So far we have examined the promise, previews, participants, place, purpose and pre-tribulational timing of the Rapture. Consider next our preparation for the Rapture.
Preparation for the Rapture
Knowing that Christ’s return is imminent, what should we be doing? Should we sell our belongings and wait on a mountaintop somewhere? Hardly. The same texts telling us about Christ’s “any moment” return also instruct us as to what we should be doing.
First, we are to watch. Often in the Lord’s teaching on end-time events, He inserted this advice: “Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord will come.” What is meant by watching? We are to keep awake and stay alert. We should be aware of spiritual realities. Focus on what is really important and don’t get dragged into the mire of a meaningless existence. Watch, be on guard. There are many things to distract us from living the way we should. Titus 2:12-13 instructs us to “renounce ungodly living and worldly passions so that we might live sensible, honest, and godly lives in the present age as we wait for the blessed hope and glorious appearance of our great God and Savior, Jesus” (ISV).
Second, we are to witness. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mar 16:15 ESV). Knowing that Christ could come at any moment should encourage us to reach people now while we can, for we know not what hour our Lord might come.
Third, we are to work. After Paul speaks about the changed bodies we’ll receive at the Rapture in 1 Corinthians 15, and the glorious fact that our blessed Savior has defeated death, he concludes with this exhortation: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (v58 ESV). Therefore, we work, and work enthusiastically, knowing our labor is worthwhile.
Finally, we are to wait. Paul says we “wait for his Son from heaven” (1Th 1:10). We don’t know the day nor do we know the hour when He will come. No one does. Date-setting is futile at best, incredibly dangerous at the worst. The Lord Jesus said He did not even know the timing of His return (Mar 13:32). We patiently wait for that glorious moment when He will take us home.
Prospect of the Rapture
While we wait, the prospect of the Rapture fills us with hope.
The hope of the Rapture is an encouraging hope. Jesus said to His discouraged disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled,” for His promise to come is sure. Let that promise encourage you today.
But it is also a comforting hope. Paul spoke about the Rapture to those who thought their loved ones were gone and had no hope. He wrote, “Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1Th 4:18). I hope these words bring comfort to someone just now. We’re going to see our loved ones again, and perhaps very soon!
The Rapture is also a motivating hope. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” The Rapture is not an excuse to be lazy, but a motivation to be active. May we all be motivated to get to work for our Lord.
Finally, the Rapture is a purifying hope. 1 John 3:2,3 says, “We know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure” (ESV). Because Christ could come at any moment, let us live godly, pure, holy lives, well-pleasing to the Lord.
J. Dwight Pentecost told this story in one of his messages. He was teaching his students at Dallas Theological Seminary back in the 1950s. They all knew about his “22 Reasons Why the Church Will Not Go Through the Tribulation.” A young man who was not enrolled in the class dropped in one day to attend this very lecture. Pentecost said he could stay and listen. Apparently, the students knew who this young man was and his differences of opinion with Dr. Pentecost. After the lecture, the young man made a beeline for Professor Pentecost. “I have a question for you,” he said. Pentecost replied, “I have just one for you first. What is your blessed hope? My blessed hope is that Christ will come for me, change this vile body into a body like unto his body of glory and take me to be with himself forever. What is your blessed hope?” The young man responded, “My blessed hope is to be martyred for my faith.”
That day came. He was martyred. He was one of the five young missionaries who entered the jungles of Ecuador seeking to reach the Waodani with the gospel and was speared to death in 1956. From my research, I could not determine which of the five he was. But what struck me was this: Here was a young man whose beliefs about the Rapture were different than many of ours, yet that did not paralyze him from reaching the lost with the gospel. He believed the Church would have to go through the tribulation period, yet rather than holing up in the woods somewhere seeking to preserve his own life, he went out boldly for Christ with the message of the gospel upon his heart and lips. Because we believe in the imminent return of the Lord Jesus, how much more motivated ought we to be to reach perishing souls with the gospel. Let us spread the message of God’s grace freely while we can, for very soon “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout,” we’re going “to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1Th 4:16-18 KJV).