The Rapture: How Close Do You Want It To Be? - Dave Hunt |

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Dave Hunt: I will try my best to be brief tonight. That would be a miracle! I don’t know if you know the story—they tell a lot of stories about me in the United States. There are none of them true, of course. They claim that I was going on and on and on. And a gentleman got up and started to walk out, and supposedly I yelled after him, “Where do you think you’re going?”

He said, “I’m going to get a haircut!”

I said, “Well, why didn’t you get one before you came?”

He said, “I didn’t need it then!”


Well, you know that’s not true. But I’m going to try to be brief and get to the point. Turn to John’s gospel, chapter 14. This evening we’ve talked a bit about prophecies that have already been fulfilled—most prophecy has been fulfilled, and that gives us confidence that prophecies that yet need to be fulfilled will be fulfilled. And we want to talk a little bit about future fulfillment. 

In John:14:1: “Let not your heart be troubled. Ye believe in God; believe also in Me.” That’s quite a statement. Would any of you dare to make that statement? “You believe in God; believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go, ye know. And the way ye know.”

Thomas saith unto Him, “Lord, we know not whither thou goest. Then how can we know the way?”

Jesus saith unto him, “I AM the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.” 

Now, there’s some people that try to say that Jesus was a good man, a good teacher, but He wasn’t really God. Nobody but God could make the statements that He’s making. And I think we mentioned it Thursday night, and you know the logical argument: A good man doesn’t say that he is the way to heaven. A good man doesn’t say, “You believe in God, believe also in Me.” He’s either deluded, or he’s a liar, or he really is who he claimed to be.  And you can’t explain it any other way. And I think all the evidence—the evidence is overwhelming that He was not deluded, and He’s not a liar, but He is who He claimed to be. 

Now, obviously, something is essential. If He’s going to come again, and He’s speaking of His death, “I go to prepare a place for you” —if He’s going to come again, He has to rise from the dead. Muhammad never said he would come again. Buddha never said he would come again. Confucius didn’t say that. But Jesus said it, and He left an empty tomb.

And before we get into the Rapture and we go on to other scriptures, I want to just discuss that a little bit. Now, it’s wonderful—we often sing, “I know He lives, because He lives within my heart.” And that is biblical. The Bible says that “the Spirit of God bears witness with our spirit that we are the sons of God.” But that’s not good enough for some seeking friend who may sincerely want to know the truth. And you say, “Well, Jesus lives because He lives in my heart.” That’s very subjective, as far as he’s concerned. 

Do we have evidence that Jesus rose from the dead? We’ve lots of evidence. I want to just give a very little bit. As far as a Christian is concerned, you know Jesus personally. You know that He’s alive.

In the United States, a very famous man, Simon Greenleaf—he was one of the founders of the Harvard Graduate School of Law. In the United States, he’s known as the foremost expert—well, he’s dead now, many years ago, but he was known as the foremost expert on legal evidence. What evidence is to be admitted in court? How do we examine it in arriving at a just conclusion? 

And the Supreme Court would quote Greenleaf on Evidence. In law schools today, they still study Greenleaf on Evidence. One day, some students in his class at Harvard challenged him like this: they said, “Dr. Greenleaf, no one ever walked this earth and made such statements as Jesus of Nazareth. Now, you’re the expert on evidence. Why don’t you examine His statements and His life and His claims and see whether they’re true or false?”

“Well,” he said, “I never thought of that.” So, he began his investigation. Several months later, he reported back to his class something like this. He said, “I have carefully examined the claims of Jesus of Nazareth by the rules of legal evidence, just as I would examine evidence introduced into court, testimony introduced into court, and I can tell you on the basis of the evidence, there is absolutely no doubt—He is who He claimed to be. He is God, who became a man, died for our sins on the cross and is alive.” Then he said, “There’s also another form of evidence: empirical evidence. Because He said if you would open your heart to Him, He would come in, and He would never leave you.” And Greenleaf said, “I took Him at His Word. I received Him as my Savior, and He’s changed my life.”

Lord Lyndhurst, one of the greatest legal experts in England, said, “I know evidence! And evidence such as we have for the resurrection of Jesus Christ has never broken down in any court yet.”

Well, let’s just look at a little bit. We mentioned this morning—we go to the Bible—let’s look at a little bit of evidence from Scripture. Whenever Paul was before the Sanhedrin, he’s before governors, he’s before kings, nobody ever argues the evidence! Nobody argues the facts. They don’t like the implications, but they do not deny the facts. 

You know that Israel is a very small country. You couldn’t say…well, Jesus raised Lazarus of Bethany from the dead. He’d been in the grave four days, and Jesus raised him from the dead. Somebody in the crowd says, “Wait a minute! Lazarus is my uncle. He hasn’t even died!” Or somebody says, “He’s my cousin. He’s still in the grave.” You couldn’t get away with these kinds of lies, do you understand?

On the Day of Pentecost, three thousand Jews believed. The heart of Christianity, right there in Jerusalem—the heart of Christianity is the Resurrection! And Jesus didn’t say, “Let me tell you something. After you steal my body, and you pretend I rose from the dead, I want you to go down to the tip of South Africa, get way out in Siberia, get as far away as you can and tell them I rose from the dead, because nobody will be able to check up on it.” He didn’t say that. He said, “I want you to begin in Jerusalem. Begin preaching in Jerusalem.”

