The Rapture Of The Church
By Phillip A. Dugas
The natural catastrophes now plaguing the world, as well as the civil upheaval, perplexing social problems, moral degeneration and economic and political uncertainties, should be viewed as a warning from God of greater and worse things to come. These events, together with the rising importance of the nation of Israel on the world scene and the fact that Jesus Christ has been building His church for almost 2000 years should awaken the people of God to be prepared for the rapture of the church.
What is the rapture?
Simply stated, the rapture is the method that God is going to use to remove the church from the earth. This seemingly extreme method of removal is necessary to get the church quickly out of the way for the antichrist to make his appearance at the appointed time (II Thessalonians 2:7.8).
Two key passages explain the rapture process. They are found in the books of I Thessalonians and I Corinthians. The Corinthian verses speak of a change taking place at the time of the rapture in the bodies of those living and those that have previously died, “Behold. I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (I Corinthians 15:51-53). The word “corruptible” means “perishable”, subject to decay or destruction. According to the scriptures, the new body will be like Christ’s resurrected body (Philippians 3:21).
The passage in I Thessalonians 4:13-18 gives the details of the rapture event itself. There are actually three major happenings in this passage. First, the Lord Himself returns from heaven bringing with Him the saints, those who have previously died and were separated from their earthly bodies, to receive their new bodies. Second, those who are living on the earth will be changed according to I Corinthians 15:51:53.
Third, both groups, in their new glorified bodies, will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air to ever be with Him. I believe the one thing that heaven cannot fulfill to those who have died in the Lord is the desire to receive their glorified body. God has decreed that they, along with those on earth, must wait until the time of the rapture. Thus heaven and earth are joined together in declaring, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
The word “rapture” is not found in the English Bible, but it is from the Latin word “rapere” which means “caught up”. The Greek word for “caught up” in I Thessalonians 4:17 is “harpazo.” A study of this word shows that it has a depth of meaning that sheds light on the importance of the rapture. It means to steal, to drag off, to carry away, to forcefully snatch or take away as rescuing from a threatening danger, to grasp something eagerly, quickly with desire (Bauer, Kittle, Thayer). These various meanings enforce the fact that the church will escape the coming time of great tribulation. They testify, in effect, to a rescue operation orchestrated by the Lord Himself, who apparently leaves the church on the earth up until the very last moment before the man of sin is revealed, ushering in the time of tribulation.
Requirements For Rapture
The rapture pertains to the New Testament church. The church began on the day of Pentecost with the sound of a rushing mighty wind (Acts 2:1-4). It will leave this world by rising to meet the Lord in the air at the sound of God’s trumpet (I Thessalonians 4:13-18). The teaching of a rapture is not found in the Old Testament. Those saints died in hope of a resurrection from the dead, but not a rapture. They will be resurrected (receive their glorified bodies) in their order at the proper time (I Corinthians 15:23). This will, no doubt, be when the Lord returns with the church to set up His millennial reign on the earth (Daniel 12:13).
To be in the rapture, a person must be in the church. The Scriptures are clear on what is required to be a part of the Apostolic church. The book of Acts presents the pattern. Systematically through the book, from Jerusalem to Ephesus, including both Jews and Gentiles, we are instructed that those converted to Christ through the preaching of the Gospel were baptized in water in the name of Jesus and received the Holy Ghost with the initial evidence of speaking in other tongues (Acts 2:38; 8:12-17; 10:44-48; 19:1-6). If not already repentant, people were commanded to repent (Acts 2:38; 17:30). The Apostles taught that salvation was only in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12) and that Jesus Christ was Lord (Acts 2:36; 9:5).
The Lord is coming after a church that is holy, “That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27). It’s a church that will be zealous (having a passionate commitment) for the things of God (Titus 2:13, 14). The lukewarm and indifferent will be left behind (Revelation 3:16). The rapture involves those who have kept His word and not denied His name (Revelation 3:8-10).
The Lord is coming after a Spirit filled church, “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:11).
Look For The Rapture
The early church was taught to live with the expectancy of the soon return of the Lord. It was God’s design for them to do so. I believe we can say that today we have more reason than the early church did to live with that same expectancy. “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; ,for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).
Article “The Rapture Of The Church” written by Phillip A. Dugas is taken from Apostolic Accent.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”