The word rapture doesn’t actually exist in the Bible, but then neither does any other English word. It is my opinion that this word is the best word in describing this biblical event, so I tend to use it. Also, the word rapture is the most common word used for this event and it seems to me that it would be confusing to use another word or phrase to describe it.
Within the New Testament, there is an event that many call the rapture that describes what will happen to the living body of Christian believers at the Lord’s return. I have never seen any references to it in the Old Testament, but there are several in the New. At the Lord’s Coming, there will be a loud call from heaven and a trumpet blast and then all of the Christians that are still living in their animal bodies (human bodies) will suddenly be transformed. The transformation will be the shedding of the natural body and the receiving of an imperishable spirit body.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 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. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words. (NIV)
The reference to falling asleep is a special key phrase in the Bible. It means those that have died. This special phrase is used because, actually, a Christian can never die.
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. 25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. 30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me. (NIV)
Notice that verse 24 above says that the Christian has (past tense) crossed over from death to life. Clearly this is spiritual death and spiritual life. The idea is that a Christian when he or she dies physically is only sleeping and not really dead. God doesn’t see death as we do. God sees everything from the beginning to the end and when we are alive in him we are truly alive.
Looking back to [1 Thessalonians 4:13] above we see that the Christian need not grieve at the death of fellow Christians because we know that as Christ was raised from death so too will all of his followers.
Something that you should know about the rapture is that it is not a resurrection. The First Resurrection occurs some three and a half years after the rapture and doesn’t involve any Christians. The First Resurrection is for Israelites (mostly, probably) that have been martyred during the time of the Beast-man. You can read about this in [Revelation 20:4-6].
A Christian is never resurrected on his own. Jesus Christ was resurrected and we who have been united to him in faith will be resurrected in him, or I should say, have already been resurrected in Christ.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (NIV)
Notice that Paul says that he wants to know the power of Christ’s resurrection, not his own. We are sort of resurrected in that we put off our mortal bodies and receive from God immortal bodies.
1 Corinthians 15:50-55
I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (NIV)
God is not a flesh and blood being. He is a spirit and he is immortal. The angels in heaven are also spirit beings. We, who now live in bodies of flesh and blood, cannot live in the spirit heaven until we have cast off our outer clothing and have dawned the covering of a new imperishable spirit body.
Did you notice in the passage above that this rapture event will occur at the last trumpet? If there is a last then there is a first and therefore a sequence of trumpets. The only sequence of trumpets that it can be are those in Revelation and as I have shown in a previous blog the last trumpet, that is, the seventh trumpet announces the return of the Lord and the rapture. This being the case means that those that teach the pre-tribulation rapture are wrong unless they are calling the second half of Daniel’s 70th week the tribulation. Most call that half the Great Tribulation, but I don’t really care what people call it so long as they teach the correct scenario.
As Christians, we do not live for worldly pleasure and prosperity. We live in obedience to God as we purge our selfish ways from us and grow in our relationship and faith toward God. This is all-important. People that teach worldly prosperity for Christians are missing the point. This world is not about our comfort. It is about maturing into Christ-like sons and daughters of God.