Rapture of the Church
What is the rapture?
There are many Christians who believe that the second coming of Jesus Christ will be in two phases. First, He will come for believers, both living and dead, in the “rapture” (read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). In this view, the rapture—which is the transformation and catching up of all Christians, dead or alive, to meet Christ in the air—will be secret, for it will be unknown to the world of unbelievers at the time of its happening.
The effect of this removal, in the absence of multitudes of people, will, of course, be evident on earth. Then, second, after a period of seven years of tribulation on earth, Christ will return to the earth with His church, the saints who were raptured (Matthew 24:30, 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 1 Peter 1:13, Revelation 1:7). He will be victorious over His enemies and will reign on the earth for 1,000 years (the millennium) with His saints, the church.
>> Signs of the end of the world? Read this Biblical wisdom from Billy Graham and Franklin Graham.
After 1,000 years, living unbelievers and the wicked dead now raised to life will be judged at the great white throne judgment. They will then be cast into the lake of fire, while the saved will live forever with Christ in a new heaven and earth (Revelation, chapters 19-22). >> Be ready to meet Christ by giving your life to Him today.
Many other evangelical Christians believe that Christ’s return and the rapture will not occur until the seven years of the tribulation have ended. As far as the latter view is concerned, the rapture will not be secret, since it will be part of Christ’s visible and triumphant return to end this present evil age (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). At this point, interpreters differ as to whether there will be a literal thousand year reign of Christ on earth or whether the white throne judgment and the new heaven and earth will immediately appear.
All Christians do not agree on every detail of what will occur in the final events of this world’s history. Some of these events and their order of occurrence have simply not been made clear in the Bible. What is important is that all Christians hold in common that Christ will ultimately return bodily, visibly, and gloriously to reign and rule with His resurrected and transformed saints forever and ever. The details of this great event will be made known in God’s own time.
>> Are you rapture ready? Read more in this Bible study from Anne Graham Lotz. Rapture; First, some comments about the rapture of the church. The place in Scripture that most clearly teaches a rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17. The final words are: "The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord." "Caught up" in one early Latin translation is rapiemur, from which we derive the English word "rapture." So the rapture refers in this context to that moment when believers will be caught up, along with the dead in Christ, to a glorious meeting with the Lord in His triumphal descent. Paul also in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 speaks of the same event, saying: "We shall not all sleep [i.e., die], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet." However, the teaching here relates not so much to meeting the Lord as to the fact that our bodies (dead and alive) will be changed in this great future event.
Yes, but only those who have been born-again by the Spirit of God, not those who are Christians name only. The Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine teaches that all Christians will be raptured before the Tribulation starts. The major reason that most well-studied Christians hold to this doctrine is that the Bible clearly teaches that the children of God (Christians) are not destined for His wrath which is poured out during the Tribulation:
“For God appointed us not into wrath, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
The context of the passage is not the wrath of hell, but of some other form of wrath. The only other form of wrath is what God pours out on the unsaved during the Tribulation. If Christians went into the Tribulation they would suffer the wrath of God. His wrath is poured out with the breaking of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12-17). This would mean that there would be a clear contradiction in the Bible.
There would be no reason to commission 144,000 men of the twelve tribes of Israel to preach the gospel if Christians go into the Tribulation. The 144,000 witnesses are commissioned immediately after the wrath of God is poured out (Revelation 7:1-8), because all the Christians have been raptured, and there is no one to share the gospel with the lost.
A few types in the Old Testament (Enoch, Noah and Lot) are evidences for the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Enoch was translated and never saw death (Hebrews 11.5) before the flood came and destroyed the wicked. He is a type of the church which will be translated (raptured) before the wrath of God is poured out on the lost during the Tribulation. Noah and his family is also a type of the Church. They were spared death by being in the ark (Hebrews 11.7) when the flood came and destroyed all life outside the ark (Genesis 7:21-23).
Lot and his family is another type of the church. The angels compelled Lot and his family (who did not want to leave), to depart Sodom just before it was destroyed. The angels literally grabbed Lot, his wife and his two daughters and dragged them out of Sodom (Genesis 19:16). Another evidence is the promise that was given to the church of Philadelphia:
“Because thou didst keep the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of trial, that hour which is to come upon the whole world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Revelation 3:10). The ‘hour of trial’ is a reference to the Tribulation. The church of the Philadelphia Era was given the promise of not going through that time of testing. In Revelation chapters two and three the seven churches that were in the area of modern-day Turkey were given special messages. They were rebuked for sin, but also given promises. The seven literal churches are symbolic of seven periods of the Church Age. The rebukes and promises to them also apply to Christians of those seven eras. We are living in the Philadelphia Era. The promise of being kept from the ‘hour of trial’ was made to the church of the Philadelphia Era (to us).
The church is mentioned in the first three chapters of the book of Revelation. In chapter four and verse one it says, “After these things I saw.’ What comes after these things is the Rapture. A command is given to John, ‘Come up hither.’ That is also the command that the archangel gives at the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
Why Believe in the Pretribulation Rapture Despite the fact that some are revising their views on when the Rapture of the Church takes place, I am still convinced of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture described in I Thessalonians 4:13-18. Yes, it is true that the word “rapture” doesn’t occur in Scripture, but neither does the word “Bible;” yet we still call the Word of God the Bible. The word “rapture” comes from a Latin word meaning “to catch up or carry away” or “to seize suddenly.” Here is why I believe this event will take place before the 7-year Tribulation:
- Because the Bible clearly says so. There is no good argument offered for interpreting Revelation 3:10 in any way except as a promise of the Rapture before the Tribulation.
- Because there is no reason for Christians to be on earth during the Tribulation. The Tribulation has two purposes: to bring the nation of Israel to repentance and to judge the heathen Gentile nations. Since Christ has already suffered judgment for the Christian, there is no need for Christians to endure suffering for the purpose of winning lost people who are also suffering. But God has sealed a specially selected group of 144,000 Jews (Revelation 7) to reach the world for Christ during the Tribulation. We have no reason to be here.
- Because the Church is not found on earth in the book of Revelation after Revelation 4:1, and after the Tribulation begins (Revelation 6:1-19:21). All of the symbolical references to Christians during the Tribulation have them in Heaven during that time.
- Because the Rapture would not be a surprise if it took place after the Tribulation began. God has given no signs to precede the Rapture of the Church; it could happen at any moment. However, He has given information about the Tribulation in such detail that the discerning Christian, if he were to go through any part of the Tribulation, would be able to calculate down to the last day Jesus’ return. It would not come as a surprise. Folks, I am convinced and convicted that the Rapture of the saints to Heaven (John 14:1-3; I Corinthians 15:51-58) takes place before the Tribulation. If you also believe that, then how ought we to live? Obviously, with the Lord’s coming in view! I say with the aged apostle, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20b).