As a born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, I know I am sealed to the Holy Spirit and my salvation is secured. Yet, like a lot of Christians, I sometimes have a moment where satan tries to plant doubts in my head. The Bible, through the apostle Paul, clearly teaches a pre tribulation rapture. But, sometimes when I haven’t heard from some Christian friends in awhile, I have a fleeting thought that they have been raptured and I missed it. The comfort I have is that many believers go through this. The devil loves nothing more than to cause us discomfort, apprehension and to doubt our salvation and not trust God and what He said in His word.
The other day I was listening to a great Bible teacher by the name of Les Feldick. He is what is called: a “right divider.” That is someone who rightly divides (handles) the word of God. Feldick, who is in his 90’s and has been born again his whole adult life, shared that there were times when he wondered if he had missed the rapture. He would come home from work and find his wife was not there. Usually she would be. Then he would find a note saying that she had gone fishing. This is almost funny except for the fact that Feldick, along with many of us Christians, had a terrifying moment when he allowed doubt to set in.
The rapture, also known as “the day of Christ,” is the Christian’s hope which we look for. As Paul taught, God has not appointed us to wrath. Whether it’s satan’s wrath or God’s is irrelevant. God is not angry at Believers. We have been reconciled with Him and have the peace of God.
The apostle Paul wrote that the Rapture was a “secret” (1 Corinthians 15:51). Jesus did not disclose it in His earthly ministry, and the Twelve knew nothing about it. God revealed this secret to Paul alone. Had God revealed the resurrection? Yes. Job knew about it (Job 19:26), Jesus taught it (John 5:24, 25, 28-29, 11:23), and the common people during Jesus’ time knew about it (John 11:24). The Pharisees taught it (Acts 23, 6, 8) but the Sadducees rejected it (Matt 22:23). Paul was not revealing something new when he wrote about resurrection. But the revelation of the Rapture was new, a secret part of the resurrection.
All members of the body of Christ (the Church) will not sleep (Paul’s euphemism for death), but all will be changed (ἀλλάσσω–to change from one thing to another). Paul used this word in Romans 1:23 and Galatians 4:20. In Philippians 3:21, Paul used the term μετασχηματίζω to describe this transformation. The transformation will occur instantaneously, in a “moment” –“that which cannot be divided” from which we get our word “atom” and in the “twinkling of an eye” –a throw, stroke, beat, a moment of time). The event will occur at the last trumpet. The Rapture occurs in a sequence. Members of the body of Christ who have died will be raised first and given resurrection bodies. Then, members of the body of Christ who are alive will exchange their earthly bodies for resurrection bodies. Paul’s use of “we” in verse 52 indicated he expected the event to occur in his lifetime.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:22-25:
“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming.”
A universal truth that exists for the human race is 1) all “in Adam” die and 2) all “in Christ” will be made alive. No hope exists for mankind outside of Christ. All that awaits men and women apart from Christ is death (eternal separation from God). Every human being inherits death from Adam (Genesis 2:17). We obtain life from Christ. In verse 23, Paul explained that the resurrection has an order. Christ was the first fruits of the resurrection order. Second in order will be the body of Christ, the Church. These are those who have believed Paul’s gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4), “those who are Christ’s at His coming.” Usually, when Paul spoke of the Lord’s coming he meant the Rapture (Titus 2:13)
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11)
Apparently, false teachers had troubled the Thessalonians (2Thess 2:1-5) by telling them that the persecution they were experiencing was the Day of the Lord. These were the first post-tribulationalists. Paul was quick to crush this teaching. He wrote: “do not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the Day of the Lord has come.” The Day of the Lord was prophesied throughout the Old Testament and Jesus referred to it as the Tribulation (Matt 24:21, 22). Paul admonished them that no matter what they heard or from whom, from a spirit (angel), or some other “message” or letter purportedly from Paul, to pay no attention to it. They were to stick with Paul’s teaching that when the Lord came, He would gather them to Himself before God poured out His wrath–the Day of the Lord.
May the day of Christ (rapture) come quickly!