Important Information About
Who Goes at the Rapture
Rock of Offence Special Commentary
We Which Are Alive And Remain
Will Be Caught Up
This is Part 2 of a two-part Bible study.
Click on the link below to access
the next section.
Why We Talk About the Rapture
Eschatology is the study of Bible prophecy involving various end-time events, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ - and His Millennial Kingdom. It is estimated that 1 out of every 25 verses in the New Testament is connected to eschatology. Spiritual leaders who refuse to discuss these issues are avoiding a large and important part of the Bible. A future event often referred to as 'the rapture' is directly related to 'Eschatology' – which is why many consider it “optional or nonessential”. However, we will discover why this common belief couldn’t be further from the truth.
According to Scripture, the rapture
represents the fulfillment and final
stage of the believer's salvation.
It is a major part of the redemptive
program that Jesus sacrificed His life
to establish at the cross.
When writing to the Thessalonian Church,
Paul contrasted the rapture - with God's
wrath which takes place during the
"For God hath not appointed us to wrath,
but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus
Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we
wake or sleep, we should live together
(1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)
This is why the rapture can never be a
reward for good works, holy living and
Christian service ... as many claim.
The goal of the Christian’s adversary (the devil) is to distort, discredit or - if he can - destroy the supernatural new covenant truths that empower our salvation. His relentless program of disinformation has existed since the days of the first century Church. It's a counterfeit (a well-made fake or imitation) theology that has claimed many victims within the Church. It achieves wide-spread acceptance through the skillful use of out-of-context Scripture. Unfortunately, the devil uses ministers who have noble ambitions and godly intentions. They outwardly appear to represent and speak for God - but are totally unaware of the ungodly influence that operates through their teachings. It’s important to remember that the religious leaders in the Bible who claimed to love and serve God were Christ’s most vicious opponents and critics – and was later instrumental in bringing about His execution. At one public event, Jesus rebukes them by saying, "You are of your father, the devil." Yet, these same men claimed to be God's spokesmen. Unfortunately, the modern-day counterparts of these first century ministers continue their mission to criticize and distort the Grace-based (unmerited and undeserved) salvation Jesus provided at the cross. One of their favorite targets is the rapture of Christ’s Church.
When you hear various church leaders (and their followers) say, “There is no such thing as the rapture” or ... “the Church must go through the tribulation” (a doctrine known as post-tribulationalism) or ... “the rapture is a modern-day myth invented by Rev. John Darby in 1830” – you are hearing different aspects of this popular propaganda campaign from our enemy. John Darby was a member of the Brethren movement which followed a literal interpretation of Scripture. In addition to many other Bible topics, Darby taught a pre-tribulational rapture message. Yet, he was only repeating what Saint Paul taught in his epistles to the Church. Darby didn’t ‘invent the doctrine of the rapture’ as the critics claim. He did what all good Bible teachers should do - and aligned his ministry and message with what the New Testament said about the subject. However, emotional disagreements will always surface, as they do today, when the way the rapture is described in the New Testament Epistles of Paul begins to expose the falsehood behind certain widely-accepted church teachings. This is why some attempt to discredit Paul’s writings about the rapture, along with anyone who agrees with him. It's done to protect the many religious traditions, institutions and denominations - which are built on a misapplication of Scripture. The efforts of these ‘modern-day Pharisees’ are designed to discredit, not only a major Biblical truth, but also those who teach it. Since the subject of the rapture is directly tied to Christ’s salvation and His return at the end of the age, we feel it is necessary to address this popular disinformation campaign that sends inexperienced believers astray in their faith.
Fear and Doubt Leads Many Astray
Without Their Knowledge
As signs and events related to the 'end-times' increase in intensity - we begin to see more and more articles and commentaries with titles such as; “Are You Sure You’ll Be Included in the Rapture?” Most of these writers and commentators love God and have good intentions. Yet, good intentions never equates to Biblical truth. Anyone who has studied what the Scriptures say about the horrors of the Tribulation period is motivated to warn others about the danger. Concerning this period of time Jesus said;
"For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be." (Mark 13:19)
After the crucifixion of Christ, the Apostle Paul makes the following statement about this future tribulation period, which the Bible also refers to as God’s wrath (or judgment) against the world’s sin.
