Important Information About
Who Goes at the Rapture
Rock of Offence Special Commentary
This is Part 1 of a two-part Bible study.
Click on the link below to access
the next section.
The Rapture And Its
One of the most controversial and misunderstood topics among Christians today is "the rapture of the Church". It’s far more than just some theory or personal opinion involving end-time events. According to Saint Paul, the rapture (or "catching away") represents the full manifestation of Christ's finished work at the cross. All true members of the New Testament Church (also known as "The Body of Christ") will participate in this incredible Divine transition. The 'catching away' is a salvation-related event, where God changes (or translates) Christian believers - both those who are in the grave and those who are still living … from mortal flesh into an immortal spiritual body; just like the one Jesus Christ received at His resurrection and now possesses. In the New Testament God refers to the Church as "the Body of Christ" for a very good reason. This name implies that 'Christ's many membered body of earthly mortal believers' will, one day, each be given the same kind of immortal spiritual body that He now has. God’s intention is to literally change all believers into the image of His Son. The Apostle Paul said it this way ...
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He (Jesus Christ) might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified." (Romans 8:28-30)
Important Note: The rapture is where this future glorification of the 'freely justified believer in Christ' (Romans 3:24-26) takes place. When God applies the term 'justified - or justification by faith' to a Christian ... it means that He now considers (or reckons) such a person to have never sinned; regardless of the fact that they have sinned and will continue to sin in some measure for the rest of their earthly life. This Divine decree of justification is not done arbitrarily. It becomes a legal and eternal declaration of Heaven's court made possible by the sacrifice of the Lamb of God (God's Son) who permanently took their sin away at the cross (John 1:29 and Romans 5:15-21).
The Apostle John uses different words
to emphasize the same truth;
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:1-2)
This radical transformation is necessary to fulfill God's redemptive program initiated by Christ's sacrificial death at the cross. The transition from mortal to immortal occurs at the "catching away" of the Church. Instead of using the word 'rapture', some theologians refer to this event as "the translation of the Church". Regardless of the label, this 'translation' - or rapture - is the final stage of the unmerited and undeserved salvation Jesus purchased for us through the blood of His cross. Through the act of giving believers a spiritual body like the one the Lord Jesus Christ now has, God is fulfilling His promise of salvation, which was previously guaranteed (or secured) through ‘the sealing of the Holy Spirit’ when they first believed in Christ (described in more detail below). The translation or rapture is not some speculative topic of Bible eschatology. Yet, depending on what church group you belong to, contradictory teachings and opinions abound causing massive confusion and emotional accusations.
God Gives An Amazing
At the cross, Jesus finished all the work necessary for the believer to obtain salvation (eternal life). However, the New Testament reveals that Christ's pre-purchased salvation will not be fully manifested until 'the day of redemption,' which occurs in the future (and is now imminent). Until then, God seals us with the Holy Spirit - and refers to this Divine act as 'His guarantee' ... that the 'purchased possession' (the believer) will receive their fully manifested salvation on that future day. The 'sealing with the Holy Spirit' takes place at the exact same time anyone first believes on (or places their faith in) Jesus Christ ... which also activates God's guarantee and immediately places them in His family. This is why the Bible refers to salvation as 'God’s gift of eternal or everlasting life' (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9). Our Heavenly Father refers to Christ's salvation as being 'eternal' ... because He will never revoke it once it's received. Contrary to popular Christian teachings – God does not unseal a believer when they sin ... and then performs a 'resealing' only when they repent. The sealing (or God’s guarantee) occurs only once and remains in place until that future day of our redemption; also known as the rapture. Otherwise, the sealing wouldn’t be much of a guarantee. At the rapture our physical bodies are changed from mortal to immortal (1 Corinthians 15:50-55). Paul refers to this change as a "quickening". According to the original Greek language of the New Testament, the word 'quicken' means to 'make alive' - which is exactly what happens when the believer receives their immortal body at the rapture - that will never again experience sickness and death. (see Romans 8:11 quoted below).
