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This column is based on part of Greg Laurie’s book “Are We Living in the Last Days?”
In my last article, we saw that the next event on God’s prophetic calendar, the Rapture of the Church, could occur at any time, and that no one knows the “day or hour” of this great event. At a time unexpected, in the flash of a second, every living Christian on Earth will suddenly and instantaneously be gone. There is a generation that will not see death, a generation that will not have to go to the grave.
Are we that generation? I don’t know. We very well could be, but no one can say with complete certainty.
Whether or not the Lord comes in my lifetime, my hope is not in the coming of the Lord, but in the fact that the Lord is coming. I know that I will go to heaven one day, either by the Rapture or by death. These are just two different forms of transportation, like taking a taxi or a bus. In all honesty, there is no question in my mind that the Rapture would be preferable, but at the same time, I know that I am going to go to heaven.
What is exciting to me is not how I get to that final destination, but where that destination is that I am going. If the Lord comes during my lifetime, that is great. If He doesn’t, that is fine as well. God knows what He is doing. As 2 Peter 3:9 tells us, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent” (NLT). One way or another, whether it’s through death or through the Rapture, we all will stand before God one day. We need to be ready to meet the Lord.
The Rapture means reunion
Not only will we meet the Lord in the Rapture, but also we will be reunited with our friends and loved ones who have died and gone to be with the Lord. Death is the great separator, but Jesus Christ is the great Reconciler. One day, you could be thinking about a loved one who has gone on to be with the Lord, when all of a sudden, instantaneously, you are looking that person in the face. The Rapture could happen that quickly.
It would also appear from another passage of Scripture that we also will be reunited with those whom we helped lead to Christ. Paul said to the Thessalonians, to whom he had ministered, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?” (1 Thess. 2:19). Paul was saying that his spiritual children would be his crown of rejoicing in the Lord’s presence when He comes. From this, it would appear that when we are caught up to be with the Lord, each of us will have grouped around us those whom we helped to bring to Christ. What an amazing thought.
You may not realize all those whom you have helped to bring to Christ. You may have had an impact on someone that you never even knew about. You may have never talked to that person about your faith in Christ. He may have just watched you and, by carefully observing your life, gained a positive impression of Christianity. Then, maybe God brought another Christian who said a few words to that person, which caused his heart to get a little softer. The little seed that was planted by your example was watered. Maybe another Christian came along and shared the gospel. Then yet another Christian invited that individual to church, where he committed his life to Christ.
The fact is that all of those people were a part of the conversion process, from the one who first sowed the seed to the one who invited that person to church. We never know how God might be using us to touch the life of another person. We are not going to know all those upon whom we have made an impact until we are with the Lord. In the meantime, we need to make the most of every opportunity to reach people for Christ. Sow the seed when you can. Water the seed others have sown. If God gives you the opportunity, reap where others have sown and watered. One day, when you get to heaven, you will be able to look back and see the small part (or perhaps the large part) you played in this (see 1. Cor. 3:5-11). All the mockery, all the laughter, and all the rejection you experienced as you tried to share the gospel will be worth it when you realize that these people are in heaven, in part because you obeyed the Lord in this area.
In my next article, we will learn why the Rapture offers us a cure for troubled hearts.