"For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus Who delivers (or rescuses) us from the wrath to come." (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10)
Since God has prepared a rescue or “way of escape” for all His true believing people, it would be a disaster to suddenly discover that you’re disqualified when that glorious day arrives. Unfortunately, there are some who use the intense fear associated with being “left behind” as a way to coerce listeners to agree with their particular religious dogma, which is always said to represent the truth of Scripture. But, God warns that there is both a right and a wrong way to interpret and believe the Bible. The wrong way takes well-meaning people dangerously astray in their faith. When anyone claims to be a “Bible believer” it does not necessarily mean they 'believe the Bible the right way'. When a professing Christian has serious doubts as to whether God accepts them enough to be included in the rapture ... they will try almost anything to relieve the mental torment. The institutional Christian Church is filled with those who think this way because they were taught to “believe the Bible wrong”.
In our commentaries, an effort is made to describe (to the point of being redundant) an aberrant theology that uses out-of-context Scripture as its defense. The doctrine is found on both the Catholic and Protestant sides of the institutional church. Among Protestant groups it commonly appears under the generic label of “Christian fundamentalism”. Additional comments are provided HERE. This particular type of doctrinal error was introduced in the first century (and condemned by the apostles in Acts chapter 15) ... so it’s been around for almost 2000 years. It uses the fear-based principles of the Old Testament Mosaic Law (which includes the Ten Commandments) as a way to coerce followers to obey the leadership of a church - or face the possibility of an eternity in hell. Under this program of the law, which operated before the cross, an individual had to obey a strict code of conduct to gain God’s acceptance - and salvation. In Hebrews chapter 8, it is referred to as “the first covenant”. Yet, in the same chapter, the New Covenant established by Jesus Christ at the cross is referred to as “the second covenant” - which is said to make the first covenant obsolete (Hebrews 8:6-13). This means that the cross of Christ changed all the previous requirements that needed to be satisfied to obtain God’s acceptance and salvation. Contrary to popular Bible teaching, Christ’s New Covenant is not an extension or continuation of the previous ‘first covenant’ program. The New Testament informs us that the cross of Christ fulfills and then abolishes the previous (or first) covenant ... and replaces it with the New Covenant Grace-based program (called the second covenant) that depends only on a person’s faith in Jesus Christ (meaning it is not dependent upon personal works, merit or religious performance – see Romans 4:4-8).
"Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the Law of Commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.” (Ephesians 2:11-22)
"And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of the requirements that was against us (the Law), which was contrary to us. And He (Jesus) has taken it (the Law) out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." (Colossians 2:13-14)
"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)
Identifying the Counterfeit
We see an expression of this dangerous form of counterfeit Christian teaching and wrong Bible believing when any minister, church or denomination exploits a person’s fear of losing salvation (or being left behind at the rapture) as a way to gain their obedience. Why? Under the Old Testament program, salvation and the acceptance (or favor) of God depended on an individual’s obedience to the Law’s commandments. However, the cross of Christ radically changed (abolished and made obsolete) this previous requirement. Under the New Covenant, God uses the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ to replace the believer’s imperfect obedience, merit and behavior (Romans 3:24-26, 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Romans 5:15-21). As a result, God now considers (or reckons) the Christian to be totally acceptable to Him only on the basis of faith because ...
His salvation is now based on
the perfection of His Son,
Jesus Christ - and not on the
imperfect obedience and
behavior of the believer.
God’s acceptance and favor no longer depends upon the works or obedience of the believer – since He now considers that person “crucified with Christ and dead” (Galatians 2:19-21 and Colossians 3:3). All of Christ’s character attributes and possessions (which include eternal life and our worthiness to be in the rapture) are now “imputed” or superimposed, by God, onto the life of the undeserving believer. The Bible calls this Grace, or the unmerited favor of God. This is why eternal life is called “the gift of God” after the cross. Before the cross God did not give eternal life as a gift because the crucifixion of Christ, which initiated the New Covenant, had not yet occurred.
