Am I Ready for the Rapture?

Am I Ready for the Rapture?

June 26th, 1983 @ 7:30 PM

Matthew 24:44

Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
Print Sermon
Downloadable Media

  
Play Audio

Show References:
ON OFF

 

AM I READY FOR THE RAPTURE?

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Matthew 24:44

6-26-83    7:30 p.m.

 

 

Welcome the great multitudes of you who are sharing this hour with us on radio, on KCBI, the Sonshine Station of our Center of Biblical Studies, and on the great voice of the Southwest, KRLD.  This is the pastor bringing the message concerning the rapture. 

The reason that I have chosen the two messages today is because of the things that I read and listen to and hear repeated that I think are not biblical.  They are not scriptural.  So the message this morning concerns the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  There is one baptism: we are baptized into the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 4:4-5].  The Holy Spirit changed His residence from heaven to earth, and He lives in His people [1 Corinthians 16:19-20].  He lives in the church.  The baptism of the Holy Spirit: one baptism and many fillings.  We are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit continuously, continually [Ephesians 5:18]. 

The sermon tonight concerning the rapture: there are those who strenuously defend the position that the church will go through the awesome judgment of the tribulation.  They are post-tribulationalist rapture.  They are those who believe that we are looking for not the Lord, but the tribulation.  Then there are those who believe that in the midst of the tribulation, the church will be caught up to heaven.  They are mid-tribulationalists; that we are going to go through half of the [tribulation], then we’ll be caught up to heaven.  And then there are those, of course, who believe in no rapture.  There’s not going to be any rapture; there is not going to be any tribulation; there is not going to be any millennium.  There is just going to be an end to all life and existence in the world; so many conflicting, confusing attitudes, and receptions, and interpretations, and explanations of God’s purpose in the human race. 

Now tonight you are going to hear a biblical message concerning the truth of the rapture.  It is going to be taken out of the Bible.  Now I want you to turn to two passages that we are going to read out loud tonight.  The first one will be three verses in the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians, and the second one will be the closing verses of the fourth chapter of 1 Thessalonians. 

So let’s turn first to 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, and then we’ll turn to 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4, and in that passage, we’ll read 13 to the end of the chapter, [verses] 13 through 18.  Now the first is 1 Corinthians, chapter 15.  We’re going to read verses 50, 51, and 52. 

As you’ve heard me say, there are many, many, great tremendously gifted biblical scholars who say the high watermark of all revelation, of all the things that God has shown to us, the high watermark is this fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians.  In any event, let’s read these three verses, so significant and meaningful.  First Corinthians 15, verses 50, 51, and 52.  Now together: 

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 

Behold, I show 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 

 

Now let’s turn to 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4, beginning at verse 13 and reading to the end of the chapter.  First Thessalonians, chapter 4, together at verse 13:

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. 

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 

For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. 

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air:  and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 

[1 Thessalonians 4:13-18]

 

In reading the Bible, the Holy Scriptures of God, there are two cogent, impressive, potent, dynamic reasons why I believe in the rapture before the tribulation; why I believe the first thing in the order of God when we come to the denouement of history and to the end of the world, the first thing is the rapture: the taking out, the catching away of God’s people in the earth. 

All right, the first reason: I believe that because of the divinely inspired outline that God has given us of the Revelation, the Apocalypse, the last book in the Bible.  The sainted apostle John is commanded in Revelation 1:19 to write – "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter." 

That is God’s outline of the Revelation; the Apocalypse.  Number one: "Write the things which thou hast seen."  And he had seen the glorified, risen Lord.  And he wrote that in chapter 1, [verse 10-18].  That’s the thing he has seen.  That’s the first part of the Revelation. 

Second: "Write the things which are."  And the things which are, are the churches.  The churches are – you’re in one tonight.  So in chapters 2 and 3, the apostle John writes the things which are; and he writes of the seven churches of Asia, and the word "seven" refers to the completed number of all of the churches.  It represents every congregation of the body of Christ through all of this age of grace.  The seven churches of Asia representing all of the churches of all time, and that’s the second great outline of the Revelation, the second part: "Write the things which are." 

