Friday, September 30, 2016

What Will Happen When the Rapture Occurs?

We have learned that the Rapture is an event wherein Christ calls His church, i.e., those who are “Saved”, home to heaven to be with Him and His Father. We know that at the time of the Rapture that all Christians will be “snatched up” or “carried away” to be with God and His Son. There is a great deal of mystery, though, surrounding the actual occurrence of the Rapture. How will the Rapture or the “snatching up” of Christians occur?

In order to find out how the Rapture will occur, we first need to look again at the Holy Word of God to find the answers. So, we are going to start by looking at the book of Acts, which is actually entitled The Acts of the Apostles. The book of Acts was written around 63 to 70 A.D. by the physician and Christian named Luke. Interestingly, Luke may have been one of the first Gentiles converted to Christianity. Although Luke was a devout Christian, he looked at the events that occurred surrounding Christ and the apostles from the perspective of both a physician and historian. Because of his historical and medical perspective Luke was able to give his readers details that help clarify and further enhance our understanding of Christ’s life here on earth. Furthermore, within the book of Acts Luke actually recorded many of the trials that faced the apostles after Christ went back to heaven. Additionally, in keeping to a chronological format, Luke starts his historical record of the acts of the apostles with the ascension of Christ.

This fascinating true and factual book starts with the ascension of Christ, and then moves through the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and the subsequent growth of the church in Jerusalem. As we delve further into the book, we are introduced to several godly men and women who were followers of Christ. Several of these men and women, including the Apostle Paul, went on missionary journeys into the surrounding nations to spread the Good News of Salvation to world. In fact, all these men and women were dedicated to spreading the Good News about the gift of Salvation that is offered to all who will repent of their sins and believe on Christ as the risen Son of God.

In reading the book of Acts, we can begin to discover why these apostles and the other godly Christians were so dedicated to sharing the Gospel message with others. First, we learn that many of them had actually met or walked with Jesus Christ while He was here on earth. Some had even witnessed His resurrection. But more importantly, all of them had believed on and had received Salvation through Jesus Christ. Consequently, they had the deep love, peace, and joy in their hearts that comes with Salvation. They were also dedicated to sharing that love and the message of Salvation with all who would listen to them. Furthermore, we learn that they were obeying Christ’s last recorded admonition to them before His ascension. For on His last day here on earth, Christ said to them, “… you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”  -- (Acts 1: 8. NASB). They had been given a mission, should they choose to accept it. The apostles definitely accepted that mission with compete trust and faith in Christ.

We also learn early in the book of Acts that Jesus had gathered the disciples/ apostles together on the Mount of Olives (see Acts 1: 12) to specifically give them their mission and His final instructions. Obviously, the disciples were still confused about Christ leaving them as they had never understood where Jesus was going or why He had to leave them. Although they began to understand after the resurrection that Christ was going somewhere, they still weren’t sure what He meant when He said, “after a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.– (John 14: 19. NASB). However, it was there on the Mount of Olives while they were trying to take in everything that Jesus was now telling them that something unexpected and supernatural happened without warning. For, “after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”  -- (Acts 1: 9. NASB). Can you imagine how shocked and in awe the disciples had to have been at that moment? Certainly, they were flabbergasted and probably could not move or even process what had just happened.

The First Thing That Will Happen at the Rapture

God knew that the disciples were confused, in shock, and even concerned, so as the men were looking up into the sky trying to figure out how Christ could have ascended into a cloud and suddenly disappeared into the heavens, God did something to calm their concerns and their confusion. God sent two angels to speak to them. For the scriptures say, “And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, Who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.– (Acts 1: 10, 11. NASB).

This scripture tells us that all of a sudden two angels in white clothing appeared and stood before the apostles. Can you imagine how easy it was for the disciples to become mesmerized by this amazing show of power by God? The disciples had watched Christ intently as they traveled with Him, and now they watched Him supernaturally slowly rise or ascend into heaven. They were actually in the middle of a miracle. Moreover, they had suddenly become mere observers within the miracle. But God wanted them to become active participants to do for the world.

The disciples were to become active participants by spreading the Good News or the message of the Gospel throughout the world. But at that moment in time, they had become mere stunned observers. How were they going to become active participants if they just stared up into the sky in awe, or if they did not truly believe or understand that Christ would indeed come again?  But, God always has a plan. He knew that in order for the disciples to become active participants, they would need to be motivated and reassured that Jesus would indeed come again. So, God sent these two angels to awake them from their amazed trance of seeing Jesus disappear and then to reassure the disciples that Christ would indeed come again to take them home to heaven at some future date.

Notice in the above verse that the angels first asked the disciples why they were still staring into the sky. Then they told the disciples that not only would Jesus come again but that He would come again “… just in the same way as you have watched Him go into Heaven.”  So, just as Christ ascended into a cloud and then continued His ascension into Heaven, we are told that Christ will come back again in the same way, but in reverse.  In other words, Christ will descend from heaven with a shout. The question asked by the angels got the attention of the disciples, and then the angels’ reassurance that Christ would indeed come again comforted the disciples and gave them the courage to go back into Jerusalem and wait together for the Holy Spirit to come and give them the power and guidance they needed to spread the message of the Good News throughout the world.

So, the first thing that we need to understand is that Jesus Christ will come again. He will also come to collect, i.e., Rapture or “snatch up,” His church to take them home to heaven to be with Him. Moreover, we are told that Christ will come again just as He left this earth, but this time He will descend from Heaven. Furthermore, we need to understand that just as the rest of the world did not see Christ ascend, the non-believing world will probably not see Christ descend to collect His church to take them home to heaven to be with Him. For, the non-believing world will just suddenly notice that millions of people are gone which will create lots of speculation and fear.

Confusion about the Rapture and the Second Coming

As the disciples/ apostles, and especially Paul, Peter, Luke, Barnabas and others, went on their missionary journeys to share the Good News, they also told people of the coming Rapture of the church and of Christ’s second coming. These apostles encouraged people not to be left behind by not asking Christ into their hearts. Moreover, many people believed the Good News as they heard the truth, and they accepted Christ as their Savior. But as time passed, many Christians saw their friends, family members, and acquaintances dying off, and still Christ had not returned. Consequently, many Christians became very confused about the Rapture and the second coming, making them easy prey for false prophets.

