I'll give a little background information since this is the first article. I am a Bible teacher. For one thing, I have been teaching the Bible in the greater St. Louis area for about forty years, in churches, Bible colleges, home Bible studies, etc.
I received BS and MS degrees in engineering from St. Louis University and I worked as a test engineer on various space projects throughout the 60s; it was interesting. Very often we were doing things for the first time.
In 1964 the best thing that ever happened to me happened. I became a born again Christian; thanks be to God! In the fall of 1969 I quit my job as an engineer. For one thing, I wanted to go to seminary to learn Greek and Hebrew and everything else that could help me understand the Bible. But I realized back then, and I realize even more now, how dependent I am on the Holy Spirit to be my primary teacher. I graduated from Covenant Seminary in 1972 with an MA degree in Biblical Studies. I have found Greek and Hebrew to be very helpful in my study of the Bible, especially Greek, and I have taught some ten classes in New Testament Greek over the years.
The church I was attending when I became a born-again Christian - and I'm very thankful for that church - taught me the pre-week rapture. Most Christians call it the pre-tribulation rapture, but I believe it is far more accurate to call it the pre-week rapture. The week refers to that seven-year period we learn about from Dan. 9:27. It's called Daniel's 70th week; it's a week of years.
Not long after I became a born-again Christian, I learned of the mid-week rapture while taking night classes at Covenant College and Seminary. My first five or six years as a Christian, I didn't study the end times much, and I didn't teach on the end times. Finally, about 1970, after I began to seriously and prayerfully study the topic, it became clear to me that the mid-week rapture is correct, and I have been teaching the mid-week rapture for about forty five years now. I wrote a book titled "The Mid-Week Rapture: A Verse-by-Verse Study of Key Prophetic Passages." You can check out the book (or, order a copy of the book) by Googling to Karl Kemp Teaching. A chapter of the book is included on my internet site. You can also check out my other book there, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ." And many of my articles and papers are posted on my internet site.
I'm not here to argue, and I'm thankful I can sincerely say that I respect those teaching the pre-week rapture (people like Hal Lindsey and Dave Hunt, for example), and I respect those teaching other views like the end-of-the-week rapture, and the pre-wrath rapture, but it is very important that we seek God and make it a top priority to find the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches on the end times, and on every topic. Some topics are more important than Bible prophecy, but this topic is quite important, and especially for those living in the end times, which I believe we are. The primary topic I have been studying, teaching, and trying to live the last forty five years is holiness and victory over sin.
I have been reading the Jerusalem Post every week for about twenty years now and the Jerusalem Report every two weeks for about that long; they are both written in Israel; And I read some other publications too, trying to keep up with what is happening in the world, especially in and around Israel. For one primary thing, I have been watching for the treaty that will initiate the seven-year period we call Daniel's 70th week.
That seven-year period is very important in Bible prophecy. We learn about that seven-year period from the book of Daniel, but the book of Revelation picks up on that theme. The book of Revelation never mentions seven years, but it mentions the equivalent of three and one-half years five times; it mentions 1260 days, 42 months, and a time, times and half a time. The first two uses refer to the first half of Daniel's 70th week and other three uses refer to the second half of that seven-year period. This information is very important to help us understand the end times. For one primary thing, the book of Revelation speaks of several very important things that will take place right in the middle of the seven-year period, including the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet, the return of the Lord Jesus to save His people and to judge the world, and the resurrection and rapture of the saints. At that same time, the devil and his angels will be cast down to the earth and Antichrist will begin his super-evil three and one-half year reign. God will use Antichrist in His end-time judgment of the world.
One last comment before we move on to the Scriptures. We'll spend most of our time discussing key passages of Scripture verse-by-verse. I read an important article in the Jerusalem Post recently titled, "Chirac, it's time to impose peace." Chirac, as you know, is the president of France, and he was speaking of France and the European Union doing everything they could do to bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinians, or should I say, to use his word, to "impose" peace. That mentality in Europe and many other places around the world could easily lead to the final seven-year treaty before long. I should mention that Chirac has been replaced by Sarkozy since I made that comment, but that mentality is stronger than ever.
Let's turn to the Bible, 1 Thess. 1:9, 10. I'll always use the NASB, 1995 edition, unless I mention otherwise. I have been using the NASB since about 1969. Before that I used the KJV, the Scofield Reference Bible. I will frequently make comments in the middle of quotations using brackets [ ] or [[ ]]. 1 Thess. 1:9, "For they themselves report about us [referring to the apostle Paul and his companions Silvanus and Timothy] what kind of a reception we had with you [referring to the time when Paul and his companions first came to Thessalonica to share the gospel with them. See Acts 17 for the details.], and how you turned from idols to serve a [or, the] living and true God." Whether we translate "a living and true God" or "the living and true God," which sounds better, there's only one living and true God, the God of Creation, the God of the Bible (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit).