Now, the third part: "W rite the things which shall be meta tauta, the things which shall be after these things, meta tauta."  So John writes first the things that he has seen: the vision of the glorified Lord.  Second, the things that are: he writes concerning the churches, and using seven of them in Asia as representative of all the churches of all time.  And then third, the things after the things of the churches: after the churches have been taken away, after they have been caught up, after they have been raptured, write that.  And beginning at chapter 4 in the Revelation, the churches disappear.  There aren’t any more, and they are not seen until in the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation, in the eleventh verse, they are seen, the churches are seen.  The saints of God are seen coming with our Lord in glory [Revelation 19:14]. 

Now, look at that.  First, "Write the things which thou hast seen, write the things which are, and the things which shall be," meta tauta.  So I’m looking for that meta tauta, and when I turn to the fourth chapter of the Revelation, that’s the first thing that I see.  The fourth chapter of the Revelation begins with that: meta tauta. That’s the third great section of the Revelation.  And John says, meta tauta, "After the things of the churches, I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and I heard a great voice saying unto me: Come up hither" [Revelation 4:1].  And the sainted apostle John was raptured up to heaven, and when he got there, when he arrived there, he was not alone.  He saw the four and twenty elders seated, clothed with white raiment, and on their heads crowns of gold [Revelation 4:4].  The four and twenty elders represent the saints of God.  And when John, meta tauta, after the things of the churches, is raptured up through a door into heaven, he sees there the people of the Lord under the image of the four and twenty elders; then follows the terrible judgments of God in the Revelation until the nineteenth chapter when he sees the church coming in glory, which we’re going to speak of in a moment. 

Now that’s the first reason that I believe in the rapture: because of the divine outline of the Revelation.  At the end of the church age, the first thing, it is taken up into heaven, and there it is seen in the presence of the great God and our Savior, Jesus the Lord. 

Now the second reason that I believe in the rapture, the first thing that awaits us: it’s because of the imminency, the imminency, i-m-m – the imminency of Christ.  The Lord says: "I am coming back.  I am returning to this earth.  Watch therefore; for you know not the day nor the hour that your Lord comes.  Watch" [Matthew 24:42]. 

We are waiting for what?  Now this is my response to the reading of the Bible.  We are waiting for the Lord.  We are looking for the Lord.  We are not waiting for the judgment.  We’re not waiting for the tribulation.  We’re not waiting for all of the disastrous floods, and torments, and violence, and murder that characterizes the world apart from God.  We’re not looking forward to the days of the awesome visitation of the blowing of the trumpets and the pouring out of the vials. 

What we’re looking for is the Lord Jesus.  We’re waiting for Him.  We’re looking forward to His coming; the imminency of the Lord.  He said He could come any time.  Our Lord said that, speaking to us in the fourteenth chapter of the Gospel of John: "If I go away, I will come again and receive you unto Myself" [John 14:3].  And in Acts 1:11, "when the disciples were looking up into heaven into which the Lord had ascended, there came an angel who said to them: "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, this same Lord Jesus that you see going from you up into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go."

And that’s what we’re looking for.  Our eyes are raised, and our hearts are raised to heaven from whence we look for the Savior.  That’s what Paul writes in Philippians 3:20: "Our citizenship is in heaven; from whence we look for the Savior,Who shall change our vile body, that [it] might be" conformed, "fashioned after His glorious body, according to the ableness of the power of the working of God."  That’s what we’re looking for.  We’re looking for Jesus.  We’re waiting for Jesus, and He can come any minute, any hour, any day; before I’m done, before I can pronounce this next word.  We’re looking for Jesus. 

