The following is an excerpt from the book: Willmington’s Guide to the Bible, We (my family and some friends) seem to be discussing this topic quite a lot lately, so I thought I’d post some info that I have found quite interesting.
The Rapture of the Church.
A. The meaning of the word “rapture.” The term is derived from the Latin verb rapere, which means “to transport from one place to another.” Thus the next great scheduled event predicted by the Bible will take place when the Lord Jesus comes in the air to catch up his own. Several key passages bring this out: “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:15-17). – “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. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:51-53).
B. The participants of the rapture. For whom will Jesus come? It is the view of this theological summary that Christ will come again for his church, which is composed of all saved people from Pentecost up to the rapture itself. The actual participants of the rapture include: 1. The Lord Jesus himself. 2. The archangel (perhaps Michael; see Dan. 10:13, 21; 12:1; Jude 9; Rev. 12:7). 3. The bodies of dead believers: “for this corruptible must put on incorruption.” . The translated bodies of living believers: “and this mortal must put on immortality.”
C. The false views of the rapture.
1. That the rapture is the same as the Second Coming of Christ. False. At the rapture Jesus comes for his church in the air, while at the Second Coming he comes with his people to the earth. See Jude 14, 15; Rev. 19:11-16.
2. That the rapture will include only “spiritual” Christians, and that carnal Christians will be left behind to endure the tribulation. This theory is refuted by one little work in 1 Corinthians 15:51, Where Paul says that “we shall ALL be changed.” This false view is often called the “partial rapture” theory.
3. That the rapture will not occur until the middle of the tribulation, thus forcing the entire church to go through the first three and a half years of God’s wrath. This theory is called mid-tribulationism, and is refuted by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:0, where he says, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath…”
4. That the rapture will not occur until the end of the tribulation. This is known as post tribulationism. and is refuted by 1 Thessalonians 5:9 and Revelation 3:10.
The New Testament pictures the Church as the body and Bride of Christ. If the mid-tribulation or post-tribulation view were correct, then a part of this body would suffer amputation, and a section of the Bride would be left behind. In addition to this, one would be forced to conclude that all bodies of carnal departed Christians would likewise be left in the grave. This simply is not the clear teaching of The Word of God.
The Bible teaches that the rapture is pre-tribulational in nature and includes all believers. See Romans 5:9 and 1 Thessalonians 1:10. Perhaps the strongest proof of this statement is the fact that up t o chapter 6 of Revelation the church is mentioned many times, but from chapter 6 to chapter 19 (the period of the tribulation) there is no mention whatsoever of the church on earth. In fact, the only godly group which Satan can find to persecute is the nation Israel! See Revelation chapter 12.
In Revelation 4:1 John declares, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither…” We are told that Christians are God’s ambassadors on earth (2 Cor. 5:20) and that he will someday declare war on this earth. The first thing a king or president does after he declares war on another country is to call him ambassadors home; Thus we conclude that the church will escape the tribulation.
More to come later when I have more time to type.
Again this is an excerpt from: Willmington’s Guide to the Bible.