5 Reasons Why Jesus Will Rapture His Church
As believers we look forward to the Rapture. But do we know why we’ll be raptured?
How exciting was it when you knew your dad was on his way home when you were growing up? Maybe as a kid you felt like everything would be fixed when he came through the door. Or maybe you felt that way about your mom. You might have found her to be the do-it-all superhero who could answer every question and meet every need.
Whatever the problem, sometimes all we need is that one person who can make everything better. Our worries fade when we know that special someone is coming to make things right.
How much more do we feel this way about Jesus’ return! He has promised to come back for His church; and we know He’ll honor His promise, as He always does. But to fully enjoy the significance of the event, we need to understand not only how He’ll come and what He will do here, but also why He has to come.
A Meeting in the Sky
Jesus came to Earth as a baby, lived a perfect life because He was God incarnate, died to pay the ransom for our sins, was resurrected, and ascended back to heaven. Ultimately, He will return to Earth a second time, set foot on the Mount of Olives, and allow us—His redeemed—to reign with Him for 1,000 years (Zech. 14:4; Rev. 21:4). But His Word teaches us to anticipate His return in the Rapture first.
Rapture is the term we give to the event prophesied for the church in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4, passages that give us a good look at what Jesus will do when true believers see Him coming down from heaven. He will descend “with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God” (1 Th. 4:16).
All true Church Age believers, living and dead, will meet Christ in the air: “The dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up [Greek, harpazo, “to snatch away or seize”] together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (vv. 16–17). The Latin translation of the Greek is rapturo, where we get the term Rapture. Once raptured, we will never be separated from Christ again: “And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (v. 17).
Why Rapture the Church?
To fully appreciate our future reward, we should know why Jesus must come—and what He will set straight.
1. To save us from His wrath. After we are ushered into heaven at the Rapture, unprecedented darkness will fill the earth. This era goes by many names: the Day of the Vengeance of God (Isa. 34:8; 63:1–6), the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jer. 30:7), the Abomination of Desolation (Dan. 9:27), the 70th week of Daniel (vv. 24–27), the Day of the Lord (Joel 2:31), and the End of the Age (Mt. 13:40, 49)—among others. We most often call this period the Tribulation.
The prophet Daniel summarized God’s purposes for it: “To make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy” (Dan. 9:24). To achieve these ends, God must deal with iniquity. He will issue seven seal, seven trumpet, and seven bowl judgments to punish sin throughout the earth and restore Israel through its repentance (Rev. 6—9, 16).
Jesus wants us to understand this coming danger from which He has delivered us. God’s wrath will devastate the earth. War, famine, pestilence, earthquakes, fire, torture, darkness, and death will be everywhere.
But the church will be safe, “for God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Th. 5:9). How sweet it is to know God promises to protect us from this awful time of judgment.
2. To give us our resurrected bodies. When we meet the Lord in the air, “we shall all be changed . . . in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet” (1 Cor. 15:51–52).
All true believers, living and dead, will join Christ: He will prepare us for glory, transforming us and replacing our mortal, corruptible bodies with immortal, incorruptible ones (vv. 52–53). We will be ready to see our hearts’ ultimate desire fulfilled: perfect fellowship with our Savior. “Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’” (v. 54).
3. To complete His program for Israel. As God keeps His promises to the church, He also will be faithful to His Chosen People, Israel. He forged a covenant with them through the Law of Moses, but they were unfaithful and broke it. However, rather than casting them off forever, God promised them a new covenant:
I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. . . . For they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more (Jer. 31:33–34).
The prophet Zechariah described the Lord’s end-times ministry to Israel as the “pouring out” of His Spirit (Zech. 12:10). Though two-thirds of Israel will perish as billions on Earth die, He has promised to deliver the rest (13:8–9). The apostle Paul expanded on this prophecy, saying God has vowed, “All Israel [the one-third] will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins’” (Rom. 11:26–27). Jesus’ return is necessary to kickstart the Lord’s salvation of His Chosen People.
4. To keep His promise to return. Speaking of the Rapture, Jesus told His disciples, “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” (Jn. 14:2–3).
If Jesus were never to return, He would be a liar. But our trustworthy God will do exactly as He promised: receive believers to Himself when He comes again, so we can dwell with Him forever.
5. To reward believers. Before closing the canon of Scripture, Jesus left us with words of great hope: “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Rev. 22:12). We are in for a treat when Christ returns!
Jesus will reward believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10), which will occur after the Rapture but before the Second Coming. Meeting Him is reward enough, yet He plans to give us even more: “Each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor” (1 Cor. 3:8). Jesus’ return will bring heavenly rewards in addition to the greatest treasure of all—unity forever with the One for whom our souls yearn.
Are You Ready?
At Christmastime we celebrate Jesus’ First Advent. Because of His incarnation and sacrifice, He made a way for us to be reconciled to the Father, forgiven of our sins, and cleansed to live eternally with Him.
When He returns to take us with Him to heaven, we’ll wonder what we ever saw in this life on Earth. In His presence is where we who love the Lord are meant to be, by His grace. Once we enter heaven, we’ll fully understand that our time on Earth was simply a brief stop on our way home—a prelude to the perfection of eternity.
Against the backdrop of this world, with its endless supply of problems, Jesus’ return for His church doesn’t feel too close. Yet He left us with a reminder we can’t miss: Three times in the final chapter of the Bible, Revelation 22, Jesus said, “I am coming quickly!” We share the apostle John’s response in verse 20: “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”
In the meantime, let’s follow God’s Word, sharing the Good News of salvation and Jesus’ imminent return. After all, there’s no greater reward than the one we’ll have when we meet Him face to face.