Now may I take a moment to follow the chronological outline of what the Scripture teaches us regarding the end of the age and the second coming of Christ?   First of all, the first thing of all is the things connected with the rapture of God’s people, which is, first, the resurrection of the sainted dead.  "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus" – isn’t that a wonderful way to describe death? – "They that sleep in Jesus, God will bring with Him.  For we say unto you by the word of the Lord …" It isn’t something that I say, says Paul, it is something that Jesus says.  "… that we who are alive and remain in the coming of the Lord shall not" – the old English here, "prevent," used to mean going unto front – "shall not precede them which are asleep.  For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and" – those that sleep in Christ – "the dead in Christ shall rise first"; that’s the first thing.  "Then we [which] are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, where we shall ever be in heaven with our Lord [1 Thessalonians 4:14-17]. 

The first thing of all will be the resurrection of God’s sainted dead, suddenly: not a process, not an extended thing over time, but just like that.  We’re going to speak of that in a moment.  The first thing is the resurrection of the dead, the raising of the sainted dead from their graves. 

Now once in a while somebody will say to me, "How in this earth can a reasonable mind believe in the resurrection of the dead?  Here is a man who’s been buried at sea, and the fish eat him up.  Here is a man that a cannibal has eaten.  Here is a man buried in the ground, and the roots of a great tree absorb the chemicals of his body, and it turns into bark and into leaf and maybe into fruit.  How can you believe in the resurrection of the dead?"

The resurrection of the dead in the power of God is no more miraculous than all of the other wonderful creative acts of God that we see around us every day.  I remember a little fellow that came back from Sunday school to his daddy and said, "Daddy, I just don’t believe in the Sunday school lesson I heard today." 

And the daddy said to the boy, "Well, what did you hear today?" 

And the little fella said, "Well, I heard today about the story about Jonah being swallowed by a big fish." 

 "Well, what’s the matter with that?" said the dad.  

And the lad said, "Well, I just don’t believe that, Dad.  Things like that just couldn’t happen.  I just don’t believe it," said the little boy. 

 "Well," the daddy said, "come here, son, and sit down on my knee." He says, "You know, I have trouble with that story also.  So you sit down here.  Now, you tell me what your trouble is with it." 

 And the little fellow said, "Well, Daddy, I just don’t believe in any such thing as that.  I just don’t believe that a fish could swallow a man and he stay in his stomach three days and three nights and he come out alive.  And I just don’t believe that.  That’s my problem with it." 

 Well, the daddy said, "Son, I have a problem with that story also.  But my problem is not like yours.  My problem is I don’t understand how God could make a man, and I don’t understand how God could make a big fish, and if I could understand how God could make a man and how God could make a fish, it would be easy for me to understand how God put the two together." 

Now, that’s the Lord’s truth.  It is the creative act of God that made us [Genesis 1:27], and it will be the same marvelous creative act of God that remakes us, that resurrects us.  It’s something God does.  It is a miracle!  But you are a miracle!  The world is a miracle!  The signature of God is miracle! 

And the first thing that’s going to happen will be the resurrection of God’s sainted dead.  And if I die, that’s the first thing that I will be aware of in my resurrected body, I will be alive in Christ [1 Corinthians 15:22], in a body fashioned after His own glorious, immortalized, transfigured, resurrected body [Philippians 3:21].  Jesus was raised from the dead, and the great, foundational, cardinal doctrine of the Christian faith is that we too will be raised from the dead. 

Now the second thing in that chronological denouement of time, the end of the age, is that suddenly all of us who are left will be transfigured. We will be immortalized.  There is one generation that will never taste of death, just like Enoch; he was suddenly with the Lord [Genesis 5:24].  Just like Elijah: a great whirlwind carried him up into heaven, and he was immortalized – just like that [2 Kings 2:11].  There is a generation that will never die – when the rapture comes, when Jesus comes for His own suddenly, immediately, "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump – for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we, we shall all be changed" [1 Corinthians 15:51-52].  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the shout of the archangel and the coming of God for His own, we’ll be transformed, we’ll be transfigured, we’ll be immortalized, we’ll be changed. 