Guarantee To The Believer
"For God's gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.]" (Romans 11:29 Amplified Bible)
"In Him (Jesus Christ) you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession (all true believers in Christ), to the praise of His glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14 - Also Read About “God’s Guarantee” which is repeated In 2 Corinthians 1:22 and 2 Corinthians 5:5)
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
"But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you." (Romans 8:11)
Identifying the source of the confusion surrounding the rapture is not easy, nor is it popular. Most church leaders avoid it like the plague. Yet, it's the cause of popular yet false religious teachings with roots that can be traced all the way back to the first century. The Apostle Paul voiced one of the most horrific warnings found in the New Testament about this crisis. Following the cross, a group of ministers and evangelists began preaching a distorted version of "gospel of Christ". Saint Paul exposed and condemned this teaching as "a different gospel". He warned that "another Jesus" (not the authentic Jesus of the New Testament) was the central focus of this "different gospel".
This means there are two widely accepted
versions of "the gospel of Christ"
circulating around the institutional
church; where both claim to be ...
"Fundamental Bible truth".
But, God warns that He honors only one of these gospels. The version Paul taught in his epistles is the correct one. The "different gospel of Christ" (and its "other Jesus") is a dangerous counterfeit that currently dominates the modern church and hides behind countless good-sounding names and labels. We should remember that a counterfeit of anything is designed to look exactly like the original. In order to preserve unity, most modern-day Christians are taught to accept both versions. They are told that both are valid and the controversy is caused by a "difference of opinion" which must be set aside. Yet, the New Testament warns that this 'other Jesus and his different gospel' is a teaching that does not come from God - but from His enemy. Paul went even further and offended his audience by saying ... those who believe this different gospel are 'bewitched', cutoff from Christ - and have fallen from God's Grace. (Galatians 1:6-8, Galatians 3:1-3, Galatians 5:4, 2 Corinthians 11:3-4)
Note: Since this problem is discussed in other commentaries and studies, we won't go into great detail in this insert.
Christ's authentic gospel - and the counterfeit gospel - each have their own interpretation of the rapture and the Tribulation period that follows. Few church members understand that one interpretation is right and one is wrong. The conflict between these two gospel messages is the source of the confusion surrounding the topic of the rapture. The authentic gospel correctly states that God provides the rapture (a salvation event for the Church) for all true believers - and is given according the 'free justification of Christ's blood' ... and 'the free gift of eternal life obtained without works or merit' (Romans 3:24-26, Ephesians 2:4-9, Romans 6:23, Romans 4:4-8, Titus 3:5-7). The 'different gospel' (and its countless variants) insists that the rapture is only for 'a worthy few' as a reward for righteous behavior, faithfulness and Christian service. It makes the requirements to participate in the rapture dependent on religious performance and some type of obedience connected to the Old Testament Law of Moses. This popular belief is contrary to Christ's finished work at the cross which purchased our complete salvation; including its fulfillment at the believer's translation. Under the 'different gospel' and its dependency upon Old Testament Law, only a few 'overcomers' are thought to be able to achieve the high religious standards to be 'worthy' (or righteous). Yet, contrary to popular church teachings, God warns that no one - not even a few - can satisfy these requirements. Under Christ's New Covenant that started after the cross, failure is always the result if the previous Old Testament program, which God now considers to be obsolete, is illegally used to determine the worthiness (righteousness) of an individual.
"For the Law was given through Moses,
but Grace and Truth came through
Jesus Christ." (John 1:14-17)
"But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He (Jesus) is also mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second." (Hebrews 8:6-7)
"In that He (Jesus Christ) says, “a new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away." (Hebrews 8:13)
As a result, Christ's Gospel of Grace
based on the New Covenant that didn't
start until after the cross - gives
all believers good news:
"For as by one man's disobedience (Adam) many were made sinners, so also by one man's obedience (Jesus Christ) many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:17-19)
The righteousness that comes from Christ's one act of obedience at the cross, which is then imputed to the believer - qualifies (or makes worthy) - MANY - for the blessed hope of the rapture. Understanding the root cause of the controversy allows us to cut through the confusing rhetoric and false accusations of the critics who preach 'a different gospel'.
