You may be a believer in Messiah Jesus and know a lot about the Rapture or only a little.
You may be an unbeliever who knows virtually nothing about the Rapture, except for hearing about it from time to time. Wherever you are in this spectrum, the question posed in this week’s Eye of Prophecy article may be puzzling.
Some will respond incredulously to the question: Of course, Jesus spoke of the Rapture.
Others might think: I know that the Apostle Paul writes about the Rapture, because the (two) passages in which he describes it are the ones that many people cite exclusively. However, I don’t think Jesus himself spoke of the Rapture.
Still others might say: I think Jesus talked about the Rapture. But I’m not sure what words he used or where to find them. And if he was referring to the Rapture or just his second coming to the earth, or both?
And, there are those who don’t believe the Rapture will take place at all. What they do with I Thessalonians 4 and I Corinthians 15 is beyond me, but that’s okay. If they have accepted Christ as their personal Savior, they’ll know for sure when they ascend from the earth in their brand-new bodies to meet the Lord in the air! It’s likely they will exclaim, “It’s really happening?!”
For those of us who know the Rapture is for real, a shorter version: “It’s happening!”
Some think that the Rapture and the return of Messiah Jesus to the earth to end the Great Tribulation are one and the same.
You may or may not know that the term (Rapture) isn’t found in the Bible. However, the event itself is, including amazing details of what transpires and the sequence thereof. The Latin word is employed as a summary of all features of the event originally encapsulated in the Greek word, which means a catching or seizing up of believers by Messiah Jesus to heaven.
(See, Eye of Prophecy article, Biblical Terms Not in the Bible … Are They Biblical? Posted 3-10-18)
The Apostle Paul tells us that Jesus will bring about the Rapture. But did Jesus, himself, say anything about this extraordinary event?
Answer: A resounding, YES!
Stay tuned and discover that, in fact, Jesus directly disclosed all the revelations concerning the Rapture, including the two passages recorded by the Apostle Paul.
But first, a brief review of:
The Spectacular Surge of Biblical Prophecy in the 20th & 21st Centuries
After Israel’s remarkable rebirth as a sovereign nation in 1948 and especially following the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem with the rest of Israel in the miraculous Israeli victory of the 1967 Six-Day War, there has been an explosion of interest in Biblical end-times prophecy unequalled since the first century A.D. Both events were part and parcel of hundreds of Biblical prophecies and both were accomplished against all (natural) odds. Not only on Israel; the world’s 20th century attention riveted on two World Wars and a host of other unprecedented events (like the formation of dozens of new nations) continuing into our 21st century that billions of people, believers and unbelievers alike, consider to be apocalyptic. A beginning of the end.
So much so that it didn’t even take another major war, or natural disaster, or ominous geopolitical or economic event to galvanize global awareness on what many believe to be the last days of the end times.
You remember the year 2000, don’t you?! The realization that it was not only a new century but a new millennium, generated an apocalyptic apprehension that swept over the planet.
Many predicted a millennial meltdown of computer chips and systems, which in turn would wreak havoc on the infrastructure of nations. Power grids would collapse; machinery would stop running; complex military, government, and economic networks would fail; and (worst of all!) the internet might self-destruct.
Most Christians were convinced that the Rapture would take place sometime during that fateful year. After all, it was the beginning of the third millennium since the birth of Messiah Jesus. And the seventh millennium of recorded time. There was nothing left in Biblical prophecy as a prelude to the Lord taking believers from the earth … to spare them from the Great Tribulation in preparation for Messiah’s second coming to this earth. Could there have been any time more prophetically pertinent than the year 2000?
I was one of what seemed to be only a few believers who were convinced that the Rapture would not take place that year. This certainly isn’t criticizing my brothers and sisters in Christ, as I, too, had the same fervent expectation that such a pivotal year in the history of mankind would be the year of Messiah’s Rapture of the true church … those who have placed their personal trust in the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus and have accepted him as personal Savior. I passionately hoped they would be right about the Rapture in 2000. And I was disappointed that they were wrong.
My exclusive reason for being persuaded that the Rapture would not take place in 2000 was based on what Scripture says. Which essentially is: when least expected. The Apostle Paul compares the event of the Rapture to: a thief in the night.
