Will all Who are Christ's be Caught up at His Coming for His Saints?
Question: [...] Will all the saints be caught up at the Rapture?
Most certainly. I know that many devoted Christians deny it, but I am persuaded that they do not rightly divide the Word of Truth, and they have not perceived the greatness and the glory and the indivisible unity of the Church - Christ's own Assembly. They do not distinguish between the Rapture and the Appearing. Let us see what are the actual words of Scripture. 1 Corinthians 15 does not speak of the Rapture of the saints to Heaven, but of the resurrection of the dead in Christ, and of the changing of the living, which precede the Rapture, verse 23 says: "Every man in his own order, Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His coming" not a few of these only, or a selected company from among them, but "they that are Christ's." Again addressing the living saints, who shall be alive and remaining here at the coming of the Lord, he says, "We shall not all sleep, but we shall ALL be changed" (v.51).
1 Thessalonians 4:15,16 divides the saints into two classes only, those that are "the dead in Christ," and "We which are alive and remain." There are no saints outside those two classes, and they are to be "CAUGHT UP TOGETHER." None are to be left behind. One glorious eternally united company will be caught up to be for ever with the Lord, not because they have been faithful, but because, on the sure basis of His all-atoning blood, they have been made meet for that destiny by the sovereign grace of the Father (Colossians 1:12-14).
The saints of this great period of grace are indwelt by the Spirit of God, and baptised into one body. They are the church, or assembly - which word more truly expresses the truth - and when viewed from this side the thought that only a certain selected, faithful few will be caught up, becomes most repugnant. "Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it" - not that it might be a mutilated church, part of it in Heaven, and part of it on earth passing through the tribulation in that day of His glory - but that "He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing" (Ephesians 5:25-27). Between the Rapture and the Appearing the marriage of the Lamb will take place in the Glory, and the Lamb's wife, which the church is to be, must be in the Glory before the marriage can take place (Revelation 19).
Question: But what about such a passage as Hebrews 9:28 , "Unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation"? Does not that seem to teach that He will only appear to the faithful watchers?
It most certainly does so teach, but it has in view just as certainly the Appearing and not the Rapture, as it clearly states. While the Hebrew epistle sets forth Christian doctrine, room is left here and there for the blessing of Israel as a people on earth. Several instances of this could be cited, but chapter 8 is a very clear and definite one. The Covenant there is certainly not made with Christians; it is the new covenant that is still to be made with the house of Israel . And I believe that the statement in Hebrews 9:28 has Israel in view also. The Lord appeared once in their midst, not to deliver them from their enemies, but to be offered to bear the sins of many. The expression, "The sins of many" reminds us of the Matthew aspect of the Lord's Supper, which is distinctly Jewish in its bearing and different from the way it is presented by Luke; it carries us back to Isaiah 53, where the Lord is said to "bear the sins of many," and to "justify many," the "many" referring definitely to the saved remnant of Israel. He is to appear the second time, apart altogether from the question of sin, for their salvation.
The thought is that of the appearing of the High Priest, after he had taken the blood of the sin offering into the Holiest. The people stood without earnestly looking for him to appear, for they could have no assurance that propitiation for their sins had been made and accepted until he did appear to bless them.
When the remnant of Israel is awakened to their sin and need, after the Rapture of the church to Heaven, they will look for the appearing of their Messiah-priest, and they will not know that He has made propitiation for their sins until He does appear. He has passed into the heavens - into the Holiest, and the Christian does not wait outside that place of high privilege until He appears, but he has the title to go in now, as Hebrews 10:19-22 tells us. Israel will never have this great privilege. But full of sorrow for their sins (see Zechariah 12:10-14), they will wait amidst the miseries of the Tribulation for the appearing of their great Saviour, and their repentance and faith will not be in vain, for as they look for Him He will appear unto their salvation. He will not appear to take up the question of their sins, but to show them by His wounds that "He was wounded for their transgressions" at His first coming, and that He has made a full propitiation for them; and to deliver them from their oppressors. Consider that interpretation of this passage and I believe it will commend itself to you.
Question: But it is argued that if all Christians are to be caught up at the coming of the Lord, irrespective of their faithfulness, they may be quite easy and indifferent as to their lives and service. What about that side of the question?
It runs on the same line as the slander which was flung at Paul when he taught the sovereign, unmerited grace of God. He was charged with teaching, "Let us do evil that good may come," and again when he showed that where sin abounded grace did much more abound, the question arose: "Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" But grace works in the exact opposite way to that, and the Rapture will be the outcome of sovereign grace and divine love. Our responsibility is not overlooked, but that is taken up in relation to the Appearing, as we have yet to see, but the thought of the Lord's scrutiny of our lives, solemn and sobering as it is, is not the greatest incentive to holy living, and to devotion to Himself. "The love of Christ constraineth us," Paul said, and it is His love to His own church that will be wonderfully expressed when He catches it up to Himself in the Glory.
The truth of the Rapture is more for the heart than the head. It is as a wonderful secret that we who love the Lord are to cherish, a secret that will keep us from conformity with the world and compromise with sin if we truly keep it. Take the words that are used to convey it to us: "I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there YE may be also" (John 14:3). "So shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:17 ). Truly he that hath this hope in Him will purify himself even as He is pure. At the Rapture the Lord will come as the Bridegroom, and what could appeal to the heart of the Bride more strongly than that? It is as the Bridegroom that He says, "Surely, I come quickly. Amen." His last word to His church in Holy Scripture. There can be only one response to that, and it is, "Even so, Come, Lord Jesus. "
|« Previous chapter||Next chapter »|