I'll read verse 9 again and then read verse 10. "For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, (10) and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus who rescues us [or, delivers us] from the wrath to come." Our being delivered from the wrath to come is good news, good news indeed. We probably know more about the details of this deliverance from the wrath to come than the apostle Paul did. For one thing, he died some thirty years before the book of Revelation was given, and the book of Revelation is super-important and packed with important details regarding the end times.
I'll read two other verses that speak of our being saved from the wrath to come. 1 Thess. 5:9, "For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." And Rom. 5:9, "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him." I believe we should understand the words "having now been justified" in a very full sense here, as is often the case in the New Testament, a very full sense that includes being forgiven and declared righteous and being born-again and made righteous by the awesome power of Jesus' blood and the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are made righteous and holy by the atoning death of Christ, as we walk in, by, and after the Holy Spirit by faith, in accordance with the terms of the new covenant. (See my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin.")
I'll read 1 Thess. 5:9 and Rom. 5:9 again, then I'll go back and read 1 Thess. 1:10. 1 Thess. 5:9, "For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." Rom. 5:9, "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him." And now 1 Thess. 1:10 again, "and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us [or delivers us] from the wrath to come." What wrath will we be saved from? The primary wrath we will be saved from is the eternal lake of fire, the second death of Revelation chapter 20. But we will also be saved from all the wrath that will be poured out during the second half of that seven-year period called Daniel's 70th week.
Now we'll discuss 1 Thess. 4:13-17. I'll start to read 1 Thess. 4:13, "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep [Those who are asleep are the Christians who have died already; they are with Christ now.], so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. [Christians are the only ones who have the hope, "Christ in you the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27), for example. Our hope looks to the future, when we will be glorified, at the time of the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. We can't receive the glory until it is God's time. If we stay faithful we will receive the glory at the right time. And we can stay faithful by the sufficient grace of God in Christ. And we are going to stay faithful, aren't we?] (14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. [Don't worry about the Christians who have died, Paul says, they are with Christ now, and when the Father sends His Son back to fully save His people and to judge the world, He will bring with Him the spirits of the departed Christians, who are with Him now. They will come back to get their resurrection bodies, to be glorified, and to begin to reign along with the overcoming Christians who will still be living on the earth at that time.] (15) For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. [The apostle Paul will have more to say on this point as he continues.] (16) [Verses 16 and 17 are very important verses to understand the end times] "For the Lord Himself [the Lord Jesus Christ] will descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel [The voice of the archangel, that's Michael. We read in Revelation chapter 12 that Michael and his angels are going to wage warfare against the devil and his angels. That intense, brief warfare will take place right in the middle of the seven years, and that is when the devil and his angels will be cast down to the earth. By the way, we learn from that passage in Revelation chapter 12 that a third of God's angels joined Satan in his rebellion against God. The sin problem runs very deep, with the rebellion and fall of the devil and the evil angels and the demons, and finally with the rebellion of a large number of the sons of mankind who follow the devil in his rebellion against God.] and with the trumpet of God [[This trumpet is very important. It is quite significant that this is the same trumpet as the trumpet of Matthew chapter 24; the trumpet of 1 Corinthians chapter 15; and the trumpet of Revelation chapter 11. In Matt. 24:30, 31 there is a trumpet when the Lord returns with the clouds to initiate the rapture and the day of judgment. In 1 Cor. 15:52 the apostle Paul gets more specific. He speaks of our being changed at the last trumpet (Our being changed includes the resurrection unto glory of the believers who will have died before that time and of the glorification of the believers who will be living on the earth at that time). Paul may not have known the details regarding the last trumpet because, for one thing, he died some thirty years before the all-important book of Revelation was given. When we finally get the book of Revelation (about AD 95), we read of the seven trumpets, and we see that at the seventh and last trumpet is when the Lord returns and the glorification of the believers take place. We read of the seventh and last trumpet sounding in Rev. 11:15. It is important to see that the trumpets of 1 Thess. 4:16; Matt. 24:31; the LAST trumpet of 1 Cor. 15:52; and the seventh and LAST trumpet of Rev. 11:15 are the same trumpet and that that trumpet will sound right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. Let's take a quick look at these three passages that speak of this same trumpet. (We will look at these passages in more detail in future articles.)
First let's take a quick look at 1 Cor. 15:50-52, "Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. [In other words, we have to be glorified and have glorified bodies to inherit God's eternal kingdom of glory.] (51) Behold I tell you a mystery, we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed [Some true Christians will still be living on the earth when Christ returns. They will not die, but all will be changed. That is, we will be glorified and enter God's kingdom in its fully glorified sense. We will begin to reign with Christ at that time in a never ending reign.] (52) In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the LAST TRUMPET, for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we [referring to the believers still living on the earth when Christ returns] will be changed [we will be glorified, including having glorified bodies designed for us to live in God's eternal kingdom of glory]."
