|Will There Be A Rapture?
Will There Be A Rapture?
All Christians believe in a rapture. But the rapture is also a much debated subject among professing Christians. Some believe the rapture is the moment when the Lord invisibly removes Christians from the earth before, during or after a great tribulation period when the earth will be convulsed with a great seven -year war culminating in the battle of Armageddon. According to this scenario, Christians will be snatched from the earth and taken to heaven where they will live until the time when Christ returns to earth. Some believe that Christians will be raptured before this war begins, others believe they will be raptured after the war. But each of these views believes the rapture will be a silent, invisible and unannounced event. Christians will be secretly raptured.
However, I believe the rapture is a different sort of thing. I believe that the rapture is a visible, public event simultaneous with the second coming of the Lord. Jesus Christ will rapture his saints when he comes again. When Jesus Christ descends to defeat his enemies, he will descend to call his saints to himself. He will rapture his saints to himself. He will rapture his saints (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and seek vengeance on his enemies (2 Thessalonians 1:5-9). He will deliver his saints and destroy his enemies. The rapture will take place when the Son of God visibly manifests himself at his second coming after which the saints will enjoy his presence forever on a new heaven and new earth.
The text which explicitly teaches the rapture of God's saints is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18: "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep,or to grieve like th rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe the God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words."
Will there be a rapture? Absolutely! One day God will rapture his saints through the second coming of Christ. The saints will be caught up with the Lord and we will remain with him forever. Our English word rapture comes from the Latin verb raptare or the noun raptus which means to be carried off, seized, or abducted. This is the significance of the Greek verb in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 which the NIV translates caught up. When Jesus comes, he will carry us off, he will snatch us up together to meet him in the air.
The text tells us several things about the circumstances of this rapture. First, the rapture is a public event. The second coming of Christ is described here as a parousia (1 Thessalonians 4:15; cf. 2:19, 3:13, 5:23), a coming, a breaking-in of the personal presence of Christ. Parousia was a word used to describe the entrance of emperors, important persons or army into a city. It would involve a procession and a public proclamation. Jesus will return as a triumphant monarch who is publicly announced to the world as King. The procession is pictured here as involving as archangel and the saints who have previously fallen asleep (1 Thessalonians 4:14; 3:13), and the lord himself will come down from heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16). he will personally appear to meet the saints that remain and reunite them with the ones who come with him. Just as the parades and processions of the ancient world were for public consumption when a prominent person arrived, so the second coming of Christ will be a public event by which God announces to the world that the time of redemption and judgement has come. The rapture will not be a secret event. It will be the moment when God openly and triumphantly declares the victory and royal dignity of his Son.
Second, the rapture is a visible event. The text notes that the event will be accompanied by a loud command from the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God. The presence of Christ will be announced and visibly presented by the voice of angels and the sounding of a trumpet. the presence of Christ will be manifested, displayed or open to public viewing of his coming. Every eye will see him (Revelation 1:7). the events surrounding the second coming will be the appearance of manifestation of Christ's coming (2 Thessalonians 2:8). Just as Jesus appeared the first time to take away sin and announce the grace of God (Titus 2:11; cf. Hebrews 9:28), so he will appear a second time to rapture his saints and manifest the glory of God (Titus 2:13). The second coming of Christ will be just as visible as his first coming. he will come again in the same manner in which he left - visibly and through the clouds (Acts 1:11). The rapture will not be a secret, hidden and invisible shocker, but an open, visible and public declaration of the end of the age. It will be announced with the voice of an archangel, openly heralded by the trumpet call of God, and visibly revealed by the personal presence of Jesus himself.
Third, the rapture itself follows the resurrection of dead saints. Those who are still alive will not precede over those who are have already died. Those who are now dead will not miss anything. Those who are still alive will be caught up together with those whom God has raised from the dead. The dead in Christ will rise first, and then together those who have been raised and those who are still alive will be raptured to meet the Lord in the air. The resurrection of the dead saints means that they will not miss the great event of Christ's second coming. They too will experience the joy of the rapture. The sequence of events is first the resurrection from the dead, and then the rapture. In the rapture God reunites his dead saints with his living saints so that together they meet the Lord in the air. The saints form one body of people, God's people, so that whether dead or alive, when the Lord comes, they will meet him together. they will share the joy of the rapture together.
The rapture is our hope and our inspiration. It is our hope because we know that God will raise us from the dead and snatch us up to be with him forever. Death is not the end. It is our inspiration because it motivates us to live holy lives before God. We seek to be found faithful when the Lord himself descends and raptures his saints.