Not only are there questions as to WHEN our Lord will appear for His own, but also for WHOM He will be coming for. Would He come for all believers regardless of their state of readiness?As Oliver Boyt asks: “How can we distinguish between those who will be translated at the Rapture, and those who will be left behind for the tribulation?” (PROPHETIC WITNESS)
He notes in the words of Jesus, “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father.” (Matt. 7:21)
Other Scriptures quoted by Jesus should cause us to examine our position as concerns the rapture question. May we not be taken in by any teaching that is simply recognized as the “popular” belief, for there are those who would tickle our ears by asserting all will be raptured when Jesus comes regardless of the life they are found to be living. As some prophetic writers assert – when Jesus comes, some will arise from the tavern and some from the theater and we will proceed to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Knowing nothing enters Heaven that defiles, there are other Bible teachers who tell us the saints will stop midway to be judged and then will continue on their journey to the time of feasting with their Lord.
We are shocked with such interpretations of the Word, for they do grave injustice to the Scriptures and give many a false security.
Rather, we believe the Word of God teaches us that there is escape from coming events described as the Great Tribulation, providing we are found worthy by watchfulness and prayerfulness and conditioned upon our being children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.
And as to the time of judgment, we are convinced that when our Lord suddenly appears at the rapture, He will judge immediately those who are ready to meet Him and ascend with Him back to Heaven. Any future judgment and time of rewards will await the setting up of the kingdom according to Rev. 11:18.
In seeking to answer the question – How many will be raptured when Jesus comes? – we would do well to review some of the types from the Old Testament.
First, let’s consider the children of Israel as they cross the Red Sea and head toward the promised land. Of the two million who wandered in the wilderness, only two made it to Ganaan – Joshua and Galeb, The writer of the Hebrews warns us that it was on account of sin that many died instead of achieving the promise. We read: “With whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?
Again, during the days of the flood there were only seven saved as they rode above the waters in an ark, while the majority of that antediluvian civilization died in the flood,
The Scripture does not conclude that those who died were unbelievers but rather that they were “disobedient.” We’re also told that when Jesus died, He went and preached unto the spirits of chose who died in the flood. And the reason given was that they “might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (I Pet. 3:19; 4;6)
What about Lot who was saved out of Sodom? Did not he and his family escape the holocaust of fire and brimstone that destroyed the city? While he obeyed the voice of God to flee to the mountains, his sons-in-law scoffed at him, and his wife looked back when commanded not to do so. Thus our Lord reminds us, “Remember Lot’s wife” to indicate that it is possible to escape the wrath of God but to suffer physical death in the process.
What about Elijah? Could he be a type of the rapture? Why was he taken in a chariot of fire while there were at least 7,000 prophets who had not bowed the knee to Baal?
What about Enoch? Why was he selected to be taken and others left behind? Remember it was Enoch who prophesied the number of those who would be coming with our Lord when He is seen returning to this earth. He prophesied, saying: “Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints…” Jude 14. If “millions” are to be missing, why didn’t Enoch write: “Behold the Lord cometh with millions of his saints”?
We don’t want anyone to have a wrong conception concerning the rapture. We believe all can be ready for this glorious event. On the other hand, to assure sinful saints and disobedient disciples that they, too, will be included in the rapture would be giving a false hope for the blessed hope.
Did not our Lord remind us of the time when He will return, saying: “I tell you in that night there shall be two in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two shall be grinding together, the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two shall be in the field; the one shall be taken and the other left.” (Luke 17: 34-36)
As we understand it, these were two of the same kind. From outward observation both should have been taken. But our Lord, who knows the heart and sees with penetrating eyes of fire, discerns only one ready while the other is left behind.
To sum up our message, we would be reminded of our Lord’s words, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matt. 20:16, 22: 14)
Dwight Sylvester, Jr. writes: “The called and the chosen… there is a difference; but the distinction we make here is not between the saved and the unsaved but among the household of faith…” He notes: “To be chosen of God means not only to confess Jesus as Saviour, but to allow Him to become Lord and Master of our life.”
When our Lord is seen coming from Heaven leading a procession on white horses, we read concerning these saints that they are “called, chosen and faithful.” (Rev. 17:14)
We might ask – do we qualify to be in that army? The “called” may very well represent all who are “invited” to receive Christ as Saviour and Lord, for that is the meaning of the Greek word, ‘kletos.”
The “chosen” are those whom God has selected to represent Him as was the Apostle Paul, described as a “chosen” vessel. (Acts 9:15) However, in a sense all believers are a “chosen” generation, and “chosen of God.” (2 Pet. 2:4 & 9)
The “faithful” are those who are trustworthy and reliable when given responsibility. As in the case of the servants to whom were given talents depending on their investments, they were praised as “good and faithful” servants.
Again we ask – when the Lord comes, will we be among the “called, chosen and faithful” ?
Peter writes: ‘Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure:” (2 Pet. 1:10) He speaks of the possibility of gaining an abundant entrance into the kingdom. He urges those recipients of the divine nature to add to their “faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” This is the abundant life that we can select or reject.
Paul also admonishes us to such spiritual goals as to be found worthy of our Lord’s commendation and approval. Says Paul: “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded.” (Philipplans 3:14-15)
Beloved, whatever our calling, let us be at our best for Christ. It will surely be worth His commendation of ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Even now, let us establish goals and objectives, knowing we are saved by grace but rewarded for our faithfulness. May we watch and pray always that we may escape the things that shall come to pass and to stand before the Son of man. And may we be ready, for in such an hour as we think not, the Son of man cometh.