TODAY’S SIGNATURE VERSE ••• 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. 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 (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NKJV).
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• Last weekend, a dear friend of mine reached out to me and asked me about my thoughts on the Rapture. This can be a highly contentious point of discussion in the Christian community, but I think it’s a valid question — especially as we hear of wars and experience pandemics, both of which are among the things listed as “the signs of the times” (Matthew 24:3-31).
With that said — the best resource I have ever found on the questions about the Rapture is Don Stewart’s book, which is succinctly titled, “The Rapture.” I’m leaning heavily on this book for today’s blog post.
I’m assuming most are familiar with what the Rapture is…. But if you’re not, the very short version is — The Rapture is a future event when those who have trusted in Christ will be taken from this earth to meet Him in the air; those believers who have died will be reunited with physical bodies and raised first.
Growing up — I never knew there were various viewpoints on the timing of the Rapture. But in fact, there are six major points of view:
- No Rapture
- The partial Rapture
- The mid-Tribulation Rapture
- The pre-Wrath Rapture
- The post-Tribulation Rapture
- The pre-Tribulation Rapture
That’s why I recommend reading this book. The author has reviewed each theory, objectively stated its case, reviewed the Scripture used to support the theory, and then unpacked the pros and cons of each viewpoint.
In full-transparency, I believed in a pre-Tribulation Rapture before I read the book. I read with an open mind, genuinely wanting to understand the other points of view, ready to change my mind if there were a stronger case. And while I think there are some valid arguments to some of the other theories — I remain a believer in the pre-Tribulation Rapture.
Also in full-transparency — so does the author. But I applaud him for presenting each case fairly. This book was exactly what I needed as I sought to understand and is the only resource that helped me understand WHY others believe as they do.
Next disclaimer: I believe there are essentials to our beliefs. I believe that there are important matters at the core heart of what Christians should be universally agreed upon, primarily that 1) Jesus is the sinless and perfect Son of God (John 3:16); 2) He was born of a virgin to become the perfect Sacrifice for our sins (Isaiah 7:14); 3) He died on the cross and was buried (Luke 23:46; John 19:38-42; Matthew 12:40) 4) He was raised from the dead three days later (1 Corinthians 15:1-58); and 5) Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and belief in Him is the one and only way to heaven and everlasting life (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Right there — that’s the heart of the Gospel.
However, there are other matters that are “non-essential,” meaning that I may have one viewpoint, and you may see it a different way, but it doesn’t impact the core belief in Jesus Christ. An example of a “non-essential” might be the matter of Creation. Did God create the world? Yes — we both agree to that. Did He create it in six literal 24-hour days, or are those “days” like 1000 years (as Peter described them in 2 Peter 3:8 when writing about another matter)? Personally — I believe the world was created in six literal 24-hour days. But if you disagree — that doesn’t change your salvation if you believe the heart of the Gospel, so that is a non-essential matter. And while I believe the Rapture is critically important — I don’t believe it’s an essential matter to the salvation of a believer.
Final disclaimer: Reminder (for the millionth time) that I’m not a prophecy expert, nor am I a theologian.
With that said in regards to the timing of the Rapture — I believe this is a valid question, but it doesn’t need to be a divisive topic. For those of us who believe in a pre-Tribulation Rapture — there’s a sense of urgency because if we’re right — this world is going to be in untold chaos when all the Christians disappear, as well as small children (who have not reached the age of accountability). When believing police and fire fighters disappear — crime is going to skyrocket and devastating fires will come from those homes where flames were left unattended when the homeowner was raptured. Imagine the horror when cars are unmanned because the Christians driving them disappear…. Or when believing pilots are suddenly gone from cockpits and planes are left without anyone at the controls…. I cannot fathom the terror.
So that said — let’s get to the Rapture. What’s amazing is that many view points of the Rapture share the same Scriptural basis. Since my objective today is not to re-write Don Stewart’s book — I’m concentrating on my view point — the pre-Tribulation Rapture. There are three major Scriptures that pre-Trib believers cite:
- 1 Corinthians 15:50-52
- 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
- John 14:1-3
The 1 Thessalonians passage is, for me, the strongest argument for the pre-Tribulation Rapture, so I’ll focus on it — “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. 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.”
Those who don’t believe in the Rapture argue that the word isn’t found in Scripture. But it actually is. The original Greek word for “caught up” is ἁρπάζω and it’s pronounced “harpazo.” It means to “snatch away, take away, seize.” And that’s what I believe will happen. The Church is the bride of Christ. I believe Jesus is going to take away His bride in the Rapture.
Remember, this is a very basic summary of the pre-Trib Rapture and for me — I find it to be a very comforting promise. I believe the Rapture serves three primary purposes:
- I believe the Rapture will save the Church from the wrath to come during the Tribulation. Revelation 3:10 says, “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
- I believe the Rapture gives a window of time for believers to receive their rewards in heaven at the Judgment Seat of Christ. I’m not going to get side-tracked by this right now, but 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, Revelation 3:11, and Hebrews 6:10 touch on this promise.
- Finally, I believe the Rapture gives those left behind a rude awakening — a final wakeup call to the repent. I actually believe it’s an act of mercy — God has removed those who have already believed and is giving one final chance to those who haven’t. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
And to those who say, “No one can come to Christ if the church is removed,” I disagree. The Church is dependent on the presence of the Holy Spirit, but not the other way around. Plus, the Holy Spirit is equal part of the Trinity, and therefore, He is omnipresent. Revelation 7:9-14 speaks of those who will come to Christ during the Tribulation. And there is no way one can come to Christ without the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Am I right? I think I am. But could I be wrong? Maybe. Is there a need to argue with me? I’d prefer you didn’t. If you share my belief that Jesus is the Son of God as stated earlier as an essential to the Gospel — there’s no need for us to argue. We’re ultimately on the same team. This is just how I believe; I know we face Tribulation now, but I think this is a drop in the bucket of what is coming. I’ve explained it and will simply encourage you to pray about it, study Scripture, and let the Holy Spirit convict your heart. But don’t try to change mine. I feel convicted about my point of view of the Rapture and I will not be swayed by man. I’ve studied the Bible and continue to do so. If at some point, I see things differently, I’ll say so. But for now — I continue to believe in the pre-Tribulation Rapture and as stated, I take great comfort in it. The Rapture of the church is something I look forward to. But no one knows the day or the hour, and I simply want to do the best I can to honor God in the waiting…. And do what I can to encourage others to be ready with me.
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus that whether He returns pre- or post-Tribulation or somewhere in between — He is coming back. Thank Him for defeating death and making a way for you to enjoy eternal life with Him. Thank Him for His love, grace, and mercy — for giving us what we could never buy or earn — salvation. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you study His Word. Ask Him to help you live by the motto, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”
SHARING ••• My Grace-Full Life is written by Denise Heidel. You are welcome to share anything I write, but please credit my writing and graphics accordingly. Visit www.MyGraceFullLife.com to read past blogs. Subscribe through my website to have My Grace-Full Life delivered to your email. You can unsubscribe at any time. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the NKJV translation.