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The Rapture of the Church of Christ will be the greatest event in the course of human history. It is the most supernatural event in the scriptures. This event is unprecedented in its style and grand because it involves the catching away of hundreds of millions of believers in Jesus Christ to be with Him in the air. The book of I Thessalonians chapter 4 verses 13 – 18 presents a picture of what the rapture is going to be and the blessed hope it assures all Christians or believers in Jesus Christ.
The Bible have records of three people during the old and New Testament that were translated physically and alive from earth to heaven without seeing death. Enoch during his lifetime was righteous and holy before God and did not see death (Genesis 5 verse 24). Elijah the prophet was taken alive in a chariot of fire into heaven (II Kings 2 verse 10 – 12). And Jesus Christ, the Son of God and saviour of mankind was received up into heaven alive (Mark 16 verse 19; Acts 1 verse 9). Click here to go to the top
According to I Thessalonians chapter 4 verses 13, 14 and 16, the rapture involves the resurrection of the dead. All believers, who died in the Lord Jesus Christ for the past two thousand years (after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ) will rise from the dead. The resurrection will happen before the catching away of the living believers
In the description of rapture in I Thessalonians chapter 4 verses 15, 16, it is apparent that the living believers will not rise into the air until all the dead in Christ have been raised up
Verses 16 and 17 shows that the rapture involves Jesus Christ descending into the earth atmosphere or air and at the sound of the trumpet, the dead in Christ rises into the air and all living believers in Christ will subsequently join them
Another description of rapture is the recalling of God’s ambassadors. The bible describes all believers in Christ as ambassadors in II Corinthians 5 verses 20 – 21. Since the Christian church was formed, Christians have always acted as the representative of Christ, preaching His death and resurrection to people all over the world. These ambassadors or believers in Christ are those who have sincerely put their trust and faith in the word of God and have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal saviour and Lord. The disappearance of these ambassadors is a signall that the judgement of the great tribulation is about to commence on the earth
These ambassadors of Christ will be removed out of the world in order to escape miseries and trials that will befall the earth for seven years afterwards (Revelation 3 verse 10). Click here to go to the top
The purpose of the rapture is to provide all believers, living and departed, with their eternal resurrected bodies
In the book of Daniel 12 verse 2 there are two types of resurrection. One is the resurrection of the righteous. The other is the resurrection of the unrighteous. The resurrection of the righteous takes place before the millennial reign of Christ, while the resurrection of the unrighteous takes place immediately after the millennial reign of Christ on the earth. According to the Bible, the first resurrection that is that of the righteous is in three phases. Click here to go to the top
The first phase has already taken place. This took place immediately after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Please refer to Matthew 27 verse 52 & 53. This passage of the bible shows beyond every reasonable doubt that all the saints or old testament believers have already risen from the dead. This passage uses the phrase “many bodies..” to show that this set of people actually rose from their graves with new bodies. Before the death of Jesus Christ, whenever anybody within the old covenant dies, his or her spirit and soul either goes into a temporary place called the bosom of Abraham also known as paradise (for the righteous) or into a place called Hell fire (for the unrighteous). Both places were in the lower part of the earth and separated by a gulf. While paradise was a peaceful place, Hell was a place of torment. Please refer to the story in Luke 16 verses 19 to 31. After Jesus Christ died on the cross, He went straight into paradise to release all those that were in it. And this is why Jesus Christ told the thief on the cross “…thou shalt be with me in paradise” in the book of Luke 23 verse 43. The book of Ephesians 4 verses 8 – 10 shows Jesus descended into paradise to release all these saints into heaven. Prior to the death of Jesus Christ, no human had ever gone to heaven as confirmed by Jesus Christ in John 3 verse 13. And so the first phase of the righteous resurrection took place immediately after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ approximately two thousand years ago. Click here to go to the top
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The second phase of the resurrection of the righteous is what the Christian church is presently awaiting. For the living believers it is called rapture, but for the dead in Christ it is called the resurrection. Once again notice the phrase “…dead in Christ..” which shows it is only those who died in Christ since Jesus died and rose two thousand years ago that will participate in this resurrection. The old testament saints are not dead in Christ because they died before Jesus’ death and resurrection. This resurrection only applies to new testament believers. According to the bible this event would take place in the twinkling of an eye (or suddenly). It takes place before the seven-year great tribulation on earth . Click here to go to the top
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The third phase of the resurrection of the righteous will involve the great tribulation saints after the seven-year great tribulation on earth. The book of Revelation 20 verses 4 – 6 shows the tribulation saints being raised from the dead . Click here to go to the top
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The second type of resurrection is that of the wicked (Daniel 12 verse 2). In Revelation 20 verses 11 – 15, the unrighteous deads are resurrected to face God’s judgement at the great white throne judgement. Once again, we must bear in mind that there is a difference of one thousand years between the third phase of the righteous resurrection and the resurrection of the wicked (or those who rejected Christ) from the dead. Click here to go to the top
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It is the book of I Corinthians chapter 15 that shows the necessity for resurrection.