And on the Day of Pentecost, Peter preaches the Resurrection—this is the heart of Christianity—3,000 Jews believed. It’s a very short walk to the grave. You could have put His body on display. That would have been the end of Christianity right there. And the Romans would have liked to do it and so would the rabbis. 

Nobody argues the facts. Furthermore, you could say, “Well, there are a lot of people who die out of loyalty and love to their guru, the cult leader, their religion, or whatever. Muslims will secrete explosives on their bodies, blow themselves up in a bus in Tel Aviv, and so forth. So, what’s so great about the apostles? They all died, too, but what’s the difference?” 

Big difference! Of course, you probably know that for a Muslim, the only sure way to get to Paradise—you don’t know whether Allah will forgive you or not, and there’s really no basis for forgiveness. The only sure way to get to Paradise is to die in Jihad—die in “holy war.” So that’s what gives them the courage to die. But the apostles died not only out of love and loyalty to Christ, but they died testifying to facts. They died testifying to facts! They said He did walk on water. He did raise the dead. He did feed five thousand. He did open the eyes of the blind. He is alive! And no one is fool enough to die for what he knows is a lie.

Not one of them said, “Don’t kill me! I’ll tell you the truth. We made the whole thing up! We stole His body. We hid it in Peter’s basement. C’mon, I’ll show you where it is.” Not one of them. They all went to their graves testifying to facts that they could not deny. And I challenge you to find anybody who is a fool enough to die for what he knows is a lie. 

Well, notice here, Acts:24:22: “And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way….”  He knows about it! Go down to verse 25: “And as he [that is, Paul], reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come,…” Felix says, “Paul, it’s just a myth that you made up.” 

No. Felix trembled. He knows it’s true. And answered, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” I hope there’s no one here tonight that you’re going to wait for a convenient season to call upon Jesus. As far as we know, that convenient season never came. 

Go to chapter 26:26: Paul is now before King Agrippa, and notice what he says: “For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.”

Christianity is not some secret initiation. It is based upon facts, and there were lots of witnesses to these facts, and they all knew what had happened. Felix knew. King Agrippa knew. All of Israel knew.

“King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.” Then the implication is that obviously the prophecies have been fulfilled in Jesus. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” (I.e., “I can’t argue with the facts, Paul. But it would be too costly. I would lose my position. I would lose my friends.”) 

That’s a bad bargain. Jesus said, “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” So he traded a few years on this earth for eternity. 

But I just wanted to point out (and you can research it for yourself), nobody argues the facts. They all know that this is true. 

Now, go to Galatians chapter 1. Paul—well, he was Saul of Tarsus. He was a young zealot. He hated Christians. He was zealous for his own religion—the religion of the Jews. So zealous that he persecuted the Christians to the death. He had them imprisoned, he had them beaten, he had them stoned. And suddenly… and he sets off for Damascus—and you know the story. He sets off for Damascus with authority from the chief priests to put the Christians in prison and to bring them back to Jerusalem for trial. And the next thing you know, he’s a Christian!

And you could say, “Saul, you must be insane! Why would you become one of these despised people? They’re going to persecute you! They will beat you! They’ll imprison you! They will kill you! Why? Why would you do this?” 

Saul says, “I met Him on the road to Damascus. He is alive!”

Now, that’s as far as I’ve ever heard any apologist go. “Apologists”—we are not making an apology. We are giving proof for the Word of God. That’s what that word means. But that’s as far as I’ve ever heard anyone go. That’s not far enough! That only tells me that Saul/Paul was sincere. It tells me he really thought he met Jesus. It doesn’t tell me that he really met Jesus. Maybe he hallucinated. Maybe it was a Freudian guilt trip, you know? He’s persecuted these Christians, and finally it gets to him and he gets a guilty conscience and he imagines that he sees Jesus. How do we know that he really met Jesus?

Well, he tells you. Galatians:1:11: “But I certify you, brethren….” I mentioned that I’m a Certified Public Accountant—you call them Chartered Accountants here. When I examined the books (and I haven’t done this for many years—the Lord allowed me to get out of the business world and serve Him fulltime, although we were serving Him fulltime even when we were in the business world)—but if I would examine the books of a bank, of a corporation, a business, and I present the financial condition of that company, and I sign my name, I am certifying that this is true. And if it is not, I’m going to lose my license. I could go to prison! 

And this is the language that Paul uses here. He says, “I certify you, the gospel that I preached is not of man. I neither learned it from man nor was I taught it… (now, notice carefully, the language of Scripture) but by the revelation of the Holy Spirit [is that what it says?].  What does it say? “…the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The revelation of Jesus Christ!

Now, the Bible says (we quoted it this morning), “All scripture is given by inspiration of God. Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” So why wouldn’t it be good enough for Paul to claim that he’s inspired of the Holy Spirit? That’s not good enough because Paul is the great witness of the Resurrection. He is one of the greatest proofs of the Resurrection. And he is saying he did not get this from the Holy Spirit. He got this from Jesus Christ himself! Okay?

