. This is a unique phenomena for us as believers in Christ. So Christ was the first fruit of a real resurrection. Now let’s look at the resurrection beginning with verse 51.
I Corinthians 15:51a
“Behold, I shew you a mystery;…”
Or a secret. And who has been keeping it a secret? Well God has. God never saw fit to reveal this before, because the Old Testament didn’t have to know it because they’re not going to be in it. Peter, James and John were not aware of it, because they were still tied intricately to Israel. But now God is turning to a whole new group of people, the Gentiles, and now He see fits to open up His timeline and reveal this which had been kept secret for 4000 years. So this is why Paul is constantly using the word the mysteries. And this part of the mystery is –
I Corinthians 15:51b
“…We shall not all sleep,…” (or die physically)
Now no where else in Scripture except the account of Enoch and Elijah is there anyone transformed from this life to glory without death. But there is one group of people who will escape death, and experience this instant change. That’s our blessed hope as Paul calls it in Titus chapter 2. The blessed hope, the appearing, not the Second Coming, but the appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ who will only come to the air for us. Again at the Second Coming Christ comes to the Mount of Olives, but when He transforms us He only comes to the air. Now that’s a stark difference. To me it’s as plain as day, but for others who won’t use Paul for the Rapture, maybe not. So looking at the verse again.
I Corinthians 15:51
“Behold, I shew you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, (die physically) but we shall all be changed.”
We can’t go to glory in this old body, so what has to happen? We shall all be changed, and always remember, when God said that He could put a camel through the eye of a needle, and they looked at Him in total unbelief, what was His next statement? With God nothing is impossible! Now I know when we look at this whole concept of the Rapture and that in less than a second of time, every believer who has died is going to be resurrected, given a new body, joining the Lord in the air. Every believer from whatever corner of the earth you may be dwelling is suddenly going to be changed. I know, I am logical enough to know that in the eyes of a secular world, that is impossible, but God says, “It’s not impossible!”Consequently I believe it. It’s going to happen, and the world will never know what happened. Now read on. We can’t go to glory in this body if we’re alive when He comes, so He’s going to change this body.
I Corinthians 15:52a
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, (the smallest divisible period of time. It’s less than the blink of an eye) at the last trump;…”
Now here again I have to confront those who say, “Well this is the trumpet in the Book of Revelation” No those in Revelation are 7 trumpets, and they’re angel’s trumpets. This is one trumpet, and it’s God’s trumpet, and that’s the difference. So God’s trumpet will sound.
I Corinthians 15:52b
“…for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, (with their new resurrected body) and we (who are alive and remain) shall be changed.”
We’ll be changed between here and the ceiling no doubt, because we’re not going to stop at the ceiling, and there again the world can scoff and scorn in unbelief, and I don’t expect them to believe it. They can’t believe it, but we’re not like the world, we can believe it. I know with God nothing is impossible, and He can change several million people from this body of flesh to a resurrected body that is incorruptible in a blink of an eye. Now verse 53, and here’s the reason we must be changed.
I Corinthians 15:53
“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, (this body must me made fit for heaven, and eternity) and this mortal (which is prone to die) must put on immortality.” (so that we will never die)
Now we’ve got a few moments left, and I guess I will take time for the third portion where Paul speaks of the Rapture and that’s over in II Thessalonians chapter 2. Now I hope you realize that these are all from Paul’s epistles. I can’t take you back to Isaiah, and teach the Rapture. I can’t take you into the four gospels and teach the Rapture, nor can I take you to the Book of Revelation and teach you the gospel because it’s not in there. Only Paul has been designated the apostle of the Church Age, the apostle of the Gentiles. And Paul defends his apostleship over and over. And like I said in my newsletters that the man who instituted the Body of Christ as He calls himself in I Corinthians chapter 3, the masterbuilder.
I Corinthians 3:10a
“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation,…”
So if he’s the one who laid the foundation, then he’s also the one who is going to reveal the removal of it, he has to. So now in II Thessalonians chapter 2, beginning with verse 1.
II Thessalonians 2:1
“Now we beseech you brethren by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, (see that was uppermost in his mind in both of these letters.) and by our gathering together unto him,”
Remember at the Second Coming He’s not going to draw people up to Him, He’s going to come to the planet, He’s going to stand, Zechariah chapter 14:4 says, “on the Mount of Olives.” The angel told the 11 in Acts chapter 1:11, as our Lord ascended, “that this same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” And at that time He’s going to come to the Mount of Olives. But you see Paul doesn’t teach the Mount of Olives or Armageddon, or cataclysmic events. Now verse 2.
II Thessalonians 2:2
“That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letters from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.”
And that should have read, “the day of the Lord” which will be the beginning of the Tribulation and judgment. Now verse 3. Here Paul clarifies it.
II Thessalonians 2:3a
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day (of the Lord, the Tribulation judgment) shall not come, except there come a falling away (or departure) first,…”
The word ‘apostasy’ has been translated several times “departure” in the New Testament, and is really a better translation than “falling away” although that is appropriate as well.
II Thessalonians 2:3a
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away (or departure) first,…”
What’s the departure? The Body of Christ leaving this earth, and the Tribulation can’t start until we’re out of the way, because this prophetic program was written primarily to the Nation of Israel. All the prophecy concerning Christ’s coming was to the Nation of Israel. The 7 years of the horrors of the Tribulation are directed first and foremost to the Nation of Israel. The Second Coming is to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, where He’s going to set up His throne on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. When you get to Paul’s epistles, he speaks to none of that. He speaks of our position not in Jerusalem, but in the heavenlies.