The study of the End Times and the rapture can cause questions, apprehension, and fear. "Why do I need to study prophecy?" "It is too complicated, and I don't understand what it means." "It makes me anxious and nervous." I will not argue with the fact that studying prophecy can be complex and overwhelming. It is difficult to see how these obscure passages can have any significance for us today. They appear to lack relevance to what we are going through right now. If we continue with this mindset, we will miss the rich truth God has provided for us. We cannot understand where we are now if we don’t understand where we are going.
To help you begin developing an understanding and appreciation for this difficult topic, I have compiled biblical answers to four of the most frequently asked questions about the Rapture.
1. What signs indicate that the End Times are near?
The Rapture—the raising of the Church into heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:17)—is the next event on the prophetic calendar. The following signs indicate that the End Times are near.
The Sign of Deception
Many people will claim to be the Messiah and claim to have the answers for a troubled world. Jesus says to “take heed”—literally to keep our eyes open so we are not fooled. In the End Times, people will be crying desperately for leaders to deliver them, and they will seek mystics and religious leaders who claim to have deeper knowledge.
The Sign of Disputes Among Nations
As wars and dissension among groups of people begin to escalate, we know it is a sign of Christ’s return. The book of Revelation tells us that the Tribulation Period is filled with war—ceaseless, unending, terrible war—that will escalate until the world is involved. The Bible says that as we move toward the End Times, there will be constant talk of conflicts, border skirmishes, race wars, and national battles.
The Sign of Devastation
Today, as you read this, millions of people in the world are going hungry, even though God has blessed us with a fruitful, abundant planet. As we get closer to the End Times, there will be more and more famine. There will also be earthquakes, something that science has said will happen. Christ also spoke of pestilence: the spread of new diseases. Our world is experiencing a spate of tragic new diseases that we are unable to control.
The Sign of Deliverance Into the Tribulation
Just before Jesus returns, there will be an explosion of antagonism toward God’s people. Christians will be persecuted. We are seeing this happen today with the rise of ISIS and their horrific attacks on Christians in the Middle East. As we grow closer to the end, many will pay a high price for living out their faith in our world.
2. Why should I avoid determining a date and time for the Rapture?
The fact is, we cannot calculate the day Christ will return for His Church because God specifically chose not to reveal it to us.
When the apostles asked Jesus about the apocalyptic time, He replied gently but firmly, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" (Acts 1:7-8).
Only God knows what time it is, and only God knows when time will run out.
Future truth impacts present responsibility. It is the knowledge that His coming is soon that puts a little bit of urgency into our step and determination into our service.
3. Will I be a part of the Rapture if my body is cremated?
When the Scripture says, "The dead in Christ will rise," it is speaking of the bodily resurrection of believers. At this time, the spirits of believers will be united with their perfect and complete resurrection bodies. "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 [no exceptions!]. 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. Therefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
If God can do the hard part of calling creation into existence through His spoken words, then it will be no problem for Him to call back the bodies of those who have been swept into the sea, or consumed by fire, or tragically maimed and murdered by vicious and murderous attacks of an enemy.
4. What will happen in Heaven after the Rapture?
After the Rapture, Christians will come before the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). The Judgment Seat is not about whether we will enter heaven—we’ll already be there because our sins have been atoned for in the substitutionary death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It will, however, be a time to give an account of the works we have done on earth, and we will be rewarded accordingly. We’ll be assigned places of authority in the coming Millennium based upon our faithfulness to God when we were on earth, as well as the influence we left behind.
There is so much relevant truth to be discovered in the Bible's prophetic passages! I encourage you to continue to study God's plan for the future. What you believe about many of these issues can determine what side you are on when God decides to draw the final curtain on the drama of history. I am confident you will find, as I have, that studying and understanding rapture and the events of tomorrow will change your view of today!
To find more answers on the Rapture and End Times, check out a free download of David Jeremiah's booklet, Answers to the Unsolved Mysteries of Prophecy.
Publication date: March 14, 2016