The Rapture

By Pastor Teck Uy

We often wonder whether we will all have to taste death, just like our forefathers did. Knowing that we have corruptible bodies and that no one can live forever, it gives us a sense of hopelessness. However, the Bible tells us that we can actually skip death. This will happen when Jesus comes to take us unto himself in a process called the rapture. The apostle Paul described this clearly in his epistle to the Thessalonians. He said, “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. 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” (1 Thess. 4:16-17). This truth should encourage us to live holy and blameless lives and to be ready for the rapture at any time, because it will happen without prior announcement. The word rapture is nowhere found in the Bible, just like the word trinity. However, it is used to describe the process of believers being “snatched away” or “caught up” with the Lord in the air.

The rapture is distinct from the second coming. These two events will happen at different times, with the rapture occurring first. In the rapture, Jesus will come secretly like a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5:2) and as fast and quiet as the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor. 15:51-52). But in the second coming, there will be many signs that precede it. It will happen openly and will be seen by every eye – even those who pierce him (Rev. 1:7).  In the rapture, Jesus will come to take the believers up into heaven. In the second coming, Jesus will come to earth, bringing with him the saints in order to restore all things here and to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords.

There are those who believe that the rapture will happen before the great tribulation (Pre-Tribulation). Others say that it will be in the middle of the tribulation (Mid-Tribulation), and still others believe that it will happen after the tribulation (Post-Tribulation). Regardless of when it is, the fact is that it will happen and we should be prepared for it. However, the most conservative stand is to believe in the Pre-Tribulation because this will spare believers from the suffering that will come to test the world. This is in line with the justice of God where the faithful believers will be rewarded accordingly, instead of being lumped together with those who are not faithful in living holy and blameless lives and will suffer during the tribulation. The truth of the matter is that believers are not appointed to wrath (1 Thess. 5:9)

But why would there be a need for the rapture to happen? The rapture is intended to rescue the church from persecution and the suffering that will come (1 Thess. 1:9-10). This hope of a rescue is what believers are looking forward to, as they press on and persevere in their spiritual walk. The Bible warns of a terrifying tribulation that will come, where the suffering will be unequalled from the beginning of the world. Indeed, the only hope of believers is the glorious and sudden appearing of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ (Titus 2:12-13).

The rapture is also intended to re-unite the church with the Lord Jesus Christ. When he was still with his disciples, he told them of the things that are yet to come. He also told them that they will be separate from him for a little while, but there will come a day when they will see him again. This message disturbed his disciples so Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3). The reunion will happen in the air and this will include not only the living believers but the dead in Christ.

Finally, the rapture is to reward those who will stand firm until the end. Jesus warned, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:12-13). And the apostle Paul was quick to add, “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). Friends, let us hold on to our faith firmly and wait in expectation for the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ in the air. And yes, we shall be with him forever and ever. The rapture is reality and will happen at any moment—at the twinkling of an eye. Be ready. Amen.