I Corinthians 15 verses 12 – 19 shows that the resurrection of the dead in Christ is central to Christ’s death and resurrection. The fact that Christ rose from the dead gives every believer in Christ the hope of resurrection after his or her death on this present earth. If there is not going to be a large-scale resurrection of believers in Christ, then the teaching of Jesus’ death and resurrection is unfounded. Our salvation from sin is central to Jesus’ death and resurrection. If Jesus did not rose from the dead, then our faith and confidence in Him is vain.
Verses 20 – 23 shows that Christ indeed died and resurrected. He was the first man to be resurrected after death. And because he lives, all those that believe in Him would also live forever. Verse 26 also reveals that resurrection is intended to destroy death. Verses 35 – 44 shows that resurrection with a new body is only going to be possible after the mortal bodies dies. Just as a seed dies after being planted and then grows into a new crop, so must our present body die or be changed in order to obtain the immortal body. Verses 45 – 50 confirms that this earthly body cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Our present human body is made of flesh and blood and subject to deterioration, but the resurrected body doesn’t deteriorate because it is a spiritual body.
Verses 51 – 57 once again describe the rapture. Rapture is indeed a mystery. A mystery to people in the old testament. It was not until after Jesus Christ had ascended into heaven that it was revealed to apostle Paul. Rapture will take place suddenly and as the bible described it before a person twinkles his or her eyes. Suddenly the dead in Christ are changed into immortality and the livings are transformed from mortality into immortality. At last the victory over death that many had long for over many centuries would be achieved through Jesus Christ. Click here to go to the top
The resurrected immortal body, which believers in Christ will receive, is capable of a lot unimaginable marvellous things. According to Jesus Christ, this resurrected body is the same as those that the Angels of God in heaven have (Matthew 22 verse 30; Mark 12 verse 25). In I John 3 verse 2; Philippians 3 verse 21, believers resurrected bodies will be similar to those of the “..Sons of God…” and that of Jesus Christ. The usage of the phrase sons of God in the bible denotes angelic beings.
The resurrected immortal body doesn’t die (Luke 20 verse 36; Revelation 2 verse 11; 20 verse 6; I Corinthians 15 verses 54, 55). As well as being spiritual, this body can also do physical things. It can be touched (Matthew 28 verse 9); it is made up of flesh and bone, but not blood (Luke 24 verses 39 & 40); it can enjoy the sensation of eating food (Psalm 78 verses 24 & 25; Mark 16 verse 14; Luke 24 verse 30, 41 – 43; John 21 verses 4 & 15); it can be involved in conversations and speak any human language (Luke 24 verses 15 – 17); It has magnificent superpower (II Kings 19 verse 35; Isaiah 37 verse 36; II Peter 2 verse 11) it can appear or disappear at thought and travel at the speed of thought. This body could also go through physical barriers unhindered (Luke 24 verse 36; John 20 verses 19, 26). This body is capable of flying through the sky or space outside the earth (Acts 1 verse 9 & 10; Revelation 14 verse 6).