Did Paul Really Mean
In his epistles to the Church, the apostle Paul taught that "all saved Christian believers" would be changed and caught up at the rapture of the Church (1 Corinthians 15:50-56). One reason Paul deliberately used the phrase, “we shall all be changed” was to silence those who insist that the rapture is a reward given only to a few high-performance and devoted believers. If it didn’t include 'all', Paul would have said so. By using the phrase 'we shall all be changed', Paul was emphasizing a New Covenant truth - that those with a high level of spiritual performance and those who are lacking or deficient in these qualities (Paul referred to them as "carnal Christians") are both included ... along with everyone in between. The popular teaching that the rapture is a special reward for Christian service and holy living reserved for a few Christians with exceptional behavior is dangerously misleading. The rapture includes 'all' of the believing Church made righteous and worthy by the blood of Christ through a faith apart from works (Romans 4:4-8). The Church is is known as "The Body of Christ" on earth and will become "The Bride of Christ" upon its arrival in heaven after the great ‘catching away’.
What He Said?
However, dangerous erroneous church teachings exist, which masquerade as Christian fundamentalism … such as the more recent "bridal rapture theology". This is a variant of what some theologian’s refer to as, ‘partial rapture error’ which is found in many Bible prophecy circles. It teaches that 'The Bride of Christ', mentioned in the New Testament, is a special 'sub-group' of the entire believing Church ... and does not include all saved Christian believers, but only those who have attained (or achieved) some high level of 'sinless living' and devotion to Christ. It warns that only this special group is qualified to leave at the rapture ... and continues by stating that those who are deficient in these attributes will be left behind for more "purification" during the Tribulation. Here's the problem: How can you know (or have any assurance) which group you are in? How is it possible to know that you've 'crossed over' and are now one of God's privileged few (as these preachers define it). If you’re someone watching for the return of Christ, your inability to answer these questions creates intense doubt, fear and mental torment.
According to Scripture, being left behind will result in a near-certain death sentence for many of those remaining on earth during the Tribulation period. The same ones preaching this false end-time “bridal theology” will lead you to believe they have satisfied God's performance requirements to be part of "Christ's Bride". Yet, this is only an illusion based on religious deception. The truth is - these preachers can't really know if they qualify until the rapture occurs ... and by then it's too late to change. As a result, they are lying to their audience if they claim 'to know'. This is why their doctrine is often called 'tread-mill religion'. Saint Paul called it deception and religious bondage.
This is how it works:
You are terrified at the thought of being "left behind" - so you keep trying to be righteous enough, holy (or sinless) enough and faithful enough; hoping to satisfy the qualifications to become one of God's ‘chosen few’. Yet, regardless of how hard you try the assurance you seek never comes. The unfortunate followers of this doctrine are persuaded to reject a liberating New Testament truth; that the blood of Jesus Christ washed away all their sin. After the cross, it's only faith in His blood (and not faith in personal works and behavior) that makes anyone (the Bible uses the term 'whosoever') perfectly righteous, perfectly worthy and perfectly holy. The cleansing power of Christ's blood is overwhelmingly sufficient to "fully qualify" the entire believing Church (from the least to the greatest) to participate in the rapture ... and not just a privileged few.
