A definition: A separate whisking away of Christians before the so-called second coming.
This is a belief that divides the promise of Jesus' return into two separate "comings", an idea that has blossomed into a fervent hope of many, that they will be whisked away before the terrible days of the Great Tribulation. This hope has now taken on doctrinal status in the belief system of many Christians. We have all heard its passionate rallying cry: "Don't be left behind!"
Is it wishful thinking, a false hope, an opiate for the fearful? Or it is a real event still to come in the life of Jesus Christ, as real and true as His birth, His ministry, His death, His resurrection.
The word "rapture" does not appear in the Scriptures but there are verses that may give some spiritual weight to this belief.
"I know your deeds. Behold I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power and have kept My word, and have not denied My name...
Because you have kept the word of My perseverance I will also keep you from the hour of testing (or temptation), that is to come upon the whole world to test (or tempt) those who dwell on the earth. I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, in order that no one takes your crown. He who overcomes, I will make a pillar in the temple of My God and he will not go out from it anymore..."
Revelation 3:8, 10-12
"Seek the Lord, all you humble of the earth who have kept His justice: seek righteousness, seek humility, perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the Lord's anger."
And these Scriptures... Rapture or no?
"And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among the nations... men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming on the inhabited earth; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads because your redemption is drawing near... When you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.
Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with... the worries of life, and that day come on you like a trap... But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."
Speaking of the tribulation, there are also these Scriptures to consider:
"I, John, your brother and fellow-partaker in the tribulation and the kingdom and perseverance which are in Christ Jesus, was on the island called Patmos, because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus."
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world."
"...through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God."
Jesus speaking to His disciples:
"...these things are merely the beginning of the birth pangs. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name. And at that time many will be caused to stumble... And because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, it is he that shall be saved.
And the gospel of the kingdom shall be preached to the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come."
A Personal Note
God has never clarified for me whether the rapture is in His plan or not. So for me it remains a "maybe" or a "perhaps". He has, however, given me these Scriptures about Jesus' coming again:
"...Christ ...having been offered once to bear the sins of many shall appear a second time, not to bear sin, to those who eagerly await Him for salvation."
"...awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ..."
1 Corinthians 1:7
"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ who will transform the body of our humble state in conformity with the body of His glory..."
Philippians 3:20, 21
"...looking for the blessed hope; and the appearing of the Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ."
And the words prick my heart and my conscience.
I want to!
And so I will not cling to the hope the "rapture" offers for it would foster in me an escape mentality. I do not want to wait eagerly for His coming so I will be rescued; rather, I want to love His appearing because I will behold Him on that wondrous day in all His glory and majesty, I will see Him as He is.
Is the rapture fact or fiction? I don't know!
But this I do know: If I prepare myself to stay, it will not prevent my going; If I put my faith in going and staying is required, this may well be said of me:
"She did not consider her future, therefore she has fallen astonishingly."