Between the Trees By Pete Garcia and Randy Nettles "There’s a tree on the first…
Revelations of Paul, & the Mystery of the Rapture – Part 3
By Randy Nettles
Paul taught on the Lord’s supper in 1 Corinthian 11, which he learned of by revelation from the Lord (and not by men/apostles). “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you” (1 Cor. 11:23). Paul speaks about the Lord’s supper which occurred on the night Jesus was betrayed before the crucifixion, where he broke bread (after giving thanks) and said, “Take, eat; this is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me. He also took the cup of wine after supper and said, This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:25-26). In the Church, this is a tradition known as communion. It reminds us of Christ’s death and sacrifice for us on the cross, his resurrection, and ultimately the glorious hope of His return at the Rapture.
Paul teaches on the gifts of the Holy Spirit that church members receive and then declares that love is the greatest gift of all. All other gifts will ultimately fail or vanish but love will never end. “For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” (1 Cor. 13:9-12).
Paul is teaching on the Rapture in these verses. The perfect that Paul is referring to is the translation of our minds and bodies that will occur at the Rapture. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must be put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:54). At the Rapture, we will be made perfect after the fashion of Jesus Christ Himself. “We know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. For everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:1-3).
Paul teaches that no matter what happens; no matter the persecution, trials, and tribulations, some things will always abide for the Christian: “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three (the number for divine perfection); but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13).
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Before Paul’s second clear teaching of the doctrine of the Rapture in 1 Cor. 15:51-54, the apostle makes the comparison (and differences) between the two created men Adam and Jesus. “The first man Adam became a living being. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.” (1 Cor. 15:45-50).
The Rapture was a mystery unknown to mankind until it was revealed to Paul, who first described it in 1 Thes. 4:15-17. Approximately 5 years later, Paul expounded upon the Rapture to the church of Corinth and believers everywhere.
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:51-53).
In 2 Corinthians, Paul preaches on the power of faith even in times of trouble. We would be wise to heed these words in this current age of trouble. “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed — always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, I believed and therefore I spoke; we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you” (2 Cor. 4:8-10, 13-14). Of course, Paul is referring to the Rapture here.
Paul talks about the glory to come in the next life compared to the afflictions we face in this present life. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18).
In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul speaks about the confidence Christians have whether we live or die and the assurance of the resurrection. “So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:6-8).
Paul also tells us (Christians) that we are a new creation and have been reconciled to God. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:17-19).
In Acts 9:16, God tells Ananias how Saul (Paul) would have to suffer many things for My name’s sake. Paul lists these many sufferings and persecutions in 2 Cor. 11:23-29. What a warrior for Christ Paul was, besides being the greatest evangelist, missionary, and theologian in the history of Christendom. Paul speaks of visions and revelations of the Lord he had in his life and how he could boast on them if he wished, but it was not profitable for him to do so. He knew it was only profitable to boast on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul also speaks of an “out of body experience” he had 14 years earlier (from when he wrote 2 Corinthians) in AD 43. “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Cor.12:2-4). Of course, Paul was referring to himself being “caught up” to the 3rd heaven, the abode of God. Harpazo (caught up) is the same word (or derivative of) that Paul used to describe the Rapture in 1 Thes. 4:17 and John used in Rev. 12:5 when he was referring to Jesus’ ascension into heaven.
There are four examples in the Old Testament where prophets had visions of the Lord God, Isaiah 6, Daniel 7, Daniel 10, and Ezekiel 1. In Paul’s catching up experience he says he heard “inexpressible words” which he was not to utter or repeat. John was the other New Testament witness who was taken up into heaven.
“After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this. Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald” (Rev. 4:1-3).
In Revelation 10:4, John sees a mighty angel coming down from heaven who cries with a loud voice (as when a lion roars) and when he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices. John was about to write down what the seven thunders uttered, but heard a voice from heaven saying, “seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered” and do not write them (Rev. 10:3-4). Paul and John were both apostles of the Lord. Both were authors of books in the New Testament and both were caught up to the 3rd heaven.
Referring to Daniel’s prophecies of the end times, “Daniel was told by an angel of the Lord to shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12:4). In contrast, John was told by an angel “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand. He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still” (Rev. 22:10-11).