A Dismembered Body of Christ
Partial rapture theology dominates most churches that teach end-time Bible prophecy. Many popular evangelists teach it as Bible truth. It's directly tied to a modified Old Testament 'merit-based' (conditional) salvation that the Apostle Paul referred to as "a different gospel" ... and condemned in his epistles using offensive terminology. He warned that it was a false system of faith that God does not honor. While the few churches and ministries that teach Bible prophecy are to be commended for their efforts, the way many treat the blessing of the rapture (also called "the believer's blessed hope" - Titus 2:13-14) is misleading and spiritually toxic. In the New Testament, the rapture represents the future fulfillment of the believer's salvation. As a result, the rapture is a 'salvation-related event' for Christ's entire blood-bought (Redeemed) Church. However, many churches and denominations that teach Bible prophecy like to strip the rapture from its place of honor in Christ's salvation (also called God's unmerited gift to the believer - Romans 10:8-13, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9 Romans 4:4-8, Romans 3:24-26 and Titus 3:4-7) ... and subtly transplants it into some optional format or context where it can be redefined - or completely ignored. A vast majority choose to redefine the rapture as a major end-time event reserved for only the most obedient and devoted Christians.
This common teaching carries horrific
spiritual consequences. It perverts the
fulfillment of Christ's salvation at the
rapture - into a works and merit-based
religion that the New Testament labels
Partial rapture theology is found under countless names and labels designed to hide its real characteristics. Bridal rapture theology is only a more recent variant of this error. Here's another variation of the same error with a different label - but contains the same or similar toxic roots :
Some evangelists and prophecy teachers claim that the rapture is only for what they call, “the overcoming remnant Church”. They define this group - not as the whole Church that consists of all believers - but as a special high-performance sub-group that are few in number (hence the word 'remnant'). Similar to the bridal rapture error, these preachers insist that this 'remnant church' does not include all believers. It excludes those who are living in or struggling with some kind of sin which disqualifies them from being an ‘over-comer’. The Christians who are said to be included in this 'overcoming remnant church' - as it is called - are those who achieve some high level of sinless living (often called 'sinless perfection') and are allowed to participate in the rapture as, 'a special reward for this achievement'. The key word here is ‘achieve’, which means it’s a false religious faith based on personal effort and not on Christ’s sacrifice (as the Lamb of God) that permanently takes away their sin. Paul condemns this kind of faith as; ‘walking according to the flesh’ (Romans 8:2-4). It is believed that this special position is achieved (or earned) through possessing a personal 'deep devotion to Christ', which is thought to place them in a separate and privileged class above all other nominal believers who are ‘less devoted’ and fail to decisively overcome sin. They insist that only this 'overcoming remnant church' is "caught up" to meet Christ in the air at the rapture … while all other true believers who continue to struggle with sin and fail in some way to practice 'Christ-like character' (which is most everyone) are punished by being ‘left behind’ for more purification during the coming Tribulation on earth.
Note: See the teaching entitled, "Who is The Bride of Christ?"
that follows this commentary for more insight.
When we use the phrase “all saved
Christian believers” we do not
mean “all those who profess to
be Christian”. There is a big
difference between these two
According to Christ's New Covenant program that began after the cross, an “authentically saved Christian” is one who receives God’s gift of eternal life obtained only through His unmerited and undeserved favor (also called Grace) as outlined in Romans 10:8-13, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9 Romans 4:4-8, Romans 3:24-26 and Titus 3:4-7. A vast majority of religious people refer to themselves as a 'Christian', yet refuse to accept eternal life as the free, unconditional and unmerited gift of God fully purchased by the blood of Christ on their behalf. They attempt to obtain eternal life (salvation) the Old Testament way through good works, trying to achieve (through self-effort) their own righteousness, striving to keep Old Testament Law - and through church affiliation.
These well-intentioned and highly
committed people are zealous for
Christ and His teachings.