Just like the angels of God, the resurrected body has unlimited wisdom and knowledge (II Samuel 14 verse 20). The body can coordinate activities of any creature to act in certain ways (Revelation 19 verse 17). This body can become luminous. Radiating out light with power and glory (Revelation 18 verse 1; Acts 12 verse 7; Revelation 21 verse 23). Click here to go to the top
The timing of Rapture in relation to the Great Tribulation is quite controversial within the Christian church. While majority of believers in line with God’s revelation espoused that the rapture will take place before the great tribulation (Pre-Tribulation), others believes rapture will either take place in the middle of the tribulation (Mid-Tribulation) or after the great tribulation (Post-Tribulation).
The Bible is very clear that the rapture will take place before the great tribulation. By saying “ I will show you things which must take place after this” in Revelation 4 verse 1, the scripture is giving a whole new revelation. The book of Revelation shows the sequence of events for the last day of planet earth. It is interesting to see that Jesus Christ while giving this revelation to John divided the revelation into three parts. Namely “…things which thou hast seen…”, “…things which are…” and “…things which shall be hereafter”.
“…things which thou hast seen…” refers to the vision of Jesus Christ that John saw in Revelation 1 verses 10 – 19.
“…things which are…” refers to the states of the Churches in Revelation chapters 2 & 3. And “…things which shall be hereafter” refers to events in Revelation chapters 4 - 22 that will take place in the future.
The following proves that the rapture will take place before the Great Tribulation:
a) The “…things which shall be hereafter” comes after “…things which are…”. This shows the Church of Christ must first exist on earth before the future great tribulation can occur. Revelation chapters 2 & 3 descriptions of the seven churches’ characteristics are not just for Asia minor alone, but are also symbolic of the seven qualities that would characterise the churches in every age and time. Revelation chapters 4 to 22 shows the events that will take place on earth after the existence of the church of Christ
b) A proper study of the book of Revelation will show that while the word “church” is mentioned from Revelation chapters 1 – 3, there is not such word from chapters 4 – 22.
c) Also John the beloved (a member of the Christian church) was on earth when he received the revelations from chapter 1 – 3 (the use of the “Lords day” in Revelation 1 verse 10 could only be used in reference to time on earth and not in heaven), the revelations of chapter 4 – 22 were received after John was called to “…come up hither…” (or to go to heaven, indicating the rapture) in Revelation 4 verse 1.
An incontrovertible proof of rapture before the great tribulation could be found in Revelation 5 verse 9. It’s unfortunate that despite the clear explanation and picture this passage paints, some still do not believe the rapture will take place before the great tribulation. You might ask, how does this passage illustrate rapture before the great tribulation? In verse 8 of chapter 5, the four beast and twenty four elders (Click here for more on the twenty four elders) evidently had “…everyone of them harps and golden vials full of odours…”. Now the Bible shows that these odours are prayers of the saints. You might ask what does this mean? For centuries, Christians have always centralised their prayer around the Lordship of Jesus and the anticipation of Christ’s kingdom being established on earth Matthew 6 verse 10. And it is this same set of people that made all these prayers that now shows their appreciation in verses 9 & 10 of chapter 5 for prayers being answered. We should ask ourselves another question. Who could possibly sing the song of verse 9? Angels, Demons, Humans or God? The only plausible answer is humans. And what type of humans? Verse 9 reveals the answer. Humans that have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus. And who are this set of people? The called out of Church of Christ. And when did they sing this song? They sang this song when they were literally worshipping the lamb (which shows they were in heaven before Jesus Christ himself). And what did their comment about the opening of the seals suggests? It shows that they sang their song before the opening of the seals of the great tribulation starts. The opening of the seals occurs in Revelations chapter 5 verses 1, 5 & 9; 6 verses 1,3,5,7,9,12; 7 verse 2; 8 verse 1. Note that all the occurrences of the seals opening (for the purpose of initiating activities and judgements on earth) took place after the saint sang the song of Revelation 5 verse 9. Click here to go to the top
According to Matthew 24 verses 27,37&39; I Corinthian 1 verse 7; I Thessalonians 3 verse 13; 4 verse 15; 5 verse 23; II Thessalonians 2 verse 1; James 5 verse 7; II Peter 1 verse 16, the expression “..coming of the Lord..” is a reference to an event that has two phases. While the revelation of Jesus Christ at Armageddon to rule on earth is the grand event of the second coming of Christ, the rapture is the introductory phase of this event. It is necessary that the rapture takes place in order to prepare believers in Christ to get ready to take possession of the earth, seven years after the rapture.
