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The Rapture: Who will be left behind

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 NLT).

That’s from God’s holy word! And God’s inspired (God breathed) word is 100% accurate and true. What our Lord says “I will come again,” you can count on it! Listen to the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also”(John 14:1-3).

Max Lucado tells of the final words a Mrs. Glossbrenner. After her funeral her son told Max: “She was unresponsive for the last few hours of her life. She never spoke a word. But moments before her death, she opened her eyes and stated in a clear voice, ‘My name is Ida Glossbrenner, but my friends call me Ida.’ It sounded as if she were entering a door and introducing herself.” Lucado says, “Her body behind her, her soul in the presence of God…She was just getting acquainted.”

The single most significant truth in all Biblical prophecy is the certainty of the second coming of Jesus Christ! That event is the key that unlocks all future events, things that are yet to come. It fulfills both the Old and New Testament, including Christ’s own prophecies concerning the last days. It completes the work of redemption, and starts God’s prophetic clock of the future. Actually, the second coming begins a chain of events including:

•The rapture, we will be “caught up…”

•The Judgment seat (Bema) of Christ.

•The Tribulation (7 years).

•The marriage feast of the Lamb.

•The campaign of Armageddon.

•The binding of Satan.

•The Millennium 1000 year reign of Christ on earth).

•The destruction of Satan.

•The destruction of earth.

•The Great White Throne judgment of unbelievers.

•A new heaven and a new earth.


Today all things have been fulfilled! The next event on God’s timetable will be the rapture (catching up) of believers.

The word “rapture” does not occur in the Bible. The term comes from a Latin word rapturo, meaning a carrying off, a transport, or a snatching away. In our Bible, the same Greek word, harpazo, is translated “caught up” which means “to seize upon with force” or “to snatch up.” At the rapture, those who are “in Christ” (dead and living) will be changed into new glorified, immortal bodies and then we are “caught up…” “to meet the Lord in the air.” It will be a wonderful reunion with our loved-ones who have gone on before us, and best of all, John says, “We shall see His face” (Revelation 22:4). Is it any wonder that Paul describes the Lord’s coming as, “The blessed hope” (Titus 2:13)?

According to 2 Thessalonians 4:17, the saints living at the time of the Lord’s coming will be supernaturally transported (“caught up”) to meet the Lord in the air.” This translation of the church will be the most startling event to happen in all of human history! Millions will disappear, “ in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet” (1 Corinthians 15:51). Great consternation and bewilderment will fill the minds of those left on earth.

Countless explanations will be given as to the whereabouts of all of these people. The newspaper headlines on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and thousands of News outlets around the world will report something like this: “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt this program to bring you a news story of epic proportions. Last night, without warning millions of people vanished from the earth! The streets are filled with frantic citizens looking for their loved-ones. In the hours since this mysterious occurrence, our world has been torn apart by anarchy and chaos. Violence is spreading, and looting is rampant in the cities. Planes have crashed all over the world, and freeways are impassible, literally strewn with wrecked cars whose drivers suddenly disappeared. Trains have been derailed in every country, leaving confused, injured people wondering why help is so slow in coming. Panic-stricken mothers are looking for their missing children. Appeals to the Federal Government as to what has happened have been useless. Phone lines are down, for some reason some Cabinet members and many Congressmen cannot be reached. Where did everyone go? Speculation is beginning to mount about an invasion from outer space.”

Farfetched? Impossible? Sensationalism? or Bible? Listen to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, “I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep (died), lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. Many Bible teachers see Revelation 4:1 as a picture of the rapture. In the passage God says to the Apostle John, “Come up here.” The church is not mentioned again in the book of Revelation, until the end of the Great Tribulation, when the church is preparing for the “marriage of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:7).

There are 4 differing theories concerning the rapture:

1. The partial-rapture theory. In this theory the issue is not the timing, but the subjects of the rapture. Advocates of this theory believe that only certain individuals will be taken at the rapture. This is based on a reward system regarding an individual’s faithfulness. Only the most faithful may enter the marriage of the Lamb.

2. The mid-tribulation rapture theory. Also known as pre-wrath. According to this view, the Tribulation, which is divided into 2 periods…the first 3½ years is described as the wrath of man. The second 3½ years, as the wrath of God. The rapture will take place at the middle of this 7 year period.

3. The post-tribulation rapture theory. This is a teaching that the present age is the Tribulation, and that the church will be raptured at the end of the Great Tribulation and returned to earth with the Lord at His 2nd advent. This view believes that Jesus will rapture the church and then defeat his enemies at Armageddon.

4. The pre-tribulation rapture theory. I accept this as the correct view of the rapture. We believe that the church will be “caught up” prior to the Tribulation. “Behold, I tell 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 trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51,52). “You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”(Matthew 24:44 NLT).

The word of God clearly states that believers will escape the Tribulation. “For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us” (1 Thessalonians 5:9 NLT).

“Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 3:10). “There is therefore now no condemnation (judgment) to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Christ took our judgment on the cross, “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him…” (John 3:18 NLT). “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24).

There is an urgency of the hour in which we are living. All things are fulfilled for Jesus to return imminently, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect”(Matthew 24:44). “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,[a] but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36).

Jesus is coming soon we'll be going home.

People get ready, Jesus is coming to take from the world his own.

