The Rapture Of The Church

What Is The Rapture?

A simplified view of the major dispensations defined by the bible include:

  1. Mosaic Age (age of Law to demonstrate and test man in the faith of God)
  2. Church Age - (age of grace to demonstrate and test man in the hope in God)
  3. Millenium Age - (age of righteousness to demonstrate and test man in the love for God)

The culmination of this Church age ends when the Lord Jesus Christ descends from heaven and gathers His people (the believers) unto Himself and returns to heaven. This event is called the rapture and ends the church age or dispensation of grace. The apostle Paul describes it here...

1Th 4:13-18
(13) But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.
(14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
(15) For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.
(16) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
(17) Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
(18) Therefore comfort one another with these words.

The rapture occurs quite rapidly, about as fast as you can blink your eye; that is, it is instantantly and suddenly. The apostle Paul describes it here...

1Co 15:51-53
(51) Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed--
(52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
(53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

Although the word rapture is not found in our English bibles, it is found in the Latin translation. In the same way that the term "the trinity" is used to describe the nature of God in three separate and distinct persons and is not found in the bible, so the word rapture is used to describe this event. Christians should not be bent out of shape because the word is not found in the English bible translations. What is important is that we understand what this event is regardless of what we call it.

The Hope of the Rapture

This future event is the hope of the church as the new testament writer Titus says.

Titus 2:11-13
(11) For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
(12) teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,
(13) looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

Php 3:20-21
(20) For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
(21) who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

When Is The Rapture?

It is important to our Lord Jesus Christ that we know the details of His coming for us. This timing of this event is in itself quite a divisive issue among Christians. The timing can be briefly summarized as follows with the first representing the majority of church teaching on the subject...

The word tribulation above refers to Daniel's seventy week prophecy wherein the last week (7 years) is a time of God's judgment upon Israel and the world. Thus the timing of the rapture is with respect to this future judgment. In brief the rapture teachings above are summarized as follows...

The last three teachings require the Christian to endure (or be protected from) the judgment of God.

A brief sampling of this judgment to come is found here...

Rev 16:1-4,8-10
(1) Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, "Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth."
(2) So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.
(3) Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.
(4) Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.
(8) Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire.
(9) And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.
(10) Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain.

The Pre-Tribulation Rapture

So popular teachings of when the rapture occurs is with respect to what is known as the 7 year tribulation period.

So when does the rapture occur? It does indeed precede the 7 year tribulation. Therefore, the correct teaching concerning the rapture is... Pre-tribulation Rapture.... The error of this teaching is that it does not take into count the tribulation ascribed to the church age.

This issue concerning the timing of the rapture is true and is taught by the majority of churches today. What is not true, is that it is the next event to happen on the prophetic calendar of this church age. The time table regarding Daniel's s 70 week prophecy is taught extensively. However, the prophetic time table of the church is not well understood nor taught. The idea that we are coasting along in time waiting for the rapture to occur is a false teaching.

The Post-Tribulation Rapture

The error of the last three post tribulation teachings listed above has to do with Daniel's 70th week. This week has nothing to do with the church age. Therefore, they have taken something that is not applicable to the church and placed it into the church age. The positive side of this teaching is that the proponents of these last three teachings do take into account a time of tribulation for the church. And indeed the church does go through its own tribulation period often called "the last days" or "day of the lord". However, it is separate and distinct from Daniel's 70the week of tribulation.

The Rapture Payoff

Contrary to popular teaching we are not all even-steven when we get to heaven. In the U.S., your total self worth is measured in terms of dollars. All of your assets, investments, savings, etc. can be totaled and valued in dollars. In heaven your total self worth is measured, valued, and observed in what is called "glory". All of your acts of righteousness will be rewarded...

1Co 3:11-15
(11) For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
(12) Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,
(13) each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is.
(14) If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.
(15) If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Some Christians will receive a great amount of glory, some not so much. The apostle Paul describes this variation of glory among believers as follows...

1Co 15:41-42
(41) There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for one star (Christian) differs from another star (Christian) in glory.
(42) So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.
(43) It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.

You have heard the word glory many times, but if you don't receive glory in heaven then what do you receive? What do you get? On earth the opposite of riches is poverty (or debt). In heaven the opposite of glory is called "shame". Some Christians will encounter a minimal amount of shame while others will receive a great deal of shame. Jesus told a parable to describe how this works...

Luk 14:7-10
(7) So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them:
(8) "When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him;
(9) and he who invited you and him come and say to you, 'Give place to this man,' and then you begin with SHAME to take the lowest place.
(10) But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, 'Friend, go up higher.' Then you will have GLORY in the presence of those who sit at the table with you.

Just as bad financial investments can turn a person's riches to debt, so deception (which is the practice of unrighteousness) can rob a Christian and turn their eternal reward of glory into shame. Once the rapture occurs, there is no going back to undo what has been done. Your reward is sealed at that point, you should have listened and... Not Be Deceived!

The Rapture Comes Next?

Whether a Christian believes there will be rapture or not does not negate the fact that it will happen. The bible plainly teaches that there will be a rapture and there are many good teachings on the subject. The problem lies not whether there will be a rapture or not, but what are the events leading to the rapture. The popular teaching of today is that the rapture is the next prophetic event on the Christian calendar. All prerequisites to this event have been fulfilled and the rapture can occur at just any moment. This teaching is totally untrue. The rapture cannot happen at the time of this writing within the next few hours, days, or very few months. If you have final exams next week, you better study for it. If you are scheduled for a medical operation or dental appointment next week, you better get ready for it. If you have taxes due next month, you better get ready to pay.

To believe that the rapture can happen at just any moment is to place oneself, although saved, although a believer, although a child of God, into a special category called... "Deception". Jesus made this quite clear when He issued His warning in Matthew 24 beginning with what is called the Olivet Discourse and His first warning was...

Do Not Be Deceived!

Thus we conclude our teaching on the rapture of the church. What is important for the bible student to know is what the next event on the Christian calendar actually is. Are you ready for it? - probably not. Some may be saying, well, so what if I am deceived, I am saved anyway - I am going to heaven regardless. Exactly right you are, but it is going to cost you. Cost me? Cost me what?...

2 Th 2:9-10
(9) The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,
(10) and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

1Jn 5:17
(17) All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.

The practice of unrighteousness through deception will indeed cost you. This is why Jesus warns us about it.

For a detailed study of the events leading up to the rapture, order and download the teaching..."The Church in Prophecy"

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