As I mentioned previously, the word Rapture does not occur in the Bible, but neither does the word “Trinity”. Nor do the words “missionary trips” occur in the Bible, yet we all know what those words mean, and we know that they are both spoken about and represented through other words within the scriptures. So too is the word Rapture spoken about and represented through other words within the scriptures. In fact, the best description of the Rapture or “snatching up” of the church is found in I Thessalonians 4: 13-17. But, before we discuss those verses, you need to know that some of the Christians in Thessalonica were being told by false prophets that the Rapture had already occurred.

The Thessalonica Christians were told that they had been left behind. Moreover, they were told that those who had already died had just missed the Rapture. To make matters worse, the false prophets told them that the Tribulation period was occurring right then and there and the proof was in the extreme persecution that was happening to Christians everywhere. So, the Thessalonians were very confused thinking they and their dead loved ones had missed the Rapture. But, the Apostle Paul wrote to them to tell them that they had not missed the Rapture and that they were not living in the Tribulation Period.

The Second Thing that will happen at the Rapture

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians and explained that those that had already died had not missed the Rapture. “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For, this we say to you by word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from the heaven with a shout, … and the dead in Christ will rise first.”  -- (I Thessalonians 4: 14, 15. NASB).

The Apostle Paul used the word “asleep” to describe those that had already died. “Asleep” was a euphemism used to describe believers who had died and were awaiting resurrection by Christ. Certainly, if the believers are just asleep then there must also be an awakening, which is the resurrection of the believers. This type of sleep refers to the body, but not the spirit, and we know this because we read in II Corinthians 5: 6-8. “6. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord – 7. for we walk by faith, not by sight – 8. we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

Notice that verse 8 says that we prefer “to be absent from the body and be at home with the Lord”. So, this verse is telling us that when we become` absent from the body, that is, when those who are “saved” die, they will immediately be with the Lord in heaven. All pain and sorrow will be gone and they will enjoy fellowship with Jesus Christ forever. (See also John 14: 1-3 and Revelation, chapter 21). For this reason, we have hope in our future eternity. In fact, the very best in our existence is yet to come with the resurrection of all who believe in God’s Son and with the Rapture of all the living believers, who together will be taken to heaven to live with the Lord.

Even if a Christian dies before the Rapture, we have been given the assurance of an eternity with Christ, because Jesus, Himself, assured His disciples that He would come again to take them home with Him in John 14: 1-3. Jesus said: “Do not let your heart, be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive, you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

The Marriage Ceremony

Christ’s statement here in John 14 had a very significant meaning to the disciples and to all the followers of that day. For in the Jewish culture, the marriage ceremony and its process was very precise and could take a great deal of time and preparation. In fact, when a man proposed to the bride with the approval of her family, and the bride accepted his marriage proposal, the marriage ceremony/contract or covenant would then be signed. But that was just the first step in the marriage process. The man would then leave the bride-to-be with her family who would, with the help of her bridesmaids, prepare the bride and her dowry while the groom would go to prepare a home for his bride.

Depending on the wealth of the groom, the groom would either build or prepare a room on the house of his parents, or if he was wealthier, he would build a new home for his bride. This could take some time, and because of the groom’s provision of a home for the bride, the bride would not know exactly when the bridegroom would come to get her to take her to the home he had prepared for her. That is why the parable of the ten virgin bridesmaids in Matthew 25: 1-13 had such a profound meaning to those who heard that parable from Christ. For, just as no one knew exactly when the bridegroom would come to collect his bride, no one would know when Christ would come back for His bride, the church, either. This waiting period also meant that the bride had to be prepared or be ready for the groom’s return at all times. But to emphasize the importance of being ready for the groom’s return, Jesus told the listeners of His parable to “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” when the bridegroom will come.

As the bride of Christ, i.e., the saved church, we know that Jesus is preparing a wonderful everlasting home for us in heaven. We also know that one day He will return to claim us and take us home to be with Him in heaven. It is there in heaven that we will finally see the wonderful home He has created for us, and it is there in heaven where we will get to love and worship Him for all eternity.

Just as the groom comes to get his bride and take her home to her new home, Christ, the groom, will come to get His bride to take her home to heaven. We know that “God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep (died) in Jesus,” because the scriptures tell us so. – (I Thessalonians 4: 14. NASB). In other words, there will be a bodily resurrection of those who have died in Christ. However, we are also told that those believers who are still alive at the time of the Rapture will also be called up to heaven to receive their new home as well. Moreover, every believer whether asleep or alive at the time of the Rapture will suddenly experience a bodily resurrection of a glorified body when they are called to go to heaven with Christ, our Savior.

The Third Thing That Will Happen at the Rapture

We know from what the Bible says that those Raptured, whether living or dead, will be caught up in the air to be with Christ. At that time, both those believers that are resurrected from the dead and those believers that are still living on earth will be caught up in the air to receive glorified bodies just like the glorified body that Christ received when He went home to heaven to be with His Father. The scriptures say that “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural a body, there is also a spiritual body…. Just as we have born the image of the earthly, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.– (I Corinthians 15: 41- 44, 49. NASB).

So, at the moment of the Rapture, when we meet Christ in the sky, we will receive glorified spiritual bodies, just like Christ. This means that we will be caught up in the air to be with Christ, rising up to heaven with imperishable glorified bodies. We will also go to heaven to live in the home that Christ has prepared for us, living with Him forever and forever. We know, too, that the spirits of those who have died before the Rapture are already in heaven with the Lord. However, at the time of the Rapture, their spirits will be reunited with their resurrected glorified bodies, because Jesus will transform the resurrected bodies to be like His glorified body. For, the scriptures tell us that “our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”— (Philippians 3: 20, 21. NASB). So, it is through Christ’s power that our bodies will be changed to imperishable glorified bodies.

At that time, we will no longer remember the troubles, pain, sorrows, and trials that we experienced here on earth. Instead, our bodies and our minds will be purified and cleansed from all the earthly trials and sorrows through the power of Christ. So, those of us who have physical or mental limitations will be changed in an instant into glorified beings without any limitations. Indeed, we will have purified, cleansed, and glorified minds and bodies as we stand before the Lord. We will have spiritual bodies that will be full of glory and beauty.

The Apostle John says in I John 3: 3, that with our Salvation we begin a process of becoming more and more like Jesus. But we will not complete the process of becoming like Him until we see Jesus face to face.  John says, “Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, and we can’t even imagine what we will be like when Christ returns. But we do know that when He comes we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is.”

