The rapture is probably one of the most misunderstood concepts by people all over the world today, with all sorts of opinions about it. Opinions centering on fear (of being left behind), of assurance, and some of nonchalance. This article seeks to address the misconceptions about it and from the Word of God, to accurately describe what it is about and why we as Christians should not be scared of it.
As a child, I used to see and read so many messages about the rapture, which included pamphlets, magazines, sermons and all, most of them with titles like: “It may be too late, don’t get left behind“, “make the decision now“, “Jesus is coming soon, don’t be left behind” and I used to get very scared. I would then ask for forgiveness and immediately begin to pray that the rapture happened right there and then cause I wasn’t sure my ‘holiness’ was going to endure the next three days, lol. The cycle went on and on till I was taught about the subject, and since then there’s been nothing but assurance in my heart.
Let’s start with what the rapture is, the RAPTURE is a phenomenon that believers around the world hold to and look forward to, when our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would come and take us home to heaven, then the end of the world would come after that.. Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians explains it well, he says:
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 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.” 1Th 4:16-17 KJV
This is what every Christian looks forward to, to at last be reconciled with our Lover at the appointed time, when the dead in Christ rise to meet Him, and we who are alive are transformed to meet Him in the air at the sound of the trumpet.
Now, the most common misconception about the rapture is that not every Christian would be ‘qualified’ at that day to be caught up to meet Christ, owing to reasons such as a soiled garment, or heavy weights holding the believer in question down etc. These theories postulate that the believer at the point of conversion receives a clean white robe as a symbol of his holiness and is responsible for keeping the robe in question clean and unspotted from the world, he or she would not be raptured if his garment is stained or if he’s tied down to the world by weights signifying sin and other fleshly desires.
These theories have been featured in several movies, books and even ‘dreams and visions’, with the motive of keeping the believer in check and inciting fear in hearts, but if we look closely, the original purpose of the scriptures that talk about the rapture were for the comfort of the believers to whom it was addressed. 1Th 4:16-18 says,
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (Emphasis added) – 1 Th 4:16-18 KJV
See that? So if the Apostle Paul intended that the readers would be comforted by his words, how did his words start to cause fear in people’s hearts… Let’s look at another example:
“51] Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53] For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54] So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55] O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56] The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57] But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58] Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” – 1 Cor 15:51-58 KJV
Reading through this passage, we see that Paul’s intention was to encourage those whom he was speaking to, so that they would look forward to the rapture with hopeful hearts, not think about it with uncertainty and wariness, scared of whether they would be qualified or not.
Verse 51 says “…we shall all be changed”!
There was no mention of any of them being left behind because of their sin. Think about it for a second, this letter was written to the most unruly and ‘fleshly’ church at the time, the Apostle Paul spent his time chiding and rebuking them cause of their unbecoming behavior, so if the rapture was meant for only the best and ‘most holy’ Christians, then He would not have addressed the Corinthians like that, He’d probably have looked for a more ‘qualified’ church to say “we shall all be changed” to.
With this in mind, we are assured that we also would be caught up and raptured with Christ, as many as believe and hope on His name will be saved! Paul speaking to the Ephesians says,
“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” Eph 2:6 KJV, we have been made to sit together with Christ in heavenly places, joined to Him by the Spirit of God! Where Christ is, there we are also. So if Christ is in heaven, then we are also with Him and are assured that when He comes, we shall be with Him.
“5] Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 6] Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7] (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8] We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” 2Co 5:5-8 KJV
Therefore we rejoice in hope, and our joy is made full with this knowledge, there should be no fear of being left behind as long as we believe on the name of Christ. I do not with false humility say “only God knows who would be raptured on that day” but with faith in the saving power of Christ speak assuredly that I would be raptured that day, and I would be reconciled to the one who loves me on that day. So speak these words for yourself everyday, and as the Apostle Paul said to the Thessalonians, I say to you: wherefore comfort yourself with these words.