It is the return of the Lord Jesus Christ to catch away his bride.
This is the fourth in a series of questions dealing with the seven mysteries of God. The first three questions dealt with the “mystery of godliness,” “the mystery of the indwelling Christ,” and “the mystery of the body of Christ.” These are called “mysteries” because they were doctrines that were hidden before they were revealed to Paul.
When I first started reading my Bible at age 32, one of the first questions I asked was, “When and how will I go to heaven?” In other words, from the time I had gotten saved I was told that I would go to heaven when I die. While this was a great comfort to me, it also left me somewhat confused. You see, I had been to many funerals in my life and had seen the corpses lying in the caskets. I had seen the remains interred. So I was thinking, if I’m going to heaven when I die, what goes and what happens to this body?
So, I began searching the Scriptures and came across some interesting information. For one thing, I learned that we are made up of three parts: a spirit, a soul and a body (1 Thes. 5:23). When any man dies, saved or lost, his spirit goes to God (Ecc. 3:21, 12:7). If he is lost, his soul goes immediately to hell (Luke 16: 19-23). If he is saved, his soul goes immediately to heaven (2 Cor. 5: 6-8), unless he was saved in the Old Testament, in which case his soul went to Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16: 19-22). His body is laid to rest in a grave, cremated, buried at sea, or whatever.
Well, I had answered part of the question. Now, at least, I understood why people said at funerals, “he’s in a better place now.” Obviously, his soul is better off in heaven than it is stuck in this body (Phil. 1:23). But, I was still left with the question of what happens to the body. So, I kept digging around in the Scriptures until I came across 1 Cor. 15:50-55 and 1 Thes. 4: 13-18. And for the first time in my life, I saw that the grave is not the end for the body of a saved man.
1 Cor. 15 shows us that because Christ bodily arose from the dead at the resurrection, we too would rise bodily one day. And, as his body lives forever, so our bodies are going to live for ever, as well. And thank God that we won’t be living in our bodies just the way they are, because they are going to change. God is going to “change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body,” (Phil. 3:21). We are going to end up looking just like Jesus (1 John 3:1-3).
We cannot go to heaven in the bodies that we have now because “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption,” (1 Cor. 15:50). So, we have to be changed. And herein lays the mystery of the rapture. According to 1 Cor. 15:51, “we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” Here, sleep refers to death. The change that we will all undergo is necessary to remove the corruption from those who have already died and to remove the mortality from those who are still alive when the Lord returns (1 Cor. 15:53-54). After the change, we will look like Jesus, we will never die, sorrow, cry or hurt (Revelation 21:4), we will have bodies of flesh and bones without blood (Eph. 5:30-32, Gen. 2:23, and Luke 24:39), and we will be caught up off of the earth “to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord,” (1 Thes. 4: 17).
The rapture is the ultimate victory over death and the grave for all Christians. Like Paul said, “death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Cor. 15:54-55). Christians who have died will hear the shout of the Lord with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God and that they will rise (1 Thes. 4: 16). Christians who are alive, will never die (John 11: 25-26) but “shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.”
So, following the rapture, our bodies will be joined with our spirits and our souls and we will be reunited as one. It will be just like it was when God created Adam. According to Gen. 2:27, Adam had a live body, a live spirit and a live soul. Likewise, all three parts of our being will be alive and well with the Lord in eternity. Glory God!