Paul wrote, “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37).
It takes both the Old and New Testaments for the Bible to be complete. Moses said, “by the mouth of two or three witnesses a matter shall be established” (Deut. 19:5). The Old Testament and the New Testament are the two witnesses that establish God’s plan for mankind. The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed. The New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. They are both incomplete without the other. Daniel’s prophecies couldn’t be understood by his generation (and many generations to follow), so the Lord told him to seal the book until the end times.
The Bible says that Jesus was born when the fullness of the time had come (Galatians 4:4). After writing Revelation, John was told by the Lord not to seal up the words of the prophecy of his book, for the time of the end was at hand. Many of the prophecies of the Old Testament had been fulfilled at this time so the prophecies regarding the future could be better understood. Many future ones will not be understood until they actually occur.
Paul quotes the prophet Hosea regarding the calling out of the Gentiles, “I will call them My people, who were not My people, and her beloved, who was not beloved” (Romans 9:25). For the Jews, however, Paul paints a different story, for they continued in their pursuit of righteousness by trying to obey the law instead of living by faith. He explains that Jesus was the “stumbling stone” that Isaiah spoke about in his prophecy of Isaiah 59:20-21. Paul, quoting Isaiah, says, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame” (Romans 9:33).
In Romans 10, Paul reveals the truth of obtaining eternal salvation. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9-10,13).
Israel will eventually come to God’s saving grace, but first God’s attention will be focused on the Gentiles and the Church. In Romans 11, Paul, in my opinion, gives the reason for the delay in time between the 69th week and the 70th week in Daniel’s prophecy of the 70 weeks/sevens (Daniel 9:24-27).
“For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins” (Romans 11:25-27).
Israel’s blindness has been continuing for some 1988 years now, from AD 33 (the 69th seven or the 483rd year) until AD 2021. However, Israel’s rejection of their Messiah is not total, for at the end of the Tribulation (70th seven or the 490th year) they will call on the Lord Jesus and He will save the remnant of God’s chosen people.
In Ephesians 1, Paul speaks about the mystery of Christ’s will, “according to His good pleasure which He purposed to Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:10-12). Verse 10 is describing the Rapture in which Jesus gathers together both the dead in Christ, whose souls/spirits are in heaven and the believers who are still alive on the earth.
Only the ones who are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise will be raptured, “Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:14). We will be redeemed at the Rapture and will receive our inheritance when we get to the Father’s house.
In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he teaches on the mystery of Godliness. “God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16). Of course Paul is referring to Jesus Christ, who is God. Paul also wrote to Titus regarding the Rapture, “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:13-14).
In Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi, he writes about our (brothers in Christ) citizenship in heaven. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).
The author of Hebrews also speaks on the doctrine of the Rapture. “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Hebrews 9:27-28). Christ’s second appearance in verse 28 is not referring to the 2nd coming but rather the Rapture.
One day soon, when nobody is expecting it, the world will change forever. The change will come about not by human or natural causes but by a supernatural one…the rapture of the church.
It will be the greatest freak-out experience of all time as millions of Christians will simply vanish off the face of the earth, never to be seen again (this side of the Millennium/eternity). I believe both the translation of the body from flesh to spirit and the raising/catching up into the air will all happen so quick (in the twinkling of an eye) nobody who is left behind will witness it. There will not even be enough time for the eye to send electrical signals from the retina through the optic nerve to the brain.
The Holy Spirit, who indwells the church, is the One who is currently holding back (restraining) the power of lawlessness as described in 2 Thes. 2:6-8. Before the Antichrist can be officially revealed, the Holy Spirit has to be removed. Since the Holy Spirit is sealed within us, once He is taken out from amongst us at the Rapture, we have to go also. You can’t take the Restrainer without taking the container, as the old saying goes. This is the Rapture of the living Church, where not only are people removed from the earth, but also the Holy Spirit. He will not be removed completely for He is God, but His work of restraining evil will mostly come to an end, and that is when all hell breaks loose on the earth.
