Greg Alston (21 Nov 2021)
"Will All Christians Be Raptured?"


Will All Christians Be Raptured?

Luke 21:36


         The Rapture or catching away of the Church occurs prior to the onset of the Tribulation Week (2 Peter 2:1‑9, Revelation 3:10).  But does every born again Christian go at that time?  Does their having confessed Christ at some time in the past guarantee passage on that heavenly elevator? The scriptures are not silent on this question. On the contrary, there are numerous references, containing explicit teaching, that salvation alone will not assure deliverance from the coming Tribulation period.  Hebrews 12:14 says, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."  This scripture and its surrounding text are written to and about CHRISTIANS.  Without holiness, we won't see the Lord; and where will the Lord be seen? For Christians alive at that time, the answer is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:17: "Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord."  We'll see him in the air ‑ if we meet certain conditions.


The Apostle John concurs with the writer of the book of Hebrews in his first letter: "Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be.  We know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.  Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure" (1 John 3:2,3).  Did you know this word "purifies" is the same as "holiness" in Hebrews 12:14?  It is the Greek word hagiasmos, which means holy, sanctified, consecrated.  Did you also notice here that the writer said we must purify ourselves?  Both scriptures, which are written exclusively to and about Christians, teach that maintaining personal holiness is prerequisite to meeting the Lord in the air.  I think its evident from scandals and subsequent indictments among some Christian leaders that REAL CHRISTIANS CAN BE UNHOLY and, therefore, unqualified for that glorious meeting in the air!  To clarify, we will never attain sinless perfection in this life (1 John 1:8,9).  But we must always be pursuing it (Hebrews 12:14) and be quick to repent when we fail. 


Distinctions can be drawn between watching Christians and sleeping Christians (Revelation 3:1‑3); fleshly Christians and spiritual Christians (Romans 8:13,14); believing Christians and unbelieving Christians (Romans 11:20,21). "Do not be deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life" (Galatians 6:7,8).


         Hebrews 12 says that we must "pursue peace" with all men and 1 John 3:14 instructs us to love the brethren.  Likewise, the fourth chapter of 1 Thessalonians includes these same requirements for translation before it mentions the Rapture (see verses 1-12).  It's the same admonition - SANCTIFY YOURSELF AND LOVE THE BRETHREN.  Paul concludes 1 Thessalonians 4 by describing the result/rewards of heeding his admonition.  He likewise concludes 2 Thessalonians 2 (which again describes the Rapture), by saying that our sanctification (personal holiness) is essential to that event (2 Thessalonians 2:13).


         Further evidence that links holiness/sanctification to the Rapture is found in 1 Corinthians 6:11 ". . . but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God."  Notice that sanctification (which is a life‑long process beginning at conversion) is followed by justification; the result of which is found in the eighth chapter of the book of Romans, verses 13‑30.  These scriptures again call for purity (vs. 13,14) and, like 1 Corinthians 6, connect it to justification (vs. 29,30). The additional link in Romans 8 however, is to GLORIFICATION.  Philippians 3:21 amplifies the meaning of this term, which Romans 8:23 says is the redemption of our bodies: "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself."  Glorification, then, is the result of justification which, without sanctification, does not exist. Paul even said in Philippians 3:10,11 that he must allow the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit to operate upon his carnal nature so that he could attain to the Resurrection/Rapture (see also 2 Corinthians 4:7‑14).  He said conformity to His (Jesus') death (verse 10) would qualify him for conformity to His life (verse 11).  This inward (death) and outward (life) conformity to Jesus Christ is seen in greater detail in Romans 8:5‑30.      


         Turning next to 1 Corinthians 15:51 we discover when this changing of our perishable body occurs. It is none other than at the Rapture!

                                         Order of Progression

                                                    1.   Washed       

                                             2.   Sanctified [1]  

                                             3.   Justified

                                             4.   Glorified      

                                             5.   Translated (Rapture)


         These steps are successive and interdependent.  The process dovetails precisely with 1 Thessalonians 4 and illumines for us the clear teaching of scripture that not all Christians will automatically be raptured at the coming of Christ for His Church. In order to go then, we must be "occupying" now (Luke 19:13).  We occupy by WATCHING and WAITING for His return (Revelation 3:1‑10);  PURIFYING ourselves (1 John 3:3);  being willing to SUFFER with Him (Romans 8:17) and BELIEVING He will remove us prior to the Tribulation Week (Matthew 9:28, Hebrews 11:5,6, Revelation 3:10).


         The fact that readiness is essential for rapture is clearly portrayed in Jesus' parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25). Their espousal to Christ as virgins demonstrates that all ten are real Christians (2 Corinthians 11:2) ‑ but only five are prepared Christians.  The five wise were granted entrance into the marriage supper (which starts immediately at the Rapture) but the five foolish were left behind. That this parable references the Rapture of believers and the ensuing marriage supper is seen in the word MEET in Matthew 25:6. The Greek here is APANTESIS which is used only three times in the entire New Testament and means "a meeting." In addition to Acts 28:15, the only other place that this word appears is in the classic passage regarding the Rapture: "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet (APANTESIS) the Lord in the air . . ." (1 Thessalonians 4:17).  Jesus knew there was only one particular meeting of this nature at the time He described it for us in the parable of the ten virgins. 


         Luke 21:34‑36 also makes clear that the believer must prepare himself for participation in that great event: "And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting (self-indulgence), and drunkenness, and cares of this life (like Lot's wife?) so that day comes upon you unawares.  For as a snare shall it (the Tribulation) come upon all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.  Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (inserts mine).  Again, pre‑conditions are present ‑ you must be counted worthy. Of course, we all know that without the propitiating blood of Jesus there is none worthy. But saints, you must understand that we are charged to keep ourselves (by the power of the Holy Spirit) in that state of sanctification to which we were brought by His blood.  We must maintain our vessels in purity (1 Thessalonians 4:3,4).  By so doing, we will be accounted worthy to escape.  Escape what? The Tribulation Week which begins on earth after the remnant church is caught up to heaven.  The "escape" is the Rapture.  To "stand before the Son of Man" at that time means that you will be in the clouds of heaven, where He is (1 Thessalonians 4:17). 


         Knowing these things, let us be doers of the Word, that we may be counted in that company.  Let us be among those that love His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8) for He ". . . will appear a second time . . . to bring to full salvation those who are eagerly (constantly and patiently) waiting for and expecting Him" (Hebrews 9:28).




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    [1]The following scriptures prove that Sanctification is a process, requiring both submission to the Holy Spirit and active participation on the part of the believer: Romans 6:19,22, 2 Corinthians 7:1, 2 Timothy 2:21, 1 Peter 1:13-17.