The rapture is different from the revelation of Jesus at His second coming. The rapture and the second coming of Christ differ in their purposes, participants and timing. The rapture takes place before the revelation at the battle of Armageddon. The rapture takes place at least seven years before the second coming of Jesus Christ. While the rapture involves believers in Christ being cut up to meet the Lord in the air, the second coming of Christ involves Jesus Christ returning to the earth in the full view of every human being to establish His thousands year reign on earth (Matthew 24 verse 30). While the rapture will occur privately, the revelation of Jesus Christ at His second coming would be witnessed by the whole world. Click here to go to the top
Concerning the timing of the rapture, while Jesus Christ clearly indicated the signs that will precede His second coming, He did not encourage any speculation of the precise day or hour when the rapture will take place (Matthew 24 verse 36). The phrase “…of that day and hour…” is in reference to the rapture and not the second coming of Christ. While the believers in Christ will not know the exact day when Jesus Christ will rapture them to heaven, the inhabitants of the earth during the great tribulation can know when Jesus Christ will return to earth at the battle of Armageddon.
In the case of the rapture, there is no singular special event (other than the signs of Christ coming in Matthew chapter 24) that will give believers in Christ any clue of the actual day when they will be snatched out of the world (I Thessalonians 5 verse 2 & 4). But in the case of Christ revelation at the battle of Armageddon, the desecration of the Jewish rebuilt temple by the anti-Christ halfway the period of the coming seven-year great tribulation will signal to the inhabitant of the earth (or those who will read the Bible at that time) that there is exactly 3 ½ years or 1260 days (or “…time, times and dividing of time…”) till the day when Jesus Christ will literally appear to establish His kingdom. Read Daniel 9 verse 27; 7 verse 25; 12 verse 7; II Thessalonians 2 verses 1 - 12; Revelation 11 verse 3; 12 verses 6 & 14. Lets bear in mind that this time is calculated using the Jewish 360 day a year calendar and not 364 days.
But despite this revelation of the timing of the revelation of Jesus Christ at the battle of Armageddon in relation to the desecration of the temple 3 ½ years into the great tribulation, Christ return will take the unbelievers of that period by surprise. This is because they would be deceived by the anti- Christ (Luke 21 verses 34 & 35; II Thessalonians 2 verses 1 – 12). Click here to go to the top
According to the Bible, all true believers in Christ will make the rapture. There is nothing like few elite Christian making the rapture. The rapture is not a reward for any good work of the Christian. It is meant for everyone that knows Jesus as his or her lord and saviour. Only Jesus and each individual person know if that individual has truly committed his or her life to Jesus Christ. Making the rapture is independent of our works but solely based on knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and saviour of one’s life (The believers’ work would be tried at the BEMA mercy seat of Christ). Our going to meet the Lord in the air is not based on how good we are, but on whether the righteousness of Christ is upon our life. Anybody that has truly committed his or her life to Christ is Christ’s, regardless of how righteous that person’s works is. The righteousness required to make the rapture could only be acquired by acceptance of the finished work of Christ on the cross. It is not earned through any kind of activity (Romans 3 verses 21 & 22). When an individual put his or her faith in Jesus Christ and repents from sin, the person gets saved and acquires righteousness (Ephesians 2 verses 8 & 9) . Click here to go to the top
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Concerning the twenty-four elders, they comprised of the Old and new testament saints that were resurrected at the rapture to be with Jesus Christ. These twenty-four elders are symbolic of the twelve apostles in the new testament and twelve patriarchs in the old testament.