Although this analogy was mostly in the context of how the Lord’s return will affect unbelievers, it also applied to the expectation level of believers. Whereas Jesus and Paul (also Peter) encouraged believers to be ready and alert, waiting patiently and watching eagerly for the Day of the Lord, they also emphasized that it would happen at a time least expected—even for believers. This certainly relates to notable days, months, and (as we now know) to the year 2,000.
For example: many believers—both Jewish and Gentile—believe that the Rapture will occur on a major Biblical festival, such as Passover, Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, or Sukkot. Or perhaps Christmas or Easter or even Hanukkah! Non-Messianic observant Jews, who contend that Messiah’s arrival will be his first, also speculate that he will appear on a significant Holy Day.
Yes, it could be one of those days, but likely as not, it won’t be. Those days are too obvious!
In contrast to unbelievers who will be shocked at the Rapture and ensuing Tribulation, Paul compliments believers by saying that they: “…aren’t in the dark about these things … and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief” (I Thessalonians 5:4). However, not being surprised relates to the surety that the Lord will return. Intensified by the awesome privilege of knowing beyond doubt why the Rapture part of his return will take place. “For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us” (Verse 9).
The anger referred to is none other than: “…then disaster will fall on them (unbelievers)” during the Tribulation, shortly after the Rapture takes place. (verse 3).
Believers not being surprised at the event of the Rapture is different than the Rapture occurring when least expected. Jesus said so himself: “You (talking to believers) also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected” (Matthew 24:44, parenthesis mine).
In the last 50 years, the imminent return of Messiah Jesus so enthusiastically embraced by the early Church, has once again been the “talk of the town.” What God says will happen has always happened and will continue to unfold before our 21st century eyes. However, despite the clear evidence that hundreds of Biblical prophecies have been fulfilled, most unbelievers scoff at the idea, “that Jesus is coming again” (II Peter 3:4).
And, when they see the first part of his Second Coming (the Rapture) for themselves, many of those left behind will still mock. Good riddance; we’ve got the whole world to ourselves now.
The Imminent Return of Messiah Jesus (in Two Phases)
The term that Bible scholars, teachers, and students use most often to identify the return of Messiah Jesus is: Second Coming. Or: Second Advent.
In addition to coming and appear, Jesus also uses the term, return. “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return” (Matthew 25:13).
The Second Coming of Messiah Jesus is part of what Old Testament prophets referred to as the Day of the Lord.
The Apostle Paul explains it this way:
Jesus was the first to warn that his (second) coming would catch an unsuspecting world off guard. However, he also spoke of many things that would transpire before his powerful and glorious appearance (return) to earth. These events are revealed in both general and specific detail throughout Scripture, especially in the books of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, Matthew, Luke, and Revelation.
For example: Messiah’s spectacular return to earth to do battle with the combined armies of the Antichrist and Kings of the East as recorded in Revelation Chapter 19. Which clearly doesn’t take place until after the entire chronological sequence of the Great Tribulation. With the obvious conclusion that his Second Coming to earth will not be at all unexpected and will be preceded by signs and wonders for all those left behind at the Rapture to see. With multiple opportunities (depending on how long they survive) to know beyond any doubt that the same Messiah who took believers to heaven before the carnage began would be returning to judge the world. Sadly, most of them will still reject the true Messiah in favor of the one vainly parading himself before the world as God.
Yet, both Jesus and Paul tell us that the Lord’s return will (also) come like a thief in the night, unexpected and without warning. The only possible way to accurately juxtapose what seems to be a paradox between unexpected and clearly expected is to fully understand that Jesus’s return is in two parts … two distinct phases.
Please refer to Eye of Prophecy article: Messiahs’ Return and the Rapture (Same or Separate Events?) Posted 12-3-16. In which this subject was covered in detail.
In keeping with today’s article (title), we’re going to focus more on what Jesus, himself, said about his Second Coming. Identifying critical passages pertaining to the first part of his appearance (Rapture) in contrast to his second (final) physical return to the earth.