Satan and his demonic angels and humans will be completely free to dupe mankind into believing all their lies. One of those lies (a whopper) is that these removals of people from the earth are caused by extra-terrestrial beings in UFOs. There may even be massive amounts of UFO sightings after the Rapture. That is another reason I think the Rapture will not be witnessed so that unbelievers that are left behind will believe the lie and not the truth of God being the source of these removals. “And for this reason, God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie” (2 Thes. 2:11).
Pete Garcia, in his article Prophetic Ponderings: Part II, believes the Rapture could be countered with another supernatural event. He writes: “Let’s say the Rapture of the Church happens, and the world is reeling in the after-effects of it. Right around the same time, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) facility at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland successfully opens a doorway/portal to another realm, which then allows some benevolent visitors to come through. The only thing I could think of that would counter the Rapture of the Church in sheer gravitas, would be the opening of such a portal and the arrival of these otherworldly visitors. If the Restrainer is the Holy Spirit-indwelt Church, and the Church is removed, then so to will this supernatural restraint. And Satan is going to want to make a grand entrance. Has this not been what movies, television, books, comic books, and so forth have been conditioning us to believe now for decades?”
If you believe Satan’s lies and don’t believe in God or the gospel of Jesus Christ, then you will be one of those that are destined to be left behind after the Rapture to face God’s wrath. More than likely, these anti-Christians will believe the lies and explanations for the Rapture and will then be ideal candidates for following the Antichrist and false prophet and taking the mark of the beast (666). Once they receive the mark of the beast (the opposite of the Holy Spirit’s seal), they will not receive any more chances at salvation. As they share in the unholy Trinity’s (Satan, A.C., and false prophet) lies, they will also share in their eternal fate in the Lake of Fire.
The Hidden Doctrine of the Rapture
According to 1 Thes. 4:16-17, the dead and living believers in Jesus Christ will be translated and caught up together into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. The air is the space between outer space (2nd heaven) and Earth. It is our atmosphere and sometimes is referred to as the 1st heaven. At the Rapture, the Lord does not come to the earth, as He does at the 2nd Coming, nor do we meet Him in the 3rd heaven, but instead we meet Him in the sky. This is the first stop on our way to the Father’s house as described in John 14:2-3.
I always wondered why we meet in the sky instead of going directly to the Father’s house. To find the answer to this question, we need to go back to the very beginning. Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning God created (out of nothing) the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:2 – Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Many scholars believe something catastrophic occurred between verse 1 and verse 2 in Genesis 1 to cause the earth to become formless, empty, and dark (perhaps a worldwide flood that preceded Noah’s flood). This is known as the Gap Theory or the ruin and reconstruction theory. Some adherents to this theory believe that this state of ruin could have lasted for millennia. Many theologians believe the cause of the earth’s ruin in verse 2 occurred when Lucifer and his angelic followers rebelled against God and were cast out of Heaven (God’s abode) to the earth.
The six days of creation, starting in Genesis 1:3 is about God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) making (out of something that already existed – as in Genesis 1:1-2) the earth anew. The sky or atmosphere was created on the 2nd day when God made a “firmament in the midst of the waters” on (and under) the earth and the waters above (the water vapor canopy that surrounded the earth at that time). “And God called the firmament heaven (1st heaven). So the evening and the morning were the second day” (Genesis 1:8).
The 2nd day is the only one out of the 6 days of creation that God did not proclaim as being good. Have you ever noticed or wondered about this? Some scholars speculate this is because Satan and his fallen angels inhabited the sky (1st heaven) above the earth after God expelled them from the 3rd heaven as described in Ezekiel 28:12-19 and Isaiah 14:20-21. Paul referred to Satan as the prince of the power of the air in Ephesians 2:2. Like birds that fly in the air, the demonic spirits travel through the air to get from place to place on the earth so they can fulfill their evil work.
At the Rapture, the Church will meet in Satan’s domain and take away his ‘home field/court advantage.” Satan and his evil demonic spirits will be just as surprised as we humans are, as nobody (except the triune God) knows when this will take place. The demonic host’s surprise, as we invade their territory will be a very unpleasant one, while ours will be a most joyous one. Satan and his damned demons will get to witness our amazing transformation into perfection, as we will become like Christ in body, soul, and spirit. “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15).
That will be a very, very good day for those who love the Lord!
Amen, even so, come Lord Jesus!