Fact Sheet: The Rapture of the Followers of Christ

As a follower of Christ, I see the signs of the end-times per the Word of God, all around us. Jesus said: Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near(Luke 21:28) I want to educate you on what the Bible states concerning The Rapture of the Followers of Christ.

Why do we look up? Because as followers of Christ we have the blessed hope of the Rapture. Many Pastors do not teach about the Rapture nor the end-times events that are coming upon the world. Pastors will have to give an account of this error when they stand before Jesus Christ.

I on my blog feel compelled to share the truths of God’s Word for your encouragement. There is a blessed hope we can count on. Unfortunately, those that do not follow Christ, will be left behind. Consequently, they will have to endure horrific pain and suffering during the final 7- years of this age known as the Tribulation.

The following is a brief overview of the Rapture. Scriptures used are from the Amplified Bible.

What is the Rapture?

The English term rapture is derived from the Latin Vulgate translation of the New Testament. The Latin verb rapere is a translation of the Greek word harpadzo which has the meaning of being “caught up.”

The “rapture” refers to the doctrine that the true believers in Jesus Christ, will be “caught up” from the earth to meet the Lord in the air. We are not talking about those that attend church or have some family background in Christianity but those that actually follow Christ.

At some point in the future, Christians who are alive will have their mortal bodies transformed into incorruptible, immortal bodies. Immediately before this happens, the believers who have died will be raised from the dead and will also receive a new body as they meet Christ in the air. According to Scripture all of this will occur in a moment, in a twinkling, or in a blink, of an eye.

Jan Markell and Nathan Jones discuss why are churches attacking the doctrine of the Rapture?

Understanding the Difference Between the Rapture and the Second Coming

  • The term rapture is used for the coming of Jesus Christ for His church. Consequently, this is where Jesus meets the believers in the air.
  • The term Second Coming is consistently used as a reference to Jesus’ coming back to the earth with the believers to establish His kingdom.

6 Different Theories Regarding When The Rapture Occurs

While the Rapture (catching away) is taught in Scripture, Bible-believers are divided as to when this event actually takes place.

  1. There Is No Rapture
    1. There are Bible-believing Christians who hold this perspective who believe the passages referring to the rapture have been wrongly interpreted.
  2. The Rapture Is Only For Spiritual Christians
    1. Then some of Bible-believing Christians believe only those who are prepared, or spiritually worthy, will be caught up to meet the Lord in the rapture of the church.
  3. The Pre-Tribulation Rapture Theory
    1. This is the belief that Bible-believing Christians will escape the unprecedented time of God’s wrath which will come upon the earth. These Christians will return with the Lord in triumph at the end of the seven-year period.
  4. The Mid-Tribulation Rapture Theory
    1. Here the belief is Bible-believing Christians will be raptured in the middle of the final seven-year period before Jesus Christ returns to the earth.
  5. The Pre-Wrath Rapture View
    1. Then there is a recent view that Bible-believing Christians will be raptured three-fourths of the way through the final seven-year period.
  6. The Post-Tribulation Rapture Theory
    1. Some Bible-believing Christians believe the rapture will take place at the very end of the seven-year Great Tribulation.

My Viewpoint on When the Rapture Occurs

The above various views are held by people who are Bible-believing Christians. Furthermore, the advocates of these theories use Scripture to support their conclusions. However, for me, I am a believer in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Theory. Why? Mainly because the Word of God states that as a follower of Jesus Christ, God will rescue His followers before His wrath is released on a Christ-rejecting world.