The Mystery surrounding the Resurrection of the Dead

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians and told them that there is a “Mystery” regarding the resurrection of the dead. Paul said, “Now, I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the impressible. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written. ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is your victory? O death where is your sting?”  -- (I Corinthians 15: 50-54. NASB). In other words, death and hell will have no power over those who are “Saved” and who have been Raptured to be with the Lord, for we will be immortals living with Christ and His Holy Father.

How wonderful to know that one day we will exchange our broken or sin prone bodies for new glorified bodies that are patterned after the glorified body of Christ’s. No longer will be grow old and older or commit sins from the temptations that we face here on earth. Instead, we will be completely free from sin and all the ramifications that occur with sin and in living in a fallen world. The exchange of our earthly bodies for glorified bodies will occur at the moment of the Rapture, in an instant.

But, it isn’t just those that are dead in Christ and who have suddenly been resurrected that will receive those glorified bodies. Yes, those that are resurrected will receive new bodies, but so will those believers who are still alive at the time of the Rapture. For, I Corinthians 15: 51b tells us that “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed.” – (NASB). So, even those Christians who are alive at the time of the Rapture will be changed and receive glorified bodies like Christ’s resurrected and glorified body. Moreover, we will have no more pain or sorrow and no more physically disabled or mentally disabled bodies. We will be perfect in our new glorified bodies.

The Fourth Thing That Will Happen at the Rapture

The Rapture will occur very quickly. To understand just how quickly the Rapture will occur, we need to look again at I Corinthians 15: 52 where we are told that the Rapture will occur in the “twinkling of an eye when the last trumpet sounds.” But is the trumpet sound the only thing that Christians will hear? Well, actually, I Thessalonians 4: 16 tells us that there will be three sounds that believers will hear at the Rapture.  This scripture says, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” – (I Thessalonians 4: 16, 17. NASB).

Notice that the first sound that we will hear is a sound made by the Lord. For this scripture says, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout.” So, the Lord will give a mighty shout when He descends from heaven to Rapture His church. It will be a shout that can be heard by all Christians everywhere no matter where they are in the world. Perhaps this shout is a command, like “all Christians arise”, because the original Hebrew language refers to this shout as a command like the command of a military officer ordering his troops to fall into formation. Such a command would give the dead in Christ as well as those Christians who are still alive an immediate understanding of what they are to do.

The second sound that we will hear at the Rapture is the voice of the archangel. The Apostle Paul tells us in verse 16 that there will be “the voice of the archangel”.  We do not know what the archangel will say, but perhaps the archangel will give specific directions for all the millions of resurrected Christians and those still alive Christians to get into some type of formation so there isn’t just chaos. God is an orderly God, and He is not a God of chaos. So, there is a good chance that this archangel, who is a mighty warrior angel, will give us directions on line formation or tell us how we can maintain order while being ready to march into heaven with the Lord. But whatever the archangel says will be important.

We are then told that the third sound we will hear will be the sound of God’s trumpet. Actually, the above verse in I Thessalonians says that Christ will descend with a shout … “and with the trumpet of God.” What could that phrase mean? Well, throughout the Bible, trumpet calls were used for many purposes. They were used for going to war, for calling for help, for announcing the King and for many other things as well. If we turn to the book of Numbers, we will also see that God specifically told Moses to build two trumpets. For, after God rescued the Israelites from Egypt there needed to be some way for Moses to call this large multitude of people to set up camp or to pack up the camp to travel. Moses also needed some way to call them to set out to march to the next location. So God said to Moses, “Make yourself two trumpets of silver, of hammered work you shall make them; and you shall use them for summoning the congregation and for having the camps set out. When both are blown, all the congregation shall gather themselves to you at the doorway of the tent of meeting. … When you blow an alarm, the camps that are pitched on the east side shall set out. When you blow an alarm the second time, the camps that are pitched on the south side shall set out; …-- (Numbers 10: 2, 3, 5, 6. NASB).

Certainly we can understand why it was necessary for Moses to sound a trumpet in order to call God’s people to set up camp or to get them break down the camp and move to another location. So, perhaps we can also see how the trumpet of God could be used to direct Christians to “set up camp” with the Lord. Or, the trumpet of God could be used to call all Christians to march into heaven. Obviously, we cannot know for sure why God’s trumpet is included within this list of three sounds that will be heard at the moment of the Rapture, but we can speculate based upon previous uses of trumpets that God had asked Moses to make. But whatever that trumpet call will mean, all believers will instantly understand and will do as the call indicates.

Are you ready for the Rapture?

How exciting to hear all three of those sounds! But, are you ready to hear those sounds?  Are you prepared for the Rapture? I hope that the answer is yes. But, if you do not know Christ as your Savior, then you are not ready to hear those sounds which will indicate or bring on the moment of the Rapture. If you are not ready for the Rapture, you must remember that the Rapture could occur at any moment. You also need to understand that your life could end at any moment as well, for we are not given a certain length of time to live on this earth. Furthermore, you only have until the actual moment before you take your last breath to make a choice or decision for the Lord. For, once you die, i.e., take your last breath, you no longer will be given the chance to participate in the Rapture. Certainly, by not making a decision for Christ, though, you have actually made the decision against Christ, which is the decision to go to hell for all eternity. So, if you haven’t asked Christ to forgive you of your sins and asked Him to come into your heart, now is the time to do so before it is too late. Christ loves you so! In fact, He loves you so much that He went to that cruel cross so that you would have an opportunity for salvation through belief in His resurrection as the living Son of God. Ask Christ to forgive you of your sins and to come into your heart before it is too late!

For those of you who have been “saved,” I have a question for you. Have you been producing fruit for the kingdom of God? In other words, have you shared the Gospel message or told others about the coming Rapture? Perhaps you have mentored others on some topic or helped others in some way that was needed? Maybe you have shared a skill or talent that God gave to you to specifically help others? But, have you actually told others about the coming Rapture? Telling others of the Good News and the coming Rapture is part of every Christian’s responsibility and fruit production.

There are so many ways to produce fruit for the kingdom of God. Remember, too, that we each were created to glorify and honor God. But we were also created to fulfill our specific individual purposes, which can help grow the kingdom of God. For, it is through loving others and by sharing the Good News in the best way that we can that we are able to produce good fruit for the Lord. Whatever your talent, your service, or your mission, you can help others grow closer to the Lord and become more spiritually mature. Many times Active Relational Christian Mentoring is an easy and productive way to help others grow closer to the Lord. Mentoring can be a great fruit producing service. Have you thought of sharing what you know or of helping others through your shared skills? What better way to produce fruit for the Kingdom of God than through Active Relational Christian Mentoring?