The next thing in the chronology of the coming of our Lord is when we are taken up to be with our Lord in heaven, we shall all stand at the bema, 2 Corinthians 5:10: "For we must all stand at the bema."  The bema is the judgment seat of Christ.  "We must all stand at the judgment seat of Christ; that we may receive the rewards of the deeds in the days of our flesh."  Now that judgment is not concerning whether we are saved or lost, because that judgment is down here and right now.  I’m either saved or I’m lost, right now.  John 3:18 says: "He that believeth is not" – you have it translated "condemned," "judged."  "He that believeth [on Him] is not judged; but he that believeth not is judged already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."  That judgment is here.  It’s right now.  You’re either saved or you’re lost.  That judgment is here.  But the judgment at the bema, when we’re caught up to be with our Lord in heaven, we shall all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, there to receive the rewards of the deeds done in the flesh.  And some of us shall receive great rewards.  As the apostle Paul writes in the third chapter of 1 Corinthians, some build upon Christ – some build gold and silver and precious stones; then there are those who build upon the foundation of our salvation in Christ wood and hay and stubble [1 Corinthians 3:12].  And Paul says it will be burned away. 

Our works are going to be tried by fire.  And when a man builds beautifully and marvelously, he’ll receive a reward.  But if his works are worthless, they will be burned up, and the man will be saved naked – not have a thing in the world, saved by the skin of his teeth, saved as though he ran out of the building with just his body, the thing’s on fire,  burns up everything that he has.  Man, what a tragedy to come to the end of the life and the eternity and nothing to show what we’ve done for Jesus! [1 Corinthians 3:13-15]. 

May I point out one other thing, why that judgment is at the end of the age?  Why don’t we receive our reward when we die and go up to heaven?  Some of these people have been dead two thousand years or more, and they haven’t received their rewards yet.  Why at the end of the age?  The reason is very apparent.  A man doesn’t die when he dies.  His life lives on.  His influence lives on. 

And when he receives his reward, he can’t receive it when he dies.  He receives it at the end of the age.  And it is only God that is able to unravel that skein and to give a man all the reward of his life. 

For example, you look at the apostle Paul.  Look at the apostle Paul.  The good that Paul did is still going on, still going on.  You can take that in any man’s life. 

I think of Charles Haddon Spurgeon I read all the time.  Spurgeon, Spurgeon is still reaping a reward for the wonderful ministry and the preaching that he did and the writings that he wrote.  He’s still reaping it.  He’s reaping it in my life.  I’m blessed today by reading Spurgeon. 

George W. Truett: in how many ways is my great predecessor still doing good in the lives of people that he won to Jesus and pointed to the cross.  Good Lord in heaven, help me to realize that there is a shadow, there’s an influence, there’s an afterglow of every man’s life – your children and the people who know you, and the circle of those that you work with.  All of those things bear an influence, and you get your reward for what you did at the end of the age.  That’s the bema of Christ.

The next thing in the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation is the marriage supper of the Lamb [verses 6-9].  When we have received our rewards in heaven, we’re going to sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb.  Dear me, a lot of things about that that I like.  One is eating.  God invented eating.  I love to eat.  Dear me, I don’t think God ever invented anything any better than eating.  We’re going to sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb.  We’re going to eat and to drink in the kingdom of our Savior.  And do you see what it is?  The marriage supper of the Lamb, oh, dear, dear, dear!