  • But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Therefore, since we have now been justified [declared free of the guilt of sin] by His blood, [how much more certain is it that] we will be saved from the wrath of God through Him. (Romans 5:8-9)
  • and to [look forward and confidently] wait for [the coming of] His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead—Jesus, who [personally] rescues us from the coming wrath [and draws us to Himself, granting us all the privileges and rewards of a new life with Him]. (1 Thessalonians 1:10)
  • For [God does not overlook sin and] the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who in their wickedness suppress and stifle the truth (Romans 1:18)
  • But because of your callous stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are [deliberately] storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. (Romans 2:5)

Scripture References Regarding the Rapture Event

Scripture teaches that Believers Will Be Caught Up

  • Now I say this, believers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit nor be part of the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable (mortal) inherit the imperishable (immortal). 51 Listen very carefully, I tell you a mystery [a secret truth decreed by God and previously hidden, but now revealed]; we will not all sleep [in death], but we will all be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed], 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at [the sound of] the last trumpet call. For a trumpet will sound, and the dead [who believed in Christ] will be raised imperishable, and we will be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed]. (1 Corinthians 15:50-52).
  • For the Lord, Himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel and with the [blast of the] trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain [on the earth] will simultaneously be caught up (raptured) together with them [the resurrected ones] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord! (1Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Jesus Spoke of Coming For His Followers

Do not let your heart be troubled (afraid, cowardly). Believe [confidently] in God and trust in Him, [have faith, hold on to it, rely on it, keep going, and] believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and I will take you to Myself so that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:1-3).

It Is the Blessed Hope of Believers

  • For the [remarkable, undeserved] grace of God that [brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to reject ungodliness and worldly (immoral) desires, and to live sensible, upright, and godly lives [lives with a purpose that reflect spiritual maturity] in this present age, 13 awaiting and confidently expecting the [fulfillment of our] blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who [willingly] gave Himself [to be crucified] on our behalf to redeem us and purchase our freedom from all wickedness, and to purify for Himself a chosen and very special people to be His own possession, who are enthusiastic for doing what is good. (Titus 2:11-14)
  • But [we are different because] our citizenship is in heaven. And from there we eagerly await [the coming of] the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who, by exerting that power which enables Him even to subject everything to Himself, will [not only] transform [but completely refashion] our earthly bodies so that they will be like His glorious, resurrected body. (Philippians 3:20-21).

In 1 Thessalonians 4:16 we read that:

For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel and with the [blast of the] trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

  • The Lord Himself Will Descend from Heaven
  • There Will Be A Shout or A Loud Command from Jesus With the Voice of An Archangel
  • The Trumpet of God Shall Sound
  • Those Who Have Died in Christ Will Be Raised First

Don Stewart shares in his free bookThe Rapture, An Introduction To The Blessed Hope Of The Church” that the dead in Christ “are presently in the presence of the Lord as perfect or perfected spirits. Yet they have not received their glorified body. At this future time, their perfect spirits will be joined with a perfect body. While they may have a temporary body they still await their future body. This will occur at the time of the rapture of the church. These dead “in Christ” will be raised in incorruptible, immortal bodies.”

Now I say this, believers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit nor be part of the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable (mortal) inherit the imperishable (immortal). 51 Listen very carefully, I tell you a mystery [a secret truth decreed by God and previously hidden, but now revealed]; we will not all sleep [in death], but we will all be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed], 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at [the sound of] the last trumpet call. For a trumpet will sound, and the dead [who believed in Christ] will be raised imperishable, and we will be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed]. (1 Corinthians 15:50-52).

Then the Believers Who are Alive Will Be Caught Up to Meet The Lord in the Air

Then we who are alive and remain [on the earth] will simultaneously be caught up (raptured) together with them [the resurrected ones] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord! (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

While according to Hebrews 9:27, And just as it is appointed and destined for all men to die once and after this [comes certain] judgment. Per the promise of 1 Thessalonians 4:17 there will be a generation of believers in Jesus Christ will never see physical death. Not only will these living believers be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, they too, like the resurrected saints, shall receive new bodies.

This Will All Happen in a Blink of an Eye

in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at [the sound of] the last trumpet call. For a trumpet will sound, and the dead [who believed in Christ] will be raised imperishable, and we will be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed]. 53 For this perishable [part of us] must put on the imperishable [nature], and this mortal [part of us that is capable of dying] must put on immortality [which is freedom from death]. 54 And when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the Scripture will be fulfilled that says, “Death is swallowed up in victory (vanquished forever). (1 Corinthians 15:52-54)

This transformation will happen instantly. Every living believer in Jesus Christ will suddenly be gone. Those who have not believed will be left behind.

