Occupy Till He Comes
Feb 2017 (Reprint from May 2015
“The people of the world are racing toward a meeting with their Maker. I speak of the ‘catching away’ of the body of Christ, meaning every single believer, in a moment’s time, in the twinkling of an eye, we’re getting ready to leave this world. Many of you who watch me by television—you’re a church member; you’re religious; but you’ve never heard of that which I speak. Your pastor has never mentioned it, and yet it is the great hope of the church.”
You have just read a portion of a sermon on the rapture that my husband preached in Charleston, West Virginia, in 1982—a subject more timely than ever. On nearly every episode of Frances & Friends, the panel and I respond to emails and calls from viewers who want to know about end-time events, especially the first major one - the rapture of the church.
WHAT EXACTLY IS THE RAPTURE?
What does the Bible say about this monumental event? Let’s look at I Thessalonians, Chapter 4 in the Expositor’s Study Bible (the notes in red are excellent), beginning with verse 13:
13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep (refers to believers who have died), that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (This concerns those who do not know the Lord who will have no part in the first resurrection of life and, therefore, no hope for heaven.)
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again (the very foundation of Christianity is the death and resurrection of Christ; it is the proof of life after death in a glorified state for all saints in that life, which incidentally will never end), even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. (This refers to the rapture of the Church, or the resurrection of all believers, with both phrases meaning the same thing, even as Paul describes in I Cor., Chpt. 15. At death, the soul and the spirit of the child of God instantly go to be with Jesus [Phil. 1:23], while the physical body goes back to dust. At the rapture, God will replace what was the physical body with a glorified body, united with the soul and the spirit. In fact, the soul and the spirit of each individual will accompany the Lord down close to this Earth to be united with a glorified body, which will then make the believer whole.)
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord (presents the doctrine of the rapture of the church as the “word of the Lord”), that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord (all believers who are alive at the rapture) shall not prevent them which are asleep. (This refers to the fact that the living saints will not precede or go before the dead saints.)
16 For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout (refers to “the same Jesus” which the angels proclaimed in Acts 1:11), with the voice of the archangel (refers to Michael, the only one referred to as such [Jude, Vs. 9]), and with the trump of God (doesn’t exactly say God will personally blow this trumpet, but that it definitely does belong to Him, whoever does signal the blast): and the dead in Christ shall rise first (the criteria for being ready for the rapture is to be “in Christ,” which means that all who are truly born again will definitely go in the rapture):
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up (raptured) together with them (the resurrected dead) in the clouds (clouds of saints, not clouds as we normally think of such), to meet the Lord in the air (the Greek word for air is “aer,” and refers to the lower atmosphere, or from about 6,000 feet down; so, the Lord will come at least within 6,000 feet of the earth, perhaps even lower, with all the saints meeting Him there; but He, at that time, will not come all the way to the earth, that awaiting the second coming, which will be seven or more years later): and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (This presents the greatest meeting humanity will have ever known.)"
THE RAPTURE IS RESURRECTION
The Scripture says that the Lord will come Himself. Why? Because it is one more demonstration of His tremendous love for us. He could send heaven’s highest-ranking angel, or a host of angels in His place, but no. He’s coming to personally gather us because He loves us. He loves His church. He loves His people.
Regarding when He comes “with a shout,” this is a victory shout. It is victory over the world, the flesh, and the Devil; victory over death, and victory over every thing that hell has ever tried to do to steal, kill, and destroy. Who will hear this victory shout? Well, the dead in Christ will hear it. The saints of God will hear it. The world will not hear it. But every child of God will hear that shout of victory.
The purpose of the rapture is to resurrect all the righteous dead. We cannot separate the rapture of the church from the resurrection. As the Scripture says, the dead in Christ are going to rise first. That means the bodies of every saint who died - from the time of Adam to the moment before the rapture occurs - will rise, regardless if their bodies were somehow destroyed in death by fire, water, etc. At the moment of the rapture, each body will be whole, glorified, and reunited with the soul and the spirit. At this point, Christians will no longer have a sin nature, that’s the fulfillment in totality of what Jesus purchased on the Cross. That’s why it’s called the blessed hope.