I believe in you!  I know that you can do it!  You can be a Christian mentor and help others. Just step out in faith through prayer and trust in the Lord, and He will help you help another. Share with people the information that you have learned about the Rapture. For, everyone needs to know the truth. Unfortunately, many people are being deceived and do not know the truth about salvation and the Rapture. Moreover, most people think that because they believe that they are a good person that they will automatically go to heaven. But, that is Satan’s lie. Only those who have asked Christ into their heart will go to heaven. So now is the time to tell others the truth so they can make a decision about Christ. You can do it!  You can share the truth of the Rapture and the truth of the Gospel message with others. Pray for the strength to reach out to another and then just reach out! God will help you! 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

When Will the Rapture Occur?

Many people over the years have speculated on or even claimed that they know the hour of Christ’s return.  However, all such speculation is just that: speculation without any knowledge or truth behind it. For, Jesus tells us that “… no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son Himself. Only the Father knows.” – (Matthew 24: 36. NLT). That is why we must mentor others about the Rapture and encourage them to be ready at all times for Christ’s return. That is also why we must share the Gospel message and the coming Rapture with others that have yet to come to know Christ as their Savior. For, we are the human voices to be used to tell others about Christ. As the voices used to tell others about Christ, we also need to be able to tell others about the coming Rapture of Christ's church. But first we have to know as much about the Rapture as possible in order to share this truth with others. So, using the scriptures, we are going find out what Christ says about when the Rapture will occur.

There has been much disagreement even among Christians as to when the Rapture will take place. In fact, there are groups of theologians and Christians who believe that the Rapture will occur Pre-Tribulation (before the Tribulation begins), while others believe that the Rapture will occur Mid-Tribulation (three and one half years after the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation) and still others who believe that the Rapture will occur Post-Tribulation (at the end of the seven-year Tribulation period). I personally lean toward the Rapture occurring Pre-Tribulation, because it is only then that we can truly anticipate the return of Christ at any time, and if it occurs Pre-Tribulation then Christians will not be subjected to the awful Tribulation period. Although it will nearly be impossible to become a Christian after the Tribulation begins, there will be a few who will choose Christ as their Savior during the Tribulation period. But those who accept Christ as their Savior after the Tribulation begins will still have to face all the trials of the Tribulation period.

It is also important to understand that there are two separate events relating to Christ’s return. First there is the Rapture of the church when Christ will take all those Christians, both the resurrected dead and those still alive, back to heaven with Him. Then there is the actual second coming of Christ at the end of the Tribulation period when our Lord comes back to put Satan in prison and to rule the earth for one thousand years. The Apostle John tells us: “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.” – (Revelation 20: 1-3. NASB). 

At that same time, all those that have not asked Christ to come into their heart will be banished into everlasting hell. Although some people may come to believe in Christ during the Tribulation period, their lives will be terrible and many will be martyred for their belief in Christ. Remember too, that every decision to believe in Christ, even if it is made during the Tribulation period, has to be made before the person takes their last breath, because once a person dies it is too late. In not making a choice to believe in Christ, they have made a choice to refuse to believe in Christ which brings with it an eternity in hell. We will talk more about Christ’s second coming later, but first we need to focus on the Rapture of those who are “Saved”. (Remember you can read this blog in segments and not have to read the entire blog at once if your reading time is limited.).

Christ Said He Would Come Quickly

 Although it has been well over 2000 years since Christ went back to heaven to prepare a place for each saved person, we know that God has a plan to send Christ back soon, because God’s Word tells us so. For, Jesus said, “Behold, I am coming quickly [soon], and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” – (Revelation 22: 12).  But what does “soon” mean. Well, Webster’s dictionary says that soon means: 1. In a short time (after a time specified or understood); shortly; before long/ will soon be there. 2. Promptly; quickly (as soon as possible). But here is what we have to understand; when a person uses the word soon or quickly they know exactly what that word entails and the time frame that they are referring to when they use the word soon or quickly. However, the person who hears the word soon cannot read their mind and still does not know the exact time frame that the person using word soon is referring to. For example, I could be across the country and telephone you that I am coming to see you soon. Or, I might say that I will plan to be there quickly. But unless you pin me down as whether I am coming next week, next month, next year, or even several years later, you will not know what I mean when I say that I will come to see you soon or quickly. For the words soon or quickly only have a precise meaning for the one who is using the word. Those of us who hear the word soon or quickly can hope or guess that they mean a specific time, but unless the person tells us exactly when they will arrive, we can’t say for sure when they will come.

Christ did not tell His disciples exactly when He would come back to Rapture His church, nor did He tell them when He would come again. Although Christ used the word quickly, even Christ did not know the exact time He would return. Only God knows what time frame the word “quickly” or “soon” is in reference to. Although we don’t know the day or hour that Jesus will return, every Christian knows that Christ will be coming back soon and that while we are waiting for the Rapture, that we are to grow spiritually in oneness with Christ. We are to also lead others to the saving knowledge of Christ. In fact, there is an awesome reward awaiting those who live and work for Christ. We will receive rewards for our fruit production, which is the production of kindness, caring, helping, and empowering others through our behaviors that lead others to some form of betterment when we help them and/or to the knowledge of Jesus Christ as their Savior.

While We are Waiting for the Rapture

While we are waiting for the Rapture we are not to sit around and twiddle our thumbs. We are to work diligently for the Lord. Have you ever wondered why Jesus leaves us here on earth after we are saved? Why do we not immediately go to heaven? Well, the answer is simple. We still have work to do for Christ! First, we are to be witnesses for Him and help win souls for the kingdom of God. We are to tell others of the atoning death of Christ and the gift of salvation that His death from dying on the cross and His subsequent resurrection offers to everyone who will believe on Him as the risen Son of God.

Then, we are to testify about the change in our lives that came about through the re-birth of salvation. What peace, joy, love, and security we have now that we are true children of God! Furthermore, as Christians we are to testify with both our words and our deeds, as we are to be the living examples of what Christ can do in the lives of humans who were once damned for all eternity. Instead, we look forward to a future eternity with God. Our lives, though, are now to shine Christ’s light out upon the world to be seen by others. In shining our Christ light, we also pray that the unsaved will want to come to know Christ too, once they realize what peace, beauty, and love they can have. Moreover, we are to tell everyone of the glorious eternity with the Lord that awaits those who believe in Christ as the risen Son of God. Indeed, each of our lives lived for Christ can tell a story about redemption and love, if we represent Christ to the world in all our actions and words. What kind of representation are you presenting to those you encounter? Have you told others about the upcoming Rapture?

Secondly, part of waiting for the Rapture, is for Christians to grow spiritually and mature spiritually. One of the great things about growing spiritually is that we can develop an increasing intimacy with the Lord. There is nothing in the world like the close relationship that one can have with the Lord. Although, we live in a fallen world and are constantly bombarded with the temptations of this world, Christ has given us His Holy Spirit who indwells or lives within each saved person. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us to live up to our potential in spiritual growth and maturity. However, we must be willing to work with the Holy Spirit to be conformed to the likeness of Christ. For, the scriptures tell us to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” – (Romans 12: 2. NASB)

What does that verse mean? Well, it means that we are to learn how to live a life that honors Christ by each person laying their “will” down before Him and then asking Christ to use us for His glory. We do this by trusting and worshipping God in commitment to His authority, because He knows what is best for us. Even Jesus laid down His “will” in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He said to His Father, “… yet not as I will, but as You will.”  -- (Matthew 26: 39. NASB). Laying down our will for the will of God brings spiritual growth. Although this transformation into a new more mature spiritual person is a gradual process through the renewing of our minds and the laying down of our will for God’s will, we will begin to grow and mature as soon as we focus on listening to and obeying God.

Part of our spiritual growth while waiting for the Rapture must be not only the renewing of our minds through the Word of God, but the development of discernment and the acquisition of godly wisdom too. We achieve this discernment and godly wisdom by continually studying the Word of God and by the growth of our faith. One leads to the other and vice versa. When we put our trust in God and Christ, our Savior, we discover that God will never forsake us and so our faith grows. Our faith also continues to grow as we study God’s Word while experiencing His love and blessings. For, God is always there for us; helping by pulling us through any earthly situation or trouble. We just need to rely on God as we focus on His truth, love, and mercy while living for Him.

Greater spiritual growth and maturity happens, too, when we patiently wait for something, like waiting for the Lord’s timing in all things. Whether we are waiting for our vacation to start, for a new home, for a raise on the job, or for a new baby to be born into the family, we learn patience and dependence upon God. Obviously, we are waiting for Christ to come and Rapture us home to be with Him in heaven. Here, too, we are learning to be patient and to depend on God for His provision and timing in all things. But waiting does not mean that we sit and do nothing. If we are waiting to acquire a new home, we are usually working hard to acquire a down payment or working to get a better paying job so that we can afford that new home. So, while we are waiting for the Rapture, we are to represent Christ to the rest of the world in all we do, share the Gospel message, and help others through Active Relational Christian Mentoring and other ministries or services that we can perform for the kingdom of God.

We have to keep in mind, though, that we only have one lifetime to grow and mature spiritually and only one lifetime to help others through the Christian ministry of Active Relational Christian Mentoring or to help others and the kingdom of God through some other service ministry. But we should remember that whether we are engaged in the ministry of mentoring or engaged in some other ministry of service or the sharing of the Gospel message with those that are lost, we only have a finite amount of time to do so. Actually, our lifetime can be a very short period of time, because none of us know just when our lives will be over. We could die tomorrow or live to be one hundred. Therefore, we must take heed to live our lives in such a way that we will be able to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant” when Christ comes to take us home. But, what happens if Christ comes to Rapture His church in the next hour, week, or year?  Will you be able to say that you have lived for Him? Will you have told others about Christ and the coming Rapture to eternity so they could be “Saved” and Raptured as well?

The Timing of the Rapture

Although the Bible teaches that the Rapture can occur at any time, there are many scoffers and skeptics concerning The Rapture and Christ’s second coming. Much of the cynicism stems around the fact that the apostles and the early church expected Christ to return during their lifetime. Even all the Newer Testament writers believed that the return of Christ was very near. That is why over 2000 years later there are still many non-believers and even some theologians who are skeptical about Christ’s return. But, Christians know that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and that God does not lie. In fact, the scripture tells us that “it is impossible for God to lie.”  -- (Hebrews 6:18. NASB). Moreover, true Christians have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who constantly reminds us that Christ will return and could return at any time. But, to help all of us understand why it is taking so long for Christ to return, the Apostle Peter wrote: “But you must not forget, dear friends, that a day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise to return, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so He is giving more time for everyone to repent.”  -- (II Peter 3: 8-10. NLT).

God simply does not run this world on our time table. The Rapture will occur on God’s time table and not ours. Moreover, His view of time is inherently different from ours, because He does not live in a finite stream of time like we live in here on earth. So, what feels like a delay to us is not a delay for the Lord, but is right on time in His personal schedule and calendar. Furthermore, we need to understand that our loving caring God doesn’t want anyone to miss the opportunity to know His Son, Jesus Christ, personally and miss the Rapture. Therefore, God has a plan for when our earthly time will be up. Until then we can grow personally and spiritually by living for Christ and sharing the Gospel message with others. We can also mature spiritually by allowing our love for others to grow; helping others in different ways such as through the servanthood of mentoring or the servanthood of some other ministry that we are engaging in for the Lord.

Signs to Watch for Regarding the Rapture and Christ’s Second Coming

We do not know when Christ will return to take His Church home to heaven, but God’s Word has given us some clues, signs, or things to watch for before Christ comes to Rapture us. Indeed, there are several signs that we are to look for and recognize as indications that the Rapture is getting closer. I won’t go into all of them, but there are four of which you should be aware.

The Sign of Nation of Israel Restored

The first sign  that the Rapture and Christ’s second coming is getting closer that we can easily recognize is the Nation of Israel. Over 2000 years ago Israel was no longer an independent nation. When Christ came the first time, Israel had already been occupied and controlled by the Rome for many years. However, it was not until 70 A.D. that Israel, the nation, became non-existent. Under a Roman siege the city of Jerusalem was destroyed and the beautiful temple that King Herod had built was completely demolished. As a result, for nearly 2000 years, the Jewish people would have no homeland and no temple.  In fact, the Jewish people were scattered throughout the world because they had no homeland. Moreover, they faced persecution throughout the centuries. But God had predicted through His prophets that’s the nation of Israel would rise again. God told Ezekiel, “Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; … when I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall be sanctified through them in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land;– (Ezekiel 39: 25, 27, 28. NASB). Indeed, in 1947 the nation of Israel was miraculously restored in a single day, and the Jewish people now have a homeland. This event or sign needed to occur before Christ comes again and before the Rapture of His Church. Since the nation of Israel again exists we know that the Rapture is closer than before.

