BTC Phase 3: Lesson 6
What About the Rapture?
This Lesson explains the difference between what is called, “The Rapture” in the Body and what is known as “The Second Coming.” Though these events are defined, the purpose of this Lesson is to point the reader to what we are tasked to do in the present, which is to focus on the Spirit within as we grow spiritually (and as we love one another), thereby positioning ourselves “with Christ” today and always.
What about “The Rapture”?
To say the least, the “Rapture,” is a controversial topic, one which has become the subject of many Christian movies, novels, talk-show debates, and sometimes heartache between members of the Body when they find that they just do not see eye to eye about this idea of a “catching away of the saints” or “sudden disappearance of the Church before the Tribulation.” So, this short lesson offers a simple way of dealing with the issue for personal peace of mind while offering perspective for times when the issue of the “Rapture” comes up in a discussion.
Let’s begin with evaluating, the word, “Rapture.” An internet search will produce a few quick definitions which say something like, “The transporting of believers to heaven at the Second Coming of Christ.” Sometimes you see, “The Rapture is an eschatological term used by certain Christians referring to an event when the elect believers, living and resurrected dead, will rise into the clouds and join Jesus.”
Wait a minute! Back up! What does “eschatological” mean? Well, a dictionary might define that word like this, “the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind.”
Wow. That all sounds pretty intense. So is the “Rapture” a reference to the Second Coming? For that matter, can the term, “Rapture” even be found in Scripture?
Two Events: The answer to those two questions is, “No” and “No”; the word “Rapture” is not found in the Bible and spite of what a quick internet search might bring up with its modern definitions, this appearance by Jesus (referred to as The Rapture) is not a reference to the “Second Coming”; so, we are looking at two separate events, the “Rapture” being one and the “Second Coming” being another.
At the Second Coming, Scriptures tell us that Jesus comes all the way to the earth as the Son of Man which would happen after the Great Tribulation. The Rapture however, describes something different, a time when “the Dead in Christ” find themselves being “caught up” to “meet the Lord in the air” before the Tribulation. Really? Yes! Let’s read about the “catching away” first:
“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (KJV)
Who are the “dead in Christ”? Well, these are members of the Body of Christ who went through the process of death to the self-nature (old man) and its ways/wiles of the world, having embraced Christ via Grace within. So this describes those who not only “received the Spirit,” but who “minded the Spirit,” thus becoming the “dead in Christ,” “dead to the world and all its ways” and “alive in Him.”
In essence, the Scriptures tell us that there an expected event (as described in Thessalonians), when Jesus comes as far as the clouds to meet the Dead in Christ (His Church) and get them out of here before the terrible “end battle” or “tribulation” begins; but He does not touch down on earth at that time.
“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” Revelation 3:10 (KJV)
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9 (KJV)
Completion of the First Resurrection: One school of thought suggests that the Rapture is kind of like the completion of the First Resurrection. Here is why. We know that Jesus departed bodily at the Ascension, but then He left His Spirit (Gift of the Holy Ghost) for us to partake of as of The Day of Pentecost (Birth of the Church). So when the time comes for His Spirit (the rest of Jesus) to ascend, this by definition would represent the completion of the “First Resurrection.” Then, since those who are “Dead in Christ” (His Church) are already joined to His Spirit, they would Rise with His Spirit. Kinda makes sense. This also makes a great selling point on the value of holding to the Spirit. Right?
“Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection.” Revelation 20:6 (KJV)
Hollywood & Fiction on The Rapture: In the novels and scripts we read about the “Rapture” as that moment when, “in the twinkling of an eye,” our bodies and souls will disappear from our homes, jobs, gardens, our cars, or even the pilot seat on the plane we are flying. (Yikes!) These portrayals are taken largely from this verse in Scripture:
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:52 (KJV)
There are many different scenarios out there of this occurrence; however there is one version which would please even someone with OCD because as the story goes, the clothing of those “raptured” will be left neatly folded on their bed or chair following their sudden departure; while the person(s) in question will simply come up “missing.”
So, enjoy watching these movies or reading the books, but just keep in mind that these entertainment options represent only one or two interpretations of possible Biblical events. But even more important, is what we can do today to deepen our relationship with Christ, something which we will talk about in a moment. But first, let’s look at one more set of viewpoints regarding the Rapture.
Raised Up as Body and Spirit or Just Spirit? With regard to the term “incorruptible” in this verse of Scripture, 1 Corinthians 15:52 (KJV), some denominations believe that this means we will be lifted up bodily if we are alive at the time of the “Rapture”; and if we have already passed (and had minded the Spirit while we were alive), our graves will open up, changing our ashes to a perfect form once again before raising up to meet Jesus in the clouds. However, others believe that the term “incorruptible” points to a condition which can’t be affected by death and disease, representing more of a “transformed or transfigured soul condition” rather than having undergone some kind of “physical reconstruction”; therefore, it will be the “soul only” that will rise up having achieved a state beyond the reach of disease or death. In fact, on that note, some descriptions of the Rapture suggest that masses of folks (eligible Christians) will simply “pass away,” from what would appear to be natural causes, all in the same instant, leaving their bodies here; but their souls will have departed to meet up with Jesus in the sky, somewhere in the heavenly clouds.