Notice what he says: “For ye have heard of my conversation (i.e., my manner of life) in time past, in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God and wasted it: and profited in the Jews’ religion above many of my equals in my own nation” (Galatians:1:13-14)

You see, Paul—well, if you went back to the early part of…well, let’s go back. Let’s read a couple of verses here. Let’s read verse 6: “I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel, which is not another [There’s not another gospel. There’s only one gospel.], but there are some that trouble you and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed, (anathema). As we said before, so say I now again:  if any man preach any other gospel unto you that ye have received, let him be anathema.”

Now Paul is saying, “The gospel that I preach is the true gospel. If anybody preaches another gospel—I don’t care if it’s an angel from heaven—a curse upon him, because there’s only one true gospel.” And we quoted, I think, this morning (or sometime during these meetings, Romans 1—I believe it was this morning), where Paul said that he’s separated “unto the gospel of God [remember?] which He promised before by His prophets in the Holy Scriptures.” 

And so, we noted this morning that he goes to the scriptures, he goes to the prophets, to prove that the gospel that he preaches is the gospel of God. It is the fulfillment of what the Old Testament prophets said. 

Now he’s saying something different. He is taking the Galatians to task. They are believing another gospel, and Paul says it is not true. And now, he’s not arguing it from the apostle (I’m sorry) from the prophets. He is arguing it from the fact that he was personally taught this gospel by Jesus Christ. 

So, go back to verse 14: “A prophet in the Jews’ religion above many of my equals, in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers, but when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace…” It’s all of grace. He said to the Ephesians, “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, when it pleased God, who called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me that I might preach Him among the heathen, immediately, I conferred not with flesh and blood; neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me, but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.” And he says that it wasn’t until three years later “that I went up to Jerusalem.”

Paul is saying, “Look, when I met Jesus on the road to Damascus, I didn’t immediately go running up to the apostles in Jerusalem, maybe with Peter and James and John, and say, ‘Hey, you know, I think I met Jesus, and I’d like to be an apostle too! And I’d like to go around preaching this gospel, but, you know, I never studied with you under Jesus. I could make some big mistakes, so you’d better give me a quick course in the gospel, or I could make a fool of myself!”

No! He says, “I did not go to the apostles. I did not consult with any human being. It was Jesus Christ himself who taught me the gospel that I preach. I got it from Him!”

Now, how do we know that? Amazing! Paul—well, we don’t have time to turn to it, but 1 Corinthians:11:23: you remember what Paul says there? He says, “For I received of the Holy Spirit…. “Is that what he says? No! “I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, how the Lord Jesus, the night in which He was betrayed, took bread…” and he goes on and he tells what happened at the Last Supper. Paul wasn’t even there! Why didn’t the Holy Spirit have James or John or someone who was there tell us? 

No, Paul tells us what happened at the Last Supper. And he wasn’t there, and he says “It was Jesus Christ, the resurrected Lord in Glory, who told me what happened at the Last Supper.”

And you notice that Paul becomes the great authority on Christianity. He writes most of the Epistles.  In the next chapter, he rebukes Peter to his face! He says, “Peter, you are wrong!” 

And Peter has to acknowledge that Paul knows and that he has violated what Jesus has taught. And all of the apostles—they have to acknowledge that this man, who never studied with them under Jesus, who was the chief enemy of the Gospel and of Jesus Christ, he now knows everything they know—and more. And God uses him to write most of the Epistles in the New Testament. You cannot escape it—Paul met Jesus, and he was taught of Jesus.

Jesus is alive, and He said, “I’m going to go away, and I will come again and receive you unto Myself.” Some people say, “Well, where do you get this idea of a ‘Rapture’ in the Bible? I mean, you’re going to get caught up and taken to heaven?”

Well, that’s what Jesus said, didn’t He? He said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I’m going to go away and prepare a place for you, and if I go away, I will come again and receive you unto Myself that where I am, there you may be also.” It sounds to me like He’s going to take us to heaven, doesn’t it? I don’t know what other conclusion you could come to from those words! This was a promise that Jesus made. 

Second Thessalonians 2:1: “Now, we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I believe that that is the Second Coming) “and by our gathering together unto Him…” (I believe that’s the Rapture). I believe that there are two events that lie ahead: at the Rapture, Christ comes for His Church to fulfill what He said He would do. Well, you know the scripture. We could quote it, but let’s go back to chapter 4, the previous Epistle: verse 13— “But  I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not even as others which have no hope, for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again [that’s the basis of this whole thing], even so, them also which sleep in Jesus [that is those who have died] in faith in Christ, will God bring with Him.”

Their soul and spirit have left their body—the body is still in the grave—but they have been with Jesus. Paul argues this in Philippians chapter 1: he says, “I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ! I want to be with Him.” Now, he knows how he’s going to get there—he’s going to be killed! But still, he wants to be with Christ. And then, what does he say? “Nevertheless, to remain in the flesh [that is, in my body] is more needful for you.”