RAPTURE VERSUS THE SECOND COMING
The second coming is totally different from the rapture, as you can see from the chart on this page.
In the rapture, Jesus Christ won’t touch the earth. In the second coming, He will set His feet upon Mount Olivet.
In the rapture, Jesus will come for His children. In the second coming, He will come with His children.
When the rapture takes place, not a soul on this earth will see Him. At the second coming, every eye shall behold Him.
WHO WILL GO IN THE RAPTURE?
Let me pause here to answer another question I’m asked quite often about children and the rapture. We believe that babies and all small children whose mother and/or father belong to the Lord will be included in the rapture, according to I Corinthians 7:14. In my husband’s book, Brother Swaggart, Here Is My Question About Bible Prophecy, he goes into much greater detail about this and other aspects of the rapture.
He also defines the one qualification for being ready for the rapture and that is to be born again, i.e., to be “in Christ” (I Thess. 4:16). Let me quote a little more from his book on this particular subject as I think it will help you:
There is no such thing as a partial justification. One is either totally justified or not justified at all. While some Christians most definitely are closer to the Lord than others, still, all will go. Yet there are millions in churches who think they are born again, when, in reality they aren’t. In fact, in the United States alone, I am told that approximately 100 million people claim to be born again. I would to God that were so, but I’m certain that it’s not. As to exactly how many are truly saved in this particular country, only the Lord knows, as He is the only one who knows regarding the entirety of His body, and wherever in the world they might be. The Holy Spirit likens those who were once saved but now construed as lukewarm, as being labeled by the Lord as lost.
THOSE WHO HAVE DEPARTED FROM THE FAITH
Jesus said, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Rev. 3:15-16).
Paul addressed those who were religious, but who were not saved, regardless of what they claimed, as “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” He then said, “from such turn away” (II Tim. 3:5). Regrettably and sadly, millions fit this description.”
To depart from the faith means that a person had once been in the faith. When we speak of faith here at the ministry, we’re speaking of faith in the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. When people leave the Cross and turn to other things, which millions are now doing, the Scripture says of them: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (I Tim. 4:1).
Needless to say, such individuals, as with the lukewarm and as with those who have a form of godliness, are labeled by the Lord as unsaved, despite their claims, and will not go in the rapture.
Regrettably and sadly, there is less true gospel of Jesus Christ being preached presently than at any time since the Reformation. As a result, fewer people are being born again. Fewer believers are being baptized with the Holy Spirit. Fewer lives are being changed.
This is why we labor day and night to take the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ - the Message of the Cross - to as many souls as we can reach through the SonLife Broadcasting Network.
LABORERS ARE FEW
Of course we cannot accomplish such a monumental task on our own. We need your help to bring in the harvest. Jesus said, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2).
But instead of working, people want signs. Over the years, those inside and outside of the church have tried to point to signs or determine a date as to when the rapture will take place.
I believe that the greatest sign that the rapture is about to take place is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the body of Christ as prophesied in Joel 2:28-29. This outpouring is becoming more and more evident through the testimonies we hear over the SonLife Broadcasting Network from so many Christians being filled with the Holy Spirit. You see, the Cross of Jesus Christ separates the child of God from the world, but the baptism of the Holy Spirit separates the Christian from dead religion and false doctrines.
Look around, church, and listen, the Holy Spirit is getting people ready for the rapture. The Lord is drawing people and equipping them to labor in the harvest of souls. As I heard my husband say on his program, A Study in the Word, he believes the Lord is raising up prayer warriors around the world, like the men of war in I Chronicles 12:38 who could keep rank and who came to help with a perfect heart.
OCCUPY TILL I COME
I think every believer who is in Christ senses that the Lord is coming soon. He is coming, just as He said, and we will see our Saviour face to face. Think of that. As wonderful and glorious as it will be to finally see the Lord, we will also, at the same time, be reunited with our saved loved ones who have gone on before us. Hallelujah!
Until that day comes, we work. We labor in the harvest so that millions more can experience the blessed hope.
Jesus said, “And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13).