1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 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 thus we shall always be with the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
After Jesus finished His work here on earth, He ascended to heaven, but said that He would someday return for His followers, those who trusted Him for their salvation. We refer to that return as the rapture. The term comes from verse seventeen of First Thessalonians chapter four where it says that those who are alive at His appearing will “be caught up” to meet Christ in the air. When the Greek word used for “caught up,” harpazo (αρπάζω), is translated into Latin, it is rapturo or rapture.
The scripture tells us that at that time, Christ will descend from heaven with those who have died believing in Him. The ones who come with Him will reunite with their transformed bodies while any who are still alive will have their bodies instantly transformed as well. Then they will all be caught up together to Christ in the air and will accompany Him back to heaven.
Those who are alive who haven’t trusted Christ will be left behind on earth for an unspecified time period until Christ returns to set up His earthly kingdom. The Bible doesn’t tell us how long this time period is, but it does say that the living conditions of the final seven years will be so bad they will be known as the Tribulation, with the last three and a half years (the Great Tribulation) many times worse than the first three and a half.
Will those who are left behind to endure this terrible time in earth’s history have any hope of surviving or of accepting Christ? The answer is yes and no to both. The book of Revelation, which details the events of the Tribulation period, tells us that there will still be some people living at the end when Christ returns to set up His kingdom. However, it also tells us that from three to six billion people will die during that time. There is no guarantee that anyone who is left behind will be part of those still alive when Christ returns. As for another chance to accept Christ, Revelation chapter six says that some believers will come out of the Tribulation, but they will be killed for their faith. Satan will be in charge of the earth during this time, and he will do anything to stop the spread of the good news of Christ. So, while it may be possible for anyone living during this time to accept Christ, doing so will mean certain death if caught by the forces in control.
For any who think they will have another chance for salvation during the Tribulation, consider the number of accidental deaths that will occur due to the rapture. Christians who are driving or operating other equipment will leave behind cars, trucks, trains, and other vehicles still moving down the highways and railways. Anyone hit by those driverless vehicles may die immediately. Think of airplanes in flight which have Christian pilots who suddenly disappear. If no one is aboard who can land those planes, all left aboard will die in the crash. What of Christian doctors and nurses performing surgeries? What of those operating power plants or other utilities? The list is endless. All of society will be in chaos due to the sudden disappearance of all of those people. How many will die immediately and how many may die shortly thereafter due to the chaos? The chance that any one person will survive is too great to take.
If you are reading this and Christ has yet to return, don’t waste another moment, accept Him as your savior today. All you have to do is acknowledge by faith that Christ died and rose again to pay for your salvation, then ask Him to save you. You can do nothing to earn your salvation. It is a gift of grace from Him. Recognize that you are a sinner and that you cannot save yourself. Repent of your sins and surrender your life to Him. Don’t be left behind when He returns.
If you are reading this and have heard from news reports that several million people have disappeared and the world in is utter chaos, then I’m afraid you’ve been left behind. However, since you are currently still alive, there is hope. Accept Christ as your savior now. Yes, life is going to get very hard until Christ returns, and you may die for your faith, but you will be with Him forever instead of spending eternity in Hell. I pray you get that chance.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.