What Is The Rapture?

What is the rapture? When does the rapture occur? Does this event occur before, during or after the tribulation? These are some of the questions that will be answered over the next few pages.

What is the rapture? It is the day that Jesus Christ calls his church home to Him. When will this event occur? At the end of the age of grace. What is the age of grace? The age of grace began when Christ went to the cross and laid down his life to pay the penalty for the sin of mankind for all of eternity. It ends when Jesus calls His church home. Like all other ages or dispensations, the age of grace has a set amount of time and will not last forever.

Grace is unmerited favor. It is something you don't deserve. Jesus so loved the world that he saved it by paying the sin penalty for it. All you have to do to inherit eternal life is accept that gift of grace. Everyone only has a limited amount of time to accept that offer.

The following verses are commonly referred to as the "rapture" verses. The word "rapture" is not in the Bible but is taken from the greek word "rapio" which means "to be caught away" or "a snatching away".

1 Thess. 4:13 - 18 13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 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. 16 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: 17 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. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

All Christian churches believe this event will occur. What they disagree on (sometimes in heated arguments which is wrong)is the timing of the event and what happens afterward. Some churches believe the "rapture" and "the Second Coming" are one and the same event while others believe there will first be a "rapture" followed by a "return". We will discuss this on another page.

Based on my own studies of the bible and hearing prophetic experts expound on this subject, here is what I believe will occur at the end of the age of grace.First of all, the phrase "the dead in Christ shall rise first" refers to the fact that all believers who have died have decaying bodies rotting in some grave. When they died, their spirit/souls returned to God but their bodies did not. Some denominations believe your soul sleeps until the day the archangel sounds his trumpet to call all believers, dead and living, home. They base this belief on Ecclesiastes 9:5 - For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. These denominations purposely choose to ignore or purposely change the meaning of numerous other scriptures which seem to contradict Ecclesiastes. To understand this seeming contrast of doctrines, keep in mind that the book of Ecclesiastes was written from the viewpoint of a man without God in his life. Ecclesiastes concludes with the admonition to "fear God and keep His commandments". The writer concluded that life made no sense without God.

How do we know that the soul/spirit departs upon death? Paul said in 2 Cor.5:8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. The only possible way to be absent from the body is to die.

In the book of Revelation 6:9-11 we read When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. These are the souls of the people who were killed during the coming tribulation. Notice that they are not in some grave awaiting a resurrection day. They are in heaven crying out to God for vengeance. They are told to wait until their fellow servants were killed. This can't be the church, because the church is all about forgiveness not vengeance.

Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." Note that Jesus did not say after a couple of thousand or more years, I will raise you up from the dead so you can be with Me. He said, "Today, you will be with Me in Paradise" I could go on and on with more illustrations from the Bible that disprove the doctrine of soul sleep but this page is about the "rapture".

The "dead in Christ rise first" refers to the fact that the spirits/souls who are now residing in a place of rest and comfort in a heavenly realm will return to Earth to get their bodies back.

When Jesus was resurrected, he was complete with body, soul, and spirit. He could eat, could transport Himself miles in an instantjust by thinking about it, and walk through walls. The dead in Christ are incomplete for they have no bodies. Those who are alive when Christ calls His church home will never experience death. After this event takes place, the age of Grace will have ended.

Yes, there is coming a time when millions of people will disappear from the face of the planet in an instant and the people left behind will no longer be in the age of grace. They will be facing the tribulation period and will have to lay down their lives for Christ if they wish to inherit eternal life. Sadly, those kinds of events occur in this age in Communist and Muslim countries. That is just a small preview of what is going to happen during the tribulation. You don't have to be there. Put your trust in Jesus today.

The Rapture and The Tribulation

Copyright 2004 by Gary Goodworth

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