Now let's take a quick look at Matt. 24:30, 31. I'll read the verses and make a few comments, "And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn [They will mourn because the day of judgment will have arrived.] and they will see the Son of Man [the Lord Jesus Christ] coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. (31) And He will send forth His angels with a GREAT TRUMPET and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other [In other words, the angels will gather His elect worldwide.]. This gathering of God's elect at the time of the sounding of this trumpet is the rapture. His elect are the believers of all generations, all the members of God's true Israel. In Rom. 11:17-24 the apostle Paul spoke of the fact that all true Gentile Christians have been grafted into the tree of God's true Israel.
Now I'll read Rev. 11:15-17, verses of key importance, and make a few comments, "Then the seventh angel sounded.[The seventh angel sounded his TRUMPET. The seven trumpets were given to the seven angels in Rev. 8:2.], and there were loud voices in heaven saying, 'The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever.' [When the Lord Jesus returns at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet, He will begin to reign on the earth, and His reign will include judging. In most ways God is not reigning on the earth at the present time. He has all authority, but He has not chosen to reign on the earth in any full sense. If He were reigning things would come into divine order quickly, but as it is many things are getting worse (more sinful) instead of getting better. But it will be different when the Father sends His Son to begin to reign on the earth at the sounding of the seventh trumpet in the middle of Daniel's 70th week.] (16) and the twenty-four elders [high-level angelic beings who are reigning with God (see Psalm 89:6-8, for example), who sit on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, 'We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and HAVE BEGUN TO REIGN.' " He will begin to reign on the earth (mostly through the ministry of God the Son) at the time of the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet of the book of Revelation.
Now I'll continue quoting from 1 Thess. 4:16.]], and the dead in Christ shall rise first. [That is, the true Christians who will have died before the Lord Jesus returns will rise from their graves with resurrected bodies.] (17) Then we who are alive and remain [referring to the true Christians who will still living on the earth when the Lord returns] shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air [That is, the resurrected believers and the other glorified believers will be caught up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. That's the rapture. The catching up of the believers in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air is the rapture.], and so we shall always be with the Lord. [And not only will we be glorified and be with Christ, we will be reigning with Him from that time on in a never-ending reign.] (19) Therefore comfort one another with these words." Yes, I guess so! What a destiny! Resurrected if we have died, glorified, raptured, and beginning to reign with the Lord Jesus Christ in a never-ending reign in glory.
Let's consider one more detail regarding those who will be raised from the dead at the time of Christ's mid-week return to the earth. Will the believers from the Old Testament days be resurrected at that time? Many Christians say no, but I believe they will be included, even if the apostle Paul didn't really make that point here. See Dan. 12:2, for example. (We'll study all of Daniel chapter 12 verse-by-verse in these studies.) They are saved through the Lord Jesus Christ, and they are part of God's true Israel along with us.
Now let's go to 1 Thessalonians chapter 5; I'll quote and discuss the first four verses here. Then I'll quote and very briefly discuss verses 5, 6. "Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. [Why not? Because Paul had taught them quite a bit already.] (2) For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. [It is very important to see that the Lord Jesus is not coming for us like a thief in the night, like many teach He is. He is coming like a thief in the night for those who are living in rebellion against Him and who are not looking for, and ready for, His coming. Verses 3 and 4, which I'll read next, suffice to demonstrate that the Lord is not coming for us like a thief in the night.] (3) While THEY are saying, 'Peace and safety!' then destruction will come upon THEM suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and THEY will not escape. [They will be saying things like 'Peace and Safety' instead of repenting and submitting (in faith) to God and His new-covenant plan of salvation. They will not escape, but those who are ready for, and looking for, Christ's second coming will escape. Instead of facing God's destructive judgments, they will be glorified and raptured from the earth to begin to reign with Him.] (4) But you brethren are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief."
I'll give an important cross-reference, Rev. 3:1-6. I'll start to read at Rev. 3:1, "And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars [The Lord Jesus Christ], says this: 'I know your deeds [or works], that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. (2) Wake up and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds [works] completed in the sight of My God. [To the extent we really have faith, we will have works, the works that the saving grace of God, which includes the indwelling Spirit of God, enables us to do. Faith without works is dead, that is, it isn't real faith.] (3) So remember what you have received and heard, and keep it, and repent. [We don't hear the word repent near enough in our day. We should hear about the need for repentance when we become Christians and the need for repentance whenever Christians are living in sin. If we are in sin, we must repent; there is no other satisfactory answer. The Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, has a lot to say about repentance.] Therefore if you do not wake up [Christ warns these Christians at Sardis and all Christians in the same situation], I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you. (4) But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with Me in white for they are worthy [We are made worthy by the saving grace of God in Christ]. (5) He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. (6) He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.' " There is a powerful warning here. The Lord Jesus warned those Christians that if they did not repent they would forfeit their place in God's eternal kingdom that is filled with His glory. If we look to God, He will give us the grace to repent.