So, if he’s going to go away and be with Christ, he’s going to be removed from his body of flesh. His soul and spirit will be with Christ (and there’s no such thing as “soul sleep”). He’s alive! He’s with Him. He knows. He wouldn’t call it “which is much better.” Why would it be much better to fall asleep and to be unconscious? And one day, you’ll awaken, and maybe hundreds of years have passed. Paul is an active man! He is determined to preach the gospel! He has a passion for souls! And he’s never going to say that it would be much better to fall asleep and to be unconscious. No! It’s much better to be with Christ: “…having a desire to depart and to be with Christ!”  And “being with Christ” could hardly mean anything of any significance if you’re sound asleep. 

So, he says, “I want to leave this body and be with Him.”

If you went to 2 Corinthians chapter 5 (I’m sorry, we just have to quote because we don’t have time to turn to all these verses), but you know what he says there. He talks about that we have this confidence that while we were in the flesh, we’re absent from the Lord. But we are willing rather to be “absent from the body and present with the Lord.” Well, what is “absent from the body”? The soul and the spirit. We are body, soul, and spirit.

So, here we are in 1Thesslonians and the souls and the spirits of those who sleep, those whose bodies are dead, have been with Christ, and now when He comes, He brings the souls and spirits with Him to reunite them with their resurrected bodies. 

Let’s go on with verse 15: “For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord . . .” (He got this from Jesus himself) . . . that we which are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (or precede) them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then, we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord: ‘I’m going to go away. I will come again. I will receive you unto Myself that where I am, there you may be also.’ And so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

It sounds an awful lot to me like He’s going to resurrect the dead, and He’s going to catch us up. But the dead and the living—the dead resurrected, the living transformed. . . . 

And so in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says, “Behold, I show you a mystery.” This is not something mysterious. It’s something that hasn’t been understood and that he . . . Oh, yes, it’s there in the scriptures, if you would find it. But now, he’s revealing it in plain language. He says, “We shall not all sleep,” i.e., we won’t all die, “but we shall all be changed.” 

I remember I used to sit, as a little boy, in church, and because I believed in the Rapture—that it could happen at any moment—and the minute I saw (sitting next to my mother) the minute I saw her go, I’m going to grab ahold of her!

Well, I couldn’t have gotten through the roof or through the ceiling. You’ve got to have a new body! You’ve got to be transformed. 

So Paul says, “I’m showing you a mystery. I’m revealing it to you. We won’t all die! Some of us will be alive.” I hope to be one of them. I believe the Lord is coming soon, but we don’t have any promise that we will be alive. But some people will be alive. “We won’t all sleep, but we will all be changed!” We have to be! The dead will be resurrected and the living must be changed. 

“We will all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of the eye. For the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed! This mortal must put on immortality. This corruptible must put on incorruption. Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory!’”

So, I think it’s pretty clear, what he says and what the Bible teaches. It says, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord; wherefore, comfort one another with these words.”

Now, we have a teaching in the church today—there’s an increasing denial of the Rapture. And I think that’s serious, and I’ll tell you why. There are people in America (and, again, I don’t know about your country, but the same stuff that happens in America generally comes over here and everywhere else as well), and they say, “No, Christ can’t come until we take over the world. And when we take over the world, and we establish the Kingdom, then He will come to rule over the Kingdom that we’ve established for Him.” I see some of you nodding your heads. That’s a common teaching. You’ve heard it. Now we’ve got a problem. A very serious problem. Because if the real Jesus Christ, as we just read, is going to catch us up when He comes, and take us to heaven, and you’re looking forward to meeting a Christ, who when you meet Him, your feet remain planted on Planet Earth, and He hasn’t come to take you to heaven—He’s come to rule over the Kingdom you’ve established for Him—you’ve been working for Antichrist! Antichrist will establish a kingdom!

And some people say, “Wait a minute! You’re telling people about this Pre-trib Rapture, you know, and telling them that you don’t have to meet the Antichrist, then what are you going to do? You could be really setting people up for a fall! And when the Antichrist comes, they may be deceived into thinking he’s Jesus!”

Really? Nobody’s going to fool me into thinking he’s Jesus unless he takes me to heaven! The Antichrist can’t do that! So, I don’t see how anybody’s being set up for a delusion.

Okay, but now let’s read what Paul says: “We beseech you, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, by our gathering together unto Him (I believe at the Rapture, we’ve just been reading it), He comes for His own.” He meets them in the air! He does not come to the Mount of Olives. It says, “We will be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air.” Isn’t that what it says? “And so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

At the Second Coming, even Zachariah 14 says, “When His feet touch the Mount of Olives, He brings all the saints from heaven with Him.” Well, you don’t have to be a genius to know that if He brings the saints from heaven with Him, He must have taken them up there! So there is a difference between these two events, I believe. 

Now, somebody says, “Well, you show me in the New Testament where it says that there are these two events. Two comings, yet. One for the church, and then He comes with His church, the armies of heaven, to rescue Israel in the midst of Armageddon to destroy Antichrist, etc.” (We’re going to read the scripture here in a moment.)

Well, it’s rather simple. I say, “Show me in the Old Testament where it said there were two comings. I challenge you to give me a verse where it said the Messiah would come twice!”

