There may be one event that Christians are looking forward to more than any other. It is an event that is called the rapture. This event in history is unlike anything that has ever taken place. This event takes place as Jesus keeps His promise to return and take every believer to be with Him for eternity. What an event!
While this may be one of the most anticipated moments in all of history, it has shocked some to find out that the term “rapture” cannot be found in the Bible. If the term “rapture” is not found in the Bible, why do we expect it so much? We look forward to this event because while the term “rapture” is not found in the Bible, the teaching of the rapture is all over the New Testament. It is interesting that the terms “Trinity” and “missionary” are also not found in the Bible, but the teaching of both of these terms is saturated throughout the Bible.
The term “rapture” actually comes from the Latin term rapio meaning “to seize or to carry away.” One of the clearest references to this event is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. It is this event that brings great hope to the people of God. I want to look at four “hopes” that the rapture brings to those who trust in God.
4 Hopes of the Rapture
The hope of reuniting.
If that weren’t enough, the Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 that we will be reunited with loved ones who have gone on before us into glory. I’m sure that we all have someone who has been dear to us that we have had to let go far too early. The beautiful hope that a Christian has is that there is never a “good-bye” for believers. It is simply a “see you later.” There is coming a day when we will be reunited with our loved ones who have trusted in the Lord and gone before us. What a day that will be!
2. The hope of God’s revenge.
Revenge is a strong word and seen by many to have some negative connotations to it. We are taught from an early age that we should not be vengeful… that we should not seek out our vengeance against another. Romans 12:19 tells us “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
There may be times when we are wronged and want to get even. Our vengeance will never bring about the result that God desires. This in no way says that we are to be anyone’s doormat, but rather we have One that will take up our cause and bring about the perfect result in due time.
The rapture event is not just a deliverance for us as believers, it is an indication to creation that the holy God of the universe is not going to let sin go unpunished. In the rapture, God removes His chosen children out of the way of where His wrath will be poured out. We should praise God for the ways that He looks out and cares for us.
3. The hope of release from a troubled world.
This world in which we live is filled with trouble. It shouldn’t be a surprise to us that we face trouble around every corner in this world. Jesus told us that it would be this way in John 16:33 = “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
There are times that our hearts seek out relief from the troubles of this world. You may be at a point where all you see around you is trouble. That is one of the effects of sin that entered in the Garden of Eden. We seek deliverance because something in our hearts tells us that this isn’t right… we weren’t created for misery … there has to be relief. There is, and that relief is found in Jesus! When a person comes to faith in Christ, the troubles may not evaporate before them, but the sting of our troubles vanishes before the peace that comes through the Holy Spirit.The rapture event is a reminder that the troubles that we face here in this world are for but a moment. There is strength for the battle today, but there is coming a full deliverance when our Savior splits the sky and calls us home, and no trouble will ever be able to touch us again.
4. The hope of unending life.
When a person places their faith into Jesus Christ alone, he or she is promised what the Bible calls “eternal life.” This is a life that never ends. This body may one day stop breathing and the heart may stop beating, but this is not all that there is. Life goes on past the grave. Each and every person who has ever lived is still alive today in heaven or hell. Now hell is called the second death because it is the eternal experience of God’s judgment on our sin. But for the one who has chosen to allow Christ to pay their penalty, and trusted in His going through hell on behalf of us, that person experiences life forever in heaven.
The rapture event is the reminder to all who place their faith in Christ and follow Him only that eternal life is not just something that we sing about or talk about in church services… it is a reality. Paul taught about this event in 1 Corinthians 15:51-57.
The Rapture for Today
Is there any wonder why Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 4:18 that we should “comfort one another with these words?” The rapture event is a hope-filled event that will take place in the near future. To know that we have not been forgotten… that we have not been abandoned… Praise the Lord!
But what about today? The rapture event has not taken place yet. We look forward to its coming. The hope that the rapture brings us, we are to comfort and encourage one another with these words as 1 Thessalonians 4:18 tells us.
As these words, straight from the heart of God, come to us, we are not only to “pick our heads up” but we are to have courage build up within us to carry out the mission that God has given us as His children. That mission is to take the gospel that makes this all possible to those who need it.
Just as Christ will one day come and call us out of this sinful world, He has already called us out of the world to be shining lights in the darkness. For those who have already placed their faith in Christ, He has seized you out of the kingdom of darkness and brought you into His kingdom of light. He has commanded that each of us to live out the reality of His power through word and deed before others so that they can experience it for themselves.
There is no sitting and waiting. There will be no opportunities after the rapture to share your faith with someone so that they may receive the gift of eternal life. That is a task for the here and now. Jesus is coming back, and when He does, our opportunities to do what He has commanded will be over. Those opportunities that bring about the words that every Christian should long to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” are only found prior to the rapture event.
While we anticipate the return of Christ and our hopes made sight, there may be some who for the first time realize that they aren’t ready. Larry Norman (Christian musician of the 1970s) had a famous song, “I Wish We All Been Ready” that spoke about this event. They are not ready because as they examine their hearts, they realize that they have never truly followed Jesus Christ. They have not called out to Him in confession and with repentance given themselves to Him wholly. The beautiful thing about this is that you have been given another opportunity to respond.
For others, you might have made that decision already but you realize that you have been lazy with your faith. You have answered the call for you to come and receive God’s salvation, but you have turned a deaf ear to what God is calling you to do now. You know that you should be sharing your faith… you know that you should be following Him in all areas of your life, but you haven’t been. God has graciously called out to give you another opportunity to answer His call of “follow Me.”
This post was adapted from the sermon that I shared at the South Calhoun County Revival at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Calhoun City, MS on October 26, 2016.