Which will help to better understand that the imminent aspect of Jesus’s Imminent Return, concerns the Rapture phase of his Second Coming … only for believers. Whereas, the return part applies to his glorious appearance to the entire world, an immediate prelude to his victorious conquest of Satan, Antichrist, the False Prophet, and rebellious humanity that had spurned the true and living God and His Messiah. This second phase comes with myriad events preceding his actual return to earth, unfolding with prophetic precision just like Scripture said they would.
Don’t be confused or even puzzled over this phenomenal two-part event; one at the beginning and the other at the end of seven years of the last days of the end times.
In fact, it is one of the four epic events of God’s interaction with humanity, all of which involve two parts or phases. Four (and its multiples … forty, four-hundred) is one of those divinely significant numbers found in both natural and supernatural conditions throughout human history.
Here is an excerpt from Eye of Prophecy article, Countdown to Armageddon … End of the Fourth 400-Year Era (Posted 7-29-17). The excerpt, in turn, was taken from a prior article, Four Locusts Kingdoms! (8-22-15). In italics:
Several numbers in the Bible bear a great deal of meaning … we are going to see how the number four relates to and explains a huge portion of Israel’s history; in the context of God’s providential direction for the Jews and their interaction with mighty Gentile nations.
The number four derives its significance from God’s creative work especially pertaining to the earth, including God’s dealings with and disposition (rise and fall destiny) of nations. It is the number of wholeness, totality, entirety, and summation. It is a number concept that would be completely incomplete if we eliminated just one of the component parts of any given foursome.
If we want to move from one place to another, we must go forward, backward, left or right. Up or down doesn’t count; if we go beneath or above the earth, we must then travel in one of four directions.
…There are four seasons, four primary lunar phases, and four sides to what is probably the most perfect geometric object we can think of … a square. And many more fours:
I went on to list fourteen more fours prominently displayed in Scripture and the universe, including one that you may not have thought about…. Which is, as quoted from Four Locusts Kingdoms:
“Each day has four component parts: Seconds, minutes, hours, and day. One day is cyclical … it begins, ends, and starts all over again. Weeks, months, and years are linear, continuous.”
In addition to the two-part Imminent Return of Messiah Jesus, the other three grand Biblical events also come in pairs—each of which is typified by and reflected in the juxtaposition between the Covenant of the Law (Old Testament) and the Covenant of Grace (New Testament).
God’s Two-Part Plan for Humanity: I’ve discussed these panoramic plans at varying lengths in prior articles. They are: (1) Selection of Abraham to father the Jewish race. With Israel as the perpetual Promised Land and Jerusalem as its eternal capital for Abraham’s descendants. Through the Jews would come the Messiah, which is part two of God’s magnificent design for humanity. (2) Messiah Jesus’s redemptive sacrificial death for the sins of all who believe and receive him as personal Savior. Followed by his astonishing resurrection that will (soon) enable believers to also be resurrected with the same glorified body in which Jesus arose.
God’s Discipline of Israel / Two Exiles and Twice Return of Jews: (1) Israel’s ten northern tribes conquered by Assyria, then the two southern tribes by Babylon; for their disobedience to and abandonment of the Lord. The southern tribes (remnant) returned to Israel after exile to Babylon, but lasted only until: (2) Rome sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the second Temple, which began a far lengthier exile of Jews to the four corners of the earth. This was a direct result of God’s people as a nation rejecting their Messiah, the one who brought the New Covenant to them and the whole world. See Eye of Prophecy article: Double Israel’s Trouble and Double Her Blessings! (8-13-16).
Messiah’s First and Second Advent: (1) Jesus of Nazareth born of a Virgin at the appointed time that changed the very keeping of time (B.C. to A.D.). He came 2,000 years ago as, “…The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). (2) He will return as, “…the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne…” (Revelation 5:5). Each advent is prophesied several times in the Scriptures. In Isaiah Chapter 9, both events are proclaimed in just two verses. Beginning with: “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end…” (Verses 6-7a).
Each of these two-part plans/events correlate with the other. They prophetically and existentially validate the profound observation that:
And now to look more closely at the fourth of these (two-part) monumental milestones.