The Second Coming: Now let’s look at this event; many in the Body believe that the following Scriptures do tell us that there is another time when Jesus will come to earth for the Last Day of Judgement at the sound of the Great Trump. By the way, the “Last Trump” announces the Rapture (See 1 Corinthians 15:52 above), whereas the “Great Trump” announces “The Day of Judgement.”
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it.” Revelation 20:11 (KJV)
“And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the heaven to the other.” Matthew 24:31 (KJV).
“And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.” Mark 13:26 (KJV)
“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” Mark 13:32 (KJV)
“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:28 (KJV)
Which theory about the “Rapture” should we embrace? Now that we know the difference between “The Rapture” and “The Second Coming,” which interpretation of “meeting Jesus in the air,” should we accept? Do we need to dwell on the prospect of such events in the process of our daily devotions and activities? Is there something we should be doing to prepare?
What we can do: Regardless of how any group in the Body believes about either or both these two possible and upcoming occurrences, our instructions are clear and our task is before us.
For starters, Jesus asks us to keep our concentration centered on learning to walk in Mercy as we hold to Grace in order to fully undergo the soul-transforming experiences made possible by “The Gift of the Holy Ghost.” He asks us to keep His Two Commandments of “Love God and Love Others,” something for which we definitely need the Power of Grace to even hope to achieve. So we do have our work cut out for us, here and now.
“Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Mark 8:34 (KJV)
“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” John 9:4 (KJV)
We can be with Him today and always: But since we are back on the subject of a focus on Christ within, won’t being in that “state of consciousness” keep us in the “right spot,” for whatever might come our way, including a “Rapture”? Why? Because when we are “with Christ by His Spirit” we are already with Him in that form. If we have been afforded a way to connect with Him now, then we will continue to be with Him as we hold to that Grace. Nuff said. It’s all we need to know.
“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.” John 14:3 (KJV)
1 Thessalonians Chapter 5: These verses of Scripture are rich with wisdom that points us to more of what we can be focused on today and how we can help one another in the process. Here is one verse, but take a few moments now to locate that Chapter and study all the precious words therein. You will be blessed.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (KJV)
The Separation of the Wheat from the Tares: There is another interesting Scripture, which some believe points to a “separation of some kind” from within the Body:
“And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24 (KJV)
Paul states “my body which is broken for you.” First of all, the death of Jesus had already taken place, so why did he not say, “Was broken for you?” Also, it became known that despite the torture He endured, there were no bones broken on the body of Jesus during his suffering. So what could this be in reference to?
Well, it has been suggested that this verse of Scripture could be pointing to several things, one being a “breaking away” of some kind, when the “wheat and tares” will be separated. Jesus not only taught that there were both wheat and tares in the Body, but He also warned us of the fate of the tares, while indicating a separation:
“Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.” Matthew 13:30 (KJV)
What is Jesus describing? For that matter, what was Paul really getting at in 1 Corinthians 11:24, while he brought up Communion in the middle of correcting the Corinthians who had the spirit but were not minding it? Time will tell; but in the meantime, we know what we must do to remain those who are among the “wheat” (Matthew 13:30) or the “sheep” (Matthew 25:31-46). We also know that when we allow the pure Waters of Mercy and Power of the Spirit to pour through our souls, displacing the murky condition of our old man or “self-nature,” we become “changed.” In this process, we can and do “Stand” in the confidence that we are not those condemned, not now or a time in the future. Instead, we are those who are destined to transition from the Kingdom of Heaven to the Kingdom of God. Paul gives us that reassurance in this verse of Romans, but even then, he does so in the process of identifying two groups in the Body, those who “walk after the Spirit,” and those who do not, advice which we have more than enough reason to heed:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1 (KJV)
Conclusion: So, rather than lose our peace getting sucked into a spirit of debate over this issue of “The Rapture” or any other “biblical controversy,” and rather than suffer apprehension over where we might be if or when the “Rapture” happens (if it indeed does), let’s focus on what we have been asked do by the Lord Himself with regard to the application of Mercy, and let’s learn everything we can about what it means to follow His Two Commandments:
“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40 (KJV)
Let’s dedicate each day to the deepening of our relationship with God as well as helping one another; and in so doing, “faith says,” that we can be certain that we will catch whatever “train” (so to speak) that is intended for our souls as we leave this world. That is our “blessed assurance.” Amen?
“Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:9 (KJV)
“What About the Rapture?” is written by Ann M. Wolf © 2018, All rights reserved.