Jesus said that if those Christians at Sardis who needed to repent did not repent, He would come against them in judgment like a thief (like a thief in the night; at an hour they would not know) and He indirectly stated that He would erase their names from the book of life, which would mean that they would no longer be His people. He said the same thing to many other Christians in the seven churches. You frequently hear it said that those Christians that Jesus threatened with loss of salvation never were true, born-again Christians, but that is clearly wrong. In verse 2 Jesus exhorted them to "wake up and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die." Those words confirm that they were still part of the true Christian church. And the fact that the Christians who needed to repent at Sardis had soiled their clean garments through living in sin without repentance (unlike the few Christians at Sardis who had not soiled their garments), showed that they had become true Christians. I'll read Rev. 19:8, which speaks of the bride of Christ, "It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints [the righteous acts (and lifestyle) of the Christians during their lives on the earth]." If the Christians at Sardis who had soiled their garments would repent, which Jesus was calling them to do, they would cleanse their garments through the powerful saving grace of God in Christ.
Furthermore, the fact that that Jesus indirectly stated that He would erase their names from the book of life also demonstrates that they had become true Christians. Otherwise their names wouldn't have been in the book of life "from the foundation of the world." (See Rev. 13:8; 17:8.) I'll give one more example to demonstrate that the Christians who were called to repent, or forfeit their salvation, were true Christians. The fact that the Christians at Ephesus (see Rev. 2:1-7) had a lampstand demonstrated that they were part of the true Christian church (Rev. 1:20). However, Jesus warned them that if they didn't repent, He would "remove their lampstand" (Rev. 2:5).
I recommend that you read my paper, "Once Saved, Always Saved?" that is on my internet site. I tried very hard to give the balanced truth of what the New Testament teaches on this topic in that paper. Even though I don't believe that doctrine lines up with the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches, I have significant respect for Christians who hold that doctrine, as long as they are not abusing that doctrine, and there are large numbers of Christians like that. An example of abusing the doctrine is when Christians disregard the powerful warnings to repent throughout the New Testament in passages like Rev. 3:1-6. As long as Christians who need to repent take the warnings seriously and repent, we don't have much of a problem. But we must repent!
True Christians should not lose their salvation. And I am much closer to Christians who don't believe true Christians can lose their salvation, as long as they aren't abusing the doctrine, than I am to Christians who very sincerely end up striving (mostly in the flesh) trying to please God and stay saved. We desperately need the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches!
I have observed over the years that large numbers of Christians are not doing much seeking God for the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches, because they assume that they have it already. All of us Christians (and especially ministers) need to humble ourselves before God and sincerely seek Him for the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches. Every misinterpretation of the Bible hurts, and some are catastrophic.
Now I'll quote 1 Thess. 5:4 again and further discuss this verse, "But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief." "The darkness" goes with Satan's kingdom of darkness, a kingdom of rebellion and sin, a kingdom not established on God's truth, righteousness, and holiness. The apostle Paul clearly states here that the day of judgment will not overtake us like a thief if we are living for God in His divine order.
One reason that the day of judgment will not overtake us as a thief in the night is that God has told us several definite things that will come to pass in the years just preceding the return of Christ. For example (and we will talk more about all these things in some detail as we continue with these studies), we will see the seven-year treaty that Antichrist will make, or confirm, with Israel. There may be some doubt at first about whether that particular treaty is the one spoken of in Dan. 9:27. But any doubt will be removed when things start taking place in sequence in accordance with God's prophetic word. For example, the three and one-half year ministry of God's two prophets/witnesses that we learn about from Revelation chapter 11 will begin at the time that treaty is initiated. The first six trumpets of the book of Revelation will sound and the prophesied events associated with those trumpets will all come to pass, in sequence, before the Lord returns at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. For one last example, Antichrist's abomination of desolation will come to pass in the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem about a month before the Lord returns and the rapture takes place. We should know the approximate day of His return many days before He returns.
Now I'll read 1 Thess. 5:5, 6. "for you are all sons of light and sons of day [The light and the day goes with walking in God's truth and His righteousness and holiness.] We are not of night nor of darkness; (6) so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober [or, self-controlled]."
In the next article we'll start where we stopped today. God bless you!
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.