I don’t care whether you believe in Premillennial, Pre-trib, Mid-trib, Post-trib, Amillennial—whatever you believe in, if you’re a Christian, you believe that Christ came once, right? And you believe His promise: “I will come again.” So, you believe in two comings. Show me in the Old Testament where it said there would be two comings! Never does it say so. Well, then, how would you know there would be two comings? Because you couldn’t put into one event and one timeframe what the Old Testament said about the coming of the Messiah. 

There are contradictions right in Isaiah 53 unless there are two comings. Isaiah:53:8, for example, says, “He is cut off out of the land of the living. For the transgression of My people is He stricken.” 

No, Isaiah:53:10 says, “He will see His seed. He will prolong His days. The pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.” Daniel:9:26 said, “The Messiah will come, and He will be cut off!” He will be killed! But, wait a minute! Isaiah:9:7 says, “Of His kingdom and peace there will be no end.”

Now, how could you possibly establish a kingdom and you’d rule on the throne of your father David and your kingdom has no end, and yet you are killed? It doesn’t work. If you studied—if you were a Jew—and you studied the Old Testament prophecies carefully, you would have to know [that] He’s going to come once as the Lamb, the Passover Lamb, the fulfillment, and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill that Lamb in the evening on the fourteenth day of Nissan, exactly as they did. And He will come again as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah to destroy His enemies and to rule upon the throne of His father David. You couldn’t put that in one event. 

The same thing is true in the New Testament. It says He’ll come at a time of peace, “when they say ‘peace and safety.’” It says, “As it was in the days of Noah, as it was in the days of Lot,” they were buying and selling and building and planting and partying and marrying and so forth. You could hardly put that at the end of the Great Tribulation. The world is practically destroyed! They’re not partying! 

But, no! “He’s coming in the midst of Armageddon! He’s coming at a time of war. He’s coming at a time when the world has practically been destroyed, and Jerusalem is surrounded by armies and is about to go down in flames. And then His feet touch the Mount of Olives and He rescues His people, and He destroys His enemies.” You can’t put that in one event! 

And you have contradictions in Matthew 24, for example. Verse 33 says, “When you see all these signs, you know He is right at the door. . . .” Anyone would know He’s coming! Even Revelation 19 says Antichrist knows He’s coming and goes out with his armies to meet him! 

Yeah, but in verse 44, Jesus says, “At such an hour as you think not the Son of Man cometh.” Now, wait a minute! How can He come at a time when nobody expects Him, but when everybody expects Him? It doesn’t fit. Very few will expect Him.

So, we’ll just read the Scriptures to support what we were saying. “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, also, as it was in the days of Lot, they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded. But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” 

Now, go to chapter 12, and see what He says. This is Jesus speaking. He’s giving a parable: “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning, and ye yourselves like unto them that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching” (Luke:12:35-36).

Verse 40: “Be ye therefore ready also, for the Son of Man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” Verse 45: “But if that servant say in his heart ‘my lord delayeth his coming,’ and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidservants, and eat and drink. . . .” and so forth. The Lord always associates evil with the thought of a delay of His coming. I believe the Bible teaches immanency.

Now, maybe we need to deal with a couple of things, quickly. There are people who are called preterists; that is, they believe this all happened in A. D. 70, and Nero was the antichrist, and so forth. You couldn’t possibly believe that. Notice verse 21: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” That tells me that it didn’t happen in A. D. 70. Now, why do they say that? Because Jesus said, “This generation will not pass away till all these things be fulfilled.” So, the generation that was there that heard Him (we’ll get to that in a moment), it had to be fulfilled in that generation. 

But it couldn’t have been! Because hasn’t there been worse persecution, worse tribulation? Josephus tells us 1.2 million Jews died at that time. But Hitler killed six million! And what about Christians? Mao and Stalin and so forth. . . ? There obviously has been much worse tribulation than was in A. D. 70, so it couldn’t have been fulfilled. But notice verse 22: “… and except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved. But for the elect’s sake, those days shall be shortened.” 

Well, you couldn’t have understood that. I mean, you don’t wipe out….  A hundred years ago you wouldn’t have understood it. Certainly not 1900 years ago. You don’t wipe out all flesh with bows and arrows and swords and spears. Not even with conventional weapons of World War II. But Jesus is saying, “There’s a time coming when if I don’t intervene and stop the destruction, no flesh will be left alive.” Not even a mosquito. Not even a microbe. Nothing on this earth! Well, we have the weapons to do that, and I think you understand that, and we don’t have to go into that. We could turn this earth into a sterile bit of dust drifting through space. We could do it ten times over with the weapons that we have. Amazing prophecy that Jesus gave!

So, it didn’t happen then. Go down to verse 30: “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, and He shall send His angels with the great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” This is not the Rapture! This is the Second Coming—the gathering of the elect, the Jews, from all over this world back to Israel, where Christ will reign over them from His Father’s throne. 

This is not “The Lord himself will descend and catch us up.” This is “He will send His angels,” and they will gather from all over this earth. 

So, it didn’t happen in A. D. 70, so you can’t believe (and this is what we want to get down to) verse 34: “Verily, I say unto you, this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled.” 

Well, either Jesus is lying, or He must mean something else by that word “generation,” because it certainly didn’t happen within the lifespan of those people who were there hearing His voice. 

