Scripture: Matthew 24:1–51; Mark 13:1–37; Luke 21:28; Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17
Memory verse: John 14:3
"If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back."
You will need two young people to help you present the following drama. Give each helper a T-shirt. One shirt should be new, and the other one very worn. On the new shirt tape a clean square of paper with a large number neatly written on it. On the old shirt tape a crumpled sheet with a number scrawled across it. The helpers should wear the shirts over their clothes. Also give them some small hand weights or jump ropes to carry into the classroom.
Begin the lesson by introducing your visitors. Explain that they are waiting for a very important sports event, one that is even bigger than the Olympics. But instead of occurring every four years, this event will happen just once. Even more interesting is that this event could take place at any time. It might happen tomorrow or ten years from now.
Point to the helper wearing the clean shirt. Tell the class this athlete is excited about being invited to participate. He is constantly practicing in case the event occurs today. (The helper should begin using the weights or jump rope.) The other athlete, however, does not think the event will happen soon. He does not exercise to keep in shape or even bother to keep his uniform clean.
Tell the class that Christians prepare themselves for Jesus’ coming in the way your visitors prepare for their sports event. This lesson will teach us the importance of being prepared for Jesus’ return.
Hearing God’s Word
This week we are going to talk about one of the most spectacular events that will ever happen. It could happen anytime.
The Rapture—An Exciting Event
This exciting, spectacular event is called the rapture of the Church. (Write on the chalkboard RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH.) The word rapture means the “catching away” of something. Christians will be “caught up” to God. Some people do not think it will ever happen. They make fun of the whole idea. But remember, early in our study we learned that God’s Word is completely true. His Word says Jesus will come again. We can be sure He will because God cannot lie. Our Bible tells us many things about Jesus’ coming. This glorious event is mentioned many times, especially in the New Testament. The Books of 1 and 2 Thessalonians centre on this theme. Many chapters in other New Testament books also talk of Jesus’ coming.
Before Jesus died on the cross He made three great promises to His followers. They are these:
I will build my church (Matthew 16:18).
I will send my Spirit (John 15:26).
I will come again (John 14:3).
(At this point introduce this week’s memory verse.) The first two promises have been fulfilled. We can be sure the last one will be also. (Repeat the memory verse again.)
After Jesus went back to heaven, the angels also promised He would return. (Instruct the students to find Acts 1:11 in their Bibles. Ask a volunteer to read it aloud.) The angels told Jesus’ disciples He would one day return in the same way they had seen Him leave.
Rapture of Believers
Someday, without warning, Jesus will suddenly appear in the sky. This is when the believers who have died and all living Christians will be caught up to meet Jesus in the air. It will happen in a split second. Jesus and Christians will then go back to heaven. This is called the Rapture of the Church.
Events at the Rapture: (Put this information on the chalkboard as you discuss it.)
Rapture of the Church
WHAT: Believers ascend to be with Jesus
HOW: In an instant
WHEN: Only God knows.
What is going to happen? (Add the word WHAT: on the chalkboard beneath RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH.) How will the Rapture take place? (Write the word HOW: beneath WHAT.) Will everyone know when Jesus is returning for His Church? (Add WHEN: beneath HOW.)
Jesus will descend from heaven with a shout; then there will be the voice of the archangel and the trump of God will sound. At that moment the bodies of believers who have already died will be raised from their graves to meet their souls in heaven. Immediately after that, the living believers will be taken up to meet Jesus in the air.
(Beside the word WHAT, write “Believers ascend to be with Jesus”.) All this will take place in an instant—in the twinkling of an eye. The world will not realise what has happened until it is over. (Write “In an instant” beside the word HOW.) Suddenly people will be missing. A Christian and a non-Christian may be working together. Suddenly the Christian will disappear and the non-Christian will be left behind. It will be much like a powerful magnet sweeping over a pile of metal objects.
