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.
Those Left Behind
Vic: Nathan, we have another question regarding who will be left behind when this Rapture — this catching away — comes. Can explain to us who they will be?
Nathan: The Rapture is for the Church. When I say "the Church," I'm not talking about a denomination or a building. I'm talking about the people who make up the true Church of God, which are the people who have given their lives to Jesus Christ. They have asked Him for salvation and have repented of their sins and they are now covered by Jesus' blood and forgiveness so they can stand before God one day as pure and holy. Jesus did all the work of salvation on the cross so that we might be saved. When we put our faith in Jesus as the Son of God and Savior, then we are saved. Those are the people who God promises one day will escape death by being taken up to Heaven where they will be given new glorified bodies and avoid the Tribulation.
Those left behind from the Rapture are the ones who rejected Jesus Christ. They are the unsaved. In other words, they have decided they don't want anything to do with Jesus. They don't want His salvation. And so, they will be left behind.
As sad as that sounds, the Bible makes indications all over the place that mankind is stubborn and that sometimes we need to have the worse time of our lives to finally be forced down on our knees and to pray to Him. The Tribulation will be that worst time in human history. That's where Jesus will get people to finally get on their knees to cry out, "Lord, I do need you. I do need your salvation. Please save me from my sins." And, we read in the Bible that multitudes from every tribe, tongue and nation will give their lives to Jesus Christ during the Tribulation.
A world leader will arise during the Tribulation whom the Bible calls the Antichrist. He will slaughter many Christians during that time. Let's call them Tribulation Saints to distinguish them from the Christians of the Church Age. The Tribulation Saints will die for their faith, but they will die knowing they are going to Heaven.
Timing of the Rapture
Vic: That's why we tell everyone that today is the day of salvation. People often say, "I've got time. When things start to get worse, then I'll receive Jesus." But, in reality, no one knows when the Rapture is going to happen, right?
Nathan: Right, in Matthew 24 Jesus made it very clear. He will come like a thief in the night. Just like we don't know when a thief may sneak into our house, we don't know when Jesus is going to come back. He has given us signs of the times that point to what we call the season of the Lord's return, but for the exact day and hour, we really don't know. Jesus even said only the Father knows. And, like you said, we never know when we will die. This life, this earth, is all we've got to make a decision for eternity. There's no second chance after we die, so it's very important that we realize that we could die at any moment.
Vic: That's right.
Nathan: A buddy of mine in High School's mother was fixing dinner one day. She slipped on some water, fell over and banged her head on the counter, and broke her neck. She died right there. All she was doing was something as simple as making dinner. We could die — snap! — just like that, and we don't even realize it.
So, people who say, "I'll just deal with Jesus later. I want to live my life how I want to and I'll repent later." They run the risk of missing the Rapture and having to live in the time of Tribulation, which is the most awful time period coming in human history. We are talking about 21 judgments that devastate the planet ecologically, politically and spiritually. Basically, the whole world is enslaved to this one world ruler. It will be the most terrible time.
Vic: Nathan, you hit on a very important point in that people don't know when their last day will be. Just yesterday I performed a funeral for my half-brother who was only 59 years old. One minute he was walking around, and the next, he had a massive heart attack and was gone. But, I rejoice though because I had led him to the Lord about 15 years ago. That shows you that you never know when God will call you home and why we need to be ready.
Right, Nathan, the Rapture could happen at any moment?
Nathan: Yes, at any moment. I don't how people can put it off accepting Jesus. They must not care about having their sins forgiven and being free of all the guilt and knowing they will be going to Heaven to be with Jesus. We know sin can be tempting, but in the end it always ends up hurting us. For instance, a little taking of drugs might be exciting at first, but in the end we become slaves to them. A little alcohol tastes good in the beginning, until we are slaves to it. A little sex here and there outside of marriage, but soon we become a slave to it and our whole life and family relationships are ruined. Sin starts off by tempting us a little, then it enslaves us, then it kills us and destines us to eternal punishment in Hell.
Hell is very real. The Bible says that it was created for Satan and his demons, but when humanity sinned, we came under that same eternal punishment. But Jesus, praise the Lord, died in our place so that when we put our faith in Him we are forgiven and exonerated. It's like a judge who puts the gavel down and says we are not guilty. We are exempt from God's wrath.
Vic: That's an excellent point, Nathan. That's why when we look at Bible Prophecy and talk about the Rapture of the Church, we see that there's nothing else that needs to be fulfilled for this event to occur.
Nathan: The Rapture is called an imminent event, which means nothing needs to precede it for it to happen. There's no sign or event and no prophecies that have to happen beforehand. The Rapture could come at any time and at any moment.
However, the Second Coming of Jesus at the end of the Tribulation, well with that event there's so much that has to happen first. Israel has to be persecuted and the whole world come against it, so Israel had to have become a nation again. There has to be different political alignments that come against them, like Russia forming a pact with Iran and Turkey to come against Israel, as we read about in Ezekiel 38-39. We read about an Antichrist who is the one world ruler coming up from a revived Roman Empire, which is the European Union, and about him setting up his kingdom across the earth. We also know exactly that there are seven years made up of 360 days each from the time the Antichrist sets up a peace treaty with Israel until Jesus comes back. So, we even know the exact days from the beginning of the Tribulation to when Jesus comes back.
Remember that the Rapture is totally different from the Second Coming of Jesus. The Rapture happens without any signs whatsoever, while the Second Coming has seven years worth of signs.
Some people like to look at the Second Coming in two stages. First, Jesus comes for His Church in the Rapture, and then comes back with His Church at the end of the Tribulation.
In the third and last part of Pastor Vic and my discussion on the Rapture of the Church, we'll explain what the rewards will be for those anticipating the Rapture.