What is Rapture?
The English word “rapture” is derived from the Latin verb meaning ‘caught up.’ So rapture is the sudden ‘catching up’ of believers into heaven when Christ “descends from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.” 1 Thess. 4:13-18
This catching up will involve both the ‘dead in Christ’ and ‘the living in Christ.’ 1 Thess: 4:16-17 affirms that the dead in Christ will rise first, then those who are alive in Christ will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord.
Verse 13 says, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.”
Here the Apostle Paul described the hope that awaits Christians both who have died and those who are still alive. He assures them that there is resurrection – a process of putting death to shame and receiving a glorious body, which reigns with Christ forever. Paul felt the importance of explaining issues to the people in Corinth, Thessalonica, as well the church of today so that we will know the truth on the subject and avoid unnecessary sorrow about the condition of our future.
You see, the death of saints is always referred to as falling asleep – see the notes on John 11:11; 1 Cor. 11:30; 15:51. Paul maintains that there is hope; therefore, we should not sorrow as the unbelievers do. In fact, resurrection is the advantage we have over those who are not Christians. Glory Halleluiah. The process of this glorious resurrection (both for the dead and the living in Christ) is what we call ‘rapture’ – which is our focal point in this lecture.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 1 Thess. 4:14 & 1 Cor. 15:12-14
This is the process which will fulfill Jesus’ assertion in John 14:3 saying, “And I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you will be also.” NKJV
Resurrection is a miracle; we will experience this miracle on this glorious day that we are talking about. 1 Thessalonians 4:15 says, “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.”
Rapture follows a process. It is not going to happen in an unordered / disorganized manner. See 1 Thess. 4:16-17
Firstly, the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God:
Secondly, the dead in Christ shall rise
Thirdly, those of us who are yet to die will be caught up together with them (the dead in Christ who have just risen) in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
All of a sudden we will just hear a shout (a “cry’ of excitement) coming with Christ in the clouds with a multitude who would lift up loud voice like that of an army rushing to a battle.
During the shout of trumpet announcing Christ’s appearance, the world will just find out that some people are missing. This is one day that you and I should be missing. If we are missing, it means we have been caught up with the Lord. But if you are the one who notices that somebody is missing, it means you have been left behind. See Mat. 24:40-41which says,“Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. NKJV
I want to submit that as the voice of the archangel and the trumpet make the announcement of the arrival of the Lord and summon the world to the bar of judgment, so will the shout of Jesus (the Son of Man) be heard by those who are in the graves and they will begin to rise (John 5:27-29).
Now once the sound is made, the ‘dead in Christ,’ i.e., Christians who had died before that time shall rise first.
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:17
Before we are caught up, we too will go through a quick moment of death and resurrection. 1 Cor 15:51-55 describes the process saying, “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” NIV
This is going to be an awesome experience. May you and I be counted worthy in Jesus name.
Once our bodies have been transformed from mortality to immortality, then all of us shall be caught up to meet our Lord in the sky. This is rapture. Now we do not need to worry about the force that will make us become caught up. The force and the power of the holy Spirit which caught Philip away in Acts 8:39 will be made available to us. Rapturing will not be done by our own controllable power but by the supernatural Spirit of God. This is why you and I need to possess the Holy Spirit now – since He is the force and power that will rapture (catch) us up. Witchcraft power, force or wings will not work that day.
Caught up to where?
Into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. We are going to be in the regions of the atmosphere-above the earth. Christ will be there and we will ascend to meet Him.
Although the world has experienced many events that brought shock to it in different magnitudes, rapture will be the biggest of all. It will concern everybody on the face of the earth. Rapture will not be an event affecting only a few countries or people.
When will rapture take place?
No one knows precisely when this event will take place. The Bible warns us in 1 Thess. 5:2 however that it will be like a thief in the night (a surprise). It will be a sudden and fast event – 1 Cor. 15:52 says, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, …”
Unlike non-Christians for whom rapture would sound scary and negative, joy excitement fill the hearts of Christians when we talk about rapture. It is the time of glorification; a time of fellowshipping with the Lord and our loved ones who had left us before; it is a time of everlasting peace.
When we are busy focusing upon the rest and peace with Christ, the world will be left with chaos of the traffic accidents that took place when the Christian drivers of vehicles suddenly were caught up and car are left to crash. Planes will crash if the pilots are Christians; numerous passengers won’t get home because they have been caught up etc.
Advantages of Being Rapture Ready
1. We will get to be like Jesus and see Him as He is. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 1 John 3:2 NKJV
2. You will begin everlasting enjoyment. Rev 21:4 says, “ And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” NKJV
3. We won’t have to suffer through the tribulation. “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).
“And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
“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).
Advice: Be Ready. Accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. He that will come will soon come and He will not tarry. “Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:34-35).