The removal of the church from this earth will be an awesome physical display of God’s sovereign power and grace. It will be expressly and exclusively the work of God. It will be the end of our salvation, the finalizing of the believer’s redemption, and our entrance into the very glory of God. Jesus Christ will descend from heaven to gather up His brethren in order to bring the many sons to glory. God’s power in life will swallow up mortality. God’s power in resurrection will raise the dead in Christ. It will be the beginnings of the realization of all our Biblical hopes and promises.
This future event was prefigured in the raising and exalting of Jesus Christ from the dead and to the right hand of God. The same power that will be used on behalf of the church has already been demonstrated and displayed.
(17) “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, (18) the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, (19) and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power (20) which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places”
Paul’s desire in this prayer is for believers to receive an understanding and knowledge of the Father of glory. He is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ – a statement that in some ways may seem strange, but its understanding brings enlightenment and blessing. When Jesus was raised from the grave He said this, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.” The word ‘God,’ used here, establishes that Jesus Christ bore the title of the Son of Man, and by His obedience to death fully glorified God (John 13:31-32). God in turn would glorify the Son of Man. However, the use of the name ‘Father’ establishes the truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
The Son of God was sent by the Father
The Son of God revealed the Father. The Son’s obedience was such that He only spoke the words the Father gave Him to speak (John 12:49-50), He only did the works He saw His Father doing (John 5:20, 36, 10:32, 37-38). The Son willingly chose to be a servant to the Father’s will, and never considered doing His own (John 5:30, 6:38). If you saw the Son, you had seen the Father (John 12:45, 14:7-11). He would say, “I and my Father are one…” and, “…I am in the Father, and the Father in Me.” The Son came into this world, taking on human flesh, and walked with the Father in Him, therefore perfectly revealing the Father.
In this revelation of the Father by the Son our eyes and understanding behold a beautiful relationship that goes beyond the words spoken and the works done. It is that which exists between the Father and the Son and the Son with the Father. When the Son came, He revealed the name of God as that of ‘Father’ – at least one of the distinct persons of the Godhead. And always in our view is the intimate relationship between the Father and the Son.
When Philip asked, “Lord, show us the Father,” He answered by saying, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me…how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” You have to sense the disappointment in His words. They all had failed to realize the relationship between the Son and the Father. He told them that from now on you know the Father and have seen Him. But this they had failed to see and comprehend – the intimate relationship between Father and Son, and how He perfectly showed this and revealed it. With their failure to have eyes to see in faith and in His disappointment, He falls back on the proof of the words and works (John 14:10-11). He finally says, “…or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.”
No doubt the Lord was disappointed by their lack of spiritual perception and faith. However He knew the time was soon coming when they would fully understand this relationship, and the revelation of the Father.
The Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Truth
“These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; but the time is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but I will tell you plainly about the Father.”
In all this discourse He has during His last night with His disciples, when He uses a phrase like ‘the time is coming’ He is referring to when the Holy Spirit would be sent down, after He departed from them and was glorified (John 7:38-39). The Holy Spirit dwelling in them from the day of Pentecost, being the Spirit of truth, would lead and guide them into all the truth about the Father. It would include a full understanding of the relationship of the Son and the many sons with the Father. This is where Jesus was taking them in their understanding, but where they fell short not having the Spirit as yet. However, because you are sons and for the purpose of the knowledge of this relationship, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba Father!”
In Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1 the knowledge of the Father is what is sought by wisdom and revelation of the Holy Spirit. He points to the hope of God’s calling upon the believer and the richness of the inheritance that the Father will give the many sons with Christ. The believer is an heir of the Father and a co-heir with the Son of God – “Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” (Gal. 4:7) It is the Father who gives the inheritance to the sons. God’s calling of the believer is heavenly (Heb. 3:1). Peter tells us the inheritance for the saints is laid up in heaven. It is in the heavenly places where the Father blesses us with every spiritual blessing, which will be the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards the church throughout the ages to come (Eph. 1:3, 2:7).
The church, the body of Christ, is presently seated in heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 2:6). It was Jesus as the Head with the body that was exalted above all principality and power (Eph. 1:21-23). It is a position the body holds mostly in title now, in this present age. Professing Christianity on the earth, through the passing of time and by its multiplied failures in responsibility, has lost what blessing and privilege this positioning once gave. Much could be said and written on this particular subject, so much that it would fill a book. But I will give you one thought to consider here. It seems conclusive to me that in the testimony of Scripture concerning Christendom on earth, that God does not presently recognize and acknowledge it as a corporate entity. [Please read the chapter footnote #9 explaining this thought.]
