Jesus tell us in John 14, “I go to prepare a place for you and I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also – Vs. 2-3. Acts 1:9, When Jesus ascended to heaven, two angels told the disciples “this same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Titus 2:13, “Looking for that blessed hope, the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.
When Jesus comes for His saints, is called the ‘rapture.’ The Greek word is ‘parousia’ or His protracted presence that covers a period of time. It will be bodily and personal. I Thess. 4:13-18, “This we say unto you by the word of the Lord…The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” Caught up together, the Rapture.
I Cor. 15:51-52, “Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Phil. 3:20-21, “…we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” I John 3:2, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” We will have a glorified body like unto His glorious body.
If there is a last trump sound (I Cor. 15:52), there must be a first and so on. I Cor. 15:22-23, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” The Greek word for “order” is a military term meaning ‘rank.’ So it reads, “every man in his own rank.
Our Apostle Paul informs us that we all are running the race course, but one (group) receives the Prize. I Cor. 9:24-27, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (or disapproved).
Phil. 3:12-14, Paul says, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” V. 8 tells us the Prize is Christ, Himself.
In the book of Revelation, we read of three ranks of the Church taken up at differ times. The first rank is in chapters 4 & 5, they are in the throne room of heaven viewing Christ taking His throne. They are described as the 4 living ones and the 25 elders. These are not angels, but redeemed humans from every kindred, tongue, people and nation – chapter 4:9. V. 10 tells us, they have let the Spirit work in their lives, making them kings and priests unto God. They are kept out of the tribulation period because they kept the word of Christ patience – chapter 3:10. A special promise to the overcomers of the Church.
We read of another rank of saints in the 7th chapter. It is an innumerable company, so large they can not be numbered. They were not kept out, but they come out of tribulation days. Rev. 7:beginning with V. 9, “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.”
V. 13, “And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” (the tears of tribulation).
There is a 3rd rank of the Church seen in heaven in chapter 14, The 144,000 out of Israel. V. 1, “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.” V. 3, “And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four living ones, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.”
Mk. 13:32, Jesus said, “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father (only).” Acts 1:7, “it is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” But we can know when it is near, for the Lord has given us signs (I Tim. 4:1 and II Tim. 3:1-5, also Mt. 24:5-8, “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” We live in this time, and all this is leading up to the tribulation. I want to be of the number that is kept out.