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EPOCHS, LIFE ALTERING EVENTS (1 Corinthians 15:5-53;1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; John 14:1-3)

An epoch is an event or a time that becomes a point of reference that begins a new period of development. When an event occurs that is world-changing, or on a personal note, life-changing it is called an epoch.

Nine-eleven was a epoch. It certainly changed America. Our world wars were epochs. Landing on the moon was an epoch. In my lifetime I have seen many such epochs.

My life has been altered by three very distinct epochs:

The first was May 15th, 1953, when I met, fell in love with, and two years later, June 30th, 1955 married my wonderful wife Marlena. She began the change in my life that brought me to the second epoch. That would also include the birth of or children, Rachelle and John David. Rachelle’s birth in March of 1958 is what prompted the second Epoch…

The second epoch happened on a Thursday morning in October, 1958, when Pastor Jim Combs and a layman named Glenn Clark, from The Olivet Baptist Church in Lynwood, California, came to our home in Downey, California, and led me, a drunken atheist, to a saving knowledge of the LORD Jesus Christ.

The third happened in a little room at Rolling Hills Youth Camp, Citronel, Alabama, when I completely surrendered my Life to the LORD. It was a recommitment, a filling or a baptism of the Spirit. It was that day when I fully realized "I was not my own…" [1 Corinthians 6:19,20]. It was there I gave myself back to God.

The fourth epoch is yet to come.

The newspaper headlines, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, MSNBC, and thousands of News outlets around the world will report something like this: "Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt this program to bring you a news story of epic proportions. Last night, without warning millions of people vanished from the earth! The streets are filled with frantic citizens looking for their loved-ones. In the hours since this mysterious occurrence, our world has been torn apart by anarchy and chaos. Violence is spreading, and looting is rampant in the cities. Planes have crashed all over the world, and freeways are impassible, literally strewn with wrecked cars whose drivers suddenly disappeared. Trains have been derailed in every country, leaving confused, injured people wondering why help is so slow in coming. Panic-stricken mothers are looking for their missing children. Appeals to the Federal Government as to what has happened have been useless. Phone lines are down, for some reason some Cabinet members and many Congressmen cannot be reached. Where did everyone go? Speculation is beginning to mount about an invasion from outer space."

Farfetched? Impossible? Sensationalism? Or Bible? Listen to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, “I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep (died), lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say by the word of the LORD, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the LORD will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the LORD Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the LORD in the air. And thus shall we always be with the LORD. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

The Bible is God's Holy Word! It is one-hundred percent accurate and true. When Jesus says, "I will come again," believe it! When you least expect it, expect it! Even though time has spread over two-thousand years between His day and ours, it is still true! You can take it to the bank! One-hundred percent guaranteed! He will come again.

The most significant, single truth in all Bible prophecy is the certainty of the second coming of Jesus Christ. This event unlocks the door to all future events. It fulfills both Old Testament and New Testament prophecies, including many of Christ's own prophecies. It completes the work of salvation and starts God's prophetic clock for the future. The return of Christ (the rapture) actually begins a chain of events, that includes: the bema (Judgment) seat, the tribulation, the marriage feast of the Lamb, the campaign of Armageddon, the binding of Satan, the Millennium, the destruction of Satan, the destruction of earth, the great white throne judgment of unbelievers, a new Heaven and a new Earth, and eternity.

The next event on God's timetable is the “rapture” (from the Latin Vulgate, "rapturo,” meaning, “caught up"), the catching up of all true believers. Jesus tells us in John 14:1-3, "Let not your heart be troubled; 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 to prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."

The disciples were troubled. Jesus is going to leave. Soon He would be crucified, then He would conquer death and rise from the grave. A few days after that He would ascend into Heaven. So Jesus spoke these words to comfort them and us as we face the trials of life. In these three verses Jesus shares with His disciples four promises to ease their worries. 1. I will come again! 2. In My Fathers house are many mansions. 3. I'm going to prepare one for you, and 4. You will be with Me.

There is coming a day, when no heartaches shall come.

No more clouds in the sky, no more tears to dim the eye.

All is peace forevermore on that happy golden shore.

What a day, glorious day that will be.

There'll be no sorrow there, no more burdens to bear.

No more sickness, no pain, no more parting over there.

And forever I will be with One who died for me.

What a day, glorious day that will be.

What day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see.

When I look upon His face,

The one who saved me by His grace.

Then He'll take me by the hand,

And lead me through the Promised Land.

What a day, glorious day that will be.

(Jim Hall)

What a day Indeed…when Jesus comes back to take His children home! "And so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:17). I'm going up too! How about you?

Many of the predictions of the past have ended up sounding completely ridiculous:

British surgeon Sir John Eric Erickson said in 1873, "The abdomen, the chest and the brain will ever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon."

Ken Olson, President, chairman and founder of Digital E Equipment corporation, stated in 1977, "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.

