John sees an open door into heaven and hears a loud voice with a resounding tone as from a trumpet instructing John to "come up here." Paul writes in
1 Corinthians 15:51 & 52 that "in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet ... we will be changed" and in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, "we who are still alive ... will be caught up ... to meet the Lord in the air."
There are varying opinions as to when Jesus will return to receive all believers (both those who have died and those who are living) unto Himself, but one thing is definite – Jesus will return and fulfill His promise recorded in John 14:3, "I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." I believe that what John experienced and envisioned is illustrative of what all believers will experience when we are resurrected and caught up, or raptured, into the presence of God.
John was ushered into the very presence of God, the description of which defies the ability of mankind to fully comprehend.
It is a place of immense beauty and majesty that resounds with praise and worship of God Almighty. In the midst of this glory is God the Father sitting upon His throne and "in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne [was] a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals." All heaven's attention is directed towards this scroll (or book) which must include the final revelation of God for mankind, but no one had the authority to break the seals and open the book to disclose the contents within. But then, the lamb of God (which is a symbolic representation of Jesus who gave Himself in sacrifice for our sins) stepped forward, having the authority to open the book and all of heaven resounds in worship of Jesus. The atmosphere will be super charged with worship and praise emanating from every person, angel, and creature found in all points of heaven.
We are not to wait until then to worship God, rather we are instructed to lift our hands and voices in praise and worship unto God now. In Psalm 150, everything that has breath is commanded to worship God and the writer of Hebrews instructs us in chapter 13, verse 15, to offer up a sacrifice of continuous praise. When rebuked for allowing His disciples to yell out praises and worship unto Himself, Jesus informed His criticizers that if His disciples held "their peace the stones would immediately cry out" praises unto God (Luke 19:10). So, what are we waiting for?
While believers will be caught up to experience the glory of God's presence, what will those left upon the earth be experiencing.
This will be the subject of the coming articles in the monthly "To Infinity and Beyond" series based upon the final book of Revelation found in the Holy Bible. The "Left Behind" saga written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins is an interesting fictitious account depicting these traumatic times foretold in the Bible that are coming to our world. No man has the total understanding of what is portrayed, but the secret to preparing for these times of great distress is found in 2 Peter 3:11-18. We must focus upon Jesus through the study of the Bible, fellowship with other believers, and prayer; and we must surrender our lives to the lordship of Jesus – striving with His help to live a life acceptable before Him. We must wake up and be alert for the time is short. The God of eternity is preparing to bring to completion that which He has started and there is no stopping it from happening.
Are You Ready?
Are your family and friends ready? If you have any doubt, don't put off making your preparations. Contact someone whom you know is a Bible-believing Christian, and find out how you can be absolutely sure you will go with Jesus when He comes to receive His own unto Himself. Don't depend upon church membership, good deeds, or any man made form of religion to get you into heaven – you must establish a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Jesus plainly stated that, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6)." (All quotations are from the NIV version of the Holy Bible)
Exie Barber was brought up in an Assemblies of God pastor's home. He was ordained by the Kansas District Council of the Assemblies of God in 1978. Currently, he serves as senior pastor at the Assembly of God in Ellsworth, Kansas and writes for the adult Radiant Life curriculum. Recently, he became an adjunct faculty member for Global University. He earned his B. A. in Christian Education from Southwestern Assemblies of God College in 1987 and his M.A. in Christian Education from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary.