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!