Pierre Pachet, Professor of Psychology said in 1872, "Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is fiction."

If so many predictions have failed, why should we put any trust in the prediction of Jesus' second coming? Because, Jesus Himself said so! "I will come again." [John 14:3].

"People get ready Jesus is coming, soon we'll be gathered home.

People get ready Jesus is coming to take from the world His own."

(Crystal Lewis)

This fourth epoch will be ushered in “with a shout,” "en keleusmati, a military command." The Commander-in-chief of the universe will shout louder than any voice ever heard. What will He shout? "Come up here" (Revelation 4:1). That’s the shout John heard when he was “caught up to meet the LORD in the air.” This shout will be the rallying cry for ALL BELIEVERS to “meet The LORD in the air.”

And “the trumpet of God." The trumpet (the shofar) has always been for the purpose of arousing attention, assembling people, and giving warning. Then the LORD Himself shall appear and all the events of the end time will be launched on the earth.

I submit to you the Biblical fact that our enemy wants everyone to forget: after His crucifixion, Jesus Christ, God's Son rose triumphant from the grave, ascended through the clouds into heaven right before the eyes of His astonished disciples, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God in majesty and great power. The LORD of LORD'S is alive today, just waiting for the last blast of earthly rebellion to occur, then He will come again and receive us to Himself that where He is we may be also.

Jesus Christ is coming back to earth again! How can we believe that?

Look at the Scriptures. One verse in every thirty in the New Testament speak of the second coming. There are three-hundred nineteen references in the two-hundred sixteen chapters of the New Testament. The great Apostle Paul speaks of His second coming fifty times. More than one half of the Old Testament references about Christ refer to His second coming.

The testimony of the heavenly beings in Acts 1:8: "This same Jesus…will so come in like manner as you have seen Him go."

The testimony of the Apostles:

•Paul: Philippians 3:20,21: "For our citizenship is in heaven from which we eagerly wait for the Savior, the LORD Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body, that it may be conformed to His glorious body." Titus 2:13: "Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ."

•James: James 5:7: As James looked at the suffering of the working class of his day, he writes, "Therefore be patient brethren, until the coming of the LORD."

•Peter: 1 Peter 5:4: "When the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory…" 2 Peter 3:9-11: "…Looking for and hasting to the coming day of God."

•Jude: Jude 14,15: "Behold the LORD is coming with ten-thousand of His saints."

•John: 1 John 2:28: "Now little children abide in Him, that when He shall appear, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming." Revelation 1:7: "Behold He is coming with clouds and every eye shall see Him."

The Testimony of the Lord's Supper: 1 Corinthians 11:26: "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes."

Jesus Himself said in John 14:3: "I will come again!"

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18: we find five components of the rapture:

A Return, Verse 16a: "For the LORD Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout…"

A Resurrection, Verse 16b: "The dead in Christ will rise first…" Those who have died in the LORD…their bodies go to the grave awaiting the rapture. A resurrection of departed saints will occur just prior to the living being changed. Why are the dead raised first? The Bible doesn't say…But…Since it's our custom to bury the dead in the earth, they have a little farter to go.

A Rapture, Verse 17a: "Then we who are live and remain shall be caught up [raptured, caught up] together with them in the clouds, and thus shall we ever be with the LORD." So when Christ comes for His church, there will first be a resurrection, then a rapture. The church is the Rapture Preparation center. Get right for flight! Wake up, pack up, shape up, look up, we're going up! See you here, there, or in the air!

A Reunion, Verse 17b: "To meet the LORD in the air." All the believing loved-ones who have gone on before [“The dead in Christ will rise first…” 4:16]. They will be there to greet us.

A Reassurance, Verse 18: "Wherefore comfort one another with these words." Too many preachers tend to beat people up with the threat of the rapture. It should be very comforting to every child of God to know that our LORD is coming to get us. 1 John 2:28: "That we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming."

When is this fantastic event going to happen? "No one knows the day or the hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, only the Father…" [Matthew 24:36].

What do we know?

His coming is SURE: Jesus gave His last earthly command in Acts 1:9-11: "You will be witnesses…" Then as the astonished disciples watched, He was taken up and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked up…two men in white apparel said to them…This same Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner [bodily] as you saw Him go into heaven."

Every prophecy about His first coming was fulfilled to the minutest detail…His birth date, birthplace, the manner in which He was born, His sinless life, and His tortuous death, burial and resurrection were predicted thousands of years before the events took place. Yet every prediction occurred exactly as it had been prophesied. "When the fullness of time [exactly the right time] had come God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law" [Galatians 4:4]. And every prophecy about His second coming will be fulfilled, because, "The Scripture cannot be broken" [John 10:35].

