1 July 2024

This Rapture Generation

[Authors note: Due to my need to concentrate on other matters as I prepare for speaking at the Colorado Springs Prophecy Watchers Conference, my commentaries this week will be selections I’ve written in the recent past. This is from Monday, February 20, 2023.]

My commentary title this week will likely be construed by some as audacious. “This Rapture Generation” implies that people of earth alive now are those who will, without doubt, be the generation of believers who go to Christ in the Rapture, doesn’t it?

Those who have named specific dates for that stupendous event have earned consternation down through the years, and deservedly so. Jesus Himself declared that no one but the Father knows the day or hour when it will occur. And certainly, to date, that truth has played out exactly as the Son of God—who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life—said.

Yet, at the same time, the Apostle Paul implied himself to be part of the generation that would be raptured:

“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and 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: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).

Paul obviously expected to be part of those who would be living when Christ calls believers to Himself in the Rapture. The pronouns used are pretty clear, aren’t they? Yet Paul has been dead for 2,000 years or so, and the Rapture is still future, as we are all too aware.

So is God’s Word (the “Word” who, in fact, is the Lord Jesus Christ, according to John 1:1) less than truthful with us through the prophecy given Paul regarding the Rapture? We know the answer to that is a resounding “no. God cannot lie; therefore, we are to think through Paul’s words with our born-again, Holy Spirit-influenced discernment to understand the apparently audacious statement. Paul’s declaration was as audacious as my title for this commentary, I think.

So what is this seeming contradiction all about?

The answer, I believe, is found in another familiar statement by Paul, one we use frequently in studying the Rapture.

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

I believe that wrapped up in this profound statement of faith is an instruction to all believers. During this Age of Grace (Church Age), we’re always to be earnestly expecting Jesus to snatch us from this fallen sphere at any moment. This instruction—this commandment—has been in effect since the Church was born (as presented in Acts chapter 2). Every believer since that time should treat the promise of the Rapture as if it absolutely will take place while we are still living on Earth.

As a matter of fact, all who love the prospect of Christ’s appearing are promised a crown of righteousness.

With this in mind, the title “This Rapture Generation” is appropriate for believers now. Jesus will come for us in the Rapture at any moment—perhaps today!

I hope to go much deeper in expressing this certainty. And we do go deeper with each and every article presented. At least that is our aim.

The signals are brilliantly projected for those with discerning spirits to understand. Our Lord is unfolding prophetic signals of such unmistakable significance that we would have to look in another direction to miss just how near we are to the Tribulation. The Rapture is thus right at the exit door of human history for believers in Jesus Christ.

Sadly, most who should be helping God’s children focus on the lateness of the hour continue to feed only pabulum about how to grow into Christian adulthood.

Such spiritual food isn’t bad, of course. The Scripture is necessary to spiritual growth. But there comes the time that requires us to take a deep look into just how late the hour is on God’s prophetic timeline. We are now very near that instant of Rapture about which we’re forewarning.

This is almost certainly the Rapture generation, and I cannot feel sheepish in declaring it.

Tell everyone you know, using your own words, the soul-saving truth encompassed by Paul’s Holy Spirit-given formula for going in the Rapture when Christ calls:

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).



The Most Neglected Biblical Truth

There’s an old expression that dates back to 1512, “Throwing out the baby with the bath water.” The idea behind the saying is that if you believe part of an idea or teaching is not good, don’t toss it all away.

Is this not what many pastors do today? They fear the negative results of mentioning the dreaded word “Rapture” from the pulpit, so along with never referring to Jesus’ appearing, they never mention the resurrection of the dead in Christ or the glorious transformation of those who will be alive at the time. Water and baby both go out the window.

I have heard many presentations of the Gospel where the pastor never said the words “eternal life,” or if he did, he mentioned it as an afterthought or as part of John 3:16 during his closing prayer. Why do so many pastors refuse to mention the biblically sound promise that we will live forever in imperishable bodies like that of our Lord Jesus?

It’s the most neglected biblical truth in today’s churches.

Martha’s Belief in a Future Resurrection

I’m always impressed when I read Martha’s assertion of faith after the death of her brother, Lazarus. When Jesus told her that her brother would “rise again” (John 11:23), she responded with these words, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day” (v. 24).

Martha believed in a future bodily resurrection, the very thing that pastors today go to such great lengths to avoid even mentioning lest someone think they believe in the Rapture.

In the Gospel of John, the phrase “eternal life” appears seventeen times. Jesus emphasized this truth repeatedly during His earthly ministry; it’s no coincidence that Martha understood what that meant for her brother.

Jesus then surprised everyone by raising her brother from the dead. However, a far greater resurrection awaits Lazarus along with all who have died in Christ or will be alive at His appearing.

The Forgotten Resurrection

I often wonder if pastors who exclude references to our resurrection in their preaching genuinely believe the words of 1 Corinthians 15:19:

“If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

In the preceding verses, Paul refutes those in Corinth who claimed that there was no such thing as a resurrection (15:12-18). If true, he argues, then we must conclude that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, which would signify that our faith is “futile.” The end of such a dire possibility is that the “dead in Christ have perished,” and we who are alive are “most to be pitied” (ESV) or “miserable” (KJV) because our hope doesn’t extend beyond this life (see vv. 18-19).

Paul begins verse 20 with the glorious fact that “Christ has been raised from the dead,” and in 1 Corinthians 15:47-57, he sums up our forever hope with the joyous reality of our bodily resurrection as New Testament saints. In language that others cannot possibly misconstrue or misunderstand to signify anything else, the apostle says there’s coming a time when Jesus will raise the dead with imperishable bodies and gloriously transform believers still alive at His appearing, the Rapture of His Church. Those who say 1 Corinthians 15:47-57 doesn’t refer to a future transformation of both dead and living believers are false teachers.

Paul again points to our joyous hope of eternal life in Philippians 3:20-21:

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” (emphasis added)

Because Jesus rose from the dead, our over-the-top blissful hope is that someday we will possess a glorious body like that of our Savior. The sense of verse 20 is that of an “excited anticipation” of Jesus’ appearing. It signifies a yearning of the soul for the time that Jesus raises the dead in Christ and wholly transforms us with immortality. Romans 8:23 speaks to the future “redemption of our bodies,” which happens at the time of the Rapture.

We Possess a Tangible Hope

The problem with modern preaching is that it leaves our future after this life undefined. The more popular views of Bible prophecy point our hope to a far-distant Second Coming of Jesus, during which time He judges sin and initiates the eternal state. Parishioners can only guess as to what such a future means for them.

The world around us is on fire with lawlessness, unbridled wickedness, threats of terrorism, and the drumbeats of a nuclear war, which appears more likely with each passing day. Our future well-being in this world has never been more at risk in our lifetime.

The good news is that the Bible defines our hope as something tangible, a certain expectation of glory after this life ends. Scripture doesn’t leave us guessing as to what sort of nebulous existence lies in our future.

Terry James and I authored the book Hereafter, which describes in detail our lives in eternity after the Rapture. In it, we explore what it will mean to possess imperishable bodies as we reign with Christ in His kingdom.

We will spend eternity in gloriously transformed bodies that will never experience pain, sickness, aging, or death. They will be like that of our Savior. The “redemption of our bodies,” which happens at the time of the Rapture, was the hope that the apostles proclaimed to the world (Romans 8:23-25).