The bride, the sainted apostle John says she has adorned herself for her husband [Revelation 21:2].   Think of that.  You know, we have weddings here every Saturday, and every time I go to one, I think, these are the strangest things.  These are absolutely ridiculous things.  I come in from that door over there.  See that door over there?  And I bring with me the groom, and he stands right down there.  I don’t exaggerate it when I tell you there’s nobody in the congregation, whether he’s little or not, who pays attention to that groom there.  They just don’t even look at him.  They don’t even pay any attention to him.  And here I am standing by his side.  They don’t even look at him.  Everybody is all eyes when the organist starts playing "Here Comes The Bride."  And just look at her.  Oh dear, and that poor groom there, he’s just standing there like a stump, like a stick.  He makes no difference at all.  I believe I could marry a pole and do just as well as to have that groom there.  Just as well.  But that bride, oh, my, dear me!  Beautifully arrayed, beautifully decked, the most gorgeous creature you could imagine coming down that aisle.  The bride has made herself ready, and she is presented to her husband.  Now that’s what’s going to happen when all of the rewards are given and all the things that God has bestowed upon us is complete. 

Then we’re going to sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb, and the bride is His church.  There will be friends with the bridegroom.  John the Baptist lived in the old dispensation – he’s going to be there.  Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they’re going to be there.  David and Solomon and Isaiah and Jeremiah, they’re going to be there.  They’re going to be the friends of the bridegroom, but the bride is the church.  We have the place of honor, and beauty, and dignity, and love, and grace.  O Lord, what it’s going to be like!  How the Lord is good to us!  The marriage supper of the Lamb. 

Then the next verse beginning at verse 11, of the nineteenth chapter of Revelation, then the Lord is coming openly and visibly.  That’s the second coming of Christ, the revelation.  Jude 14 says, "Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints," and the text of the Revelation in Revelation 1:7: "Behold, the Lord cometh with clouds" – the shekinah glory of heaven, "and every eye shall see Him."  That is the coming of our Lord, openly, visibly, personally, coming to be the King and Lord over all creation. 

Oh, what a day, what a day!  Now, I have some things here that I want us to look at.  Do you mind staying here about another hour or two?  You don’t mind, do you, at all?  You don’t have anything to do but to go home and go to bed, so stay here and listen just for a little bit. 

I want to talk about the signs of the coming of our Lord, the rapture; I want to talk about the sounds of the coming of our Lord, the rapture; I want to talk about the separation of the rapture, and I want to talk about the Savior of the rapture. 

First of all, the signs of the coming of our Lord.  I see them everywhere, and you do too.  In the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Matthew, the Lord gave many signs.   In verse 5, Matthew 24:5: "Many shall come in My name, saying, I am the Christ" – You listen to me and I’ll show you the truth of God – "and deceive many."  All right, another sign, the next verse, 6: wars and rumors of wars.  The coming of the rapture is naught but that.  The eleventh, verse 11: "Many false prophets shall arise, and deceive many.  Iniquity shall abound, and the love of many shall wax cold."  Look at verse 14, and you see if that isn’t a sign: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached unto all the world for a witness in all nations."  Can you believe radio and television and what it’s doing to the world today?  The whole world can listen to the gospel. 

Do you remember my telling you when I came back from the South Pacific one time that I was meandering around in the Fiji Islands?  These had been cannibals not – in the last generation.  And I saw a fellow with his head to the ground, his ear to the ground.  I thought, "What in the earth is that guy doing?"  I thought of the American Indian – you know, over here listening to the beating of the hooves.  Well, this fellow – I thought, "Well, what in the world?"  Well, I went over there, and he had a little bitty radio just about that big.  A little bitty radio, and he was there with his ear glued to that radio, listening.  Well, I was so curious, I just wanted to know what that guy was listening to.  So I got down there on the ground by his side, and I put my ear down there where I could hear.  And you know what that fellow was listening to?  He was listening to a gospel sermon.  Can you believe that?  In the Fiji Islands.  All over the world; and that’s one of the signs, he says here, of the coming of our Lord.  "This gospel shall be preached in all of the world for a witness unto all the nations." 

I want to show you another sign, and the one that you are most aware of.  In the thirty-seventh chapter of the prophecy of Ezekiel is the prophecy of the resurrection of Israel, the raising of Israel as a nation and as a people.  And we’ve seen that come to pass in our lifetime: the return of the Jew to Palestine and the resurrection of the Jewish nation.  There hadn’t been any Jewish nation for almost two thousand years, but it’s come to pass, and that’s one of the signs of the end time. 

