Not Everyone Will DieMany believers will go to heaven before they die a physical death. The Bible tells us that one generation of believers will never know bodily death. This miraculous and mysterious event is called the "Rapture." We are told that it is a mystery, something that has not been revealed before. Paul says, "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed" (I Corinthians 15:51-52).
What a quick transformation that will be! Scientists tell us that the winking of an eye is the quickest movement of the human body. However, in the Greek, the "twinkling of the eye" implies only half a wink; that was the expression Paul used to describe the change.
What does it mean, that we will be "changed"? Our mortal bodies will become immortal. This means we will be changed in our appearance, but not in our essence. This is why we will recognize people we knew here on earth. When will these great events take place? Predictions about this happening and the Second Coming are not unique in our time. Today we have people saying, "I believe Jesus will return before the end of this century."
We do not make such predictions, because they are in complete disobedience to the Word of God: "Now brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night" (I Thessalonians 5:1-2).
Jesus said, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven: nor the Son, but only the Father" (Matthew 24:36). He also said that we should watch for the signs of the end of the age, and not to be caught in the dark. Many Bible believers who have studied the Scriptures and the signs of our times believe that the Rapture may not be far away. Certainly in our lifetime we are seeing an acceleration of those events that Jesus said would be signs of His return.
In recent years we focus more and more on the Second Coming of Christ, for this glorious event has been neglected in many of our churches. We cannot help being excited when we see, all around us the rapidity with which the announced signs of the end times seem to be happening.
However, we must avoid two extremes: one is the arrogance of believing we have some special insight about the future and His coming, even if this knowledge seems to be based upon the Bible; the other extreme is to ignore the fact that Christ will return, and thus live as if His coming were a meaningless myth.
In spite of the wars, the crimes, the agony of many who are living today without freedom, there is the "blessed hope" for all true believers that we could be caught up to meet Christ in the air at any moment (Titus 2:13-15).
The Rapture will take place when Jesus comes for His saints, or all true believers. This will not be seen or understood by the world of unbelievers. Only the Christians will see Him. It will take place quickly and unexpectedly; those who are left will be bewildered as they try to rationalize the sudden disappearance of millions of people.
At the Second Coming, after the Rapture, everyone will see Him. His return will be personal and physical. "Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him" (Revelation 1:7).
The Second Coming of Christ will be sudden. It will be as electrifying as an unexpected flash of lightning. Jesus said, "For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man" (Matthew 24:27).
Christ will be accompanied by the believers who have died, returning in immortal, glorified bodies. Who will they be? They will be all of the resurrected saints of the Old Testament and everyone who repented of their sins and received Christ by faith - those who have been saved this side of the Cross.
Many places in the Scriptures tell us of Christ's return accompanied by the "clouds of heaven." The prophet Daniel predicted, "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coining with the clouds of heaven" (Daniel 7:13). In Hebrews 12:1 believers are admonished to serve God righteously because we are constantly surrounded by a "cloud of witnesses." Zechariah says that "the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him" (Zechariah 14:5).
What a thrilling future for those of us who know that some day we will populate the kingdom of God.
Our Patient Merciful God
The Bible and the Gospel speak of God's great mercy for us ...
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“Enter his gates with
thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him
and praise his name.