Messiah’s Rapture of Believers / Followed Seven Years Later by His Return to Earth
(1) The Rapture
This phenomenal event precedes the even more spectacular physical return of Christ; thus, it is separate from his return. The Rapture is the catalyst of, but not his actual return to rescue Israel by conquering her enemies; thereby, saving the entire world from annihilation. The Rapture is the trigger-point of the Great Tribulation, which includes God’s wrath poured out on the world, followed by Messiah’s Millennial Reign on earth from Jerusalem.
Let’s begin with Jesus’s direct disclosure to the Apostle Paul, one of the most well-known passages in the Bible.
However, to note that this wasn’t the first time Jesus had revealed something to Paul through direct communication with him. These divine encounters began when Paul saw and heard Jesus on the road to Damascus; a life-changing, destiny-altering meeting with the risen Messiah. Even changing his name from Saul (a die-hard Jewish Pharisee who persecuted Christians) to Paul—the greatest apologist for the Christian faith who has ever lived.
Another example (precedent) is found in Acts 18:9-10, when Jesus spoke to Paul in a vision. Saying, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! For I am with you…”
Then later Jesus said: “…Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you much preach the Good News in Rome as well” (Acts 23:11).
Now, the famous passage which contains Paul’s first reference to the Rapture (he wrote I Thessalonians before I Corinthians). Notice that he begins by telling us this is a direct revelation from the Lord Jesus.
“We tell you this directly from the Lord. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:15-18, italics for emphasis).
Just a couple of brief comments concerning this passage:
First, “we” that begins the passage (as opposed to what would be the usual first person, “I”) refers to Paul and the Lord together. Secondly, to make the major distinction between the Rapture and the Return of Christ, Paul specifies that all believers will meet the Lord in the air. Messiah Jesus does not come down to earth. That will take place (about seven years later) when he physically returns to end the Great Tribulation.
Subsequently in I Thessalonians Chapter 5 (verses 2 & 10), Paul uses the term return … of the Lord. Return (also used by Jesus) is an all-purpose description that incorporates both phases of Jesus’s Second Coming or Imminent Return. Nonetheless, we can distinguish between the two and determine which part of Messiah’s return is being described, by whether Jesus and Paul are attaching the word (return) to that which will take place unexpectantly … imminently, meaning The Rapture. Contrasted to his physical return that will take place only after the succession of events that constitute the Tribulation.
In other words, the purpose (timing) of these two phases of return is identified and characterized by HOW Jesus will appear and to whom.
A feasible analogy could be as follows:
A press release from the United States Executive Staff announces that the President is scheduled for a breakthrough engagement with the leaders of several European countries. This sojourn in Europe will last seven days, then he will return to the White House. However, before the seven-day period begins, the President will make a stop in Great Britain to personally arrange with England’s Prime Minister the send-off of the United States ambassador to a brand-new home on an island paradise for a long-anticipated rest (retirement from the affairs of this world).
The transfer of the ambassador was imminent, but the exact day or hour would not be announced. This to accommodate the flexibility of the President’s schedule. Also, for the world at large to focus on the critical seven-day period during which time the development of ominous world events would be discussed. Though the European leaders intensely disliked not knowing when the President’s imminent trip to Great Britain would take place, the President would consent to meet with those leaders who would agree to drop what they’re doing and welcome him.
(Note: Jesus’s parables of the Ten Bridesmaids and the Master and three servants in Matthew 25:1-30, part of his Mount Olivet end-times discourse, relate primarily to the time between Messiah’s First and Second Advents. But they also pertain to the time (second-chance for those left behind) between the Rapture and physical return of Christ to earth. They’re obviously much better analogies than mine!)
My analogy is limited but you can you see that the President’s trip is distinctly divided into two parts: one unannounced, the other itinerary known to the entire world, including the fact that the President would return in seven days. So it will be between the imminent Rapture and the seven-year Tribulation, the end of which will come when the Son of Man returns to the earth (His white house will be the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem!).
The other well-known passage of the Rapture written by Paul is preceded by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration to Paul, in which the fact of the resurrection and the spiritual bodies of resurrected believers is explained. See I Corinthians 15:12-50.
