In my last article, we discussed the tribulation-era saints, who are the many people that come to Christ after the rapture occurs. This naturally brings up the question of what qualifications are necessary in order to be included in the rapture event. Believe me, this is the way you want to go! As we have seen, many of the tribulation saints will suffer at the hands of the anti-Christ and must be martyred to make it into heaven. Pastor Chuck Missler likes to say that those of us who go up in the rapture will be watching the tribulation period from the mezzanine.
Is it even possible to be left behind if you are a Christian? Many Christians don’t believe in the rapture at all – will they be included? To answer these questions, we first must define the term Christian. If you have accepted what the Bible teaches about being a sinner and needing forgiveness, believe that Jesus died for your sins, have turned to Jesus seeking forgiveness, and have put your faith in him for your salvation, you are a Christian (at least by my definition). The prophecy of the rapture was first revealed by Paul in his first letter to the church at Corinth:
1 Corinthians 15:51-53: Behold, I tell 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 trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. – NKJ
Before this letter was written, nobody really knew anything about the rapture, and precious few details had even been written about the second coming of Christ. So this was a new teaching at the time. Notice how Paul used the term we to designate the participants of the rapture. Who was he referring to? The letter was written to the believers at the church in Corinth, and he was obviously referring to all Christians who are alive when the event happens. Up until this point the people receiving this message didn’t believe in the rapture (albeit from a lack of education on the matter), yet Paul’s letter clearly pertained to them, should they be alive when it happened.
The way I see it, this puts to rest any notion of the necessity of believing in the rapture in order to be included in it. Heck, Seventh Day Adventists don’t think the rest of us Christians are even going to heaven – won’t they be surprised to see us there! What about the qualifications of being a good enough Christian? If you are a lukewarm sort of believer, will you make it? In that case, I don’t like your chances. Jesus himself, when teaching on the tribulation judgments, told us:
Luke 21:36: 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. – KJV
He seems to have included a requirement of being counted worthy! Many of the other translations replace being counted worthy with having the strength or having the power. Being a lukewarm Christian is not a position of strength or power. Will Jesus count lukewarm Christians worthy? Consider his own words on the subject:
Revelation 3:16: So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. – NIV
Clearly, if Jesus considers you lukewarm, you ain’t going anywhere with him. It is very likely that these people will get a wakeup call from the rapture and become tribulation saints. So, how do you know where you stand? If you are concerned about it, that is actually a good sign. If Jesus considers you to be one of his sheep, he is going to take care of you:
John 10:27: My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. – NKJ
How do you know if you are one of his sheep? Do you follow the voice of Jesus? His sheep know his voice and respond when he calls. When you accepted Christ, he put his spirit in you, and you became a new creation in Christ. To put it another way, you had a spiritual birth, or were born again. His spirit within you is his voice. Call it a conscience I suppose (if you insist). Follow the voice of your conscience. The fact that you are concerned about being a good enough Christian to be included in the rapture is a sign of your conscience at work, of your desire to follow Jesus. All you have to do is purpose in your heart to do so, and then do it. See you in the clouds.
Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. – NKJ