Jesus, speaking before His crucifixion clearly reveals this truth. A young man came to Him asking how to receive eternal life. The following Scripture tells the story:
"Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So He (Jesus) said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”" (Matthew 19:16-17)
Important Note: When the young man asked Jesus which commandments to keep in order to receive eternal life, He quoted from the Ten Commandments of the Law in Matthew 19 verses 18 through 22.
Jesus uttered these words before the
cross. However, the rules that
govern how eternal life is received
radically changed after Jesus was
"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by Grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His Grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by Grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it (Eternal Life) is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:4-9 - also see Romans 6:23)
BEFORE THE CROSS, under Old Covenant Law, God’s acceptance and favor, which resulted in salvation was granted to an individual according to their obedience, works and merit.
AFTER THE CROSS, under the New Covenant of Christ, God’s acceptance and favor is granted to all believers according to Christ’s perfect righteousness and holiness (His sinlessness) - through a faith that is not based on works and merit. This special New Covenant position is known as being “in Christ” and was not available under the previous Old Testament program.
Counterfeit Christianity illegally mixes the program of Old Testament Law with Christ’s New Covenant program recorded in the New Testament. It attempts to make God’s gift of eternal life (and a person’s worthiness to participate in the rapture) dependent, once again, upon the individual’s own works and merit and not solely on Christ their savior as mandated by the New Covenant.
“Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin." (Romans 4:4-8)
"...not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:5-7)
"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)
Additional information is available
at the following links:
The New Testament Believer's Position In Christ
Imputation: The New Covenant Method God
Uses To Transfer His Spiritual
Benefits To Us
Does This Mean Good Works
and Christian Character
To avoid any misunderstanding, it’s certainly proper to perform good works and possess Christ-like character and behavior for the right reasons. God instructs all believers to apply these attributes to their life as Christ's representatives on earth (Romans 6:1-4, Titus 2:13-14). Yet, God also warns that making these behavioral attributes - a requirement to obtain justification and salvation (which also includes our qualifications for the rapture), is a forbidden practice after the cross.
"Therefore by the deeds of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight". (Romans 3:20)
"You have become estranged (separated) from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from Grace." (Galatians 5:4)
Discerning the Difference Between
True and False Bible Believers
The modern Christian Church is divided into countless different groups. Yet, as we previously noted, all these groups can be placed into two general categories. The first is the largest and represents more than eight out of ten churches. In this study, one of the names we use to identify this group is;
THE PEOPLE OF THE LAW OF SIN
The second group is much smaller in size;
THE PEOPLE OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE
IN CHRIST JESUS
Any person, church or organization that claims to be “Christian” is in one of these two groups, but not in both. The names are taken from the following statement made by the Apostle Paul;
"For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulflled in us (or imputed to us) who do not walk according to the flesh (or trying to achieve salvation through works or religious performance) but according to the Spirit (or faith in the finished work of Christ apart from our works and personal merit)." (Romans 8:2-4 – Emphasis and Comments Added)
Today, both groups generally identify themselves as “Bible believing Christians”. However, the way each one believes the Bible is very different.
THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH GROUP ... possesses an Old Testament mentality concerning sin which is then illegally mixed into the New Testament salvation of Christ. Before the cross, all sin had to be acknowledged - and a deep repentance needed to take place before salvation could be obtained and kept. This group continues to deal with the human sin problem according to the principles of the Law of Moses given to Israel at Mount Sinai. Their teaching suggests that sin continues to rest on the shoulders of the believer and that the New Covenant, initiated by sacrificial death of Christ at the cross, is just an extension or continuation of the same Old Testament program of the Law. As a result, they leave their audience with the impression that salvation and its benefits continue to be obtained the Old Testament way ... which does not significantly change after the cross.
THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST GROUP ... possesses a New Testament (or New Covenant) mentality concerning Christ’s life and righteousness - which is now imputed (or reckoned) to us after Jesus took all our sin away at the cross. After the cross, sin no longer has the power to keep anyone from obtaining and keeping salvation as it did before the cross under Old Testament Law. The blood of Jesus Christ stripped sin of this power. John said it this way;
"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)
"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7)
Saint Paul used slightly different
"For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law (the program of the Old Testament), but under grace (Christ's New Covenant program)." (Romans 6:14)
As a result of the cross, salvation is now initially received through a 'faith without works' and described as God's gift to us (as outlined in Romans 10:9-13, Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:8-9). The Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification begins only after the gift of salvation is securely received. Sanctification can be viewed as a personal training program where God teaches us to live according to our “new life in Christ”, which also includes learning to avoid the sin that originally sent Jesus to the cross (Romans 6:1-4). This means that the believer now deals with any sin problem in their life 'after God’s gift of salvation is received' – and never as a pre-condition to obtain or keep salvation as previously required under the Old Testament program. Lack of success (or even total failure) during this life-long sanctification process does not invalidate the gift of eternal life (salvation), which we are allowed to keep according to the promise of God’s unmerited and undeserved favor (or Grace). Otherwise, the word “gift” becomes nonsensical.
"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)
Well-meaning Bible believers and teachers who embrace the Biblical theology of “the law of sin and death” reject this idea and attempt to undo and even redefine the Grace provided through the cross of Christ. As a result, demeaning labels are assigned to our “Liberty in Christ”, which is established upon the Grace of God. Some of these labels include;
- The watered-down gospel
- Greasy grace
- False Grace
- Easy believism
- The sugar-coated gospel
When you hear a preacher slip one of these demeaning labels into their sermon, it's a warning that their Bible teaching is laced with the Biblical program of “the law of sin and death”. I remember one radio evangelist, who angrily described those who believe in the Gospel of Grace (or the group we call “the people of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus”) as being members of “the grace cult” - and suggested that the entire group was “of the devil”. We bring out these points to illustrate how deeply rooted “the law of sin and death” (and those who teach it) has become in various fundamental Bible teaching and evangelistic programs. This is why Paul made the following statement to the Church:
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage." (Galatians 5:1)
Many fail to make the connection that the “yoke of bondage” Paul is warning about here comes from the misapplication and misinterpretation of Scripture. It’s a false form of “Bible believing” related to the error of the “believing Pharisees” recorded in Acts chapter 15. The doctrine of these believing Pharisees was rooted in “the law of sin and death” as described in Romans 8:2-4 ... and became the early forerunner of various (and popular) merit-based salvation doctrines that many professing Christians embrace today. Yet, this way of handling the Scriptures was strongly condemned by the first century apostolic leadership of the Church.
Additional information is available
at the following link:
The Spiritual Revolution of Jesus Christ
In Romans 8:2-4, Paul said that the spiritual laws (or principles) that govern “the Spirit of life in Christ” - sets us free from the previous program of the Law of sin and death (or the Old Testament Mosaic Law). It’s a new set of laws (or principles) the Bible calls “The New Covenant” that started to govern after the cross (recorded in Paul’s “Epistles to the Church”) ... and sets us free from an older set of laws that operated before the cross (also recorded in the Bible). This means that the first group who insists on teaching Christian salvation according to the principles of the law of sin and death (or the previous and now obsolete covenant program according to Hebrews 8:6-13); is teaching the Bible in a way that our Heavenly Father now rejects. The reader should understand that God is not rejecting His Word in this situation. He’s rejecting (and condemning) a popular theology that teaches the Scriptures out-of-context and undivided, which is contrary to Paul’s instruction to “rightly (or correctly) divide the Word” in 2 Timothy 2:15. This divinely rejected theology (yet widely accepted within Christendom) has existed since the first century and is the foundation for all forms of “treadmill religion”, “the Galatian error” and counterfeit Christian religion discussed in many of our Bible studies. Various expressions of this theology is now firmly entrenched in many denominations found within the worldwide institutional Christian Church.
