Can We Still Believe in the Rapture?
The Rapture Changes Everything
“The Lord himself will come down from heaven … 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.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
One of the most exciting and compelling prophetic events described in the Bible is the rapture of the church. It will occur instantaneously and without warning. Suddenly, millions of people will be missing—caught up to heaven to meet the Savior in the air. While this prophetic promise is of great comfort and assurance to believers, it will have a shocking impact on those who are left behind. At the moment of the rapture, the bodies of all believers who have died with faith in Christ since the day of Pentecost will suddenly be transformed into new, living, immortal, resurrected bodies. Even those whose bodies have long since decayed or whose ashes have been scattered across the oceans will receive a new body. This new body will be joined together with the person’s spirit, which Jesus brings with Him from heaven. Then the bodies of those who are alive on earth and have accepted Christ as their Savior will also be instantly translated into new, immortal bodies.
Notice the similarity between the descriptions of the Rapture in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 and 2 Thessalonians 4:15-18. When Christ comes to take His church (all believers) to heaven in fulfillment of His promise in John 14:1-3, He will include all New Testament believers, both the living and the dead. Together, all believers will be instantly transported into heaven to meet their loved ones “in the clouds” and then to meet the Lord in the air. Those who have rejected the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ and remain on earth will witness a miraculous event of astonishing proportions—the sudden mass disappearance of millions upon millions of Christians from the face of the earth.
Scripture calls the Rapture “the blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) because this event provides comfort not only to those believers who are concerned about the coming tribulations of the last days, but also to those who long to be reunited with their departed loved ones who shared faith in Christ.
The Second Coming, which encompasses both the Rapture and the glorious appearing, is one of the most significant events mentioned in the entire Bible. The New Testament alone has 321 references to this awesome event, making it the second-most prominent doctrine presented in Scripture after the doctrine of salvation. The concept of the Second Coming is clearly taught in both the Old and New Testaments. It is also affirmed in the doctrinal statement of every major Christian denomination.
On average, the New Testament mentions the Second Coming in one out of every 30 verses, and it is mentioned in every chapter of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, the first books written for the early church. Moreover, all nine New Testament authors mention the Second Coming, and 23 of the 27 New Testament books reference it.
While various views exist as to when the Rapture will occur (before, during, or after the Tribulation), all must acknowledge that there will be a rapture. The only real question is, when will it occur? The chief characteristic of the Rapture is that it will be sudden and will catch people by surprise.
“Of that day and hour no one knows” (Matthew 24:36), which is why we should live so as to “be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44). Indeed, throughout the ages, the Rapture has appeared imminent to Christians of every generation. And one day He will! The trumpet will sound, the archangel will shout, and we will all go home to be with Jesus.
God intended His church to be motivated to holy living, fervent evangelism, and missionary concern by the study of the second coming of Christ. If Jesus is indeed coming again, then we who are Christians need to let the world know it!
The King is Coming