The word ‘rapture’ isn’t found in the Scriptures. Rather, it is a word that is commonly used in naming a certain event that is found in the Scriptures. This is done for convenience so that we do not have to recite large passages for others to know what we are talking about. In this sense the word is ‘made up’ by man, but it doesn’t mean the event itself is ‘made up’ by man. The naysayers will tell you this is a fictitious doctrine created through the over exuberance of the human mind. But a detailed description of this event is easily found in scripture by any believer.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will 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 thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

The Rapture includes the entire Body of Christ

It would be my hope that every true believer would be very hesitant to deny that this event will happen at some future point in time exactly as these words describe. Otherwise, if we do not believe these words we should throw our bibles away. But what is done in unbelief in many cases and teaching is to add some additional thoughts at the end of verse 17 above. We meet the Lord in the air but what is added is a U-turn performed in the clouds and a return of everyone back to the earth. This ultimately is to keep everything earthly and on earth, and denies the existence of the heavenly calling of the church. This simply violates so many principles found in the Word of God concerning His counsels and ways that I hardly know where to begin in rebuttal.

The details of this passage show that this event exclusively includes the entire body of Christ, the entire church (Eph. 1:22-23). The physical bodies of all those who sleep in Christ remain in the grave. Those in Christ who are alive and remain so, are identified in the passage as on the earth as well. The physical body of the believer is his final connection to this earth, regardless of whether he is asleep or alive in Christ. This body remains on the earth through the entire time appointed by God for the church on the earth – from Pentecost and its inception to the rapture and its departing. This connection is not simply with the earth but also with the first Adam. Sin in the flesh is what Adam has given to the entire human race (Rom. 5:12, 7:25, and 8:3). When sin is removed from the believer’s flesh, our final connection with Adam is severed, and our bodies will be glorified.

This World is defilement for the Glorified Body

The believer’s body, having been glorified in this event, will not be suitable to stay and remain living on the earth in this world. We saw the Lord make this implication concerning Himself in His words to the disciples before His departure from them (John 17:4-17). Being a glorified Man, this world would be defilement for Jesus after His resurrection. In the exact same way and with the same spiritual reasoning, when the church is resurrected and glorified, it will be removed from this world as well.

There is no U-turn. The above passage compares quite favorably with the promise the Lord made to the disciples. In John 14 Jesus tells them, “…I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” He promises to come personally, He receives them to Himself personally, and He definitively takes them from the earth to where He was previously. This is into the Father’s presence in heaven – that is where He was and that is where He is presently. In the passage that follows, the Spirit says, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven…”   This is the Lord personally returning for His Bride.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will 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 thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

There is no U-turn to be added. When we are caught up together into the clouds it is to be personally with Jesus in the glorified state, and to continue to go on into the presence of His Father and our Father, His God and our God (John 20:17).[5]

The Second Adam is a Life-Giving Spirit

There is another chapter in the epistles that also gives great detail concerning the rapture of the church. It is in I Corinthians 15 where we find teaching about Jesus Christ as the last Adam, the second Man (vs. 45-47). The first man Adam became a living being, but in him all die since by man came sin and death (vs. 21-22). The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. This life-giving power we experience in two distinct ways in our salvation.

§  We receive eternal life by the quickening power of the Son of God (John 5:21, 26, 17:1-3) while still on the earth. Life is from the Son, as the Son of Man and through His death (John 6:53). This is a sovereign work of the Father or the Son (John 5:21, 26).

§  The life-giving power of the second Adam will be demonstrated in the future event known as the ‘rapture’ when this life the believer possesses swallows up mortality in the glorified body (II Cor. 5:1-4). This will be the sovereign work of God, another demonstration of the sovereign grace and the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe (Eph. 1:18-20).

I Corinthians 15 describes the gospel of the Son of Man glorified that Paul preached (vs. 1-8). However, it mainly deals with the intimate connection between the Lord’s resurrection and the resurrection of His body, the church (vs. 12-23) and the means by which this will happen (vs. 35-57).

1 Corinthians 15:12-23

“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? (13) But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. (14) And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. (15) Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. (16) For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. (17) And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! (18) Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. (19) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

(20) But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (21) For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. (22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. (23) But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.”

Christ is the Firstfruits in Resurrection, the Believer will follow

This passage establishes a direct relationship between Christ having been raised from the dead and the future raising up of all believers in Christ. The future event is made dependent on the fact that Christ is already raised.   He has become the firstfruits of all those who are His. Now doesn’t this make sense? If Christ was raised from the dead and now is in a glorified body, it stands to reason that all those in Christ will be brought to glory in exactly the same way. It is not simply a reasonable assumption, but a dependent truth – because Christ was raised, we must be raised as well. There are two scriptural labels for Christ that reveal this truth.

1)      Firstfruits – Christ is the firstfruits in resurrection and the glorification of the body. When He was raised from the dead, His 40 days and numerous appearances showed the disciples what a glorified Man would be like. He is the firstfruits – the word itself has the sense of prefiguring. (I Cor. 15:20, 23)

2)      Forerunner – Christ, as the forerunner, has entered into the Presence behind the veil (Heb. 6:19-20). He is now there and our sure and steadfast hope enters there where He is. The words of Hebrews 6 are specific – He is the forerunner for us (the believer). This word also has the sense of prefiguring.

It should be the obvious conclusion, from these readings and the two labels, that Christ did none of this for Himself. His reasoning and motivation was all on our behalf.[6] He truly did not benefit from all this work, but it was all for us. It was so He could bring many sons to glory (Heb. 2:10). The believer is the beneficiary.

Christ’s Redemptive Work was all for the Believer

If Christ is not raised, our faith is futile and worthless. If He is not risen, we have no confidence that our sins have been dealt with by God. If Christ has not been raised, then those who have fallen asleep have perished (I Cor. 15:17-18).

