The Gospel of John
(James J. Barker)

Lesson 36


(John 14:1-4; I Thessalonians 4:13-18)


1.    Twice in John 14, our Lord says something wonderful: “Let not your heart be troubled” (John 14:1, 27).

2.    It is not difficult to understand why the apostles were troubled.  Our Lord had just announced that one of them was a traitor (13:21, 22).  Also, He warned Simon Peter that he was going to betray Him three times (13:36-38).

3.    Probably the most difficult announcement was our Lord’s statement that He would soon leave them (13:33). They did not understand where He was going, when He was going, or why He was going.  As a matter of fact, they didn’t understand how He was going – they were perplexed.  They were troubled.

4.    I know there are some folks here tonight who are troubled – some are troubled because of family problems, unsaved loved ones, money problems, etc.

5.    Some people are looking for work; some are working too much and have no time for God.  Poor health, financial pressures, conflicts at home or on the job, etc.  Remember these words: “Let not your heart be troubled…” (14:1).

6.    We should not be troubled because our Lord is coming back.  I want to speak tonight about the rapture of the church.

7.    Our English word “rapture” is not found in the Bible.  It comes from the Latin word for “caught up.”  This is how “caught up” in I Thess. 4:17 is translated in the Latin version of the Bible.

8.    There are several popular views concerning the timing of the rapture.  I believe the most literal view is the best, i.e., the pretribulational rapture.  Some hold to a midtribulational rapture, and then there are those who hold to the posttribulational rapture.

9.    Also, there are some who hold to the “partial rapture” theory.

10. I have many reasons for holding to the pre-trib view.  In Revelation 2 and 3, the focus is on the local church.  Then in Rev. 4 and 5, the focus is on heaven.  Then in Rev. 6 through 19 the focus is on the tribulation.  It is significant that the church is not mentioned at all in Rev. 6 through 19.

11. Also, the promise to the church of Philadelphia is for all churches and for all Christians (cf. Rev. 3:10).

12. The tribulation period is a future seven-year time period (Daniel’s 70th week), when God will pour out His wrath upon this wicked world because it has rejected the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Rev. 6:12-17).

13. But God “hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thess. 5:9; cf. 1:10).







1.    The concept of the imminent coming of Christ necessitates a pretribulational rapture. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “imminent” as “hanging over one’s head, ready to befall or overtake one; close at hand in its incidence.”

2.    Webster’s Dictionary says “imminent” means “likely to occur at any moment; impending.”

3.    Therefore, since the rapture is imminent, it could take place at any moment and therefore must be pretribulational. If the church must go through seven years of tribulation before the rapture (or even part of the tribulation), then the rapture could not be imminent and the concept of imminency would be destroyed.

4.    And there are many Scriptures which clearly teach the imminency of the rapture (I Cor. 1:7; 4:5; 15:51, 52; 16:22; Phil. 3:20; 4:5; I Thess. 1:10; Titus 2:13; James 5:7-9; I John 2:28; Rev. 3:11; 22:7, 12, 20).

5.    I know of no greater motivation for godly living than the imminency of the return of Christ (cf. I John 3:2, 3).



1.    I have observed that many Christians have an inadequate understanding of the tribulation.  And if Christians do not understand the tribulation, how can they warn their unsaved friends and loved ones? (Cf. Rev. 6:14-17; 9:6).

2.    Those who do not study Bible prophecy are missing out on God’s blessing (cf. Rev. 1:3). Paul says, “For all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (II Tim. 3:16, 17).  “All Scripture” certainly contains the book of Revelation, most of Daniel and Zechariah, the Olivet Discourse, II Thessalonians 2, and many other Scriptures.

3.    About one out of every twenty-five verses directly refers to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. For every time the first coming of Christ is mentioned, the Second Coming is mentioned eight times.

4.    The Lord Jesus Christ Himself refers to His coming twenty-one times and over 50 times we are exhorted to be ready for that blessed hope.

5.    Here is another problem we face.  Many Bible teachers allegorize or “spiritualize” Bible prophecy. Therefore, the horrors of the tribulation are minimized and explained away. Try reading any other document that way!  You would be hopelessly confused.  The Bible must be studied literally; otherwise there will be confusion and error.

6.    The Bible does use figurative language.  There are parables, metaphors, types, etc. There is plenty of symbolism in the Bible, but the symbols are usually easy to recognize and easy to interpret (cf. Rev. 17:1, 15). A good principle to follow is: “When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense.”

7.    Beware of those who allegorize Bible prophecy – for example, men like Harold Camping.  Camping writes, “that there is sufficient evidence that we are in the final period of the earth’s history called the great tribulation.”

8.    Anyone who knows the Bible knows this cannot be true. In Matthew 24:15 our Lord said, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand).” 

9.    This prophecy refers to the antichrist defiling the temple and it has not been fulfilled.  In fact the temple has not yet been rebuilt.  Therefore we cannot be in the Great Tribulation (cf. Matt. 24:21, 22).

10. Unfortunately, most Christians do not study Bible prophecy.  That is why many are misled by false teachers like Mr. Camping.

11. “The current controversy also shows how important it is to know how to interpret the Bible. Harold Camping’s recent essay repeatedly makes elementary errors in hermeneutics, or biblical interpretation...We greet these developments with a sense of sadness and Christian concern…We believe that Harold Camping’s teaching about the church is not only false, but also dangerous, because it encourages people to leave the community God has ordained for our growth in grace. It is our prayer that the network will reaffirm the importance of the visible church, which everywhere in the New Testament is viewed as essential to God’s plan for saving the world in Jesus Christ” – Dr. Philip G. Ryken, pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia.  (Dr. Ryken succeeded James Montgomery Boice.)

12. Another problem is that many Christians do not understand the purpose of the tribulation.  Some think it is a time when God will purge His church. But this is not taught in the Bible.

13. The Bible refers to the tribulation as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7).  It is not the time of the church’s trouble.  The church is not referred to in Rev. 4—22.

14. We must be careful to distinguish between the church and Israel.



1.    After the rapture, those of us who are saved will be ushered into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I believe we will then stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

2.    W. Graham Scroggie said he would rather go through the entire seven-year tribulation than be a carnal Christian standing at the judgment seat.  Those are words to ponder!

3.    The judgment seat will be for the church up in heaven.  Meanwhile, here on earth the seven-year tribulation period will begin (cf. I Thess. 5:1-9; Rev. 6).

4.    At the end of the tribulation period, Christ will return to judge the wicked and set up His kingdom in Jerusalem (Zech. 14:1-4; Rev. 19:11-16).

5.    Then Christ will reign for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-6; Isa. 2:1-4; 11:6-9).

6.    This will be followed by what is usually referred to as “the eternal state” (cf. I Cor. 15:24-28).



1.    The Bible has much to say about the future coming of Christ.  Tonight we have barely scratched the surface.

2.    Are you ready?

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