Believers Will Forever Be with The Lord

The result of the rapture of living believers, and the resurrection of those who have died in Christ, is that all of us will forever be with the Lord. Loved ones will reunited. Death will no longer be a barrier because Jesus, as He promised, has come for those who have believed in Him. The church, which is called the bride and body of Christ, is now complete. Believers will spend eternity with the Lord. This is the great truth of the rapture. Wherever He is, we will be!

Then we who are alive and remain [on the earth] will simultaneously be caught up (raptured) together with them [the resurrected ones] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord! (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

These Truths Should Be A Comfort for Believers

Do not let your heart be troubled (afraid, cowardly). Believe [confidently] in God and trust in Him, [have faith, hold on to it, rely on it, keep going and] believe also in Me.” (John14:1).

Therefore comfort and encourage one another with these words [concerning our reunion with believers who have died]. (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

Examples of Catching Away in the Bible

  • And [in reverent fear and obedience] Enoch walked with God; and he was not [found among men], because God took him [away to be home with Him]. (Genesis 5:24).
  • By faith [that pleased God] Enoch was caught up and taken to heaven so that he would not have a glimpse of death, and he was not found because God had taken him; for even before he was taken [to heaven], he received the testimony [still on record] that he had walked with God and pleased Him. (Hebrews 11:5).

Like Enoch, the prophet Elijah did not experience death.

As they continued along and talked, behold, a chariot of fire with horses of fire [appeared suddenly and] separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. (2 Kings 2:11).

At some unknown time in the future, there will be millions of Christians who will have the same experience.

The Differences Between the Rapture and the Second Coming

the Rapture the Second Coming
Saints from the earth to the Father’s house in heaven – 1Thessalonians 4:16-17Saints will come from heaven to earth with Christ – Zechariah 14:5
Jesus meets His followers in the air – 1Thessalonians 4:16-17Jesus descends to the Mount of Olives as a prelude to His earthly reign – Zechariah 14.2-4
Believers are removed before the time of judgment preceding the Second ComingUnbelievers are removed from the earth by God as an act of judgment
The Rapture is a blessed hope, a happy expectation, which could take place at any time before the Tribulation. – 1 Thessalonians 5:9The hope of survival is realized only by a few as the majority of the earth’s population will have perished in one disaster or another during the Great Tribulation. -Revelation 17:18
There are no predicted events that precede the Rapture.There are many important world-shaking prophecies that must be fulfilled.
After the Rapture Satan will be allowed even greater activity. – 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10; Revelation 12:12Satan will be bound for a thousand years – Revelation 20:1-3
Relates to the church, both living and dead.Relates primarily to Israel and the unbelieving Gentiles.
Believers are given glorified bodies – 1 Corinthians 15:51-53Believers that survive the Tribulation will keep their natural bodies into the millennium – Isiah 6:22-25
Christ, Himself takes believers out of the worldChrist sends his angels to gather the wicked for judgment – Matthew 13:41 and 49
Believers are taken while Unbelievers left behind – 1 Thessalonians 4.17Unbelievers are taken out as Believers go into the millennium – Matthew 13:49-50
The blessed hope is looking for Christ – Titus 2:13The unbelievers hope is looking to the Antichrist
The Church Is Not Subject To God’s WrathUnbelievers are the subjects of God’s wrath
No Warnings To Prepare Believers
For The Great Tribulation
Many warnings are given to those who reject God
Table Contrasting The Differences Between the Rapture and the Second Coming

No Warnings Given to Prepare Believers for the 7-Year Tribulation Period

However, Believers are Warned About False Prophets

  • I know that after I am gone, [false teachers like] ferocious wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; (Acts 20:29).
  • But [in those days] false prophets arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will subtly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction on themselves. (2 Peter 2:1).

Christians are Warned About Ungodly Living

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1).

