Series of 13 Sermons by Pastor Ron Thomas On
"Our Final Journey"

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Final Journey Series

Series Review and Introduction: So far in this series, we have covered six topics that concern the journey that awaits us. Of course, we are speaking of our journey beyond the grave into eternity. Lost or saved, we all have a final journey ahead of us. Here are the messages we have preached.

Sermon One: BORN FOR ETERNITY. Ecclesiastes 3:11 reads, "He hath made every thing beautiful in His time: also He hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end."

Sermon Two: FACING THE INEVITABLE. Ecclesiastes 8:8 reads, "There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it." Hebrews 9:27 says, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment."

Sermon Three: FACE TO FACE WITH GOD. Ecclesiastes 12:7 says, "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."

Sermon Four: BETWEEN DEATH AND THE RESURRECTION. II Corinthians 12:2-3. "I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)"

Sermon Five: A PLACE CALLED HELL. Luke 16:22 -23 says, "And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom."

Sermon Six: A PLACE CALLED HEAVEN. Luke 23:40-43 says, "But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into Thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise."

This brings us to our seventh message in this series. RAPTURED!

Introduction: There is one great, gigantic bump in the road on this FINAL JOURNEY. It is this thing called death. Yes, for the child of God, death has lost its sting and victory. Death is not final for a believer. Jesus by His resurrection has conquered death. In the New Testament, when the death of a believer is mentioned, it is called "sleep." Death however is still death! None of us especially like to attend funerals, visit the morgue, or picnic in the cemetery. Death is an enemy that one day will be destroyed. O how we wish we could avoid death. There is great industry in America for products that promise delay or even deliverance from the inevitability of aging and death. The truth is, death is unavoidable. Hebrews 9:27 says, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." Realistically, we must make our preparation even as believers, to FACE THE INEVITABLE. We all have an appointment with death.

It is at this point that I want to share some exciting news. Not all believers will begin life's FINAL JOURNEY with that bump in the road known as death. There will be some believers who will give death the slip! For some, the FINAL JOURNEY will begin with a translation, or catching out!

For those who know the Scriptures, this should not seem unbelievable or outside the realm of possibilities. After all, the Old Testament bears record of two men who did the same. Genesis 5 tells us of Enoch, of whom it says, "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." Enoch did not face death. He was translated. Hebrews 11:5, makes this very clear. It says, "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." The Greek word for "translate" means to change, to remove. We know that "that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption," therefore it necessitated a change for Enoch to be with God. The same happened to the prophet Elijah. His translation was orchestrated a little differently. The Lord sent a "chariot of fire" catching out Elijah in a "whirlwind." II Kings 2:11 reads, "And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven." So as you can see, it is not like this kind of thing is unprecedented.

Our Savior Jesus Christ opened the door to the possibility of avoiding death in John 11, while facing the death of His friend Lazarus. Notice His words in John 11:25-26. "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: (resurrection) And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.(rapture) Believest thou this?" The context of this passage is the loss of Lazarus to physical death. Here Jesus establishes Himself as the "resurrection and life." In this passage, Jesus calls Lazarus forth from the grave, proving His claim. Knowing, believing, in Jesus Christ, we can have victory over not just spiritual death through regeneration, but physical death, either in the resurrection or the rapture! Later in John 14, Jesus makes a promise to all believers. He says in verse 3, "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." Jesus will come one day for the purpose of receiving us unto Himself! Hallelujah!!! This exciting news is shared by the apostle Paul in the New Testament in two wonderful passages.

The first passage is 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. "Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."

The second passage is I Thessalonians 4:13-18. "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him.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 them which are asleep.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:17 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.18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words."

This first phase of the second coming of Jesus Christ, is often called or identified as the "Rapture of the Saints," or the "Rapture of the church." I refuse to call it the "Rapture of the church," because the New Testament makes a distinction between the church and the family of God. We are born into the family of God, but we are added to the church by water baptism. Jesus is coming for all who have trusted in Him. Now, the word rapture is not a New Testament or biblical word. You will not find that word in the Bible. The word rapture comes from the Latin word "rapere" which means to "snatch away" or be "caught up." This is what is described in I Thessalonians 4:17 where Paul 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." We must not get hung up on the word rapture. We could just as easily describe this coming of Christ as "the catching out of the saints."

This coming of Jesus Christ is not to be confused with the second phase of the second coming of Christ. In Revelation 1:7 we read, "Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen." In this coming of Christ, Jesus will come to the earth as KING of KINGS and LORD of LORDS to take vengeance upon the earth, doing battle with earthly kings, the anti Christ, Satan himself, and then bringing in His earthly kingdom. All of this is revealed in Revelation chapters 19-20. This is a public coming, the rapture, is private. Here Jesus comes to the earth; in the rapture, believers are caught up to meet Jesus in the air.

Think about it! We who are believers and living in this generation, could experience the return of Jesus Christ in the air! We could be those who give death the slip! What a wonderful way to begin our FINAL JOURNEY! What can we expect when this takes place? Here are some biblical facts to consider.

