Q. I have been following your articles with great interest through prophecy update for quite a while now, for the past two years at least, since I too love Jesus Christ and anxiously await his glorious return. The only difference is our denomination whilst you are Evangelical I am Catholic and therefore you will immediately realize how uneasy I feel when reference is made to the Rapture which St.Paul mentions which however is preceded by the raising of those who died in Christ. Could you be so kind as to indicate to me who will participate in the Rapture and upon what you base this conclusion. Please help me become richer in my faith by finding the time to give me a clear simple answer.
A. You refer to 1 Thes. 4:16-17. “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
So, who are the dead in Christ and who are those who are still alive? In the two verses preceding these Paul wrote, “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Thes. 4:14-15)
In these verses Paul answers both questions. The living are those who believe that Jesus died and rose again, Christians. The dead in Christ are those who also believe and are therefore Christians as well, but passed away before the Rapture. Upon death, their spirits went to be with Jesus and will return with Him to be re-united with their resurrection bodies at the Rapture. Then all living believers will receive their resurrection bodies and the two groups will ascend together to meet the Lord and take up residence in His Father’s house. (John 14:1-3)
Whether living or dead when this occurs, those involved will be the true believers from all across the wide spectrum of Christianity. There will be some Catholics, some Main Line Protestants, some Evangelicals, some Fundamentalists, some Charismatics and some Pentecostals as well as believers who are none of the above. The only qualification is our belief that Jesus died for our sins, and that when we asked for His forgiveness, He granted us salvation unto Eternal Life.