Evangelist & Web Minister
Lamb & Lion Ministries
Method of Rescue
Since Jesus promises to spare those who have accepted His lifeline of salvation from His wrath, then how is He going to accomplish that?
We can find the answer in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, which reads, "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."
Let's look at that phrase mentioned in the verse — "caught up." The Bible was written originally in the Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic languages of the time. If we go back to the original Greek that 1 Thessalonians 4:17 was written in, we find the phrase "caught up" is the Greek word harpazo. When Latin became the main language of biblical scholars, they took the Greek and translated it into Latin. Why, the only Bible generations had for 1,100 years was the Latin Vulgate. There was a time when the Bible could only be read in Latin. The Latin speaking theologians translated the Greek word from harpazo to rapio, and the englishized version of the Latin word rapio is Rapture, which still means "caught up."
And so, I could refer to this phrase as "the great catching up," or "the great snatching away," or the "beam me up, Scottie" or something as awkward. But, I'm just going to use that word rapio or Rapture, just to make this a one word thing. And so, going forward, I'm going to call this event "the Rapture."
God will rapture believers in Christ — the Church — from His coming wrath. We can find this referenced in all sorts of verses in the Bible. For instance, John 14:1-4 assures us, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you." "I am going there," says Jesus, "to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."
Well, just where is the Father's house? In lots of other verses it says that the Father's house is in Heaven. That is the glorious destination of those who will be raptured. Those raptured from the earth are destined to go to Heaven.
John 14:1-4 also eases our faint hearts in that we can trust God. We can trust that God will rescue believers in Christ because He has promised that He will do this.
Luke 21:36 tells the believer in Christ what to do while waiting for Jesus' return. "Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man." Here Jesus reveals there is truly a way to escape the Tribulation, and that we should stay watchful because Jesus is coming back. And, once we escape those terrible times, where does Jesus say we will be? We will be with the Son of Man, which is another name for our Savior Jesus Christ.
The Glorified Body
Let's look at 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, which is an amazingly detailed description concerning the particulars of what changes Jesus must make to believers in Christ to enable their rescue.
"I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory.' 'Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."
We learn that for one thing, our earthly human bodies just can't hack the trip. They are not powerful enough nor strong enough to make the journey to Heaven. Also, God is pure energy and light. He is spirit. Once we got to Heaven, it would just melt anybody who looked at Him. After our eyes in our sockets blow, our brains would just overload with too much input. So, our bodies just can't make the journey. They couldn't hack standing before the Almighty God.
To travel to Heaven and stand before God, our human bodies would then need to be transformed. We can find this is exactly the case in 1 Corinthians 15:42-44. We are told our bodies will be "raised imperishable." In other words, the opposite of perishable. Have you ever seen meat when it becomes perishable? It turns green and it falls apart in death. Yuck! But, our transformed bodies will be imperishable. They will never rot. They will never die.
Our newly transformed bodies will be able to stand in glory. Have you ever seen the sun rise or set and exclaim, "Oh, wow, that is so glorious!" Well, our glorified bodies will be that way, too. We will be raised in power with no more weakness or infirmity. They will be powerful.
Our newly transformed bodies will also be spiritual bodies, yet physical in that you can touch them and feel them, but they will be spirit powered by the Holy Spirit. 1 John 3:2-3 explains this, "When he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."
And so, not everybody is going to die. There will be a generation who will skip the death process and experience what is called the Rapture.
1 Corinthians 15:50-58 also tells us that the Rapture and our transformations are going to happen very fast. It describes the speed as a "flash," happening "in a twinkling of an eye." All of a sudden — BOOM — your gone! You're out of there. It will happen so fast.
Also at the Rapture, a trumpet will be heard. The Rapture will be a noisy event involving a loud trumpet blast and the great shout of the mighty archangel from Heaven.
Very fascinating, the Bible says that those who in Christ who have died before the Rapture since Jesus' was resurrected, they too will be resurrected. Deceased Church Age saints will be brought back from the dead. Because of Jesus' resurrection, Jesus's victory over death became our victory over death, and these people will be resurrected as well.
Of incredible relief is that the transformation of our human bodies means that our old sin nature which causes us to want to do bad things all the time, which causes us to rebel against God, will also be killed. When we get our new bodies, that old sin nature will be eliminated. It will truly be the death of sin and the death of death for us. That is just awesome!
With the death of our human bodies, so too comes the death of that which causes us pain. No sting of dying there will be, nor fear of our loved ones who have accepted Jesus going through their own painful deaths. And, the transformation happens just like that. It's a total transformation to something so exponentially better.
Becasue of this great hope, we can stand firm in Jesus Christ. Our faith in Jesus is made sure, because by His promise we know that we are assured that Jesus will catch us up to be with Him. We can trust Jesus in that by having faith in Him. And, in the meantime while we're waiting, Jesus also commands us to do good works which lead people to salvation and the same hope we share.