Israel and the Last Days
What Happens at the Rapture?
Excerpted with permission of WestBowPress.
The rapture of the Church has been a hotly debated topic for a long time. One would claim the rapture would occur before the tribulation, another would say in the middle, and still another at the end of the tribulation. The question is, where does the rapture of the church fit when the tribulation spoken of in Daniel has already come and gone? With the fulfillment of the seventy weeks of Daniel, there cannot be a seven-year great tribulation. Actually, what I am about to share with you is the first thing God revealed to me about the end times nearly ten years ago. This revelation is what started me looking in depth at the end times. After God showed this to me, I knew there was more to learn. First, we must understand what the rapture is.
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed. Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (1 Cor. 15:1–12 KJV).
Paul begins to talk about how he preached that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and on the third day rose bodily from the grave. There were some among the Corinthians who did not believe in a literal bodily resurrection from the dead. Paul begins to lay out his case for a bodily resurrection from the dead.
“But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:13–19 KJV).
Paul begins to list reasons why the resurrection is important:
1. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen.
2. If Christ is not risen, preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain.
3. Paul would be a false witness of God.
4. None of our sins would be forgiven.
5. All who have died are perished.
6. If we had hope only in this life, we are of all men most miserable.
What great logic Paul used! This resurrection is an important part of the gospel. Paul’s logic says, if Christ rose from the dead and we are in Christ, we must also at some point be raised from the dead likewise. Paul then begins to share biblical insight.
“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:20–22 KJV).
Paul calls Jesus’s resurrection the “first fruits of them that slept.” If there is a first fruit, this indicates that there should be second, third, and so on. I want you to notice that Paul goes back to Adam and how everything changed with Adam’s sin. He says the same thing will happen with Jesus’s obedience. All were made in the likeness of death at the fall of Adam, but all will be made alive in Christ. In other words, all who are in Christ will be raised bodily from the dead. I want you to remember that Paul used the fall of Adam as a type and shadow of the resurrection, because that will mean something to us a little later.