Truth That Matters

"What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?" - Jesus Christ

The Rapture

This is the starting gun, the point whose timing is not known - once this takes place, the rest of the end-time events can be timed.

The Lord Jesus Christ will descend, not to the earth but to the clouds, and the believers will be caught up to meet him in the air:

"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: 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. ...Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."  - 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51,52

As believers (true Christians), are future state is not that of disembodied spirits. Our bodies will be raised up, renewed, and reunited with our souls (1 Corinthians 15:44). It is in recognition of this that we Christians bury our dead. Why does God want to give us new bodies? Because He wants to fulfill His original desire - that we would glorify Him through our bodies (Genesis 1:26-27, Romans 12:1, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 6:20).

Just what kind of bodies will we have? We don't know, but they will probably resemble the body that Jesus had after he rose again. We will be able to recognize each other (Luke 13:28).

The rapture will not be as conspicuous as the Second Advent. In the latter event, everyone on earth will see Jesus, and mourn (Revelation 1:7, Matthew 24:27). However, the rapture will not be completely secret either. Elisha saw Elijah being taken up to heaven. Similarly, there may be many people who see the believers being caught up into the clouds.

The disappearance of so many believers will undoubtedly leave a big mess on earth - driver-less vehicles, unpaid bills, and so on. Our unsaved friends and relatives will rummage through our belongings. How important it is to maintain a pure lifestyle!

A belief in the rapture is sometimes mistaken for cowardice: "So you want to get out of here when tribulation comes?!" But this is absurd. All believers recognize that tribulation is a continuous condition faced by the church. The teaching of the rapture does not deny the reality of the church facing persecution - it only distinguishes between general tribulation and the "Great Tribulation" that follows the rapture.

It is important to realize that for now, the rapture is the primary hope and anticipation for believers. We are not here to prepare a kingdom on earth for the Lord Jesus to come and reign. We don’t expect to reform the world and make it better and better. The world will only get worse – but our hope is that the Lord Jesus will come and take us away to be with him. In the meanwhile we serve him. The rapture is the first of a long series of end-time events, and cannot be timed – it can happen any time. Once it happens, the rest of the events can be timed.

We'll then be ushered in front of the judgment seat of Christ. We will give an account to him as to how we've lived our Christian lives. He will assess us and reward us according to what we've done:

"Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." - 1 Corinthians 3:12-15

Dear believer: If there's one moment in time that we need to keep in mind, it is this. When you set out to make plans, do things, take decisions, and so on, think of this: one day, you'll stand before your master and give an account for all the time, resources and gifts that He has given you.

We'll be given new bodies, and our sinful natures will be taken away. When Christ is done with us, we'll be "arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." (Revelation 19:8) - ready as a bride is ready for her wedding. From then on, we'll have no propensity to sin.

The effects that the teaching of the rapture should have on a believer:-

  • It helps us to avoid getting distracted with worldly pleasures and pursuits.
  • It helps us to keep our focus. When we see so many wrong things in the world, we feel like correcting it all, which God has not called us to do. For example, many Christians have forgotten about preaching Christ crucified because they have become interested in eradicating poverty, disease, war, etc. The rapture reminds us that although working for these things is good, it is not our calling as a church, and is ultimately futile, because this world is anyway heading for destruction.
  • It helps us to abide in Christ – He may come anytime, and we should be found serving Him, not in sin.
  • It gives us a sense of urgency for God’s work: we don’t know how much time is left, so we should make the best use of the time that we have now, telling as many people about Christ as possible.

It is not enough to believe in the rapture - we should look forward to it (2 Timothy 4:8).