The Sign of the Rise of False Prophets

Another sign that we are told to watch for is that of the rise of false prophets. Of course there have always been false prophets throughout history of Christianity. However, as the day draws closer to the Rapture and the second coming of Christ, we are told that we will see an increase in the number of false prophets and in their desire to denigrate Christians and pull down their belief in Christ in the eyes of the world. The Apostle Peter wrote: “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality and because of them the way of truth will be maligned.” – (2 Peter 2:1, 2. NASB).

Certainly we have entered a time period when false prophets are everywhere. They are especially in our education system which includes our colleges and universities. These false prophets, in the guise of professors, brainwash our youth and young people against Christianity and morality. Besides all the false religions with their false prophets, Christianity is constantly being ridiculed and maligned. In addition, the promotion of political correctness is in and of itself a method used for false prophecy. Moreover, many of these false prophets encourage people to allow their sensuality to direct their lives and actions, while telling the world that there is no truth or eternal life. Many people are denying the truth of the Word of God and truth in general, just as they deny God and the Master, Jesus Christ. This abundance of false prophets and their false messages is a sign that Christ could come to Rapture His church at any time and that the second coming of Christ is closer than we think.

The Sign of the Likeness to the Days of Noah

A major sign for the coming Rapture and the second coming of Christ is the likeness to the days of Noah. Jesus spoke to His disciples and told them “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. Therefore, be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.”  -- (Matthew 24: 37-42. NASB).

So what were the days of Noah like? The Bible tells us that during the time of Noah “the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. … Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.”  -- (Genesis 6: 5, 11. NASB). Not everyone is now wicked upon the earth, because there are still Christians on the earth. But as we watch the news reports of murder and mayhem, we can see that the wickedness has increased dramatically in recent years. To make matters worse, the violence is at an all-time high throughout the world including here in the United States. We also have a new group of violent people in the radical Islamic terrorists. If ISIS had their way, everyone that did not believe the way that they believe would be killed.

As people move further and further from the truth of the Bible and from living a moral and ethical life, they become more decadent and immoral. We are seeing this occur every day in the name of political correctness and in the name of “My Rights”. Because of political correctness we can no longer say that something is wrong or immoral, and we are no longer allowed to speak against immoral behaviors. Those in the minority who advocate immorality now have the right to express themselves any way they want to or to live the way they want to live, because they believe they have the right to live however they want. 

Our government has sanctioned immoral behaviors (like in the days of Noah) to be expressed in public when they were once never talked about and certainly not expressed in public. Consequently, we are now having transgender individuals using any restroom they desire and people flaunting their sexuality in public, because they have been given the right to do so. Every day we see more and more degrading of our society for the rights of the few. Furthermore, our society has embraced the murder of unwanted babies by giving mothers the ability and the right to have abortions on demand. All these immoral and murderous behaviors, however, are signs that the Rapture could occur at any moment and that the second coming of the Lord is closer than we can imagine. But before the world becomes totally decadent and totally immoral, the Christians or Christ’s church will be Raptured to heaven, leaving only those who are unsaved to deal with the decadence of society before Christ’s second coming. We do not know when the Rapture will occur, but we have to be ready to meet our Lord.

The Sign of the Rumors of Wars and the Crisis in the Middle East

One last sign that we will discuss before closing today is that of the crisis and upheaval in the Middle East. Next to the Israeli-Palestinian problem that faces Israel and the world every day is the world crisis in regard to Iran and ISIS.  First there is Iran’s determination to gain a nuclear bomb and their determination to wipe Israel and the United States off the face of the earth. Then there is the terrorist organization known as ISIS that arose from the Iraq-Iran conflict in the nineteen nineties. When the United States withdrew from Iraq and left them on their own to survive alone, a militant terrorist group, surreptitiously supported by Iran and some other Muslim nations and financially supported by the oil fields that that the group took over at the same time they overran Iraq, rose up with one goal in mind—take over the world for Islam.

ISIS wants to destroy anyone who is not Muslim. They are doing so by beheading and killing Christians and other people who do not practice their extreme Islamic ways. Their desire is to rule the world including the United States through terror and a caliphate of extreme Islamic beliefs. America has already been attacked by individual ISIS supported terrorists leaving many people dead or maimed. Our freedom to worship as we please cannot be taken lightly. We must share the truth of who they are with as many people as we can. We also must vote carefully this election, choosing a president who will stand up to these extreme Muslims, or our country could be over-run with terrorists.

Our country will always need to watch out for those who hate us and want to kill us including even watching out for some Americans who want to kill us, because they have been radicalized by ISIS. Every day we are becoming more and more inundated with stories about ISIS and their evil destruction and hatred seen and experienced throughout the world. But, Jesus told us this would happen:

As He (Jesus) was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things will happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’

And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.

At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.’”  -- (Matthew 24:3-14. NASB).

Today we hear of major earthquakes, tornadoes, and other disasters that are striking all areas of the world. Moreover, we daily hear of conflicts and the possibility of war from several rogue nations that care not about the quality of life here on earth. All these nations want is power and control. Certainly, love for each other is growing cold in these nations as hate for those different than themselves is the only thing they feel. ISIS hates anyone that does not believe in Mohammad and adhere to his extreme Islamic beliefs. All these things are signs that the Rapture is closer than ever for Christians. 

What Can Christians Do?

So, what can we do even as we recognize these signs. Well, we have to be on the watch paying attention to the signs and at the same time telling others about those signs and what they point to. For, all these signs are pointing to the Rapture and the second coming of Christ. As I said previously, I believe that the Rapture will occur pre-tribulation so that Christ’s church, those that are “saved” will not have to experience the Tribulation period. Furthermore, Christ gave us all these signs to show us and to tell us when the time for the Rapture is growing close. Christ shared these signs so that Christians will step forward to share the Gospel message with as many people as they can before the Rapture occurs. This means that Christians have a responsibility to minister to other people so that in our kindness and love others may see Christ in us and want to know more about Jesus Christ and salvation. Have you stepped up to minister to others? If not, you may want to consider Active Relational Christian Mentoring as your ministry. But whatever ministry you decide to engage in, please tell others about Christ and the coming Rapture.