As a result, Paul sounds
this sober warning;
"For as many as are of the works of the law (or the law of sin and death) are under a 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)
"Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight". (Romans 3:20)
Both groups refer to themselves as
“Bible-believing Christians”. But,
after the cross, God only accepts the
doctrine and principles connected
with “the law of the Spirit of life
in Christ Jesus”. At the Last Supper,
Jesus referred to it as;
“The New Covenant in My Blood,”
... which makes the previous doctrine
and covenant program of the Old
(Luke 22:20, Hebrews 8:6-13).
The New Covenant is also called
“the new and living way of Christ"
... established on His blood.
(Hebrews 10:19-23 - Also Read:
Matt. 26:28, Mark 14:24, 1 Cor. 11:25,
2 Cor. 3:6, Heb. 9:15 and Heb. 12:24).
Will All Christians Be Included
in the Rapture?
A Right and a Wrong Way to
Respond to the Call to
After seeing the closeness of the Lord’s
return, a preacher made the following
statement to his audience:
If you have doubts about being included
in the rapture, it doesn’t hurt to take
out some insurance - such as;
- Start witnessing to your friends
- Hand out Bibles
- Pass out Gospel Tracts
- Be sure you’ve confessed and repented of all sin
- Commit yourself to intense prayer and fasting
- Help the poor and needy
- Do good deeds and acts of kindness
Here is our response:
All of these activities are important for reasons other than getting someone ready for the rapture. Contrary to what this minister believes - taking out this kind of 'insurance' cause’s tremendous damage to a believer's faith. Why? It sends the wrong message and has absolutely nothing to do with qualifying anyone to be in the rapture. The New Testament warns that these kinds of works performed to earn God’s favor (the Bible calls these acts “dead works”) perverts and redefines the authentic Gospel of Jesus Christ into a merit-based salvation ... or what the Apostle Paul calls; “a different gospel”. Yet, the event called “the rapture” is established on Christ’s Grace-based salvation; meaning it is not dependent on behavior, personal merit or good works.
The Apostle Paul literally shouts this
truth from the pages of Scripture.
“Now to him who works, the wages are not
counted as grace but as debt.”
“But to him who does not work (a person
who possesses no works or merit)”
“But believes on him (Jesus Christ) who
justifies the ungodly (has only faith)”
"His faith is accounted for righteousness
(or his faith allows God to credit him
with a righteousness he did not earn)"
“... just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin." (Romans 4:4-8)
If God imputes righteousness solely according to our faith in Christ (apart from our works and merit); then He also considers us worthy through the same “imputed righteousness by faith” to participate in the escape or rescue from judgment known as 'the rapture'. Before the cross (and as we repeat throughtout our studies), an individual’s worthiness was determined through their works and obedience to Old Testament Law (the law of sin and death). However, after the cross, worthiness no longer comes through personal effort and merit, but through the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ (the law of the spirit of life in Christ), which God now grants only by faith. In his letter to the Philippian Church, Paul said it this way;
"... and be found in Him (in Christ), not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith..."(Philippians 3:9)
Paul continues to share the same truth in his letter to the Galatian Church;
"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 (or the law of sin and death), then Christ is dead in vain (Note: The word 'vain' means that Christ's death becomes meaningless)." (Galatians 2:20-21)
In his epistle to the Romans, Paul provides additional revelation concerning the “imputed righteousness of Christ”.
“For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one (Adam), much more those who receive abundance of Grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as through one man's offense (Adam) judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through One man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience (Adam) many were made sinners, so also by One man's obedience many will be made righteous." (Romans 5:17-19 - Clarifications Added)
"For He made Him (Jesus Christ) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21 - Clarifications Added)
The countless church leaders and preachers who claim that the rapture is a reward given to a special elite group of Christians for their good works, sinless living and exceptional Christian service - are leading the Church dangerously astray.