Then in chapters 38 and 39 in the Book of Ezekiel, there is the prophecy of the rise of Russia.  If you’ll get a man who knows the etymological meaning of these words, "Gog and Magog and Rosh," translated here chief Meshech and Tubal, they’re names of the cities in Russia.  Now I want to point out something to you that is amazing to me.  It says here in this thirty-eighth chapter of the prophecy of Ezekiel that there will be confederate with Russia and the enemy of Israel – Persia and Ethiopia and Libya. 

I have been in all three of those nations.  And when I was in Persia, Persia was our best friend in the Middle East.  All of our oil practically used to come from Persia, and the Shah of Iran was our best friend.  Persia was with us!  But the Bible says here that Persia is against us!  And when I used to read that, I used, well, I want to tell you I don’t think God knows what He is talking about.  I just don’t think He is aware of what’s going on.  I just think God is over there in a corner somewhere and He is not sensitive to the development of history.  But God wrote here that Persia would be against us.  My brother, there’s not a nation that more bitterly despises and hates the gospel of Christ and the nation of America than Iran!  I’ve seen that in these last few years. 

 All right, now you look at the other one.  I have preached all over Ethiopia.  Ethiopia was one of the great friends of America.  And Ethiopia was open to the gospel, and I preached to them and have seen people [respond] – just marvelous.  I have visited with the leaders of Ethiopia, the governmental leaders, and they were marvelously sympathetic with what I was saying.  Ethiopia today is an enemy of the gospel of Christ and an enemy of America!  Ethiopia; I’ve seen that change in my day, in the last few years, about two or three years.  Ethiopia is with Russia!  Ethiopia is a satellite of communist Russia. 

Now you look at the other one:  Libya.  I have preached in Libya.  When I was in Libya, it was a friend of America and a friend to the gospel, even though nominally It was Muslim.  Today, there’s not a more bitter enemy of America than Khaddafi!  And an enemy of everything that you and I love.  That was in the Bible here.  And I used to read that and I’d think, "I tell you, Lord, I don’t believe You know what’s going on, because these people, Iran, and Ethiopia, and Lybia, they’re on our side."  But God said they’d be on the other side!  And it’s happened just as God has said.  It’s a sign of the denouement of the age, of the end of history, of the coming of our Lord. 

Well, we must hasten.  I want you to look again at this: sounds, the sounds of the coming of our Lord for His people.  It says that it will be with the trumpet, and it will be with a great shout, and it will be with the voice of the archangel [1 Thessalonians 4:16].  Now, when you look at that – when you look at that, you’d immediately think, "Well, how is this rapture going to be secret?  And how is it going to be just for us, when the Bible says that when the Lord comes for us, it’s going to be with a shout, and with a voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God?  How is that going to be secret, and clandestine, and furtive, and quiet, when all of that noise" – well, did you know the answer is very apparent in our own life and in our own day, and in this congregation here tonight?  There are those who hear the gospel when they hear it, and there are those that never hear it even though they are listening to it.  Now, isn’t that a strange thing?  Isn’t that strange?  You see that in the life of Paul.  Paul was surrounded by men when he was struck down on the road to Damascus, but who heard the voice of the Lord speaking to him?  And who replied and responded and answered with his life?  Paul did; the others didn’t.  The others didn’t [Acts 22:6-9]. 

Let me illustrate that in a thing that just did it for me: how people hear, but they don’t hear; they see and see and see, but they don’t see; they hear and hear and hear, but they don’t hear.  There are just some who see and some who hear.  Now I want to show that to you. 

