Rapture and Watching
By Terry James
Recently I listened to a well-known preacher on his TV program saying something to the effect that only those “watching” for Jesus will go to be with Christ in the Rapture. He defined “watching” as those Christians who are truly wanting for Jesus to return and that believe with great faith that He will call them to Himself in that great Rapture event.
This didn’t totally surprise me, because this particular preacher has, in my opinion, never been clear in his thoughts on the security of the believer—that is, the once saved, always saved doctrine, as the sometimes hotly debated term goes.
While his remark in making such a statement—to be watching is commanded by the Lord—is scripturally correct, I totally reject the premise that it is possible for even one truly born-again person to be left behind when Christ says: “Come up hither” (Rev. 4: 1).
I believe that the apostle Paul made very clear who will be taken in the Rapture when Jesus calls the Church. Paul, in revealing the mystery of the Rapture, said the following:
Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51–52)
Paul, given the key to this mystery by the Lord Jesus Himself, tells us clearly that all will be changed. It will take place in less than a microsecond. That’s the Rapture!
The word “we” is the pronoun that is all-inclusive as given in this context. The “we” here means all who are born again—the Church.
There is no room for any believer to be left behind in Paul’s declaration. Those who are truly saved—that is, who are in Christ Jesus, who shed His blood and resurrected to redeem all who will but received this free, grace gift, will go in that twinkling-of-an-eye moment.
Paul, under divine inspiration, further enlightens concerning the security of the believer:
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
Again, Paul uses a pronoun that is all-inclusive of believers in God’s way to salvation—Jesus Christ—the only righteousness God the Father recognizes. Paul, under that divine inspiration, says that nothing and no one will ever be able to separate “us” from the love of God.
Paul is undeniably talking about the born-again, because he goes on to say that this “love” of which he speaks is “in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The pronoun this time is “our,” meaning those he is talking about—including Paul himself—who are born again—that is, who are believers in Christ for salvation.
The TV preacher then said that watching for Christ means one is “worthy” to stand before the Lord on that Rapture day. Again, implying strongly that unless one is watching, he or she is not going to go in the Rapture.
He used the following Scripture in that declaration:
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. (Luke 21:36)
Some years ago, I addressed the matter of being “worthy” in God’s holy eyes.
What does it mean to be “worthy,” as given in this Rapture example? Again, the answer is wrapped up in the same name as before: Jesus. Jesus is the only person “worthy,” in God’s holy eyes, to be in the heavenly realm.
Remember what Jesus said to a man who addressed Him as “Good Master”?
And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. (Luke 18:18)
Jesus, the second person of the Godhead, was not seeking to chastise the man for addressing Him in this way. The Lord was confirming through this question that He is indeed God, the only good, the only righteousness. Righteousness is the only ticket to Heaven–either through the portal of death, or through the Rapture. Only through Jesus—being born again into God’s family through belief in Him—can a person enter the heavenly realm.
Jesus spoke to this all-important matter by addressing Nicodemus:
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)
God’s Word says about fallen mankind:
As it is written, There is none righteous no not one. (Romans 8:10)
For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 8:23)
So, Jesus is the only person “worthy” to enter Heaven. It is through Him that any of us are worthy to stand before Him in that heavenly realm. That is the truth found in the Scripture in question.
On a less magnificent scale, the word “worthy” in this passage means that we should be in a constant mindset of prayerful repentance. We should always want to be found “worthy”—cleansed of all unrighteousness, as stated in 1 John 1:9, so that we will hear our Lord say to us on that day:
Well done, good and faithful servant. (Matthew 25:23)
Many of God’s children will doubtlessly lose rewards at the Bema (judgment seat of Christ,) for not being watchful and not listening for their Lord’s call in the Rapture. But, they will make that fantastic trip into Heaven, every single one, because of the Lamb of God who redeemed them.