by Alan Carr
1 Cor. 15:51-57
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[a]
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[b]
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God!He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thes. 4:13-17
13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
WHEN TRUMPETS FADE
Intro: These verses that we have read this morning give us a little insight into a future event known as “The Rapture”. While this word itself does not appear in the Bible, the event is real nonetheless. We get the word “Rapture” from the Latin translation of the Greek word arpazw (harpazo). It means just what the King James Bible says it does, “caught up“. The Rapture is that future event when the Lord Jesus Himself will return in the clouds above this earth and will catch away all the saved people of the world. It is a time that is known in the Bible as “The Blessed Hope Of The Believer“, Titus 2:13. This future event will be the focus of our preaching this morning.
While the return of our Lord is spoken of many times in the New Testament, there are only three passages which deal with the Rapture in any detail. I have read two of them this morning. The other is found in Revelation 4:1-2a, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit:…” I want to draw your attention to one common theme that punctuates each of these references. That common theme is the mention of the “trumpet”. We are told in clear language that the Rapture will be a time that will be heralded with the sound of trumpets.
When the writers of the New Testament used the imagery of trumpets, the people to whom they were writing were well acquainted with what they were saying. However, we modern readers need to be educated about the significance of the trumpet.
In the Bible, trumpets were used for four specific purposes.
1. To Proclaim Victory
2. To Call An Assembly
3. To Announce A Warning
4. To Call The Troops To Battle
It is clear to see how the trumpets fit with the idea of the Rapture. All four of these events will take place when the Rapture comes about.
1. Victory over the world will be announced by the church.
2. The saints will be called to assemble themselves in the presence of the Lord.
3. The trumpets will announce a warning of judgment to the world.
4. The angelic troops will be summoned to battle.
Also, in the society of that day, trumpets were heard on a daily basis. The Roman army, which occupied most of the civilized world at that time used trumpets to carry out the movement of their troops. Typically, when a Roman legion moved, there would be three blasts from the trumpets. The first would tell the troop to strike their tents and to prepare to move. The second would alert them to fall in and line up. The last trumpet would be the signal to move out. Notice what Paul says in 1 Cor. 15:52. He tells us that we are leaving at the “last trump”. When the trumpet sounds, it will be the signal to move up to glory!
Folks, when the trumpet sounds, all those who are saved by grace will be leaving this world. It is that event that I want to preach about today. I want you to know that before the sound of that trumpet blast fades from our ears, several great and precious events will take place. Allow me to share them with you this morning as we think on the thought, “When Trumpets Fade.”
I. OUR LORD WILL HAVE RETURNED1 Thes. 4:17
A. In Fulfillment Of His Promise – Before the Lord Jesus went to the cross, He promised His disciples that He would return for them one day, John 14:1-3. He later reaffirmed this promise to the Apostle John, Rev. 22:20. Just as sure as there is a blue sky above us He will return as He promised He would! Even as He was ascending back into Heaven, angelic messengers were dispatched to tell the Apostles of the Lord’s impending return, Acts 1:9-11, “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
B. In Fulfillment Of His Purpose – While the Lord was making His promise to return some day, He also stated His purpose, John 14:3. The Lord desires to receive His bride unto Himself, Eph. 5:25-27. After all, He paid the ultimate price to redeem her from her sins and to cleanse her from her filthiness! He died on the cross to purchase His Bride and He wants her to be with Him in His heavenly home.
II. ALL DEPARTED SAINTS WILL HAVE BEEN RESURRECTED 1 Thes. 4:13-16; 1 Cor. 15:52b
A. Their Present Condition – 1 Thes, 4:13 tells us that those saints who have departed are “asleep“. This does not refer to “soul sleep“. It refers to the fact that their bodies are asleep. When a saint of God leaves this world, they are immediately ushered into the presence of the Lord. This was the conviction Paul Held, 2 Cor. 5:8, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.“; Phil. 1:23, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:” Presently, all those who left this world in a saved condition are in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Ill. The question may arise as to what manner of body they possess. Certainly they do not have their glorified bodies yet. However, it would seem that they possess some sort of a spiritual body. When Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration, they possessed bodies that could be seen and recognized, Matt. 17:3. Whatever form they are in this morning, they are certainly in a place free from the cares, pains and burdens of this world. The Bible is clear when it teaches us that “nothing that defileth shall enter” Heaven, Rev. 21:27.)
B. Their Promised Completion – 1 Cor. 15:52b tells us that the departed saints will be raised “incorruptible“. That is, they will be changed! When they left their body, it was destined for the ground from which it came. However, when the Lord Jesus returns, He will bring their spirits back with Him, He will raise their bodies and glorify them. He will then place the spirits back into those newly glorified bodies!
(Ill. There will be more said about that future body in just a moment!)
(Ill. How will all this happen? Certainly, to our mortal minds it is a great mystery. However, if you take the time to look back at the times our Lord shouted while He was on this earth, you will discover that each time He did so, dead folks got out of their graves.
1. He shouted in Bethany and Lazarus lived! – John 11:43-44
2. He shouted at Calvary and some lived! – Matt. 27:50-52
3. He will shout from the clouds and all the departed saints will live – 1 Thes. 4:16.
There is power is the Word of our Lord!)