First, the "catching out" will be instantaneous. Nothing is too hard for the Lord. In I Corinthians 15:51-52a Paul says, "Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." The Lord Jesus Christ shall come in the clouds, a trump shall sound signaling His return, those who are alive and remain after the resurrection of the dead in Christ shall be changed and caught up to be with Jesus, and all of this shall take place at the speed of light! The word "moment" is from atomos from which we get the word atom, and speaks of that which cannot be cut or divided. The word "twinkling" means to hurl and was used to refer to any rapid movement. This change and catching out of the living saints at the coming of Christ, will take place instantaneously, at the speed of light reflecting off the eye! God's people will be transformed and snatched, into thin air! It will happen so quick the believer will not even have time to buckle up.

Second, the "catching out" will be miraculous. Notice I Corinthians 15:53. "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." What a transformation this will be! In a split second, these mortal bodies shall become immortal. These corruptible bodies shall become incorruptible. It will only require a moment for God to get us ready for Heaven and caught up to be with Him in the air!

Having raised daughters, this is even a greater mystery to me. I have learned raising daughters, that transformation requires time. It takes time to become beautiful. Just to pick out the right ensemble means hours of deliberation and many changes. The Lord will do it all miraculously, in a split second.

In Philippians 3:21 the apostle Paul emphesizes the change that shall take place at the rapture. "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself." The word "vile" means lowly or humble. What a transformation! What a miracle! By His power, the Lord shall instantly change us to be like Jesus. John writes in I John 3:1-2, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is."

Third, the "catching out" will be mysterious. The apostle Paul calls all this a "mystery." He says in I Corinthians 15:51, "Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed." The word "mystery" in this context means that which was once concealed, hidden, unknown, is now revealed. The rapture or catching out of living saints at the return of Jesus Christ in the clouds, was hidden from the Old Testament saints, as was other things such as the revelation of Jesus Christ spoken of as the "mystery of godliness," the New Testament church, the blindness of Israel, and the mystery of iniquity.

The rapture of the saints is a mystery to us, in that no one knows just when it will take place. With purpose, the Lord has kept us in the dark as to the hour, the moment, of His return in the clouds. Notice these Scriptures. Matthew 24:36 reads, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." Verse 42 says, "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." Verse 44 says, "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." Verse 50 says, "The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of." Matthew 25:13 reads, "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." Mark 13:32 reads, "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." Luke 12:40 says, "Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not." How many times does He have to say it? The Lord desires to keep us on our toes, watching, looking, preparing for His return! Obviously those who set times and dates prove themselves a fraud!

Fourth, the "catching out" will be marvelous! What a way to go! It is no wonder the apostle Paul included himself in that number and said, "we which are alive and remain." Can you imagine what it would be like to be RAPTURED? One moment you are walking around burdened down with care; facing problems at home, problems at school, problems at work, financial problems, health problems; living in this body equipped with a fleshly nature that struggles to do right, think right, act right, speak right; and all of a sudden you hear God's trumpet, an incredible change comes over you, burdens fall off, the labor and limitations of a sin cursed existence cease; you are in the air, beholding the glorified Christ who is surrounded with not only these bright angelic beings, but friends, family, and loved ones who have gone on to Heaven before! We think "air Jordan" is cool. This is "air Jesus!"

Listen, the redeemed in Christ are not appointed unto wrath and judgement. We are not told to look for a time of tribulation. We are looking for the return of Jesus in the air! Titus 2:13 says, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ."

We are living in exciting times. Surly the coming of Christ is near! Indications are all around us. Here are twelve!

1. The regathering of Israel culminating in the rebirth and survival of that nation tells us that His coming is near. Ezekiel 36-37
2. The world's focus on the Middle East, Jerusalem, and the nation Israel tells us that His coming is near.
3. The rise of Russia as a world power and her alinement with other nations who hate Israel and are positioned to fulfill Ezekiel 38-39 tells us that His coming is near.
4. The increase of travel and knowledge tells us that His coming is near. Daniel 12:4
5. The moral breakdown in society tells us that His coming is near. II Timothy 3:1-5
6. The rise of lawlessness and spirit of rebellion world wide tells us that His coming is near. II Thessalonians 2:7-10
7. The apostasy from the faith among churches, and the increase in the proliferation and acceptance of cults and the occult tells us that His coming is near. I Timothy 4:1
8. The increase of false christs and those who mock the coming of Christ tells us that His coming is near. II Peter 3:1-2
9. The obvious movements toward a one world government and a new world order tells us that His coming is near. Revelation 16
10. The obvious movements toward a one world religion tells us that His coming is near. Revelation 17
11. The availability of technology that will enable government to control all buying and selling world wide tells us that His coming is near. Revelation 13
12. Unprecedented earthquakes and natural disasters tells us that His coming is near. Matthew 24:7

So, the question that remains is simple. Are you ready for the coming of Christ? Will you be RAPTURED, or left behind?

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