However, they are part of a stealth group that the Apostle Paul calls “false brethren, false apostles of Christ and false ministers of righteousness" ... who fellowship among us. They openly carry Bibles, attend church services, pray, evangelize, participate in praise and worship, give to the poor – and generally act in a way you would expect Christians to act. Some are also highly educated and respected church leaders. However, according to the New Testament, it is possible that God will not allow many in this group to participate in the rapture with the rest of the Church. Is this because they have some kind of sin or wrong behavior in their life? No - it's because they have placed their faith and trust in "a different gospel", which is a close counterfeit (or look-alike) of the real Gospel of Christ. The counterfeit gospel motivates its followers to obtain salvation in a way that Christ’s New Covenant, established at the cross, declares to be forbidden and illegal. As a result, God does not honor, nor does He grant salvation according to its principles and rules; regardless of anyone’s good intentions or loving disposition. This is why the apostle Paul labels those that teach and propagate this "different gospel" as being "accursed", which suggests Divine rejection (Read Galatians 1:6-8). Paul sounds one of the most terrifying warnings in the Bible on this topic of “a different gospel”. This is why we should not make the mistake of thinking that all of this represents some "difference of opinion". It's a popular false theology that masquerades as authentic Christianity - and has plagued the Church since the first century ... which means believers should avoid it at all costs.
God never uses the Tribulation
period as a way to provide
additional purification and
discipline for under-performing
Here are some Scriptural references,
which are repeated throughout our
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 14:12 KJV)
"...Being justified freely by His Grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:24-26)
"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the Grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:6-8)
"And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the Gospel might continue with you." (Galatians 2:4-5)
"O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:1-3)
"But none of these things move me; neither do I esteem my life dear to myself, if only I may finish my course with joy and the ministry which I have obtained from [which was entrusted to me by] the Lord Jesus, faithfully to attest to the good news (Gospel) of God's Grace (His unmerited favor, spiritual blessing, and mercy)." (Acts 20:24 Amplified Bible, which defines the Gospel of Grace as God's unmerited favor and mercy)
But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:12-15)
"For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” Yet the law is not of faith ..." (Galatians 3:10-12)
"You have become estranged (separated and cutoff) from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; You have fallen from Grace." (Galatians 5:4)
"For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: For if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain (The word 'vain' means that Christ's death becomes meaningless)." (Galatians 2:19-21)
Who Is The Bride Of Christ?
A Special Rock of Offence Commentary
Note: The following study is a repost of a separate commentary that we wanted to include in this discussion about the rapture. As a result, it may seem repetitive in some places.
Most students of the Bible understand that the rapture is a future event where Christ returns and calls His bride away from the earth. There are four major references in the New Testament concerning Christ's Bride. One well-known reference is found in the book of Revelation. Yet, Paul mentions “the Bride” three times in Romans 7:4, 2 Corinthians 11:2 and Ephesians 5:28-32. There are more indirect references when you include the parables Jesus taught about the wedding feast.
Paul, speaking to all believers in Christ
at Rome made the following statement:
"Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you might be married to another - to Him Who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. (Romans 7:4)
Once again, in his epistle to all believers
at Corinth, Paul writes;
"For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." (2 Cor 11:2)
Why do we draw attention to the
fact that Paul is making these
comments about the “Bride of
Christ” to all believers?
A growing number of end-time prophecy teachers are attempting to redefine "The Bride of Christ" as an elite group of Christians, who possess a high level of devotion to the Lord. They claim that this special "high performance" group does not include all true believers. These Bible teachers (and their followers) insist that "the Bride" represents only the most faithful and devoted members of the Church. They claim that this special group of “overcomers” (some preachers call them “the overcoming remnant church”) will be the only ones God chooses to participate in the rapture. It also means that all other authentic Christian believers, who fails to 'overcome' will be left behind for additional purification during the tribulation. As previously stated in other commentaries, this is another variation of what is often called, "the partial-rapture error" found in many Bible prophecy circles. It represents a continuing effort by legalists (those that preach a "different gospel" condemned by Saint Paul) to divide Christ's body. The popular, yet misleading theology of legalism (and its countless variants) began in the first century. In his epistles to the Church, Saint Paul attempts to expose and condemn this teaching that has led many believers astray in their faith.
There are two terms that describe 'all' true believers in Christ. The first is "The Body of Christ" ... and the second is "The Church". Scripture teaches that both terms describe the same group of people, which is all those in every place, who have trusted Christ as their Savior and Redeemer. Concerning this group, Saint Paul gives some important insight :
"And He (Jesus Christ) is the head of the body, the Church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence." (Colossians 1:18)
"And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." (Eph 1:22-23 KJV)
Paul announces TO THE ENTIRE CORINTHIAN CONGREGATION...