–Crystal Lewis–

It won't be long till we'll be leavin' here

It won't be long we'll be goin' home!

Count the years as months. Count the months as weeks

Count the weeks as days. Any day now,

We'll be goin' home/

–Andrae Crouch

Much has been written about the soon coming of Jesus Christ. Books and gospel films have reminded us of Jesus imminent return. Hundreds of songs have been composed on that theme, from old hymns, like: “There’s going to a meeting in the air,” and “Jesus is coming again,” to Bill Gaither’s classic, “The King is coming,” or Larry Norman’s. “I wish we’d all been ready.”

Let me remind you of a few indisputable facts: Jesus Christ, God’s only Son was executed on a cruel cross for our sins. After 3 days and 3 nights He rose in triumph over death and the grave. He walked on this earth after His resurrection, being seen by the disciples, and by 500 brethren at one time. He then ascended through the clouds into heaven right before the astonished eyes of His disciples. This same Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, is going to return to earth again.

We have His word on it: “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2,3).

We have the angels word on it: “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!” (Acts 1:11).

The first book in my library was “Things to come” by Clarence Larkin, given to me by my wife, Marlena shortly after I gave my life to Christ. So 60 years ago I began to look for Jesus to come back again. Every year I was certain that this would be the year. And I’m still looking! Perhaps today! ‘Imminent’ means, likely to occur at any moment; impending. “Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near” (James 5:8). It could be today, next week or next year, but it is a certainty that Jesus is coming. I do know that we are closer today than we have ever been before! The question is, are you ready, or will you be left behind?

There's no time to change your mind

The son has come and you've been left behind.

–Larry Norman–

Jesus coming will be sudden! “…in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye…” (1 Corinthians 15:52). Note that it says, “twinkling” not a blink or a wink, but just that gleam or glimmer, a flash that is perceptible in the eye occasionally. “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:27). “Behold, I come quickly” (Revelation 3:11 KJV). “I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for Him!” (Mark 13:37 NLT).

What if Jesus were to come before your next heartbeat? What if He came before you had an opportunity to say a prayer. Right now is the time you have to repent and accept Christ for forgiveness. “Indeed, the right time is now. Today is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 NLT).

There's no time to change your mind,

the son has come and you've been left behind.

–Larry Norman–

Jesus coming will be unexpected.

Matthew 24:44 NLT, “You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”

Let me give you an assignment: Take a poll of several people, at work, school, your friends, asking if they expect Jesus to come back today. Many of them will look at your like your crazy! They’re not watching! They’re not ready! For years I have been asking congregations if they expect Jesus to come back today. It is a rare occasion for even one person to indicate that they were expecting Him today. Jesus said, “When you least expect it, expect it!” “So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” (Luke 21:28 NLT). This is just another indication that Jesus is coming SOON! Moments after He comes back millions will say, “Oh, if only I had ben ready.” “If only I would have listened to that person when he told me about Jesus.” What a shock! What a surprise! Jesus has come and you’ve been left behind. “So stay alert. You have no idea when He might arrive” (Matthew 25:13 MSG).

1 Thessalonians 5:2-5 MSG, “You know as well as I that the day of the Master’s coming can’t be posted on our calendars. He won’t call ahead and make an appointment any more than a burglar would. About the time everybody’s walking around complacently, congratulating each other—‘We’ve sure got it made! Now we can take it easy!’—suddenly everything will fall apart. It’s going to come as suddenly and inescapably as birth pangs to a pregnant woman.”

Matthew 24:37-39 NLT, “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.”

His second coming will catch millions of people by surprise. It will be just like any other day, people will be in their cars, at work, sleeping, getting married, going to parties, playing with their kids, watching a ball game, plating golf, flying home from a long trip, going shopping and enjoying their day or night, when suddenly, unexpectedly, ready or not Jesus will come!

People will disappear, leaving piles of clothing and jewelry where they were standing. Swings will dangle empty as children go to be with Jesus, Driverless vehicles will careen out of control. Pilotless planes will crash to the ground. Railway trains will plow through stations. The whole world will go into utter chaos, as they are caught by complete surprise.

Jesus coming will be selective. He will only come for His redeemed people, every born-again soul, whether dead or living will be “caught up to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Matthew 25:1-13, “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’ ‘All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’ But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’ But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’ So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.”

He is not coming for the “good” people. He’s not coming for the “religious” people. He’s not coming for “church members.” He is not coming for those who have been “baptized,” or “confirmed.” He is coming ONLY for those who have been born-again by faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ! He is coming ONLY for those whose names are written in the “Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27). Is your name written in that book? This could be the day!

I know that life gets hard sometimes! I know we are surrounded by temptation much of the time. I know that the world is growing darker and more godless every day. I know that life seems so unfair at times. I know that people sneer and scoff at the idea of the second coming. I know we are human and doubts and fears are a part of our daily life. I know that pain and sorrow plague us sometimes, and can become unbearable. But listen to God’s word: “Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words” 1 Thessalonians 4:17,18).

I conclude with these words from Scripture: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23,24).

This could be the day! Are you ready for this once-in-a-lifetime moment? Jesus is coming! No instant replays! No second chances!

So People get ready, Jesus is coming

Soon we'll be going home.

People get ready, Jesus is coming

to take from the world his own.

–Crystal Lewis–

Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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