Jesus promised a rapture to one of the seven churches. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." (Ephesians 5:25) ".. and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18) The seven churches in the Book of Revelation (see Revelation 12:1-3:22) began with the Church of Ephesus and represents the Apostolic period from A.D. 30 - 100.
According to their description they did everything right, in fact they were so conscientious about their works that they forgot God, their first love. Jesus warns them that they needed to overcome that problem to get saved. (See Revelation 2:1-7) The Church of Smyrna had members who suffered great persecution because they would not worship Caesar, the political leader, through 300 A.D. (See Revelation 2:8-11) His advice to them was to be faithful and overcome, to get the crown of life.
The Church of Pergamus, a place where an immense altar to Zeus, the chief of the Greek mythological gods stood, one thousand feet above the plain. It was referred to as Satan's seat. It represents the age of the state church which began with Constantine, A.D. 313 - 590 in Rome.
"To him that overcometh.. will I give.. a new name.. (See Revelation 2:12-17) The church did not deny the faith, but they were running with people who held to the Doctrine of Balaam. The Church of Thyatira who suffered the woman of Jezebel, prophetess "to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication.. " said Jesus. They were Baal worshipers and repented not.
In Revelation 2:22 Jesus said: "I will cast her into a bed and them that commit adultery with her, into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds." "He that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations. " (Revelation 2:26) This period corresponds to A.D. 590 - 1517 during which time the first Pope, Gregory the Great, was placed which eventually forced the Protestant Reformation. Advice was again: he that overcomes is saved. (See Revelation 2:18-29)
The Church of Sardis pictures the Reformation Era of the Church in A.D. 1517 - 1790. The richest man alive lived in Sardis. Jesus told them that their works are not perfect before God and that they are a dead church." Again the advice was: "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." (Revelation 3:5)
Finally the Church of Philadelphia which represented what Jesus had in mind. "I know thy works: behold I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and thou hast not denied my name.. I will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold I come quickly hold that fast which thou hast, let no man take thy crown," said Jesus in Revelation 3:8-11. This represents the age of the missionary church which began with rise of modern missions under William Carey A.D. 1730-1900.
Revelation 3:7-13 is said to promise the Rapture. The Church was mentioned 76 times in the New Testament but after the third chapter of the Book of Revelation it was not referred to again. Scholars claim the reason to be that it was removed from the world to allow the remainder of Revelation to transpire.
There is yet one more Church mentioned, which is of the Laodiceans. Jesus complains: "I know thy works, that thou art neither hot nor cold: I would thou wast cold or hot.. Because thou art lukewarm.. I will spew thee out of my mouth.." He goes on to describe our present situation that we have too much of everything and no need of God.. He wants us to repent of that and to him that overcomes, he will grant to sit with Him. (see Revelation 3:14-22) Laodicea was known as a banking center and had a famous medical school. The city is in complete ruins today. It portrays the apostate church of the last days (A.D. 1900-present) which ends up deceived.
The Apostle Paul reassures the truly born again Gentile Christians: "Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as [do] others; but let us watch and be sober." (1 Thessalonians 5:5,6) "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 and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also." (John 14:2,3) "Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." (Romans 5:9) "For whether we be beside ourselves (1839 Greek `Existemi' to remove out of its place or state, to be transported beyond oneself with astonishment) [it is] to God: or whether we be sober, [it is] for your cause." (2 Corinthians 5:13)
"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. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in [this] tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
"Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing [is] God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore [we are] always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:" (2 Corinthians 5:1-6) To explain just the verse 5:1, the Key Study Bible explains on p. 1446: "The phrase `we know' is translated from the Greek word `oidamen' (1492), meaning "to know intuitively" as a result of being a child of God. It is knowledge that accompanies the new birth in Christ Jesus. Verse 5:1 continues; ".. if our earthly house of this tabernacle [tent].." What Paul is saying here is the spirit is the real person found in the body. The body is represented by the Greek word `skenon (4633) `tent', which refers to the material portion of a person.
Paul continues on to explain that though this earthly body (house) will be `dissolved', God has promised that there will be a `building of God'. This is a description of death of the mortal body, yet it is intended to be encouragement for the believer as he looks at death. The word that is tranlated `building', is the Greek word `oikodomen' (3619), which means `the process of building something'. The basic idea in this verse is that God is building a new house for the believer's spirit which will be disembodied at the point of death, leaving the body remaining on earth. This indicates that God will create something completely new. Then Paul uses the word `oikian' (3614), `dwelling place', which refers to the completion of the `eternal body'.
There are two qualities to this new body that must be understood. First, it will be similar to the present one and identifiable, yet not identical because it is not going to be made by human hands, but it will be produced by God. The word translated `not made with hands' is acheiropoieton (886). This is the same word that the Lord used in Mark 14:58 when He spoke of destroying the temple, which was made by the hands of men, and in three days, building another, not made by man. Christ was speaking of His body following his resurrection.
Although His own body was `made of woman' (Gal. 4:4) at His birth, yet no human being was involved at the time of His resurrection. The believer's human body will have the same outcome. The first time, one is born into this world, the body is physically produced. However, at the resurrection by Christ of the righteous dead (1 Thessallonian 4:15-17), God will change them to new glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:50-57). The second quality is that it is going to be `eternal', translated from the Greek word `aionion' (166).
This idea of eternalness focused in on what characterizes God Himself. The life that is given at salvation to believers is the promise of eternal life (aionios , zoe ), not denoting duration of a period of time, but the quality of the life. This life can never be lost or taken away once a person accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The word, aionios, however, is always related to time using the form aion (165), `age or generation'. ..
Paul recognized this place to be where God is and where the believer will find his ultimate rest (1 Thess. 4:17,18)." "For what [is] our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? [Are] not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy." (1 Thessalonians 2:19,20) "To the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints (the believers) ." (1 Thessalonians 3:13)
Referring to the seven year Tribulation, Paul teaches: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed [it] unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen." (Romans 1:18-25)
And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, [even to them] which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed." (1 Peter 2:8) In other words they don't understand the Word of God. Also ".. there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." (Jude 1:4)
Proof text that the end does not come until the following order has been fulfilled. First: Jesus comes back and the church is made alive, or resurrected in Him and His kingdom is delivered up to God. Second: at the end the rest are made alive. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then [cometh] the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy [that] shall be destroyed [is] death." (1 Corinthians 15:22-26)