TEXT: Matthew 24:36-44; Hebrews 9:28
The students will be able to recite the requirement for being included in the Rapture of the saints: the vital necessity of living a sinless life, walking in all the Light they have, and eagerly watching for the Lord’s coming.
The illustration in Matthew 24:36-44 emphasizes the unexpectedness of the Lord’s coming by showing that the individual concerned was occupied with the usual cares of life without giving thought to Messiah’s return. Believing Israel is exhorted thereby to be prepared for that day.
With reference to Hebrews 9:28, the finality of Christ’s sacrifice is in contrast to the earthly high priest who entered the Holy of Holies every year “with blood not his own.” If Christ’s sacrifice had not been final He would then have had to suffer often, since the continued sins of men would entail repeated suffering on earth. But His sacrifice was once for all—thus there is no need for further sacrifice. Christ’s coming for His own will not involve the sin question, but rather final salvation—when He delivers believers from the empire of death, reunites them with their purified souls, and brings them into His eternal glory.
The title of our lesson is “Be Ready.” Ready, according to Webster, means “prepared or equipped to act immediately.” How vital it is to be prepared and equipped for the immediate return of Christ!
Just a knowledge that we are living in the last days does not make us ready for Jesus’ coming. We are commanded to watch for His coming, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:13). True watching is an attitude of mind and heart, which would joyfully and quickly turn from any occupation or activity to meet the Lord. In this lesson we will consider how we can be ready. It is vital to prove by our daily living that we both know and are prepared for the most exciting event of all ages—the Rapture of the Church.
- At Jesus’ coming, the Bride of Christ will be raptured to meet Him in the air. Look up the following Scriptures and determine what qualities the Bride will have.
Response: Psalm 15:1-3 — walketh uprightly, worketh righteousness, speaketh truth. Psalm 24:3-4 — clean hands and pure heart.
Matthew 5:8 — pure in heart.
Ephesians 5:27 — without spot or wrinkle.
Titus 2:11-13 — sober, righteous, godly.
Revelation19:7-8 — clothed in righteousness.
After your students have offered their responses to each Scripture, summarize by pointing out that a member of the Bride will have the qualities listed. Discuss whether this list makes any allowance for sin.
- A number of sins are listed in Galatians 5:19-21, including adultery, fornication, witchcraft, and drunkenness. The sins listed are commonly accepted by many in the world today, even in some so-called religious circles. What does the Bible say about those who do such things? How do the above sins compare with those of Noah’s time?
Response: The Bible tells us that these sins are the works of the flesh, and that those who commit such shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. The sins of the people of Noah’s time were very similar and received God’s judgment. Discussion of this question should bring out that though people in the world practice and condone these sins, they still are not acceptable with God. The excuse that “everybody does it” will not be sufficient in the day of judgment.
- Use Hebrews 9:28 and 1 John 3:2 to fill in the blanks in the following statements: The purpose of Christ’s first coming was to bear the _____________________ with His death on Calvary. To those who look for Him, He shall appear the second time without ______________________ unto_______________. We know that, when He shall appear, ____________________; for our bodies shall be changed to be like Christ’s glorified body. These promises apply to those who can say, “Now are we the _____________________.”
Response: This is a good opportunity to explain salvation. If there are those in your class who are not saved, use the phrase, “Now are we the sons of God,” as a springboard for a discussion of just what it means to be a son of God.
- Read the parable of the ten virgins given in Matthew 25:1-13. Why were some of the virgins left behind? What will it take to be a “wise virgin”? Use 1 John 1:6-7 as a supplementary Scripture in formulating your response.
Response: In reading 1 John 1:6-7, we understand that the Lord requires us to walk according to the knowledge He has given to us. This knowledge includes our need to be ready for His coming. Discuss with the class that if we know what it takes to be a wise virgin and we have not made preparation, then the fault is all ours and we shall have to take the blame. The knowledge of salvation has been revealed to us, a definite experience of sanctification has been taught to be essential, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost is a necessary gift to be received. These are parts of the Light that we must walk in if we expect to be ready for Jesus’ coming.
- Prior to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry at His first coming, John the Baptist preached, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” The message of the Gospel to mankind today anticipates Jesus’ second coming. Compare the responses of men in those days, with the responses of men today.
Response: Some responded and others did not. Prior to Jesus’ day, Israel waited for the Hope of Israel, the coming of the Messiah. Many who were knowledgeable regarding His coming neglected to prepare spiritually, therefore were not ready when He came. This negative condition exists today. Conversely, others did prepare and were immediately receptive when the Messiah appeared. This positive condition also exists today and is necessary that the Bride might be ready. The students need to understand that each condition exists.
- Compare Matthew 24:42-44 and 1 Thessalonians 5:6. What point do these verses make?
Response: Your students’ responses should bring out the necessity of watching continually because the time of Christ’s coming is unknown. How does a Christian watch? Compare the preparations a Christian makes to preparations made for some important event in our physical lives; graduation, marriage, birth of a child, etc. (Choose a subject appropriate to the age level and interests of your class.)
- In spite of Noah’s warnings for about 120 years, life continued as before, with man’s attention diverted to things other than the coming Flood. List some things that you think capture the attention of people today, preventing them from being ready for Jesus’ return.
Response: The combined answers of the students will provide a good list. They will realize that it is possible to be too involved in the affairs of life. Things such as a quarrel, finances, family matters, or the cares of life can divert our attention from the most important thing in life—to prepare for the Rapture.
- What will be the consequences of our not being ready? See Revelation 21:8.
Response: All sinners will be cast into the lake of fire. Using Matthew 25:34 as a contrast, discuss with your class the two places where eternity can be spent, one of which will be their destination. Zero in on the importance of making the right choices now, in order to be sure that we are ready to spend eternity in Heaven.
Items needed: Balloon, hand air pump, basketball needle, tape. Attach the needle to the air pump and put the balloon over the needle. Tape it to seal against air loss. Slowly blow up the balloon. Tell the students it will pop soon, although you aren’t certain of the exact moment. All you know is that the bigger the balloon gets the closer it is to popping. Liken this to the Lord’s coming.
Take a calendar to class. Point out that special days are marked on it. However, one special day is not marked; that is the day of the Lord’s return. We do not know exactly which day it will be. It could be today, tomorrow, or next week, so it is vital for each of us to be ready and waiting for that day.
The following may be simplified or enlarged upon to suit a review or class-time presentation:
Choose students to represent handicapped persons. The setting is the Pool of Bethesda. The sick and handicapped are waiting for the angel to trouble the waters, but they don’t know when the angel will appear. As the group waits, some are praying, some talking to others about the possibility of the angel’s coming today and others saying they have waited months or years and it hasn’t happened yet, some are talking about families and cares of life, etc. The emphasis must be on the need to be expecting, watching, and allowing nothing to distract you or take you away long enough to miss what is about to happen. Obviously, the numbers who made it into the pool while the waters were troubled were very few in comparison with the numbers who came to the pool, or who were there part of the time, or who hoped to make it, and who thought they were ready. When we can recognize ourselves to be so “crippled” or “handicapped” that we cannot possibly make it without the help of our Friend and will call on Him, He will help us to be ready, watching, and waiting for the sound of the Trumpet. We need not be among the disappointed ones left behind.
Tell from your own experience (or invite a visitor to speak) of the excitement felt when a loved one returned from war or military service. Often the arrival date would be unknown, only an approximate time. Emphasize preparation, anticipation, and excitement. Let students share family experiences of similar occasions. Stress that the same anticipation and preparation should be in evidence in our lives now as we look forward to the Lord’s coming.