Christians Are Warned About Present Trials And Tribulations

  • Therefore, we speak of you with pride among the churches of God for your steadfastness [your unflinching endurance, and patience] and your firm faith in the midst of all the persecution and [crushing] distress which you endure. (2 Thessalonians 1:4).
  • And we also thank God continually for this, that when you received the word of God [concerning salvation] which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of [mere] men, but as it truly is, the word of God, which is effectually at work in you who believe [exercising its inherent, supernatural power in those of faith]. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, because you too suffered the same [kind of] persecution from your own countrymen, as they did from the Jews, (1 Thessalonians 2:13-14).

The Church Is Promised To Be Removed From The Earth During The Hour Of Trial

Because you have kept the word of My endurance [My command to persevere], I will keep you [safe] from the hour of trial, that hour which is about to come on the whole [inhabited] world, to test those who live on the earth. (Revelation 3:10).

Why No Warnings About The Great Tribulation?

Yet with all of these warnings in Scripture, we find no specific warnings about how to deal with the coming Great Tribulation. There is total silence from the Bible on this issue. The simple answer as to why there are no warnings for the church about how to survive during this dreadful period is because the church is not going to be around during this time. The Lord will remove them from the world.

The Man Of Sin Is Being Held Back

The Apostle Paul then states that this coming “man of sin” is being “held back,” or restrained, until something or someone is removed from the world.

For the mystery of lawlessness [rebellion against divine authority and the coming reign of lawlessness] is already at work; [but it is restrained] only until he who now restrains it is taken out of the way. Then the lawless one [the Antichrist] will be revealed and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of His mouth and bring him to an end by the appearance of His coming. (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8).

In fact, this final Antichrist cannot be revealed until the restrainer has been taken out of the way. Who or what is restraining Antichrist? The best answer as to the identity of the restrainer is the indwelling Holy Spirit at work through the lives of Christians. Only God Himself has the power to rapture the church, then the final Antichrist can be revealed.

Therefore, Believers Will Be Delivered From The Wrath

Furthermore, after Paul writes about this judgment of the future man of sin, as well as the judgment of his followers.

Because of this God will send upon them a misleading influence, [an activity of error and deception] so they will believe the lie, 12 in order that all may be judged and condemned who did not believe the truth [about their sin, and the need for salvation through Christ], but instead took pleasure in unrighteousness. (2Thessalonians 2:11-12).

Then he gives thanks to God for His “salvation” or “deliverance.”

But we should and are [morally] obligated [as debtors] always to give thanks to God for you, believers beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through the sanctifying work of the Spirit [that sets you apart for God’s purpose] and by your faith in the truth [of God’s word that leads you to spiritual maturity]. (2Thessalonians 2:13).

Must Anything Take Place Before The Rapture Occurs?

The Bible teaches that the rapture of the church will occur at some time in the future. Christians are divided on this issue of whether there are any signs we are to look for before this event occurs.

Those like me who hold to a pre-tribulation rapture, believe that there are no signs we need to look for before the rapture happens. Thus, it could occur at any time. The blessed hope is that believers could be caught up at “any moment” to meet the Lord. This is what the Scriptures teach with respect to the rapture. Consequently, Christians always need to be ready to meet their Lord! However, all other views look for many signs.

  • Mid-Tribulationism: 3 1/2 Years Of Signs
  • Pre-Wrath Rapture: 51/2 Years Of Signs
  • Post-Tribulationism: 7 Years Of Signs

Can We Know the Exact Date and Time of the Rapture?

Few things cause more sadness than failed expectations. Over time, many believers have been discouraged by failed predictions of Jesus’ coming. No one can know per the Scriptures. However, many have thought that knew the exact date. Likewise, others predicted time periods.

Those who have claimed to know the date and time of Christ’s coming in the past, whether from some special revelation they have claimed to receive or from some calculations they have made from Scripture because of increase of prophetic knowledge, have all been wrong in their claims.

