I imagine that just about all the Christians that frequent this site are waiting for the sudden rapture of the Church of Christ. So there is no need to spend any time discussing what it is, when it might be and who it concerns. If you are reading this article as a person who hasn’t a clue what I am talking about I can only urge you to get onboard about this event as soon a possible. It’s an event that personally I just can’t wait for, get breathless thinking about it and at times feel a little weary waiting for, especially as we watch the Western nations disintegrate into moral and financial chaos, the Middle East constantly tottering on the edge of a nuclear holocaust and the professing Church of Christ (and people who ought to know better) increasingly embraces an apostate form of Christianity. But these things must come to pass as the world stage is set for the coming Antichrist and the horrors of the Tribulation period before the glorious appearing of Christ.
I’m writing in response to an article supporting a partial Rapture view. Basically, it supports the belief that only those Christians who are “worthy” will be Raptured and those found wanting will be left behind to face the Great Tribulation (of seven or three and a half years according to your stance) Can I say that I hope that this is not seen a polemic against this article which was written by someone who I have respect for as a Christian and someone is isn’t afraid to be honest and open about her views and whose articles I like to read. This is an alternative view which I hold to with, I hope, as much sincerity as the writer who holds to the opposing view. I don’t intend this as a point by point refutation of this view but just to give my reasons why I believe all believers will be Raptured and why there won’t be a partial Rapture of those believers who are “worthy” of inclusion and the rest being left to face to Great Tribulation.
So as a starting point, let’s remember that all of our salvation is by grace and not works: Eph 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Whatever our views on the Rapture they must not overrule these verses. No-one is deserving of the mercy and love of God, not the smallest bit even if we are living an exemplary Christian life. In Romans 3:23-24 it says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;” and in 1Jn 1:10 “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” So, my question is how can we work towards being worthy of being included in the Rapture of the Church. None of us are worthy in ourselves. We are made worthy by being in Christ and Him alone. In a lot of ways the arguments for Once Saved Always Saved work for an all inclusive Rapture. What is the measurement of being included in the Rapture, where does it tell us in the Bible what the standard will be? It doesn’t. We are all commanded to live Godly lives pleasing to God and we all have our own weaknesses, our own degree of failure and our own continuance in some sin whatever view we may have of our lives (perhaps I will now need to wait for the hate mail!). It is by grace or not by grace we are saved. Everything we have is from God (Jas 1:17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.) including the desire to serve Him. Of course we may chose to not serve God even if we are saved but it doesn’t change the fact salvation is a gift. And, following on from this I believe that Rapture is a gift. It is never described as something we should work towards being a part of.
I hope that my sins will never be listed and published to anyone who cares to read about them as they were for the Corinthian church in the New Testament. They had factions, envy, greed, drunkenness, incest, abuse of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the list goes on. But what did Paul say to this church: 1Co 15:51-52 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. Did Paul say that the Corinthian church (and by extension all Christians) would be Raptured if it cleaned it’s act up? No. He said that “we all be changed”. All, not some but the whole church.
Having said this I want to consider a couple of verses that seem to say that there will be a partial Rapture. These are Luke 21: 34-36 “Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. But keep on the alert (other versions say “watch”) at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Well, context is everything – who is Jesus talking to and talking about – the nation of Israel. Look back at the verses in Luke 21:20-24. These talk about “those which are in Judea”, they say that these are the “days of vengeance”, “wrath” upon these people and that “Jerusalem will be trodden down until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” and then jumps to the second coming of Christ in verse 27 as “the Son of Man coming in a cloud with great glory and power”. Nothing to do with the Church at all.
There are other exhortations to “watch” which are directed to the Church such as that on 1 Thess 5:6 “so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober”. So does this mean that Christians can miss the Rapture? No, the Day of the Lord is in view and as far as I can understand the Day of the Lord is not the Rapture but it is the Tribulation period. And what does it say in verse 9: “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ”. God has not destined us (Christians in this dispensation) for the Tribulation period. The exhortation to watch is a general one for all Christians at all times and in all places as a life style that is in contrast to those who are in darkness (verse 4).
What about Revelation 3:10: “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” This is certainly seems to be a conditional promise and one which clearly points to the Tribulation period. So what is the “word of perseverance”? Well, let me say up front that this not so easy to answer and if it was taken on it’s own as a prooftext I would have to concede to a partial Rapture. So my interpretation is: When the Rapture happens the Philadelphian church will generally represent the Church at the time. A Church that is being persecuted on a global scale and it will be Church that is keeping the “word of perseverance” (cheerful, hopeful endurance). If not then we have to throw away all the arguments I have given in favour of this one verse which is not good Bible interpretation. The terms in 1 Thess 4:13-18 have not changed (“we” meaning all the Thessalonians at the time including Paul and his companions and by extension all Christians and no qualifiers to ensure inclusion). The terms in John 14:2-3 have not changed. This is an all inclusive statement to the disciples and to us. In all of Paul’s writings He never makes any qualification about inclusion in the Church as anything but as a full member. The only thing he warns about is not actually being a Christian. It’s the same with the Rapture – there are no qualifiers based on our works.
And I would also ask, what would be the point of not including all Christians in the Rapture. It’s almost subscribing to a sort of Earthly purgatory. They must be somehow “purified” or punished before they stand before Christ and enter eternal life. Well, what about those Christians who don’t live for Christ or look for the glorious appearing? When they died, weren’t they standing in the presence of Christ or did they somehow have to suffer for their lack of commitment? No, they will have a loss of rewards at the Judgement Seat of Christ. There are verses that say that Christians must suffer in order to reign (Romans 8:16-17, Acts 14: 21-22, 2 Thes 1:4-5) but these are nothing to do with the Rapture or experiencing the Great Tribulation. Many Christians have suffered in various ways throughout the Church Age but this is a promise for all Christians and is nothing to do with the Rapture.
The Rapture is not just intended to be a quick escape for Christians from this planet. It is the ending of the Church age and as such I believe it is part of our salvation for us at the end of this dispensation. It is not a matter of reward or punishment, or worthiness or lack of the same but it is the way God has chosen to remove the influence of the praying and witnessing Church from the Earth and give over mankind to their desire to be Godless in every sense of the word.
Well, that’s my tuppence worth (as we say in the UK). If I’m left behind I will be the first to apologise. Blessings to all in Christ.