III. ALL LIVING SAINTS WILL HAVE BEEN RAPTURED – 1 Thes. 4:17; 1 Cor. 15:51-52a
A. The Church Will Leave Instantaneously – Notice the use of words that imply speed and swiftness, 1 Cor. 15:52, “moment” – This word speaks of an “indivisible point in time. A span of time so short that there is none shorter.“; “twinkling of an eye” – Scientists have determined that the blink of an eye is 1/30th of a second in duration. That is fast! However, a twinkling is event faster than that, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1000th of a second! Then in 1 Thes. 4:17, Paul uses the term “caught up“. This phrase means “to snatch away, to seize with force, to claim for oneself.” It refers to a sudden event when the saints of God will be “snatched from this world with force and claimed for the glory of God.“)
(Ill. The whole idea here is one of speed! There will be no forewarning. There will be no announcements on TV, on radio, or in the papers. There will be no announcements from the pulpits. God will not proclaim in a booming, Charlton Heston voice that the end is nearing. It will just happen! My friend, if you have ever listened to anything in your life, then listen to this. You need to be ready! Jesus Himself said, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”, Matt. 24:44.
If He were to come today, would He find you ready? Oh friend, do not be deceived, it could happen! Today could be that glorious day when the Lord returns for His people. Will you be in that number that hears the shout, that hears the trumpets and that leaves this world in an instant? Only if you are born again! Be ready, He is coming!)
(Ill. Can you imagine the chaos that will ensue when this event takes place? All babies missing! Most children gone! Some husbands and wives missing. Many Cars, planes, trains, etc without drivers. Television personalities taken right off the air. It will be a time of great hysteria and mayhem. Some of you had better prepare for it, because you may experience it first hand! Why not come to Jesus before that happens?)
B. The Church Will Leave Intact – In 1 Cor. 15:51, Paul tells us that “all” will be changed. The Rapture will not be an event enjoyed by a select few. But, every born again believer will have a part in the Rapture of the church! The body of Christ will not be fragmented! Part will not be taken and part left behind to endure the Tribulation. When the Rapture comes ALL the saints will go together!
(Ill. Because of the lives they have lived, some will not deserve to go, but they will go nonetheless. All the redeemed of all the ages will leave this world as one when the trumpet sounds. There are no second class citizens in the Kingdom of God! Saved is saved and lost is lost! All the saved will go, all the lost will stay behind!)
IV. ALL SAINTS WILL HAVE BEEN RECONSTRUCTED – 1 Cor. 15:52b-57
A. Changed Physically – At the moment of the Rapture, all the saints will experience a radical change. These mortal bodies will be changed to immortal ones. The bodies that are destined to perish will be made like the body of our Lord. A body that cannot experience death, decay or disease. A body that will shine with the brilliance of 10,000 suns. What a day that will be!
B. Changed Perfectly – When this change comes, it will remake us into the image of our glorified Lord. 1 John 3:2, “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.” We do not know a lot about our Lord’s glorified body, but we do know:
1. It is a body not bound by time or space – John 20:19.
2. It is a body that can enjoy food and fellowship – Luke 24:36-43.
3. It is a body that can never die – Heb. 7:25.
4. It is a body that shines with a heavenly brilliance – Rev. 21:23; Matt. 17:2
All of this is enough to let me know that I want one of these bodies some day. All the saints will wear a glorified body when we arrive in that Heavenly home!)
C. Changed Permanently – The language of our texts tells us that we will no longer be mortal. These new bodies will never wear down or wear out, but they will last throughout eternity. They will be a perfect in 10,000,000 years as they were the day we received them! Notice what Paul says about this body in 2 Cor. 5:1, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.“
V. ALL SAINTS WILL BE ENJOYING A REUNION – 1 Thes. 4:17
A. With Our Loved Ones – Notice the phrase “together with them in the clouds“. This indicates that all the children of God will be together forever in Heaven. Imagine being reunited with spouses, parents, children and grandparents. Imagine seeing your departed loved ones in their new glorified bodies in the presence of the Lord Jesus! What a glorious privilege has been given to all the saints of God!
B. With Our Lord – As great as that reunion with our loved ones will be, it will be eclipsed by another reunion. This same verse tells us that “so shall we ever be with the Lord.” My friends, one day, we will see Him Who died for us on the cross! We will look at His face. We will be able to bow before Him in adoration and worship. We will be in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ! I can imagine no thrill any greater in this universe than to see the One Who loved me enough to lay down His life in payment for my own. Hallelujah! Just the thought of that is enough to make a Baptist shout! Glory! Glory!
Conc: Well, I’ve done a lot of preaching this morning and I have tried to describe several events that will happen when the Lord returns for His church. But please remember, all this will take place before the sound of the trumpet fades away. Are you ready for that event? Have you been washed in the blood of the Lamb? If Jesus came back for His church today, and He could, would you go, or would you be left behind? What I am asking is this: Have you ever come to the place where you knew you were lost? Have you confessed your sins to God? Have you placed your faith in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you received Christ as your personal Savior? Are you saved? If you are, then you have a reason to rejoice this morning! There are exciting things ahead for the children of God! If you are not saved, I beg you to come to Jesus right now! This is the only time you have to be saved! If the Lord is tugging at your heart and is calling you to come to Him, then please come! Don’t delay another minute. It is too dangerous! Jesus may come at any time and you really need to be ready when He does. Will you come to Him right now while there is still time? Will you be saved so that you too can be ready for that meeting in the air? Jesus is coming! Don’t be caught unprepared!