No one but God knows exactly when the Rapture will take place. (Read Mark 13:32,33.) First Thessalonians 4:16, 17 describes how it will happen. (Let volunteers read these verses. Then add the words “Only God knows” beside the word WHEN.) We must always remember the Rapture will take place suddenly, without warning. Jesus said it will be like a thief in the night. (Ask a student to read 1 Thessalonians 5:2.) A thief never informs someone ahead of time that he is going to rob him. Instead he quickly slips in and out before anyone notices him. Jesus’ return will be just as unexpected.
Clues of Jesus’ Soon Return
Is there some way we can know when the Rapture is going to take place? No definite date or time is in the Bible. Jesus wants us to be ready at all times and to serve Him faithfully each day. If Jesus had told us exactly when He would return, some people would suddenly turn into wonderful church-going believers a couple of weeks or days before He came back instead of being faithful and true all their lives.
The Bible does give us some clues to watch for that indicates His soon return. (Instruct the students to look up and read Mark 13:3-13.) These verses read much like today’s newspapers. Every once in a while someone pops up claiming to be Christ or God; there are wars and rumours about war going on almost all the time; many nations have been hit by terrible famine or drought; violence and sin have increased and will continue to get worse. Christians in many countries are being persecuted for their beliefs; destructive earthquakes are happening in many parts of the world. Most of us have heard about all these things happening. As the time for the Rapture comes closer, these events will become more common. When we hear of them, we need to remember Jesus’ coming is very near. (Ask a student to read Luke 21:28.)
How to Stay Prepared
Since we know God’s Word is true, it is important for us to be ready at all times. Have you ever found out at the last minute that you had to go on an overnight trip? You probably had just a few minutes to pack everything you needed. Unlike regular trips that occur, people will not be able to quickly “get ready” for the Rapture. They can still be prepared though.
Ask: “Can you think of ways we can stay prepared for Jesus’ return?” (Allow responses.)
We can stay “in shape” spiritually by praying, reading our Bibles obeying God and going to church. This would be a good week to begin a “ready alert” program of daily Bible reading and prayer. Also, if we are not faithful to attend God’s house or obey Him, we need to begin to do that. First of all, we need to know Jesus has forgiven our sins, and then we must live for Him each day. This is the only way to be fully prepared for Jesus’ return. Satan will do all he can to keep us from reading our Bible, praying, coming to God’s house and being obedient to God’s commands. He will make us think, I am too busy today. I can always start tomorrow. If we wait too long, it will be too late.
Heaven is the most important thing we can work toward. Receive salvation and then live for God each day. Then we will be ready to meet Jesus when He comes back for those who love Him.
Accepting God’s Word
Review again the ABCs of salvation: Admit you have sinned; Believe Jesus is God’s Son who died for us; Confess and forsake your sin and ask His forgiveness. Remind the students that they must accept Jesus as their Saviour to be prepared for the Rapture.
Explain that heaven is more wonderful than any of us can imagine. Jesus provided a way for us to spend eternity in heaven with Him. The choice is ours whether we accept Jesus and heaven or not. Ask if anyone wants to accept Jesus today. Pray individually with each student who responds.
Decreasing income from the sale of agricultural products, encroachment by the Sahara Desert on farmland, deforestation, and increasing population are resulting in extreme financial concerns for the Tukulor.
In addition, the construction of dams on the Senegal River could result in displacement of many families and villages along the Senegal River. Nearly all village water sources are polluted. Malaria and other infectious diseases inflict a heavy toll each year.
Although there is some literacy among the aristocracy, most of the Tukulor are illiterate. Christian teachers, humanitarian aid workers, and medical teams are needed to live among the Tukulor and share the love of Jesus with them in practical ways.
REMEMBER TO PRAY
Pray for Tukulor Needs
1. Current difficulties to emphasize their need to call on God for help.
2. New vaccine for Malaria to be made available throughout the tribe.
3. Learn to read the Bible and discovery God's provision for them.
"If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us" (1 John 5:14).
Remember: THE RAPTURE
Memory verse: John 14:3
"If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back."
1.Believers will be "caught up" to God—the rapture.
2. Jesus promised to come back again in an instant.
3. When: only God knows. Believers must be ready at all times.
Pray for Tukulor Needs.
Study 15 | Jesus Says Go/We Believe | africaatts.org/go-teach