Then, however, Paul abruptly shifts the narrative to precisely what will happen to cause this tremendous transformation of believer’s bodies (dead and living) to our immortal spiritual bodies. Once again, pay special attention to the beginning of this passage, as it, too, confirms that this revelation came directly from the Lord.
“But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It (the transformation itself, not the entire sequence of the Rapture as presented in I Thessalonians) will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown…. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies” (I Corinthians 15:51-53, italics for emphasis, parenthesis mine).
(For the detailed sequence and proposed time-lapse of the entire Rapture, please see Eye of Prophecy article: The Shout Heard Around the World (Published 4-22-17).
This secret or mystery was directly from the Lord, just like Jesus revealed a mystery to John in Revelation 1:20, and an angel of the Lord to John in Revelation 17:7-8.
This was Jesus’s second direct revelation to Paul concerning the Rapture, one that expanded on the first disclosure in I Thessalonians 4.
In the first revelation, Paul tells us, “…that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectantly, like a thief in the night” (I Thessalonians 5:2). That “day” is the day when the Rapture will take place … without warning, just like a thief would strike.
Followed soon by the onset of the Great Tribulation, with Paul graphically portraying the world’s lifestyle and condition at the time. “When people are saying, ‘Everything is peaceful and secure,’ then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor paints begin. And there will be no escape” (Verse 3).
Jesus uses the same kind of illustrative warning with his analogy to God’s first world-wide judgment of the Great Flood. We know that he’s referring specifically to the Rapture phase of his return as he prefaces his comparison by one of the four statements that he makes … no one knows the day or hour of his return.
One of those four is as follows:
“When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes” (Matthew 24:37-39).
Noah entering the ark is a parallel to the Rapture. At that point he and his family were safe from what was about to happen.
By the time the horrific Tribulation nears an end—with all the shocking plagues, some man-made, others inflicted by God himself—no one is going to be surprised. Especially during the last half of the Tribulation, nearly everyone will have fully realized what was happening and why. Sadly, most will still not repent and turn to the Lord.
However, I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of revelry and carefree things going on. Not with millions of people dying all over the earth on a regular basis. The terrible turmoil of the Tribulation won’t end until Messiah Jesus returns to the earth to set things right. The partying referred to by Jesus is prior to the Rapture, which will precipitate the Tribulation.
The above verses are followed immediately by another startling statement from Jesus, which continues his reference to the Rapture, confirming that it will be completely unexpected. An explanation affirming that believers will be taken from the earth and unbelievers will be left behind at the Rapture. Just like Noah and his family and Lot and his family were taken out of harm’s way and saved from God’s wrath, so will believers taken at the Rapture be spared from God’s final judgment of the earth.
Said Jesus: “Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left” (Matthew 24:40-41).
The context is crystal clear: This could only happen at the Rapture, as the taking is abrupt … without warning, at any time. As opposed to the ensuing Tribulation that will affect only those who are “left” (behind) to experience seven-years of calamities that will literally shake the world to its very core.
(2) Part Two: The Second Coming of Jesus Personally to the Earth
Other than the astonishingly abrupt reappearance of the Antichrist (Nero) at the outset of the Tribulation, there’s nothing unscheduled during the Tribulation itself. As thoroughly and sequentially (the twenty-one plagues) recorded in the book of Revelation, with the resulting conclusion that they come with plenty of warning (2,000 years’ worth) in contrast to the unexpected Rapture of which no one knows the day or hour. In fact, anyone left behind at the Rapture who cares to read the seven seal, seven trumpet, and seven bowl judgments of Revelation, will know exactly which one is coming next. And WHO is coming afterward!
Sometimes specific—like the moon turning to blood—but usually in more general terms (composite effect) the catastrophes of the Tribulation also are prophesied by Old Testament prophets. And, by Jesus, himself in Matthew 24:4-29, in which he is describing the Tribulation, not the Rapture. His words about the Rapture come later, some of which we’ve already covered.
