By Nathan Jones
On June 11, 2014, I was interviewed by Vic Batista, senior pastor of the Miami-based Calvary Chapel Aventura on his radio program "The Truth Will Set You Free" via TWave Radio. "Pastor Vic" (as he likes to be called) was born in the Dominican Republic and is as active in planting churches and helping orphans there as he is in southern Florida, reaching out with the Good News of Jesus Christ to both the English and Spanish speaking audiences.
In this "The Truth Will Set You Free" episode, we discuss one of the greatest events in all of human history, and one that is coming really soon — the Rapture of the Church. The first half of the discussion is in English, while the second half is translated into Spanish.
Vic: Today's topic about the Rapture of the Church is one that is very exciting to me. There's so much talk out there regarding the Rapture. In the 90's we had the Left Behind books that were turned into a movie series by Cloud Ten Pictures that became extremely popular. I can remember a lot of people were buying the books and watching the movies. Now we hear there's going to be a remake of the Left Behind movie's and there seems to be a great excitement again regarding the Rapture.
Before we begin our discussion, I wanted to ask you, Nathan, if you would open by reading 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18?
Nathan: Yes, I would be happy to. That is one of the major passages about the Rapture in the Bible, along with 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 and John 14:1-4. I'll be reading from the NIV, and it says:
"Brothers and Sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him. According to the Lord's word we tell you we who are still alive who are left until the coming of the Lord will certainly not proceed those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will come down from Heaven with a loud command with a voice of the Archangel and the trumpet call of God and the dead in Christ will rise first. 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. Therefore encourage one another with these words."
Vic: That is an excellent passage! There may be some people who aren't familiar with the Rapture and may be confused when they go see the Left Behind movies when they are released. Can you tell us what the Rapture is all about? And then, we'll also answer specific questions like: "Why the Rapture? Who will be left behind? What is the Rapture?"
Nathan: Sure, Vic. You can find the Rapture mentioned in the Bible, but you don't actually see the word "Rapture." The Latin Bible, which is the Latin Vulgate, uses the words, "caught up," or, "snatched up." In verse 17 of the Latin translation, it says "rapio" and the Greeks translation says "harpazo." But, to make the Latin word "rapio" more English-friendly, it was changed to "Rapture." So, instead of saying, "The great catching up" or "The great snatching up," we just say "the Rapture." Just as you don't find the words Bible or Trinity in the Bible, we use them to express concepts that are still actually in the Bible.
Now, lets talk about what it means. The Rapture is God's promise that He would come back and take those who have put their faith in Him — those who were saved from Pentecost all the way up to that point — off this earth and we will meet with Jesus up in the air and be taken to Heaven.
The Rapture proceeds a seven year time period that's coming upon the earth called Daniel's 70th Week or the Tribulation. It's a time period of seven years where God has promised to finally answer our prayers about justice on this planet and in which He will send down His wrath against evil. Jesus will also use that time to bring many people to salvation. Jesus will return to the earth at the very end, called His "Second Coming" with those of us who were raptured. The Church that has been raptured up to Heaven will seven or so years later come back with Jesus. He will after defeating Satan set up His Millennial Kingdom here on this earth where we will rule and reign with Him as teachers, executives, mayors and so forth.
Vic: That's super exciting! And, in part, you also answered the question, "Why the Rapture?" I think you put it well what the purpose of the Rapture is.
Not Destined for Wrath
Nathan: The Bible has given us a lot of verses that show that the Church — believers in Christ — are not destined for God's wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. For instance, Ephesians 5:6 says, "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient." So, the wrath of God is meant for those who are disobedient, in other words, unsaved.
Romans 5:9 says, "Since we have now been justified by His (Jesus' blood), how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through Him?"
1 Thessalonians 5:9 says, "For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Thessalonians 1:10 reveals, "And to wait for His Son from Heaven whom you raised from the dead — Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath."
Colossians 3:4 explains, "When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory."
Revelation 3:10 says it the best. This verse says the Church — again those who are believers in Christ — are not destined for God's wrath. "I will also keep you from the hour from trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth."
Over and over again the Bible makes it very clear that Christians are not destined for the wrath of God. Believers in Christ certainly suffer trials and tribulations at the hands of men; as we can see Christians are suffering all over the world today. But, the wrath of God is different. Like the Flood, the Tribulation is God's judgment on the earth, and Christians are promised they won't have to endure the wrath of God.
Vic: That's so awesome! What a wonderful message for anyone that is listening in, that God loves them and He has a wonderful plan. Of course, there are some terrible things that are coming to this earth as well.
In the second part of Pastor Vic and my discussion on the Rapture of the Church, we'll address those who will be left behind when the Rapture imminently happens.