No, we cannot know the day or hour, but we have to stay alert while paying attention to the signs of the coming Rapture. We cannot be like the Pharisees and Sadducees during Christ’s time who could not and would not believe that Christ, the Messiah, had come. Even though Christ had produced many signs of who He is, from the miraculous healings to the feeding of 5000, the Pharisees and Sadducees wanted yet another sign. They wanted a sign that would prove that He was the Christ.  So, “The Pharisees and Sadducees came up and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. But He replied to them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red. And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?– (Matthew 16: 1-3. NASB).

Many of us today are like the Pharisees and Sadducees, because we do not know how to look at the signs either, or because we refuse to admit that Christ is the Messiah and that time is drawing close for the Rapture and the second coming of Christ. Will you be one of those people who refuse to believe in Christ and are left behind at the Rapture? I hope not! I pray that you realize that Christ is the only way you can enter into heaven. I pray that you realize that you are a born sinner and that you need to be redeemed by the blood of the lamb, Jesus Christ. Please don’t wait another minute to ask Christ into your heart, for the signs are all there that Christ could call His “saved” ones home at any time. Will you be one who is “saved” and is raptured home to heaven?

If you are “saved”, please use your knowledge and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to tell others about Christ. Whether you engage in Active Relational Christian Mentoring, or you engage in some other fruit producing service for the Lord, now is the time to work even harder for the kingdom of God. All true Christians need to share the Gospel and help others know and see the beauty, peace and love that imbues the ones who chooses Christ as their Savior. Also go and tell the world about the signs of the times. Tell others about the coming Rapture. Speaking of the Rapture is nothing to be ashamed of and instead of keeping it to ourselves, Christians must share the message of the Rapture with the entire world, or at least with our little part of the world.

Next week we will look at what happens at the moment of the Rapture and what happens after the Rapture occurs. Until then, God bless each of you! Don’t forget to reach out and mentor another for the Lord. You can do it! 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Are You Ready for the Rapture?

Christ could return at any moment, and as Christians and Christian mentors we need to share this truth with other people. God has given all Christians the commission to share the Gospel message with those who are lost, and in doing so, we need to explain to people that time is running out to make a decision about asking Christ to come into their heart. For only those who have believed on the risen Son of God and are "saved" will be taken to heaven at the moment of the Rapture. Are you ready for the Rapture? Moreover, have you told others about their glorious opportunity for Salvation and what it means to be Saved? Have you told others about the coming Rapture?

Obviously, it can be daunting and in some cases hard to share the truth of the Gospel message and the gift of Salvation with others, especially if they want to ridicule us. However, with the help of the Holy Spirit we can do what Christ has asked us to do. But if you still can’t bring yourself to share the truth, then ask yourself if you are willing to leave a loved one, friend, or acquaintance behind to go to hell just because you were unwilling to be uncomfortable in telling the truth about Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for their sins. I know that I want my friends, loved ones, and as many other people as possible to be Raptured with me and all the other believers when Christ comes to get His church and take us all home to eternity in heaven?

Telling Others about Christ and the Coming Rapture

It is important for our friends and acquaintances who are engaging in false religions to hear the Gospel message just as it is for those who have no beliefs to hear the Gospel. Yet, like the Apostle Paul when he visited Athens and spoke before the Council of Philosophers, we, too, have to be willing to speak to those who adhere to false religions. (see Acts 17: 16-34). Certainly, Paul was not afraid to share the truth of the Gospel message, or if he was afraid, he put his fear aside to do the will of God. Can you put your fear aside to tell others about Christ?

Not everyone who hears the Gospel message will believe, but at least you will have tried and they will have had the chance to choose. It was the same in the Apostle Paul’s day. Even though not everyone in Athens who heard Paul speak accepted Christ as their Savior, there were some who heard the truth and became believers in Jesus Christ, all because Paul put aside his fear and told the group about Christ. Those who believed on Christ back then will be Raptured with all the others who are dead in Christ when Christ calls His church, i.e., all believers, home to eternity. For even those, who have been long dead, will be Raptured if they had asked Christ to be their Savior before they died. Actually, those dead in Christ will be called up first and then those who are still alive will meet together with them in the air to go home with Christ. What a glorious reunion that will be!

There is only one way to get to heaven. However, because we have minds of our own and want to do things the way that we want to do them, humans hate to have other people tell us that there is only one way to go to heaven. But the truth is that there is only one way to heaven. Unfortunately, those who refuse to accept the fact that there is only one way to heaven often try to refute this truth by their treating God as if He is one of us. They try to rationalize their own beliefs and desires by telling themselves that God should think a certain way or by believing that God thinks and acts like us. They then tell themselves that they would never create just one way to get to heaven, so why would God create just one way to heaven. That is, they can’t imagine that a “loving God” would give us only one way to get to heaven when there are so many different religions here on earth and there are many ways of accomplishing things here on earth. Isn’t there that old saying, “All roads lead to Rome”? So, if all roads can lead to Rome, then why not have many roads leading to heaven?

To add to their failure to understand that they can’t just wish themselves to heaven is the fact that almost all people believe that they deserve to go to heaven.  They believe they deserve to go to heaven because in their minds they think that they are good people and that being a good person is all that it takes to get to heaven. Sadly, they don’t understand that God is the only one who can determine goodness. Because many people believe that they are basically good, they can’t understand why they would be punished for being good? But suggesting that we are innately good is one of the greatest misconceptions of all time, for not one of us is truly good. “No one is good except God alone.” – (Luke 18: 19. NASB). In fact, we were all born sinners and as such, we cannot enter into heaven without first accepting Christ as our Savior, and asking for His cleansing blood to cover our sins. It is only through our Salvation that we will be able to enter into the eternity of heaven either when we die or when Christ comes back to collect His followers and take them to heaven at the time of the Rapture.

The problem with thinking that goodness will get them to heaven is that these people forget that God is holy, just, and righteous; moreover, He is not human. God is a supernatural being who is self-existent. He does not need humans to tell Him what to do or how to do it. Furthermore, as a finite human beings, we cannot begin to understand the immortal God who created us out of the dust of the earth, nor should we assume that we know how God thinks or put our human thinking upon God. Neither can we truly understand how sinful that we really are until we submit ourselves to the loving grace and mercy of God’s love. Only then, can we get a glimpse of how our sinfulness has kept us away from the almighty and holy God.

