The Rapture—Part 1

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Simply Teaching the Word Simply—Pastor Chuck Smith

Originally published in issue 15 of Calvary Chapel Magazine

The Rapture refers to that time when Jesus is going to come, without warning, and take away His Church from this earth. After the Rapture, the Lord will pour out His wrath upon this sinful world. Many pastors claim an ignorance of the Rapture or say that they are not certain whether it will precede the Tribulation. They say they don’t really know where they stand on this issue. I believe there is no excuse for ambiguity on this. We have our Bibles, and we are capable of studying this subject thoroughly. I believe that your view of the Rapture will have a significant impact on the success of your ministry.

The Second Coming of Jesus will be to establish God’s Kingdom upon the earth. But prior to that Second Coming, there will be an event when the church will be caught up to be with the Lord.

First, we know that Jesus promised He would come again. In John 14, we read, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. 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 unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3). The Lord promises to come again and to receive His disciples unto Himself, that where He is we might be also.

Paul, in writing to the Corinthians, declared, “Behold, I shew you a mystery” (I Corinthians 15:51a). A mystery in the New Testament means something that has not yet been revealed by God in His progressive revelation of Himself, His purposes, and plans to man.

Paul, for instance, said to the believers at Colosse, “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). The Old Testament prophets did not comprehend what it meant that Christ would be in us. Even the angels desire to fully grasp these things (I Peter 1:12). Referring back to the passage in I Corinthians, we are introduced to another never-before revealed truth, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump” (I Corinthians 15:51-52a, italics added).

When the Bible declares that we will “all be changed,” it means there will be a metamorphosis. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (I Corinthians 15:53). All believers will go through a glorious change at the coming of Jesus Christ for His Church.

There are people who say, “I don’t believe in the Rapture of the Church,” because the word “rapture” isn’t in our English Bible. But in I Thessalonians 4:17, we read, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (italics added).

The word translated “caught up” in the Greek is harpazo, which means “to be taken away by force.” It’s usually used as a military term related to the taking of hostages. The Latin Vulgate translates harpazo as “rapture,” and that is where we get our English word “rapture.” Jesus will return to rapture His church. That’s the first event.

The second event is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, when He comes again with His church to establish His Kingdom upon the earth. The Rapture then is distinct from the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. We’re told, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7). And, “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Colossians 3:4). The Second Coming of Jesus will be to establish God’s Kingdom upon the earth. But prior to that Second Coming, there will be an event when the church will be caught up to be with the Lord. The thing I love most about this event is that we will “… ever be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:17).

There is a distinct difference between Jesus coming for His church and Jesus coming with His church. He will be coming for His church at the Rapture. But at the Second Coming, He will be coming with His church.

In the next installment, we will continue with part 2 of this 6 part series, as Pastor Chuck discusses the differences between the Rapture of the church and the Second Coming. This discussion highlights one of the foundational beliefs of Calvary Chapel which are known as the Calvary Chapel Distinctives.

All verses above are quoted from the King James Version.

© 2020 Calvary Chapel Magazine. All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.