QUESTION: Some of my friends at church talk about “wanting to make the rapture” and “remaining rapture-able.” What does that mean? How can I do that? ANSWER: The expressions in quotation marks in the question are new and strange to me. They certainly do not have their origin in God’s Holy Word. But as has happened so many times, there are those who teach erroneous doctrine and use it to sow doubt in the minds of those who are young in the faith or untaught in the Word.
It has often been pointed out that the word “rapture” is not found in Scripture, but that the teaching of this precious truth is clearly there. The clearest, most explicit teaching setting forth this wonderful truth is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
The new believers at Thessalonica had “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Th. 1:9-10 nkjv). They were in love with a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, their Savior from the wrath to come. This love had gripped their hearts and they were waiting for Jesus, God’s Son to come again for them!
Some months had passed since Paul and those with him had brought them the gospel. They had had some persecutions and also some disappointments. A question had arisen among them: Would those who had died in the persecution or otherwise miss out on the blessings promised to believers in the Millennium? The apostle proceeds to answer this question with several clear statements:
The believer has a hope as to the future that the world around us cannot share. If the believer sorrows about Christian loved ones who have died, it is not because of any final parting.
God will bring with Jesus all those who “sleep in Jesus,” that is, all who have died in faith in Him.
What Paul here teaches, he says “by the word of the Lord.”
We Christians who are alive when the Lord returns will have no advantage over those who have died.
The Lord is going to come personally to take us to Himself.
The dead in Christ will rise first.
The living believers will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
There are only two groups – “the dead in Christ” and “we who are alive and remain.” Contrary to some people’s thinking, there is no third group; there are no believers dead or alive who miss out or are left behind at the Rapture.
The Rapture is not only for faithful believers or for those who are prepared for it, but for all believers.
There are no signs to look for, no prophecies to be fulfilled, nothing that must happen before the Rapture takes place. It could take place at any time!
The result is that we shall always be with the Lord.
This teaching is a comforting teaching, an encouragement – not something to frighten us.
Going back to the question we began with we can say with the assurance given by Scripture that to “make the rapture” one must be a Christian. A Christian is someone who has come to the Lord Jesus as a lost sinner and has accepted the salvation God offers, a salvation purchased by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every true Christian “remains rapture-able” because the salvation God gives is called eternal life and cannot under any circumstances be lost. It is based on the finished work of the Lord Jesus which God has shown that He accepted by raising the Lord Jesus from the dead and seating Him at His own right hand in heaven.
Vital as sound doctrine is, our focus should not be on the event of the Rapture, but rather on the One who is coming for us.
Answered by Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.
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.
—1 Thes. 4:16-17
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