It is in this glimpse of our sinfulness that we become shamefully overwhelmed and desperately want to be forgiven. Only then, do we realize that God loves us so much that He has given us a way to be made righteous before Him so that we can spend eternity with Him. But there is only one way to be cleansed from this unrighteousness and that is through the blood of Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins so that we do not have to spend eternity in hell. “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” – (II Corinthians 5: 21. NLT). So, only by believing on Christ as the risen Son of God and by asking Him to forgive our sins and come into our heart will we be cleansed of this sinful unrighteousness and be able to spend eternity in heaven. Only through our salvation can we be Raptured with other believers!

Once we have realized that we need Jesus Christ as our Savior and in repentance of our sins have asked Christ to come into our heart, we have moved from an assured eternity of damnation to an assured eternity of beauty, love, peace, and everlasting joy lived within the presence of God and His Son. Believers know that they will go to heaven, because the Holy Spirit, who indwells every believer, gives us the assurance of this eternity with God. But our Salvation is just the beginning of our new eternal life, for it is up to each new believer to live in the light of Christ daily and to share the Gospel message with others who have yet to be saved. Furthermore, as we go through this life journey here on earth, Christians are eagerly awaiting with anticipation the time when Christ will call us to take us home to eternity to be with Him and His Father. This call of Christ's to collect His church, i.e. all believers, is called “The Rapture”. For, it is at this call that those living and dead in Christ will be “snatched up” or Raptured to meet Christ in the air and to go to heaven.

What is the Rapture?

The word Rapture means to “snatch away” or be “carried away”.  (The Rapture, which is Christ collecting His church to take us all to heaven, is not the same as the Second Coming of Christ, which will occur at some future point after the Rapture.). The clearest biblical passage about the Rapture of the church is found in I Thessalonians 4: 13-17. At that time, the Christians in Thessalonica were seeing their friends, family members, and neighbors die even as they waited for Christ’s return. They had been told that Christ would come and Rapture His church, but what about all the people who had been Saved but had already died before the Rapture? Could the Rapture have already occurred? To add to their confusion, many false prophets were indeed telling them that they had missed the Rapture and that they had been left behind. Furthermore, these false prophets were telling them that they were now already in the Tribulation period, because there was so much persecution happening to all the Christians of that day. Then the Apostle Paul wrote to them to assure them that they had not missed the Rapture. He explained that the Rapture had not already occurred and that they weren't living in the Tribulation period. Indeed, he explained that those living were still waiting on Christ’s return, and the ones that had already died would not miss out on the Rapture either. So, the Apostle Paul wrote:

And now, brothers and sisters, I want you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus comes, God will bring back with Jesus all the Christians who have died.

I can tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not rise to meet him ahead of those who are in their graves. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the call of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, all the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with Him forever. So comfort and encourage each other with these words.– (I Thessalonians 4: 13-17. NLT).

The words “caught up” actually means “to snatch” or “to pluck”, which is the very same meaning as the word Rapture. To understand more about the word Rapture, Jesus gave us an even clearer picture of this event when He said, “Yes, it will be business as usual right up to the hour when the Son of Man returns. … That night two people will be asleep in one bed; one will be taken away, and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding flour together at the mill; one will be taken, and the other left.”  -- (Luke 30, 34, 35. NLT). These amazing passages describe the exact moment when the Lord returns for His church (who are those that are saved). It is at this moment in time, “in the twinkling of an eye” (see I Corinthians 15: 52), that all believers will be separated from the unbelievers and be caught up in the air with those believers who have been resurrected to meet Christ and go to heaven.

Notice in the above verse that even though it will be nighttime on one side of the earth, that on the other side of the earth it will be daylight when the Rapture occurs. Some people will be sleeping and some will be working. Jesus was giving the above example so that the people of His day and time could understand the many different things that could be going on when He suddenly returns to Rapture or collect His church. When He said that two women will be grinding flour together, this was not a literal event. This was just a way of stating that it will be an ordinary day and people will be going about their daily business of work and sleep when their lives will be suddenly interrupted by the Rapture. Jesus just gave examples of the type of work that the people of His day could understand. Obviously, He would not use an example of someone working at a computer or of someone working as an air traffic controller, because the people He was talking to would not be able to understand that type of work.

So, the Rapture is when Jesus returns to resurrect the dead in Christ and to gather to Him all the believers who are still alive. Both the resurrected dead and the believers who are still alive will be swept up to meet Jesus Christ in the air. It is then that we will receive glorified bodies that will be imperishable. The Apostle Paul wrote: “But let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us. Not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed. It will happen in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, the Christians who have died will be raised with transformed bodies. And then we who are living will be transformed so that we will never die. For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die.”  -- (I Corinthians 15: 51-53. NLT). Not only will we be called home to eternity, but we will receive glorified or heavenly bodies. How wonderful that will be! No more aches and pains, just beautiful bodies to live in forever.

Are You Ready for the Rapture?

I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to the Rapture. When will the Rapture occur? Well, it could occur at any time, so we all need to be ready for the Rapture. We need to share the Gospel message with others and explain to people that the Rapture, or Christ calling His believers home to eternity, could happen at any time. As Christians and Christian mentors, we have a responsibility to share this Good News with others, including sharing it with those that we are mentoring. I hope that you are ready for the Rapture!

Next week, we will look at more information about the Rapture and find out more about when, according to the Bible, that the Rapture will occur. Until then, look closely at your lifestyle, at how you share your faith with others, and what you have been doing to tell others about Christ and the Rapture. Have you been mentoring anyone lately? If not, perhaps you will consider serving the Lord and others through Active Relational Christian Mentoring. At the very least, I hope you consider sharing the Gospel message with someone who does not yet know Christ as their Savior. I believe in you, and I believe that you can do it! You can witness for Christ and you can actively mentor another in some way, using the gifts that God has bestowed upon you to do so.

Remember, time is winding down and the Rapture could occur any moment. Are you ready for the Rapture?  Are you saved? If so, have you shared your faith with another? If you aren’t saved, please consider asking Christ into your heart. God is holding off sending Christ to collect His church so that as many people as possible will get a chance to hear the Gospel message and make a decision. Will you be ready when Christ calls His church home at the Rapture?  I sure hope so! What peace, joy, and happiness there is in knowing Christ as your Savior! Moreover, what glorious peace, joy, and happiness one will have living in eternity with God in a glorified imperishable body! What have you got to lose by looking into God’s offer of Salvation through Christ, the risen Son of God? If you need to find out more about Salvation and the Rapture, find a Christian and ask questions or pick up the Bible and start reading the book of John, and the book of I Thessalonians. What a glorious life you can have in knowing Christ personally. I’m excited for you!

Until next week, may you be blessed by being ready for the Rapture!