Do you remember one time I told you about a farmer in South Louisiana that captured a great big mallard duck?  When they were flying down there at the close of the starting of the winter, why, this farmer captured that big wild mallard duck out of Canada, coming down out of Canada, and he staked that big mallard with his domestic ducks in his pond down there in Louisiana.  And at the end of the winter, those great mallards that had been wintering in South Louisiana, they began to rise and to head north back home to Canada.  And when those great mallards rose up there in the sky to make their home back to Canada, they saw that mallard duck down there on that pond, and from the sky those great mallards called to that duck down there in the pond.  And that mallard on the pond lifted up his head and heard the call, and he spread his great wings to rise and to join them, and the tie, the string pulled him back down.  And the next day, another great flock of those mallards rising to go back home to Canada, looked down there at that pond and saw that mallard, and they called to him from the sky.  And he raised his head and listened and spread his great wings to join them up in the sky, and that tie pulled him back down to the water. 

And the next day when those flocks came over and called to that great mallard out of the sky, he spread his wings one more time and broke the tie and arose and joined them in the sky and back toward home in Canada.  And those domestic ducks never heard the call – just that great mallard.  And they swam around in that little pond in South Louisiana; they never heard it. 

That’s going to be the exact way.  When the call is heard, and the trumpet is sounded, and the archangel lifts up his voice, God’s people will hear it.  The rest of them don’t even know, not even aware.  Isn’t that a strange thing?  And that’s true in every congregation.  That’s true in this congregation and all the rest.  There are those who hear when they hear, they see when they see, and there are others [to whom] it’s just a sound; has no meaning whatsoever. 

I must close.  I wanted to speak of the separation.  Oh, dear!  To be left behind.  I wanted to speak of the Savior, when we see our Lord.  You know, I think of these things as you do: could it be that these eyes – these eyes, see these eyes – will see Jesus coming in glory?  Could it be?  Could it be that this body growing older every day, weaker every day – if he delays His coming – would fall into corruption?  Could it be that this body would feel, this body would feel the quickening of the transforming power of the God?  O Lord, could it be?  Could it be?

It’s just too good to be true, that God has in store for us such marvelous things, such wonderful things, and take us home into a heaven where even the streets are paved with gold and the gates are solid pearl, where the river of life flows through the midst of the city, and where the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the people [Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:1-2].  O God, could such a thing be?  Could it be? 

It’s just too wonderful, too wonderful, what God hath purposed for us who have found our refuge in love, and faith, and promise, and hope in Him.  No wonder we try to sing the song, and bow in reverence and devotion, and say words of expressed love and adoration for the wonderful Savior!  Now may we stand together?

Our Lord this is all too much for me.  I cannot encompass it.  I don’t have words Lord to say it; the wonder of the glory of the goodness of God toward us, we who are fallen sinners, a dying people, what Lord, what God has prepared for us, O Lord.  A resurrection, a change, a home in heaven to be with God, to be with our Savior, to be with one another, O Lord what a day, what a victory, what a triumph. Our hope and our destiny is not to fall into the grave, our destiny is to rise, to meet our Lord in the sky, to be with Him in glory.  O bless His name!

In this moment that our people pray and wait just for you, "Pastor, tonight we have decided for God and here we are."  In the balcony round, down a stairway, in the throng on this floor, down one of these aisles, "Pastor, the Lord has spoken to us.  We are coming."  "I want to confess Him as my Savior.  I open my heart heavenward and Christ-ward and I am coming."  Or, "We want to put our lives in the circle and circumference of this dear church.  We are coming."  Or, "I want to be baptized as God has said in His Word; buried with Him and raised with Him."  Or, "I want to answer a call from heaven."  Make the decision in your heart now.  And when we sing this appeal that first step will be the most precious you have ever made in your life, come.

And our Lord thank Thee for the sweet harvest You give us this beautiful, precious and glorious evening.  O God in heaven, how wonderful the grace of Jesus that reaches down to us, praise His name forever.  And we praise Thee Lord for the sweet harvest You give us tonight, in Thy saving grace, amen.  Welcome as you come, while we sing.