Then there were those who said that what He meant was the generation that would see Israel brought back into her land within a generation. Then He would come. 

Well, you know, there were those…. Remember Hal Lindsay’s book The Late, Great Planet Earth? And there was great excitement in those days. I don’t know if you had them here, but we had bumper stickers in the United States: “Ride at your own risk. I’m leaving in the Rapture.” Everybody was expecting the Rapture. And they used to ask me in those days, “Do you think the Lord is coming now?”

And I would say, “I wish He would. I hope so. I believe in immanency, I believe He could come at any time, but it seems to me that too many people are expecting Him, because He said “at such an hour as you think not, the Son of Man cometh.” But anyway, they said, “Well, a generation is forty years [that’s open to question]; And so forty years from 1948 brings you to 1988. Subtract the seven-year Great Tribulation. In 1981, the Rapture will occur.” People were excited, and it didn’t happen, right? 

Then the bumper stickers were taken off, or they wore out, and I saw the pendulum swing from Pre-trib to Mid-trib, to Post-trib, and now a denial of the Rapture. Well, it sounds like maybe it’s about time, you know? “At such an hour as you think not the Son of Man cometh.”

That generation didn’t work. What did He mean when He said, “This generation will not pass till all these things be fulfilled?” Well, I believe that He meant, if you go through and just look up the word “generation” in your concordance or on your computer, He talked about a disobedient generation, a gainsaying generation, a rebellious generation, a sign-seeking generation. I believe that Christ was saying that this generation of unbelief, of rebellion, and rejection of the Messiah and rebellion against God will not pass away until all is fulfilled. And I think we have scripture for it. 

Many Jews…not many, but…yeah, it depends on what you mean by “many”… Jews are coming to the Lord today, some in Israel. But Israel as a whole remains in unbelief. When will they believe? When they see Him! “They will look on Me whom they pierced, and I will pour out the Spirit of supplication, repentance, upon Israel, God says.” (Go to Zechariah chapter 12, verse 10, and read the context there.) “And then all Israel will be saved.” And that is when all the signs have been fulfilled, He’s right at the door, and here He comes! And He rescues Israel in the midst of Armageddon, then I believe that generation will finally pass away. 

Now, look at a couple of other verses here. Go to verse 40: “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew:24:40-42). Now, I can tell you that, in the United States at least, the majority view is that they’re taken to judgment. I just gave a talk on this at the Pretrib Rapture Seminar last December in Dallas—they always ask me to talk about what nobody believes. And they didn’t agree with me. But I said, “Look, this is the Rapture. It can’t possibly be anything else, because look when it takes place.”

“Well,” they said, “that’s Judgment.” 

“Well,” I said, “show me a judgment. Show me a judgment where God snatches people out of bed and from the mill and from the field and takes them to judgment.” You want to go to chapter 25, it says, “All nations are gathered before Him, and He will separate the sheep from the goats.”

You show me a judgment—give me a judgment in the Bible where He snatches people out of bed and so forth, to take them to judgment. I don’t know where it is. 

But—very interesting. Let’s go back up. Verse 39: “And knew not until the flood came and took them all away.” The word there is airen and that means they’ve just been removed. But when it says “two shall be in the field; one shall be taken. Two women grinding at the mill; one shall be taken.” Jesus used a different word there: “paralambano.” And paralambano—what does it mean? It’s that word—Jesus used that very same Greek word in John:14:3 where He said, “I will come and paralambano you unto myself.” Sounds to me like the Rapture, folks!

But anyway, you can check it out. I’m not the authority. You check it out for yourselves. Now, go back to Second Thessalonians then. “We beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that day of Christ is at hand” (2 Thessalonians:2:1-3).

I believe the Day of Christ begins with the Rapture. That’s the day when God really begins to move in power on this earth. I think it’s the same as the Day of the Lord. But I can tell you this logically. Who would be upset by a letter from Paul that the Day of Christ was at hand? I use the King James (but I’m not a King James Only). But the King James is wrong here. And the margin tells me. The margin corrects it! The margin says, “Now present.” And you can look up the phrase “at hand” all through the Bible and it means “it’s about to come.”

But let me ask you a logical question: Who would be upset if Paul wrote a letter and said, “The Day of the Lord is about to come?” Who would be upset? If you believe that the Rapture, as I believe, marks the beginning of the Day of the Lord, you’d say, “Praise God! We’re about ready to get out of here!”

If you’re mid-trib, post-trib, pre-wrath—some people are amillennial—whatever you are, you wouldn’t be upset, would you? It’s [says it’s] going to happen, so it’s going to happen! So, what’s the point? Why would I be upset? 

But if Paul had taught you that the Rapture marks the beginning of the Day of the Lord, and now he tells you (as the margin says), and if anybody has NIV or NASB or whatever, it says, “is now present,” or “is already come,” and Paul told you the Rapture takes place before the Day of the Lord, and now you get a letter from Paul saying, “The Day of the Lord is here,” either Paul was lying or you’ve been left behind!

Now, who would be upset about that? Nobody but someone who believed in a Pre-trib Rapture. I think it’s a powerful voice for a Pre-trib Rapture. If you were Mid-trib, Post-trib, whatever, you’d say, “Well, okay. So, the Day of the Lord has come. We’ve got to face the Antichrist; let’s get on with it.”