His coming will be SUDDEN: He will come so suddenly it will take your breath away. "We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed–in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye [not the blinking of an eye], at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed" [1 Corinthians 15:51]. "While people will be saying, 'peace and safety,' destruction will come on them suddenly" [1 Thessalonians 5:3]. "For as the lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. What I say to you I say to everyone, watch!" [Matthew 24:7]. Jesus says in Revelation 22:20, "I am coming quickly." Couldn’t He at least send a warning memo or something? He has, the Bible, and you and I are to warn everyone!

His coming is SUPERNATURAL: His first coming was supernatural, His ascending into heaven was supernatural, and His second coming will be supernatural… "Every eye will see Him" [Revelation 1:7].

His coming will be SELECTIVE: True believers only will be taken, all others will be left behind. Matthew 24:37: As in the days of Noah…Only eight were saved. Matthew 7:14: “Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it." Hebrews 9:28: "To them that look for Him He will appear the second time, without sin to salvation."

His coming will be a SURPRISE: Matthew 24:36-44: "But of that day and hour no one knows…Therefore you be also ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him." “As in the days of Noah” [Matthew 24:37]. His coming will catch millions of people completely by surprise. It will be just another day, like any other day. People will be going about their daily routine, getting ready for the day, in their cars, at work, school, in bed, getting married, going to parties, playing with their kids, watching the game, sitting down for a meal, playing golf, going shopping, just like any other day. But it will not be like any other day! Suddenly, unexpectedly, The trumpet of God will sound, and "we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye"[1 Corinthians 15:52], we will be "caught up… to meet the LORD in the air…"

People all over the earth will mysteriously disappear, leaving piles of clothing and jewelry where they were standing. Swings will dangle empty as children go to be with Jesus. Driverless vehicles will careen out of control. Pilotless airplanes will crash to the ground. Runaway trains will plow through stations. The world will be in utter chaos, caught by complete surprise. Jesus said it would be like that. Jesus said, "When you least expect Me, expect Me." As a thief in the night" [2 Peter 3;10]. Moments after we are caught up, millions of people will say, "Oh, if only I had been ready!" But it will be too late. What a shock! What a horrible surprise! "The Son has come and you've been left behind." What if Jesus comes before your next heartbeat? What if He comes before you even had time to say a prayer? As long as there is life and breath there is hope.

The Word of God tells us in Titus 2:13, "Looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ."

Our hope is a VISIBLE: Revelation 1:7: "Behold He is coming with clouds, and every eye shall see Him…"

Our hope is a GLORIOUS hope: "The glorious appearing…" Matthew 24:30: "They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." What is God's glory? The brilliant manifestation of His presence., the “Shekinah,” the bright cloud with which God manifested Himself. It is His eternal splendor, brightness, brilliance and His radiance as displayed in the heavens, which “declare the glory of God” [Psalm 19:1].

Listen, weary traveler, glory is the state into which we shall enter in that day! "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" [Romans 8:18]. "The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption, it is sown in dishonor, raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, raised in power" [1 Corinthians 15:43,44].

Our hope is a LIVING hope: Just a final word to all who are weary, worn out, and discouraged with this old world, the Word of God tells us, 1 Peter 1:3,4: "He has begotten us again to a living hope…to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved I heaven for you."

What do we know that encourages us?

•We know that God that loves us so much we can trust Him with our lives.

•We know we are forgiven. Our sins are covered by the blood of Christ, buried in the deepest sea, hidden behind the back of God and He will not remember our sin.

•We know that God's Holy Spirit lives in us to guide and comfort in this life, "His Spirit dwells in you…"[Romans 8:11]. "When the Spirit of Truth has come, He will guide you…" [John 16:13].

•We know that every circumstance in our life is working for our good [Romans 8:28].

•We know that if we die we will live. "To be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD" [2 Corinthians 5:6-8].

•We know that we will spend eternity with Him: 1 Thessalonians 4:17: "And thus we shall always be with the LORD."

•We know will be see all the loved-ones who have gone on before.

•We know He is coming back again Jesus says: "And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me, that you may also be where I am" [John 14:3 NIV].

Do you have this living hope? Have you put your trust and faith in Jesus Christ? Is your name written in the Lamb's book of life? Because ready or not, here He comes. If He came right now do you know beyond any doubt that you would go to be with Him? Or will you be left behind?

"There's no time to change your mind, the Son has come and you've been left behind. “I wish we’d all been ready” (Larry Norman).

Get right for flight! Wake up, pack up, shape up, look up, we're going up! See you here, there, or in the air!’

This ole house I'm livin' in is needin' repair.

The widows and shutters are lettin in the cold, cold air.

I say I'm gonna fixem if I can find the time,

But lately I've got leavin', leavin' on my mind.

Lately all I've got is leavin' on my mind,

That’s what I’ve been thinkin; about all of the time.

Soon, yes very soon I’ll leave my troubles all behind,

Lately I’ve got leavin’ leavin’ on my mind.

(The late, Rusty Goodman]

Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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