By Terry James
Our new book, The Departure: God’s Next Catastrophic Intervention into Earth’s History, will be officially released October 2, God willing. I say “our” book” because a number of the most knowledgeable authorities in Bible prophecy have written chapters on the most relevant topics of our day. All issues and events involving what we consider to have prophetic import are, of course, looked at through the supernatural prism of God’s Word, the Bible. I consider it “our” book, not just mine.
More than that, I believe each of us who wrote for it considers it to be a volume devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ for these troubling although exciting times. We trust it will be a tool to help edify those who are in God’s family by pointing to the very real evidence that proves the coming of “the blessed hope” of Titus 2:13 is likely very near. To that extent, that’s another reason I call it “our” book. It’s written for all believers alive today, with the prayerful hope God’s family will awaken to Christ’s imminent coming.
With the book on the cusp of its release, I thought it good to use the "Nearing Midnight" column this week to look at exactly who I believe will go in the Departure – the Rapture, when Christ gives the command: “Come up here” (Rev. 4:1).
There might be some among the authors who would disagree on a couple of my views about specifically who will go to be with Jesus at the time of the Rapture. However, I will let them answer for themselves in their own forums and in their own ways. My own feeling on the differences we might have is like that of the late Dr. J. Vernon McGee, who more than once said that you can believe the way you want to believe. But, if you want to be right, you’ll want to come along with me on this…
Dr. McGee said that with a chuckle, and I hope you can hear the chuckle in my written expression, regarding my borrowing from that grand old Christian man’s humor.
First, I will state that God’s Word says, without equivocation, just who will go in the Rapture – the Departure:
“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: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51-52).So, it is plain that Paul the apostle was saying two major things about one classification of people. He was writing to the believers at Corinth. But, he was also writing to each and every believer who would come along during the Church Age. Every believer at Corinth during Paul’s day is long since dead. So he had to be addressing those who would be living at the time when Christ would call for them, as well as those alive at the time this letter was written.
The context of the letter is that of informing those Christians about a mystery regarding a stunning event in their future. His words were to put to rest some of their worries about what would happen to those Christians among them who had died. What would happen to them in terms of their going to heaven?
Paul was saying that: 1) Not all believers would die; some would not have to die, but would be alive at the time of a stupendous event; and 2) All believers, however, would be changed. They would be changed in one single moment of time. The dead would be made alive and put into supernatural bodies. Those alive at the time of the event would be changed into supernatural bodies while living.
The “mystery” Paul was revealing – I am convinced - was the one wrapped up in Jesus’ words as recorded by John the apostle:
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)Paul further expanded on this “mystery” in his letter to the Thessalonians:
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. (1 Thess. 4:16-17)So, the thing to consider is that believers of the Church Age (Age of Grace) – and Paul was talking to believers of this dispensation — will ALL go to be with Jesus when He calls them in that “twinkling of an eye” (atomos of time) moment – the Rapture. ALL believers of this dispensation will go to be with the Lord! Not a single individual who has accepted Christ for salvation will be left behind.
This truth includes every individual who never reached the intellectual ability – through brain incapacity or because of being too young — to understand that he or she must accept Christ for salvation. These are all under the blood of Christ for redemption and reconciliation to God, the Father. All will go to be with Jesus at the Rapture.
Some believe and teach that only those believers who are living in the will of God will go to be with Christ at the Rapture. Those living “carnal” lives, they believe, will be left behind to go through a time of God’s judgment and wrath, along with the unbelieving earth dwellers. But God’s Word doesn’t teach that some will go and some will stay. ALL believers, Paul plainly writes, will go to be with the Lord at the Departure. Paul writes further to the Thessalonians:
“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 with him” (1 Thess. 5:9-10).It is true that we are told by the Lord as recorded in Luke 21:36 that we are to watch and pray always that we may be accounted worthy to escape all of the things of the Tribulation. But “worthy” in this sense means that we should be living in such a way that we will not be ashamed when we stand before Him at the Judgment Seat – the bema. We should desire to hear our Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
This might not seem fair to those who disagree with me on this - those who believe they are living their own lives within God’s prescription for Christian deportment. But, it’s not what we think is or is not fair that matters. It’s what the Word of God says that matters in any question of spiritual truth. God’s truth – His Holy Word — says plainly that ALL believers who have died or are living during this present dispensation will go to be with the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ, when He makes that shout heard around the world to His bride: “Come up here!”
Rapture References - BPT (Jack Kelley)
The Doctrine of the Rapture - Up with the Son (Andy Woods)
What is the Rapture of the church? - GotQuestions.org
The "Age of Accountability" - Grace to You (John MacArthur)
The Departure: God's Next Catastrophic Intervention Into Earth's History - Terry James (Book)