Verse 3: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that shall not come except there come a falling away first [the apostasy], and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition…” (we believe that’s the Antichrist) who opposes and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember you not, that, when I was yet with you I told you these things? And now you know what prevents him (withholdeth), that he might be revealed in his time (2 Thessalonians:2:3-6).

We’re going to pick it up there in a moment. Verse 3 is confusing. It confuses a lot of people. They say, “Wait a minute! That day will not come except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.”

Well, it says the Antichrist has to be revealed first. Now, look. If the Antichrist—I know that couldn’t be right, because if the Antichrist has to be revealed, then I’m not looking for Christ. But all through the scriptures, 1 Thessalonians:1:10, he says “…and how ye have turned to God from idols to serve the living and the true God; and to wait for his son from heaven.” 

Philippians:3:20: “For our conversation [our way of life] is in heaven; from whence also we look for our Savior” (Philippians:3:20).

Titus:2:13: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior.

Jesus said, “Let your loins be girded about,” right? “…and your lights burning; and you like those who are watching and waiting for your Lord” (Luke:12:35).

Hebrews 9:(28): “…and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” 

If Aunt Jane tells you she’s coming for Christmas, or whatever, you don’t go to the airport now and start watching for her. But the Christians were told to watch and wait and expect! So, if they’re watching and waiting and expecting Christ at any moment, there can’t be some event that must come first! If the Antichrist must come first, then I’m not watching for Christ. I wouldn’t begin to look for Christ until the Antichrist came. If it has to be at the end of the Great Tribulation, I’m not looking for Christ now. But Jesus said [I mean, if I’ve got to go through this tribulation] but Jesus said, “Let your loins be girded, your lights burning, and you like those who are watching and waiting. 

So, I know that the Antichrist…well, then, what is it saying? I put it like this—and again, I’m not the authority. The Word of God is our authority. I’m telling you what I believe the Bible says. But you have to come to your own conclusions. 

Let me put it like this: “Next Sunday will not come except Saturday comes first and we have a big roast beef dinner.” Now when are we going to have a big roast beef dinner? Sunday! I didn’t say the roast beef dinner would come first. I said Saturday would come first. And I said Sunday would not come without having a roast beef dinner.

And Paul is saying the day of the Lord will not come without the apostasy coming first. And that apostasy we’ve had…the question is how bad does it get? Without the apostasy coming first, and the Day of the Lord will not come without the Antichrist being revealed.

Well, something prevents him from being revealed in his time. “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now hinders will hinder until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that wicked be revealed” (2 Thessalonians:2:6-8).

So, the hindering is of the revelation of “that wicked,” and that’s the Antichrist. I think that’s pretty clear. There is a person—Antichrist is a person. Not a spirit, but there is a spirit of antichrist as well. But there is a man, there is a person, who is yet to come. Study it out for yourself, First John:2:18: “We know that Antichrist shall come, even so there are many antichrists in the world.” 

Okay? There are a lot of little antichrists, but the big guy is yet to come. This is what John tells us, and this is what Paul is talking about. “Then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish.”

We’ll pick it up there in a minute, perhaps, although our time is really fleeting. “Then shall that wicked be revealed, and something… (not something—you know what prevents him from being revealed in his time), only he who now hinders will hinder, until he be taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians:2:7).

It’s a person that is preventing Satan from putting his Antichrist in control of this world. Well, who could that person be? No human being, because the one who was hindering in Paul’s day would continue to hinder until he would be taken out of the way.

Only God could prevent Satan from putting Antichrist in control of the world. But you can’t take God out of the way. (I’m only telling you my beliefs. You have to check this out for yourself).

You can’t take God out of the way because He’s omnipresent. You can’t take the Holy Spirit out of the way because He’s omnipresent. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is going to be here during the Great Tribulation because many souls get saved and they pay for their faith with their lives.

Well, then, what does he mean? I believe that there’s only one conclusion that I can come to, and I go to John 7: “In that last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink…and out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.”

And then John gives us his commentary on what Jesus said: “This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

What do you mean, the Holy Spirit was not yet given? He came upon the Old Testament prophets and so forth. They spoke as they were inspired of the Holy Spirit. But He could leave them. David said, “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” 

But on the Day of Pentecost, there came a new presence of the Holy Spirit on this earth. He indwelt the believers, never to leave us! “We have been sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise unto the day of redemption,” Paul tells the Ephesians (Ephesians:1:4).

And that presence that was never known on the earth will be removed at the Rapture, and if the church was still here, we would oppose the Antichrist, we would expose him. Furthermore, it says in Revelation:13:7, “he has authority to make war with the saints and to overcome them.” But “the gates of hell cannot prevail” against the church.

The whole church—look, if you believe in a post-trib Rapture, it’s a classic nonevent. There’s nobody left to rapture. If you don’t take the mark of the Beast, you can’t buy or sell. If you don’t bow down and worship him, you’re going to be killed. And he has authority to make war with the saints. These, I believe, are the tribulation saints who believe in Christ during the Tribulation. And you read it there in Revelation: a great company of souls under the altar, and these haven’t been resurrected yet, and they cry out, “How long, oh, Lord, until you revenge us?” And He says, “Not until the rest of your brethren have been slain.”

