What is the Rapture?
On the April 16th edition of the radio program Prophecy Update, I was interviewed by Bill Salus, author of the popular Psalm 83-themed book Isralestine and evangelist on the end times website Prophecy Depot. Bill and I spent much of the interview discussing how social media has made a huge shift in how we do online evangelism. We also touched on how we’re teaching the Rapture to today’s Internet savvy generation.
Bible Prophecy Insight 3 — “The Rapture”
The Bible tells us that Jesus will return one day soon to catch up — to Rapture — those who have accepted Him as Savior. Two people will be walking along and then — in the time it takes to snap your fingers — one will be left standing. In the blink of an eye, millions will be… gone. We will be taken off this earth to meet Jesus up in the clouds to live with the Lord forever. Those left behind will face the worst period in history — the Tribulation.
Have you given your life to Jesus today? Will you be part of the Rapture?
Rapture Beyond Belief
Bill Salus: The third Bible Prophecy Insights Web video you produced was on the Rapture.
First Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 and other verses tell us that Jesus is going to return as fast as in the twinkling of an eye and He’s going to whisk believers in Christ away, catching us up into the clouds to live in Heaven with Him forever.
The dead in Christ will rise first in this resurrection. They are those who died believing in Jesus but as the Bible says, “have fallen asleep presently.” There will be a generation that will not die but live to be caught up in the clouds to dwell with Jesus forever. We will be reunited and escape the terrible wrath of God that will come upon the world.
Now, if I wasn’t a believer and someone came to me and told me that Jesus is going to come at any moment and take all the Christians out of here — poof! — up to the clouds, well that sounds like an episode out of the Twilight Zone. It does sound crazy, and yet, so does Jesus rising from the grave and ascending to Heaven. Nevertheless, God has the ability to do those things and says He will again, unbelievable to the human mind or not.
If we wish to be part of the Rapture, Romans 10:9-10 assures us that we can be saved from our sins and the coming judgment if we confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead. His is the power that takes away the sting of death.
Nathan, I understand proclaiming the Rapture is one of Lamb & Lion’s most passionate parts of your evangelism efforts. That passion even motivated you to make that excellent Insights video.
So, tell us, can the Rapture be believed, and if so, how soon do you think it will be until it happens?
Nathan Jones: Bill, not only non-Christians, but even a lot of Christians just don’t believe in the Rapture. It sound too weird to them, too supernatural. Sure, they can read the Bible and read that Jesus did this miracle and that miracle, but an actual miracle happening in our lifetime, well that’s beyond our experience and so write it off as if it couldn’t possibly happen. People blow off the Rapture or claim the word can’t be found in the Bible.
As unbelievable as the Rapture may seem, though, it’s a biblically sound and taught event.
Nathan Jones: So, where do we get the word “Rapture” from. All you have to do to find the word “Rapture” is go to 1 Thessalonians 4:17 which reads, “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. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
You don’t see the exact word “Rapture” in that verse, but the phrase “caught up” is. We have to go back to the original Greek that 1 Thessalonians was written in, and there you’ll learn that “caught up” in Greek is harpazo. The Greek word harpazo when the Bible was translated into Latin became rapio, and the English version of rapio is rapture. So, instead of saying “caught up,” which 1 Thessalonians 4:17 says, or the “great snatching away” or the “great beam me up” or something, it’s just easier to say Rapture. So, quite simply, that’s where you find the word Rapture in the Bible.
Nathan Jones: The concept of the Rapture is a very well attested subject in the Bible. You can find it in John 14:1-4, Luke 21:36; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, and like I said 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. There are even hints of it in the Old Testament like Isaiah 26:19-21 and Malachi 3:17.
Rapture passages in the Bible emphasize that we need to be ready because Jesus could come at any moment. If we knew when Jesus was coming there’d be no need to watch anticipating an unexpected visit. For those people who will have endured the Tribulation, at the end of the seven years of tribulation they will know exactly when Jesus is returning because the Bible tells us that the duration lasts seven years, broken down into 30 day months.
Over and over in the Scriptures the Lord says to “be ready” (Mat. 24:44, “be on the alert” (Mat. 24:42), “be dressed in readiness” (Lk. 12:35), and to keep your lights alight. It is all the idea that we have to anticipate that Jesus could come at any moment. So, if we don’t know when Jesus will be showing up, then we aren’t talking about the Second Coming which is when Jesus will return to earth and defeat His enemies.
Nathan Jones: Jesus teaches that the Church by the Rapture will be taken out of this earth to meet Him up in the clouds and so will not have to endure the Tribulation.
There are a lot of verses that prove the Church will not have to endure the Tribulation. For example, Ephesians 5:6 says, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.” The Church is obedient, so God’s wrath will not come on the Church.
Then there is Romans 5:9, “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!”
There are lots of other verses, but particularly the best is Revelation 3:10, “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.” So, the Church is promised by the Lord to be removed from this world before His Tribulation, meaning before He pours out His 21 judgments on the planet.
Nathan Jones: The Rapture is for the Church our great hope. Titus 2:13 calls it “blessed,” that “while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Or 1 Peter 1:13, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” When Jesus appears our hope will be fulfilled. That is the heart of the Rapture of the Church.
Bill Salus: Yes, that reminds me of the last verse in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, a primary Scripture about the Rapture. Verse 18 instructs, “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” When talking about the end times signs that are happening across the world, about the natural disasters, about the wars and rumors of war in the Middle East, and all these threatening events that are coming upon the world like with the world’s economy ready to collapse, how comforting it is to tell one another that Jesus is going to come at any moment for those who believe in Christ and so are born again. Having faith in Christ allows us to escape the wrath that is to come.
What more comforting a promise could there be than the Rapture?
In the next part of this interview on advancing the Gospel through social media, Bill and I will discuss if there are any prerequisites to being included in the Rapture.