To make the rapture, an individual must have repented from sin and accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and savior. This action is a prelude to a life of obedience and dedication to Jesus Christ. While it is true that making the rapture is not dependent on an individual’s righteous works, yet this person must live in obedience to the word of God and stay clear of sins by living a holy life. Though, we are justified by faith in Christ only and not by the works of the law, yet the onus is on us to establish the law by practicing things commanded by God as a show of commitment to the assertion of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Read the entire Romans chapter 3 and also note verse 31.
While faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the main qualification to meet him in the air, the following are needful to keep us watching for the rapture
· Daily meditation on God’s word: We must make a habit of fellowship with God everyday. In the book of John 5 verse 39, we are commanded to search the scripture for out of it we can know Jesus Christ better.
· Fellowshipping with other believers: In Hebrews 10 verse 25, we are enjoined to fellowship with other Christians especially now that Christ’s coming is very near
· Living in Holiness and Sanctification
· Preach the gospel of Christ: In Mark 16 verse 15, we are commanded to preach the gospel to everybody
The bible clearly reveals that some people will miss the rapture. These sets of people won’t miss the rapture as a result of being destined to do so, rather they are left behind as a result of rejecting the Lordship of Christ over their lives. The following are such people
· All unbelievers: People who do not believe in Jesus Christ will definitely miss the rapture. I Thessalonians chapter 4 verses 14 & 16 emphasises that we must believe in Jesus Christ in order to be resurrected or transformed. Unfortunately majority of people on the earth do not believe in Jesus Christ. Out of the approximately 6 billion people presently alive on earth, believers in Christ only amounts to few tens or hundreds of millions. It is indeed sad. Even Jesus Christ made it clear in Matthew 7 verses 13 & 14 that few seek the narrow path through Jesus Christ.
The BEMA seat of Christ is a judgement set for believers. While believers’ sins have been judged and forgiven at the cross of Calvary, their works on earth still needs to be judged. The bible reveals every human being must face judgement after death (Hebrews 9 verse 27). Just as all sinners would appear to be judged by Christ at the great white throne judgement at the end of this world (Revelation 20 verses 11 & 12), so will all believers be judged immediately after the rapture but before the second coming of Jesus Christ. Unlike the judgement of the sinners which is into condemnation, the judgement of believers is not a judgement into condemnation but one that will determine whether an individual believer receives reward from Christ or not (Romans 14 verse 10; II Corinthians 5 verse 10). All those that will stand before Jesus Christ at the BEMA seat have already accepted Him as lord and saviour and will never perish. They are those that have made the rapture, escape the great tribulation and Hell fire forever (Luke 21 verse 36).
The book of I Corinthians 3 verses 11- 15 explains better the expression “…good or bad…” in II Corinthians 5 verse 10. The first passage shows example of what sort of works the believer could have done on earth. And it classifies this works as either good or bad. The progression of the works starts with gold, silver and precious stones (showing degrees of good works). And then it gives another degree of work in the form of wood. In this case it is neither completely good nor completely bad, but intermediate and also could be referred to as lukewarm. The last progression is from bad to worse described as hay and stubble.
The first three chapters of the book of Revelations show examples of good and bad works within the church of Christ. Good works obviously includes services rendered in total submission and consecration to God. Not eye- services seeking to please men, but services rendered to pleasing God. Bad works includes all kinds of attitudes, selfishness and ungodly motives associated with serving God in His house.
The Bible pointed out that all these works have to be tested by fire. The gold, silver and precious stones will go through this fire and come out strong and subsequently be rewarded. But the wood, hay and stubble goes through the fire and get burnt, leaving nothing to be rewarded.
It is interesting to note that despite the fact some believers will have their works burnt up by fire, they themselves would be saved. This is another proof that while believers would be rewarded based on their level of works and commitment to Christ, their salvation from the lake fire is not based on works, but solely on the finished work of Christ on the cross of Calvary. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2 verse 8 - 9) . Click here to go to the top
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