BIBLE DOCTRINE 15: THE RAPTURE
God’s Word teaches:
That the Rapture (commonly referred to as the first phase or stage of the SECOND COMING OF CHRIST) is the catching away from the earth of all living saints and all who died in the Lord. The Rapture will take place before the Great Tribulation and can happen any time from now. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,…” without a moment’s warning, “the trumpet shall sound”, “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” – John 14:1-3; Luke 21:34-36; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:4-9; 2 Thessalonians 2:5-7; Philippians 3:11,20,21; 1 John 3:1-3.
The Rapture is the greatest event of all ages that the church is waiting for. It is the catching away of all true believers in Christ to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Christ at the end of His first advent was in like manner taken up in the air to go and prepare a place for His own. The parting promise from God was that Jesus will return in like manner to receive His ‘Bride’ to be with Him for ever (Acts 1:9-11; John 14:1-3).
The Rapture is not the same as the Second Coming of Christ. At the Rapture, Christ will appear in the air. He will not be visible to the inhabitants of the earth. His mission then will be to resurrect all dead saints, who along with the living believers will put on immortality and shall be caught up to be with the Lord. In the twinkling of an ‘eye’ before the great and terrible day of the Lord, when the wrath of God will be poured down from His cup of indignation without mixture – an event fitly called the Great
Tribulation (1 Corinthians 15:52). The Second Advent will not take place until after the great tribulation. The time of the Rapture is unknown, even by the angels (Matthew 24:36; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5). The Rapture will be heralded by the voice of the archangel and the blowing of trumpets, signalling the end of the Church age (1 Thessalonians 4:13-15).
The Rapture was a mystery, unknown to the Old Testament saints and prophets. God has underlined this great event in two different ways in the Scriptures to assure us of its certainty. First, it was illustrated in Enoch and Elijah, the two living saints who did not taste death but were translated in a moment of time and caught up in the air (Genesis 5:24; 2 Kings 2:11,12). Second, it was illustrated in Christ in the New Testament. He died, was buried, and resurrected. While he talked with His disciples
on Mount Olivet, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight (Acts 1:9-11). The Rapture, which was mystery to the Old Testament prophets, marks the end of the Church age, also referred to as the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24). This truth was veiled to the saints of old.
However, known unto God are all His works from the foundation of the earth. In His mercy, He interrupted His programme for Israel with the Church age. Christ, the Messiah, came for His people but they rejected Him (John 1:11), and God turned to the Gentiles to take a people for Himself. The Rapture will mark the end of this special period of grace. Does this mean that God has forsaken his people, Israel, for ever? Far from it, God will resume His programme with Israel immediately after the Rapture, thus ushering in the beginning of the Seventieth week in Daniel’s Prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27). Any moment from now, the trumpet shall sound and He that shall come will come and will not tarry. It is very certain that Christ is coming back again. He assured the Church of the certainty of His coming (John 14:1-3). Angels proclaimed it, apostles and saints throughout the ages preached it. All the signsof His coming are daily being fulfilled.
Christ, answering a pertinent question asked by His disciples on “…What shall be the sign of thy coming…” (Matthew 24:3), gave in details what would be happening on earth shortly before His coming (Matthew 24:5-12,30-39). He highlighted the following as what to expect:
- Many false Christ will arise deceiving many unsuspecting believers.
- There will be wars and rumours of war.
- There will be international wars.
- Famines (Global economic recession).
- Earthquakes in divers places.
- There will be persecution of Christ’s followers and some cases of martyrdom.
- The emergence of many false prophets.
- Backsliding from the faith on the increase.
- More people given to pleasure and merry-making than those seeking the Lord.
The Scriptures also predict the conditions, characterized by a system of denials that will be prevalent within the visible church, shortly before Christ’s return. There will be a denial of God (2 Timothy 3:1-5), a denial of Christ (1 John 2:18; 4:3), a denial of Christ’s return (2 Peter 3:3,4), a denial of the faith of Christian living (Jude 18) and a denial of authority. All these signs are being fulfilled before our eyes.
To qualify to partake in the Rapture: one must be born-again, living a transparent holy life, walking daily in the light, working the works of God, watching daily, praying with all prayer, and maintaining these experiences at the time of the Rapture or the time of death, as the case may be (John 3:3; Hebrew 12:14; John 4:35-38; 9:1-4; 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17). All the signs preceding the Second Advent of Christ are fulfilled, telling us that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is very close and the time of the Rapture is much closer. Sinning church members will not be able to go at the Rapture though, saved before and baptized in water. Careless and compromising preachers will miss the Rapture; it does not matter what Christian work they may have done in the past. All such people, together with backsliders and sinners outside the Church, will be left behind to face the
Knowing that these things shall be, that the Rapture will occur unannounced, and it is very imminent, what manner of persons ought believers to be? Sinners are to make haste to repent and embrace Christ as their Saviour. The saints of God are to watch and pray lest that day come upon them unprepared (Matthew 24:42-44).
1. Admit that you are a sinner. "For all [humans] have sinned, and comes short of the glory of God....[and] the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 3:23)
2. Repent now. "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out ...[for] if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness " (Acts 3:19, 1 John 1:9)
3. Believe that God loves you and Jesus died for you. "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet Sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
4. Invite Jesus into your life through prayer of faith. Jesus says, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me" (Revelation 3:20)