And then in Revelation:20:4 it tells us of the resurrection of these people. 

Now, I believe (and there’s more that I wanted to say, but I’m going to try to wind it up now)—I was going to really shock you with a few things but…because we have an apostasy with “all deceivableness of unrighteousness (v. 10) in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians:2:10-12).

I had thought this delusion must be after the Rapture, but as I see what’s happening in the church today, I cannot explain it. It’s not rational, what people.… I’ll give you just one example. Here’s Peter Kreeft (photo). He’s a Catholic—he teaches at a Catholic university. And he’s written a book called Ecumenical Jihad. He wants ecumenism. He wants all religions to be united. And in that book, he sees “Confucius [I’m quoting him] in the outskirts of heaven in the place you call purgatory [well, we don’t call it that, Catholics believe in it]. He’s ‘God’s prophet’ on the way to heaven (Confucius is). Buddha and Muhammad are already in heaven. And they’ve been God’s prophets all along. Many of their followers—Muhammad hopes most of his pious followers will make it to heaven.” They’re “crypto-Christians,” he calls them.

And this is what John Paul II calls his close friend Gorbechev. He’s a “crypto-Christian.” (He’s an atheist.) But he’s on his way to heaven! And he sees Muhammad because of his veneration of Mary and her mention 34 times in the Qur’an, she’s closer in spirit to the touchstone of Catholic truth than you Protestants are. He suggests a hidden Christ in Hinduism! (pp 156-160). This is Ecumenical Jihad. (You might want to get the book.) Pagans and atheists and agnostics are really secret believers in Jesus without knowing it! [audience laughter] And, finally, he says that Teilhard de Chardin’s idea of a universal eucharist transforming the whole universe into this cosmic Christ! He believes in that! 

Well, you laugh. Let me tell you who endorsed him on the back cover. J. I. Packer. Do you know that name? J. I. Packer’s written some tremendous books: Knowing God: J. I. Packer. He’s been a staunch (I thought) fundamentalist, evangelical. Of course, he signed Evangelicals and Catholics Together.  Who else endorsed this book? This incredible book, on the back cover? Chuck Colson! (Prison Fellowship) He’s written some wonderful books as well. 

How can you explain this? I cannot explain it. Paul says there’s an apostasy. How much worse does it have to get? [Taken from screen: “…and for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” —2 Thessalonians:2:10]

I believe the Antichrist is coming. I believe it’s very close. But I believe before He can come, we must be taken out of here. And I believe that the Rapture is very close, and it’s something that we should be looking for at any moment. The problem is an awful lot of Christians are not looking for the Rapture. In fact, if the Rapture occurred today, it would interrupt an awful lot of plans. They tell the story of a pastor who was speaking and during his talk he asked, “How many of you want to go to heaven?” And every hand went up in the auditorium except for one little boy, sitting on the front row. And the pastor was concerned, so after the meeting, he sat down beside him, and he said, “don’t you want to go to heaven?” 

“Yessir, I want to go to heaven.”

“Well, I asked everybody who wanted to go to heaven to raise their hand, and you didn’t raise your hand. Why didn’t you?”

“Well, I thought you meant right now!” 

See, heaven is the place everybody wants to go to—but not now. No, we’ve got too many other things we want to do. But we’re supposed to be the Bride of the Bridegroom. I mean, you’d better cancel the wedding if the bride isn’t anxious for the wedding day. And the Lord, the Bridegroom I know wants to have us there. And He looks down from heaven upon a lot of people who profess to be His Bride, who profess to belong to Him. Then He finds that they don’t want to be up there! “Well, Lord, I mean, we just retired, and we’re going to take a trip. We’ve never been to Hawaii.”

“Lord, we’re going to get married, and at least let us have our honeymoon!”

“I just got a new business, Lord, and I think it’s going to be really successful! Couldn’t you just let us make a little money?”

We’ve got all kinds of plans that interfere with our desire to be with Christ. So, we could ask two questions. We could say, “How Close Are We?” I wrote a book by that title. But I think a more important question is, “How close do you want it to be?” Are there things in this world that you love more than your Lord? Well, I know we have unsaved loved ones, and we want to see them saved. But other than that, are there things that you’d rather do than go to heaven? Heaven’s a place that everybody wants to go to, but not just yet! “Oh, I thought you meant right now, Pastor.”

Prayer: Father, I pray that you will speak to my heart and to all of our hearts. Lord Jesus, you told us to be ready. You said, “At such an hour as we think not, you would come. You would catch us by surprise.”

John, in his first epistle, spoke of being—that we should not be ashamed; how we would live in order not to be ashamed at His coming. Father, I pray that the coming of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, would so motivate us (He could come any moment) that we would live for Him, we would witness for Him, realizing we may not have next week or next month. And we would say, in the words of scripture, “The Spirit and the Bride say, come!” Lord Jesus, come! Help us to love you more and help us to long for your coming, and knowing that it could be soon, then what manner of persons we ought to be. Help us, then, we pray, in Jesus’s name. Amen.