[*Note: Mark’s Gospel (Chapter 13) also records Jesus’s Mount of Olives discourse. As does Luke’s Gospel, except that Luke discloses one additional feature. That of Jesus including the Roman destruction of Jerusalem (which took place in 70 A.D.) as a (parenthetical) prelude to the Great Tribulation. Specifically in the context of Gentile domination of the Jews until the last days (during the birth pains immediately preceding his return). Referring to the Roman conquest of Israel/Jerusalem, Jesus says: “They will be killed by the sword or sent away as captives to all the nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the period of the Gentiles comes to an end” (Luke 21:24). (See Eye of Prophecy article: Times of & Fullness of the Gentiles … What Do They Mean? Posted 4-21-18]
In conclusion to what he calls, “greater anguish than at any time since the world began” and later in the chapter, “the anguish of those days” (Matthew 24:21 & 29, respectively), listen to Jesus’s dramatic description of his actual return, which is accompanied by a sign in the heavens.
“And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).
Thus, there is a clear time-lapse differential between the Rapture and Messiah’s return to the earth.
See Revelation 19:11-21 for a stunning account of Jesus’s final descent to the earth. There’s more: We believers will be with him, also descending to the earth. We’re not going up, we’re coming back down—after seven years of (blissful) waiting in heaven for this glorious moment.
Here is how I summarized it in Eye of Prophecy article, Messiah’s Return & the Rapture (Same or Separate Events?)
Believers will not meet Christ going (up) and coming (down) all at once. That makes no sense at all. That would be like an elevator full of employees going up to meet their boss with the unmistakable understanding that he is waiting for them in the Penthouse Suite having prepared a great Christmas party for them. Only for the boss to change his mind after they arrive, and then take the elevator back down with all the guests to first “take care of business” below.
Praise and thanks to God … born again believers will sit out the tribulation! There will be seven years between our elevator rides.
Things to Ponder
Indeed, Jesus had much to say about the Rapture.
In fact: He is the ONLY ONE to directly reveal the unfolding of this awesome event.
Am I saying that the Apostle Paul didn’t tell us point-blank about the Rapture?
Answer: Yes, I am saying that!
With, however, the qualification that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God through the Holy Spirit as Paul and Peter tell us (II Timothy 3:16 & II Peter 1:20-21, respectively). But that applies primarily to the specific writing (recording) of the Word of God as a Biblical whole. The Holy Spirit brought to remembrance and directed the thoughts and words of the actual composition of Scripture through individual writing styles of the various authors.
God proclaimed his Word to mankind through prophets, apostles, and angels … through dreams and visions and actual appearances. With much of Scripture containing the direct spoken words of God the Father and God the Son—Messiah Jesus.
“Thus, saith the Lord,” is a frequent expression of and representation by the Lord regarding direct verbal or visionary revelations to people. This is not a superior means of disclosing God’s truth. It’s just different; a more direct way than the Holy Spirit guiding and motivating the recording of these revelations and historical facts of people, places and events. A Holy Spirit inspired synthesis of, for example, the three parts of redemption—justification, sanctification, glorification—for all those who accept God’s atoning salvation through His Son, as presented in the New Testament epistles.
All Scripture is intrinsically equal in importance and impact. But when we read words spoken directly by God and His Son, we get a first-hand, up close and personal appreciation of the Lord’s direct involvement in and concern for the eternal life or eternal death of every human being. From the beginning God gave us the freedom to choose between the two and tells us in his own words why the choice will determine our eternal destiny.
And then the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, inspired the prophets and apostles to fuse God’s (Father and Son) powerful and precious Words of light, life, and truth into sound doctrine.
The significance of the mysterious Rapture being revealed directly by Messiah Jesus himself reinforces the absolute truth that God’s plan of salvation revolves around and is found in what He did for us that we could not do for ourselves. Beginning with his First Advent to sacrificially die for our sins, the efficacy of which was validated by his resurrection from the dead.
Culminating in his Second Advent that begins with the Rapture, in which he will resurrect dead believers in Christ and transfigure the bodies of all believers—dead and alive—into a spiritual body equipped to live forever in heaven.
“We tell you this directly from the Lord…” (I Thessalonians 4:15).
“So encourage each other with these words” (I Thessalonians 4:18).
Then: The Son of Man will come on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Matthew 24:30).