We Which Are Alive
"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)
When considering both the foundational truth of Christ’s Gospel from Romans 4:4-8 ... along with the instruction Paul gave to the Thessalonian believers – the popular merit-based rapture message is exposed as another example of how some church leaders and their followers interpret the Bible out-of-context. According to the New Testament, there are only two requirements necessary to be included in the rapture.
FIRST: We must believe on Jesus Christ and receive His salvation through the "new birth" (some call it being 'born again'). Paul described it this way; “But to him who does not work but believes on him (Jesus Christ) who justifies the ungodly his faith is accounted for righteousness”.
SECOND: We must be alive on earth at the time of the rapture.
However, since the rapture of the Church also includes those believers who have died and whose bodies are now in the grave (the Bible also calls this: 'the resurrection') - there is actually only one requirement that applies to both groups:
Christ’s unmerited and imputed
righteousness described in
Romans 5:17-19 is referred to
“The free gift of righteousness”
This 'free gift' is assigned to
everyone who has placed their
faith in Christ (with no dependency
on works or merit) and settles
all worthiness issues regarding
the believer's qualifications to
participate in the rapture of
According Romans 4:4-8, God does not include personal works and merit in these qualifications, which is why it is referred to as “the free gift of righteousness”.
Will All Christians Be Included
in the Rapture?
The question as to whether all Christians will participate in the rapture is sometimes used by critics to sow confusion and discord. Confusion occurs when a question is vague, or based on a failure to correctly define specific terms. Generally speaking, the answer is NO, all Christians will not leave at the rapture - because not everyone who claims to be a Christian satisfies the faith requirements of New Covenant salvation – such as living their life according to the “imputed righteousness of Christ” previously discussed. The rather large and dominant group of Bible-believers, who attempt to obtain God’s salvation (and their place in the rapture) through the merit requirements of “the law of sin and death” (the Old Testament program of the Law), is one example we looked at earlier in this study. Many in the modern institutional Christian Church are “Christians in name only” and do not qualify to be included in the rapture because they possess a "counterfeit faith in Christ". Their faith is counterfeit because it is based on what Paul referred to as, “a different or perverted gospel of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4, Galatians 1:6-8), which God ultimately rejects without their knowledge. In this situation, God’s rejection is part of a curse that the Paul said exists on those who preach and embrace “a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6-8). Contrary to popular church teaching - a Christian is not disqualified from the rapture because they misbehaved, didn’t do enough good works ... or somehow failed to live in a sinless condition. They are disqualified because they chose to embrace the merit-based faith of Old Testament Law, which was made obsolete by the cross of Christ (Hebrews 8:6-13).
This is why Paul gave this
warning to all those who call
"Examine yourselves as to whether you
are in the faith. Test yourselves.
Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus
Christ is in you? - unless indeed
you are disqualified."
(2 Corinthians 13:5)
After specific phrases and terms are correctly defined, the answer to the previous question now becomes YES, for all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation and received God’s gift of eternal life and righteousness according to Christ's New Covenant principles (or the law of the spirit of life in Christ). Since Romans 4:4-8 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 reveals that God’s very own righteousness (or worthiness) is freely imputed to the believer as a result of their faith (apart from works and merit) – all of these believers, from the least to the greatest, are now considered worthy to be included in the rapture of the Church regardless of their behavior, spiritual performance or any failure to to live in a perfectly sinless condition.
Only those who are perfectly sinless and
righteous will be included in the rapture.
Yet, the Bible warns that no individual or
professing Christian can achieve this level
of perfection through their own efforts,
regardless of how hard they try. This is
why only those who have an authentic "New
Covenant faith in Christ", which allows God
to freely impute Christ's perfect
righteousness and sinlessness to them apart
from their personal merit and works – will
be allowed to participate in the rapture.
More information is available in Part 1 of this
study entitled, “Who Goes in the Rapture”.
This is Part 2 of a two-part Bible study.
Click on the link below to access
the next section.