By Barbara Latta, Crosswalk.com
When the disciples watched Jesus rise into the clouds after His resurrection, they were still thinking He would establish a political kingdom on the earth (Acts 1:6).
The prophecies in the Old Testament were not separated as different appearances. They only focused on Him as the Messiah who would release them from the bondage of Roman rule. Those living under the Law didn’t have all the pieces of the puzzle yet.
Once the truth of the Son’s fulfillment as Savior and coming King were revealed as two separate advents, the church looked forward to seeing Him again. As the signs Jesus predicted started to escalate, such as persecution and false Messiah’s arising, they thought He would come back to earth immediately (1 John 2:18).
Because of this anticipation, some in the newly formed churches were deceived by the words of others that the return of Christ had already happened, and they had been left out.
Paul had to reassure them that the day of the Lord had not occurred.
But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief (1 Thessalonians 5:4 NIV).
The early church was focused on expanding the gospel to the far areas of the world. They looked for the Savior’s return with joy and exuberance hoping the day of their translation would be soon and they sought to make others aware (James 5:8).
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What Is the Rapture and Jesus' Return - Meaning
The experience of being caught up with Christ in the air was first termed “rapture” by Irish evangelist, John Nelson Darby, who taught on pre-millennialism. It is an English translation of the Latin rapio, which means to seize or snatch away.
The dictionary definition of rapture is: that state or condition of being rapt, or being carried away by one’s self by agreeable excitement; violence of a pleasing passion; extreme joy or pleasure; ecstasy.
To look forward to the most wonderful occasion that could happen in a person’s life would bring unprecedented joy. A bubbling over of anticipation.
Some criticize the use of the word rapture because that word is not in the Bible.
But the word trinity is not in the Bible either. Both terms are simply word pictures. Trinity shows us a description of the three-fold person of God Almighty.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…(Genesis 1:26a).
While it is clear from scripture that the Godhead is three persons in one, the use of trinity just helps us speak of the infinite personality of God through one word.
The word rapture is used to describe how believers will join the Lord in the air in the same way. It’s merely a description of the event believers look forward to.
Scriptures That Tell Us about the Rapture and Jesus' Return
Here are some scriptures to describe why we refer to Christ’s catching away of His saints as extreme joy or pleasure.
Those who have gone before us will be in the sky with Christ and we will see them at His coming.
For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him (1 Thessalonians 4:14).
We know we will be taken to our new home and live with God.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am (John 14:3).
Having a promise of escaping judgment is a definite reason to rejoice and be enraptured.
Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth (Revelation 3:10).
Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other (Matthew 24:30-31).
We have the promise of a new body that will never die, suffer pain or sadness, or age again.
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body (Philippians 3:20-21).
The glory we will see and experience is beyond the ability for anyone on earth to describe.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).
We know He will descend from the sky in the same way He left. This gives us the assurance that false Christ’s cannot come this way.
“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
We will all be changed quickly. Those who are transported in the rapture will escape physical death.
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will all be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will ever be with the Lord forever (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
We can be relieved of the stress of trying to figure out when this will happen. Our part is to believe in Him as Lord and know we will be taken when He does come for us.
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father (Mark 13:32).
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Encouragement to Believers for the Rapture and Jesus' Return
Paul left the message to the Thessalonians with the command to encourage one another. To look forward to the Lord’s gathering of His saints from the ends of the earth is the most joyful invitation we can receive. Any earthly celebration ever attended cannot compare to the excitement of sitting down at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
Therefore encourage one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
Christians have looked forward to the return of God’s Son since the day He ascended into heaven. As the world’s philosophies sink deeper into darkness, the light of Christ shines brighter and brighter. There is no better way to describe joining the Lord in the air except as enraptured, as we are lifted out of this fallen earth and leave this mortal body behind.
Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near (Luke 21:28).
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Barbara Latta is a true southerner and is transplanted from Arkansas to Georgia. She writes a monthly column in her local newspaper and contributes to devotional websites, online magazines, and has stories in several anthologies. She is the author of God’s Maps, Stories of Inspiration, and Direction for Motorcycle Riders. She enjoys traveling with her Harley-riding prince on his motorcycle taking in the creativity of nature. Drinking coffee on the patio while the sun comes up is her favorite time of day. Barbara shares about walking in grace and thriving in hope on her blog, Navigating Life’s Curves, at www.barbaralatta.blogspot.com. She cherishes her role in life as a wife, a mom to two grown sons, and Mimi to one granddaughter.
This article is part of our larger End Times Resource Library. Learn more about the rapture, the anti-christ, bible prophecy and the tribulation with articles that explain Biblical truths. You do not need to fear or worry about the future!