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What the Bible Teaches--A Guide to Total Christian Commitment
by Rev. James McRobbie    ©Pillar of Fire, International 
"At one moment surrounded by the everyday scenes of this life, then in a 'moment' to be ushered into the presence of the living, glorified Christ. . .!"
Learn more about the power of the Holy Spirit for personal holiness through Sanctification

[Bottom of page] [The Living Word] [Back: Chapter 11] [Next: Chapter 13] [Index]
Chapter 12 Contents: [Manner of the Rapture] [Rapture Will Precede Tribulation] [Participants]

 [What the Bible Teaches refers to numerous passages from the Bible. Your study will be greatly
enhanced by looking up the verses as you go along. If you want to look up Bible verses online as you study, clicking here will open up "The Bible Gateway" in a new window. You may then use the title buttons on your browser screen to move back and forth between the Bible and this study. All quotations in What the Bible Teaches are from the King James Version [KJV] unless otherwise specified.]

Chapter 12: What the Bible Teaches ABOUT THE RAPTURE

    The second coming of Christ will have a twofold aspect. First, our Lord will come for His saints at the "rapture," and second, He will come with them at "revelation." Christ will not be revealed to the world at the rapture; it will be a meeting "in the air." The focus classicus of this which clearly defines the doctrines of the rapture is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Not only does this scripture confirm the fact of the translation and rapture of the saints, but also that associated with it is the first resurrection and glorification of the "dead in Christ." We who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, says the scripture, "shall not go before them which are asleep" [R.V.], but the "dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air."
    Those who are ignorant of the plans and purposes of God treat this doctrine with derision of as being mere fanciful speculation, yet, here is the word of the living God: "We which are alive and remain shall be caught up," to which may be added Paul's testimony in the great resurrection discussion: "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, . . . this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" [1 Corinthians 15:51-54].
 

Manner of the Rapture

[Top of Page] [Down]
    The catching away of the saints will be secret. The masses of the world in general will be engaged in their usual activities -- buying, selling, planting, building, marrying and given in marriage, as the Lord said [Luke 17:28; Matthew 24:38], when, without any warning or alarm, it will dawn upon them that some are missing. This will be the prelude of the fearful "day of the Lord" when it is said that He "so cometh as a thief in the night" [1 Thessalonians 5:2].
    In His dealings with man, God is longsuffering and waits, not willing that any should perish; but when He begins He works suddenly. The rapture will be instantaneous; it will be "in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye." It will be like the flash of a thought or the dash of the lightning bolt. At Pentecost the Holy Spirit came suddenly upon the waiting ones, and there and then, the New Testament Church was born. So will it be at the church's consummation at the rapture:
"Swifter than the arrow's flight
Shall the saved go out of sight."
    The translation of the church will be associated with a threefold heavenly manifestation. It is said that our Lord will "descend from heaven with a shout." Christ is going to speak, but this the unsaved world will not hear. The "hour is coming," said the Lord, "in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth" [John 5:28-29]. The rapture will also be attended with the voice "of the archangel" [1 Thessalonians 4:16]. The angels are the "reapers." At the close of the age they are to be commissioned to gather out and separate the good from the bad. Then, too, the "trump of God" will sound, and instantly, the bodies of the saints, enshrouded in the darkness and corruption of the tomb, will spring to life, while the mortal bodies of the living saints will instantly feel every fiber of their beings thrill with the translation glory of Christ, and, without assistance of eagle wing or fiery chariot, find themselves being strangely borne through the skies to "meet the Lord in the air." [Top of page] [Down]
"Caught up with rapture and surprise,
Caught up, our fond affections rise,
    Our coming Lord to meet;
Hearing the trumpet's glorious sound,
Soaring to join the rising crowd,
Gazing beyond the parting cloud,
    Beneath His pierced feet!"
    The rapture will be attended with glory. There will be the glory of the translation -- of being saved from the power and dread of death. These mortal bodies, the objects of physical weakness and disease, will suddenly be clothed upon with immortality, changed from the glory of the terrestrial to the glory of the celestial [1 Corinthians 15:40]. It will be the hour of the fulfillment of the Pauline prediction as it is rendered by Dr. Weymouth: "We are waiting with longing expectation for the coming from heaven of the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who in the exercise of the power which he has even to subject all things to himself, will transform this body of our humiliation until it resembles His own glorious body" [Philippians 3:20-21]. Caught up without dying! Think of it! -- no sickness, no death, no funeral train -- the miracle of the ages! yet an absolute scriptural certainty.
    Think of the contrast involved in that rapture-instant! At one moment surrounded by the everyday scenes of this life, then in a "moment" to be ushered into the presence of the living, glorified Christ where will be seen the heavenly train of the redeemed and the attending angelic hosts, and then to be made "partakers of his glory." Truly, it "doth not yet appear what we shall be."
    Yet, the glory of this miraculous change and of the incomparable meeting will be insignificant compared with the sound of the Redeemer's wondrous, welcoming voice: "Come, ye blessed," and of being rewarded and honored and exalted as the "heirs of the kingdom of heaven" in His presence.
 

Rapture Will Precede Tribulation

    The rapture of the saints will precede the revelation and reign of Christ; it will also precede the great tribulation. There are various scriptures that reveal this and various reasons why this event must take place before the tribulation. [Top of Page] [Down]

Participants

    What are the character-qualifications of those who will be participants in the rapture? "Watch" and "pray," said Jesus, "that ye may be accounted worthy to stand before the Son of man." Watching implies constant readiness. Prayer is the link of communion with God -- the source of our strength. Our worthiness is not in any human effort that we can exercise, but in the cleansing of the Spirit by the blood of our omnipotent Sanctifier.
    Turn to the chapter that deals with the rapture [1 Thessalonians 4]. Look at the preceding verse: "To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints." To this may be added verse 3, "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification," and verse 7, "God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness." Here it is clearly seen that holiness or sanctification through the cleansing and keeping power of the Holy Spirit is the one and only qualification for participation in the rapture.
    Look at the parable of the ten virgins [Matthew 25]. While the setting of this parable is that of attendants or guests at the wedding feast, yet allowing that it has an application to the church, it can be seen that though some were "virgins" and had lamps, yet they failed of admission. Only those who had their lamps filled with oil and burning went in with the Bridegroom to the wedding feast. The oil represents the indwelling and sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit.
    The nineteenth chapter of Revelation tells of the "marriage of the Lamb" [verse 7]. It is said: "His wife hath made herself ready." She is adorned in "fine linen," which "is the righteousness of the saints." This "fine linen" is the garment of holiness. The bride is to be without "spot or wrinkle. . . holy and without blemish." The bride is not a spiritual infant but a qualified adult: one who has been the recipient of chastening and refining of spiritaul character.
    If, then, we would be qualified participants at the rapture, or, granted that His coming will be delayed, and it is our lot to pass through the portal of the grave to awake at the "first resurrection," let us submit ourselves to the whole will og God so that the Holy Spirit may take full possession of our beings; let us walk moment by moment in complete separation from the world; let us go softly all our days, that we may be ready either to "depart and be with Christ," through the channel of natural decease, or to be partakers of that glorious translation when we shall be "caught up" to meet the Lord in the air.
"O the King is surely coming, and the time is drawing nigh,
When the blessed day of promise we shall see;
Then the changing in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,
And forever in His presence we shall be."
   [Top of Page]

[Top of page] [Sanctification] [Introduction] [Back: Chapter 11] [Next: Chapter 13] [Index]
What the Bible Teaches ©1983, Pillar of Fire; All rights reserved
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This page last updated 04-22-1999;  ©1999, Pillar of Fire; All rights reserved