What man builds on the earth with wood, hay, and stubble will not, in any way, affect the sovereign work of God. Jesus said, “…I will build My church…” This He does as His own work. And further, “…the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”This is the work of God alone, which cannot and will not fail.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ prefigures the Rapture
In His own timing, when the ‘fullness of the Gentiles’ comes in (Rom. 11:25) He will remove the body of Christ from this earth and world. This also will be the sovereign work of God, a work made without hands. It will be one of the greatest displays of God’s sovereign power and grace.
Ephesians 1:19-20 (Amplified Bible)
“And so that you can know and understand what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength,
Which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places,”
God raising Christ from the dead was a demonstration, a display, and in many ways a prefiguring of the event that will be the physical display of the exceeding greatness of His power towards us who believe. This event is yet to come; Christ raised up from among the dead is an accomplished fact. The scriptures speak, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” This is a prefiguring. Again, “…the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus…” is a prefiguring. When the NKJV uses the phrase ‘according to the working of His mighty power’ it is the sense of a demonstration that prefigures a future event. The entire passage is presented with the emphasis on what God does ‘toward us who believe.’
The exceeding greatness of His Power
And what are the full results?
(19) “and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power (20) which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, (21) far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
(22) And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, (21) which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
The body of Christ will be raised as Christ was raised, by the same awesome power of God. The whole church will be changed, having glorified bodies like His. It will be, in a great sense, the church’s physical union to the Head in the heavens after its departure from the earth. Christ is exalted far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and His body is not separated from Him in this. All things will be realized as put under the feet of His body, the church being the fullness of Christ, who fills all in all. The Father will give the inheritance to His many sons, and we will enjoy it throughout the ages to come with Christ and as His brethren.
Here is a review of how the main passages of this doctrine are connected and support each other.
- In I Corinthians 15 – Christ is now raised from the dead, and so we must be raised and/or glorified in body just as He is.
- I Thessalonians 4 – we will be caught up, the Lord personally coming for us, forever to be with Him in the glorified state.
- John 14 – He comes back for us to take us where He was, into the presence of the Father in the heavens.
- Ephesians 1:17-23 – the exceeding great power of God will raise up and glorify the church, His body, to His right hand in glory, far above all things created.
This doctrine teaches, from a sound scriptural basis and by sound Biblical principles, the rapture of the church. In this age, it is and always will be the blessed hope of the church.
Chapter 3: Endnotes
 During the Lord’s last discourse with the disciples before His departure, He spoke of both the Father and Himself sending the Holy Spirit. This sending of the Spirit by the Father concerns the relationship of sonship being established. When one is drawn to faith in Christ and believes in His shed blood, he receives eternal life. Having believed, he will then be sealed by the seal of the Spirit from the Father (Eph. 1:13). As given by the Father it is the Spirit of sonship, the Spirit of His Son sent forth into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” According to His purpose and in this character, the believer learns the intimate dealings, blessings, and affections of his now established relationship with the Father, as well as the inheritance He gives to His sons. This is why God is not Father to the world, nor is He to the Jews (John 8:42, 54-55), because the Spirit as sent by the Father, the world simply cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him (John 14:16-17).
 The history of the failure of Christendom when responsibility was placed in man’s hands is well documented, even as seen and predicted in scripture. Paul was given the responsibility for laying the foundation for the building of the church on the earth, “According to the grace of God given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation…” (I Cor. 3:10-11) Please note; it was not Peter, James, or John that were given this stewardship. The apostle Paul was the chosen vessel by God specifically given this dispensation concerning the mystery, the church on earth (Eph. 3:1-9). It was his stewardship to reveal the mystery, teach the doctrine of the church, and lay its foundation responsibly.
But others build on the foundation; ministers placed in responsibility in the church world. The exhortation is, “But let each one take heed how he builds on it.” What has been the history – that is, the building on the earth by man in responsibility? In Paul’s time the mystery of lawlessness was already at work in the church (II Thess. 2:7). But most telling are his final words to the Ephesian elders before departing for Jerusalem – words that directly reference the failure of responsibility in the administration and government in the church after Paul’s death.
“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.”
The infiltration of evil and corruption was already present in the early apostolic church. Its history would be its growth and ripening until eventually all God’s restraint on it is lifted. Before the end there will come forth one final great apostasy in the church world (II Thess. 2:3). There is more testimony from scripture that could be given on this history, but this should suffice to impress the point.
Jehovah once dwelt in the midst of Israel, behind the veil in the tabernacle and in Solomon’s temple. However, the glory could never be found in Nehemiah’s rebuilt temple. Why? Solomon failed in responsibility as the son of David, the kingdom was divided, and idolatry and apostasy ran rampant. God could no longer tolerate Israel’s sin and His presence and glory left the earth. The Jewish people were no longer recognized or acknowledged by Jehovah. They were not His people, and He was not their God (Hosea 1:9). This is a lesson well worth understanding, for no doubt it has been repeated in Christendom.