"Now ye are the Body of Christ, and members in particular." (1 Cor 12:27)
Notice that Paul is declaring all believers in Christ at Corinth to be members of the Body of Christ. He did not say that Christ's body was a special group of only the most devoted and faithful. Understanding this 'all' inclusive term (the Body of Christ) is important because Paul rebuked the Corinthian believers as being some of the most "carnal" under his care. Yet, these "carnal Christians" are also part of the body of Christ, despite their deficiencies. In his epistles to both the Colossians and the Ephesians (Colossians 1:18 and Ephesians 1:22-23 quoted above), Paul reveals an important fact; that "the body" (or the Body of Christ) of which Christ is the head - is also known as the Church. This means all believers who make up 'the body' is the same 'all' who exist as Christ's Church.
Paul brings these facts together in an important truth, when teaching about the relationship between a husband and his wife.
"So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church: For we are members of His Body, of His flesh, and of His bones.
Pay particular attention to
the next statement.
"For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: But I speak concerning Christ and the Church." (Ephesians 5:28-32)
When teaching about the relationship between a husband and a wife, Paul reveals "a mystery" about Christ and His Church. Here's another way of saying the same thing: "This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and His bride (and future wife), the Church". At a marriage ceremony, a bride becomes a wife.
The "Bride of Christ" is not a special group (or sub-set) of devoted high-performance Christians, who are rewarded for their works and performance with the rapture ... while other under-performing and works-deficient Christians (Paul uses the word 'carnal') are left behind to endure additional purification and punishment for their failures. Jesus condemns this common yet popular religious practice that divides His body into different 'classes or sub-groups' based on their spiritual performance. Jesus Christ has "one undivided body” - not a collection of dismembered body parts … where some leave at the rapture while others are rejected and left behind. If you've obeyed the simple conditions of the Gospel found in Romans 10:8-13 and 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 - then you've successfully received God's gift of eternal life, been sealed with His Holy Spirit … and are now "freely justified by His Grace" through a faith without works (Romans 3:24-26 and Romans 4:4-8). We should remember that ‘being justified’ (often called "justification by faith") means that God now considers (or reckons) you, as a member of Christ’s body, to be perfectly sinless.
This ‘reckoning’ is performed so that
the entire body exists in the same
sinless state as Jesus Christ its Head.
God imputes His Son’s sinless condition in a way that overrides our own imperfect and sinful condition. This Divine act makes us perfectly righteous and worthy. When a believer possesses Christ’s righteousness (also referred to as “the righteousness of God” in 2 Corinthians 5:21) - it’s impossible to be ‘more righteous’. Contrary to popular church teachings, this 'imputed righteousness of Christ' covers all of the believer's sin; past, present and future. The simple act of believing on (or placing your faith in) Jesus Christ - places you in the Body of Christ, which also makes you a member of Christ's Church … and later at the rapture; a member of the Bride of Christ.
The Church (or Body of Christ) consists of all true believers on earth. However, when the Church is suddenly ‘snatched away’ and taken to heaven at the rapture, it now becomes Christ's Bride (and His wife after the marriage).
"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." (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)
Those who attempt to ensnare you by claiming that the Bride of Christ is a special group of 'elite Christians' (because of their exceptional level of faithfulness and righteous living) ... who God selects and separates from among the Church to be in the rapture - are exposing you to a spiritually toxic doctrine. It may sound reasonable to a religiously minded person, but the Bible calls it; "the way that seems right, but ends in death" (Proverbs 14:12).
Additional information is available
at the following links:
Imputation: The New Covenant Method God Uses
To Transfer His Spiritual Benefits To Us
The New Testament Believer's Position
The Parable of the Ten Virgins - Clearing
Commentaries By Jack Kelly of 'GracethruFaith'
This is Part 1 of a two-part Bible study.
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