The Rapture: Purposes of Christ’s Coming for the Church

In the midst of efforts by some to set dates, and attempts by others to reinterpret the Rapture, we wish to give encouragement to those “simple” saints who are convinced from the Word of God of the soon return of the Lord Jesus to the air. He has promised to return for His chosen saints of this Dispensation of Grace, which began on the Day of Pentecost. And surely He will fulfill what is written, as He seeks His Bride for the coming marriage of the Lamb, in heaven. However, we suspect that the Rapture will not be such a great event to be remembered by those remaining on earth. We fear there are many who have professed to “accept” Him, whose hearts are still far away from His grace, as illustrated in Matthew 7:21-23. We will list the main purposes of His coming (which will be without warning) and the resulting disappearance from the earth of all who have believed on Him.

1. To Receive Us – to the place He has prepared for us. His promises remain valid and fully secure: “I will come again, and receive you unto myself” (Joh 14:3).[1]

2. To Redeem Our Bodies – This promise corresponds to the inspired words written by the Apostle Paul: “waiting for the adoption … the redemption of our body” (Rom 8:23). From the moment we believed on Him, our souls were redeemed and our spirit has been “quickened” (or made alive). However, a double operation of our mortal bodies still remains unfulfilled: the redemption of the body, and its quickening.

3. To Transform Us – like unto His glorious Body. The revelation of this truth is found again in two inspired writings of the Apostle Paul. First, the assurance is given in 1 Corinthians 15:52: “we shall be changed” (or transformed). That assurance was written in A.D. 57. Seven years later, writing in A.D. 64 from the prison in Rome, the same apostle reaffirmed the same mystery: “who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Php 3:21).

4. To Perfect Us – into His image, or character. The Apostle John was the instrument chosen to reveal this fact of the divine operation in us: “we shall be like him” (1Jn 3:2). Then we shall surely possess the moral character of Christ in His fullness, without the presence of any part of that old “I,” called the “old man” (see Rom 6:6). The old carnal nature causes us so many difficulties here upon earth, as we seek to walk in obedience to the Lord.

5. To Present Us – unto Himself. In His sublime prayer in John 17, the Lord Jesus expressed the intimate desire of His heart: “that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me” (Joh 17:24). Remember that this prayer occurred before He went to Calvary, where He completed His greatest work upon earth. Over 30 years after His resurrection and ascension, Paul expressed the purpose of Christ’s love and giving of Himself for His Church: “to present [her] to himself” (Eph 5:27).

6. To Keep Us – from the “hour of temptation.” In our estimation, the entire Seventieth Week of Daniel 9:26-27 (the uncovering of the Mystery of Iniquity, and the Great Tribulation) is implied. The “hour of temptation” would include both halves, of 42 months each (30 x 42 = 1260 days). The ascended Lord, appearing in the midst of the seven lampstands (of Revelation 1 to 3), promises in the sixth message, given to Philadelphia: “I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world” (Rev 3:10). At first glance, this promise appears to be directed to only one of the seven churches in the messages of Revelation 2 and 3, that is, the one which had “kept the word of my patience.” In our judgment, all true believers of this dispensation figure in the promise given in Revelation 3:10. It is true that some believers are more spiritually minded, and others are somewhat carnal in their appreciation of His Word and promises, along with a measure of unfaithfulness in obeying His Word. Nevertheless, all true believers are keeping His Word, in one measure or another.

7. To Recompense Us – in His Tribunal (or Judgment Seat). This theme, both heavenly and solemn, appears four times in three epistles of the Apostle Paul. We will select only one: “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2Co 5:10). Our faithfulness to His Word while here on earth, and confidence in His promises, will occupy first place in that day.

8. To Share the Inheritance – with His Bride, the Lamb’s wife. This theme is first introduced by Paul in Romans 8:17: “and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” Since we are sons of God by adoption, we are entitled to an eternal inheritance, which is independent of our faithfulness to His Word. Rather, it depends upon the faithfulness of Him who has called us by His grace. It is interesting to observe that the inheritance will not be divided among the members of His Body, but will be shared (as a whole) with Christ Himself. Peter provides some light on this theme, both profound and precious: “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1Pe 1:4).

The way has been long and hard for many believers. The Lord could have taken us home to Glory immediately upon believing. However, He has left us here as a visible testimony upon earth, for His glory. Meanwhile, many saints are suffering for His sake, as this world grows worse and worse, and a major torment looms on the horizon. In the midst of this depressing scene, a bright Light shines on the horizon: “I am … the bright and morning star” (Rev 22:16). Our Lord and Redeemer has promised, “Behold, I come quickly.” And we respond longingly: “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:12,20).

[1] All Scripture quotations in this article are from the KJV.