A Few of the Many Who Have Tried

  • Herbert W. Armstrong
    • The founder of the Worldwide Church of God told members of his church that the rapture was to take place in 1936 and that only they would be saved. After the prophecy failed, he changed the date three more times (1943, 1972, and 1975).
  • William M. Branham
    • predicted the rapture would occur no later than 1977
  • Harold Camping predicted Christ would return on:
    • 9/6/1994; 9/29/1994; 10/2/1994
    • 3/31/1995
    • Then May 21 2011 the rapture and devastating earthquakes would occur, with God taking approximately 3% of the world’s population into Heaven, and that the end of the world would occur five months later on October 21. Camping revised his prediction and said that on 5/212011, a “Spiritual Judgment” took place and that both the physical rapture and the end of the world would occur on 10/21/2011.
  • Jeane Dixon
    • predicted the world would end on 2/4/1962
    • then predicted that Armageddon would take place in 2020
  • Jonathan Edwards
    • predicted that Christ’s thousand-year reign would begin in 2000
  • David Meade
    • predicted the rapture would take place and that the world would end on 4/23/2018
  • William Miller
    • began preaching in 1831 that the end of the world as we know it would occur with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in 1843.
    • When the 1843 prediction failed to materialize Miller recalculated and determined that the world would actually end in 1844.
  • Chuck Smith
    • The founder of Calvary Chapel predicted the generation of 1948 would be the last generation, and that the world would end by 1981
      • Years later, Smith stated that setting dates were wrong and he “came close” to doing that. He attributed his error to a hobby of trying to correlate current events to biblical prophecies. 
  • Rollen Stewart
    • predicted the rapture would take place on 9/28/92
  • Edgar C. Whisenant sold 4.5 million copies of his book 88 Reasons Why the Lord Is Going to Come by 1988.
    • He stated that the rapture of the Christian Church would occur between 9/11 and 9/13, 1988.
    • When his September predictions failed to come true, Whisenant revised his prediction date to 10/3/88.
    • After his 1988 predictions failed to come true, he revised his prediction date to 9/30/1989

Let’s Not Speculate

  • Jesus Said We Cannot Know
    • “So be alert [give strict attention, be cautious and active in faith], for you do not know which day [whether near or far] your Lord is coming. (Matthew 24:42)
    • Therefore, you [who follow Me] must also be ready; because the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him. (Matthew 24:44).
    • Therefore, be on the alert [be prepared and ready], for you do not know the day nor the hour [when the Son of Man will come]. (Matthew 25:13)
    • So when they had come together, they asked Him repeatedly, “Lord, are You at this time reestablishing the kingdom and restoring it to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority. (Acts 1:6-7)
  • Paul Said We Cannot Know
    • Now as to the times and dates, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know perfectly well that the day of the [return of the] Lord is coming just as a thief [comes unexpectedly and suddenly] in the night.  (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2).
  • Jesus Himself Did Not Know The Answer To This Question While Here On Earth
    • But of that [exact] day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son [in His humanity], but the Father alone. (Matthew 24:35-36)

However, We Can Know the Season of His Return

By reading the rest of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, you’ll see Paul said those of us who live in the light will not be surprised. 

But you, believers, [all you who believe in Christ as Savior and acknowledge Him as God’s Son] are not in spiritual darkness [nor held by its power], that the day [of judgment] would overtake you [by surprise] like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We do not belong to the night nor to darkness.

So then let us not sleep [in spiritual indifference] as the rest [of the world does], but let us keep wide awake [alert and cautious] and let us be sober [self-controlled, calm, and wise]. (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6)

While we can’t know the day or the hour of His return, we can know the general season. The Bible tells us what signs to look for. And Jesus Himself said when you see all these signs come together, you know His return is near (Luke 21:28). 

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Be encouraged! Until we meet again, I am, Passionately Loving Jesus, The Anchor of my soul!

Resources and Links for Further Research

  • Don StewartThe Rapture – Download this book and many others at Educating the World
    • an internationally recognized Christian apologist and speaker.
    • best-selling and award-winning author/co-author of over seventy books.
    • His various writings have been translated into over thirty different languages and have sold over a million copies.

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