Romans 4:24-25

“…but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”

He did all this for the believer. We are imputed righteous through our faith in the God who raised Christ up from among the dead. We have become the righteousness of God because Jesus Christ was made to be sin for us (II Cor. 5:21). He, who had no sin of His own, bore the sins of many (Heb. 9:28). He was delivered up for the believer’s sins and iniquities, but resurrected on account of our justification. Through His death the Son of Man has accomplished a wonderful work in redemption on our behalf. It is the foundational work by which God, in all His plans and counsels, shows exceeding riches of grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:7).

Immortality and Incorruptibility

1 Corinthians 15:47-56

(47) “The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. (48) As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. (49) And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”

(50) “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. (51) Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— (52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (54) So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

(55) “O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”

(56) The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.”

This is the other promised passage that gives much detail concerning the rapture. For the church it is immortality and incorruptibility through the removal of sin from the flesh. With this there is the total defeat of death and the power of death against us (Rom. 5:12). We know that Satan has been defeated already, that the prince of the world had been cast out by the work of the cross (John 12:31). The Son of Man went down under death so that He might destroy him who had the power of death, the devil. This has already been accomplished (Heb. 2:14). However, we see in this passage that the rapture of the church is the bringing out, by the sovereign power of God, the final details of our redemption – the glorification of our bodies.[7] Sin will have been removed and death will no longer be able to touch any of those in Christ.

In this passage we also see the heavenly connection with the second Man from heaven (v.47). Believers are those with a heavenly calling and citizenship, who are heavenly, and will bear the image of the heavenly Man (vs. 48-49). In the above account of this blessed event we have the same final trumpet call that is found in I Thess. 4:16, as well as the dead in Christ resurrected and the remaining being changed (vs. 51-53). All these verses describe the same details of the rapture that we found before. It is the blessed hope of the church.

                                                  

                                                   Chapter 2: Endnotes



[5] In the Christian world there are many who, for various reasons, do not believe in the doctrine of the rapture of the church. In this chapter I deal with the human thought that we must add to the detailed description of this event a U-turn and a remaining on the earth of all involved. It is not that this group would argue with the biblical description of the event as it is found in the scriptures, but simply they add to it in order to keep us on the earth and effectively deny the believer’s heavenly calling. Other groups of naysayers argue with the timing of the rapture. This I address in later chapters.

[6] Those who are taught of scripture will realize that the Son of Man coming from heaven was intensely motivated to be obedient to do God’s will, which is specifically defined as His death (please read Heb. 10:1-14). In this passage, God’s will was the need for a sacrifice that would be pleasing to Him. A pleasing sacrifice is one that would satisfy all God’s holy and righteous claims justly held by God against man, because of the presence of sin in the flesh and the committing of sins. This sacrifice, which obviously implies the death of the victim, would glorify God – a propitiation to perfectly satisfy these claims. This sacrifice being perfect would be a one-time and eternal sacrifice. But obviously in His coming, a body prepared for Him, His motivation was “to do Your will, O God.” In the text of the chapter I was emphasizing those who benefited from this work of redemption – the believer/church. Obviously the Lord was motivated, not only to glorify God, but to eventually see the fruit of His travail/labors, the many sons to be brought to glory.

[7] This is a principle found in different situations throughout the Word of God. It is seen in having a spiritual truth in title and possession, yet in God’s timing having to wait for its complete and full reality, often in a physical way. A great example of this principle is seen in I John 3:2. Here John says, “…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…” It is now we are, but later we shall be. We have eternal life now and are fully children of God. Later on, in all believers, this same life will swallow up both corruptibility and mortality, depending on which state you are found in at the time of the rapture.

This same principle can be found in many of the judgments of God. A great example of this is found in John 12:31 – the judgment of both the world and Satan. Presently it is an accomplished fact and truth in the cross. The devil, holding the power of death, has been destroyed by the death and cross of Christ (Heb. 2:14). His defeat and destruction is held in title presently and we, as believers, should say he is a defeated devil that we simply resist in faith. But his physical judgment will be in the future like this:

1.)    He will be thrown out of the heavens and down to the earth with three and a half years remaining (Rev. 12:7-12). On the earth he has great wrath for his time is short.

2.)    After the defeat of the Roman beast, the Antichrist, and all the armies of man at Christ’s physical return to this earth, Satan will be bound in a bottomless pit for 1000 years (Rev. 20:1-3).

3.)    After the 1000 years he will be released for one final temptation of man on earth. This rebellion is destroyed and the devil is cast into the lake of fire, tormented forever and ever (Rev. 20:7-10).

The same principle is found in the judgment of the world. Its judgment was declared and accomplished with the lifting up of the Son of Man from the earth on the cross. Jesus said at that time, “Now is the judgment of this world.” Its physical judgment will be accomplished later, when Christ physically returns to this earth and during His kingdom (II Tim. 4:1). The judgment of the living is by the Son of Man at His appearing. The judgment of the dead is at the end of the earthly kingdom of the Son of Man, at the end of the 1000 year millennium (Rev. 20:11-15). But for the believer in faith, our relationship with the world is over, and we are not of the world (Col. 2:20, Gal. 6:14) – this is a separate biblical principle and truth. However, when you bring these two principles together, you get another biblical truth that many people have a hard time seeing.

·         The world is judged and condemned in the time of Christ and His cross. The book of Revelation, from chapter four and beyond, depicts the physical judgment of the wicked world and all that is part of it.

·         When the Son of Man was lifted up from the earth, Jesus said that we are not of the world as He is not of the world (John 15:19, 17:14).

When these two principles are combined should be easy to see. Why would God leave us on the earth during His judgment of this world, if in fact we are not of the world in the same manner that Jesus is not of the world?