What Happens To Us After the Rapture?
"What Happens To Us
After the Rapture?"
Promise of His Coming
Editor Note: Prayer Request for Deborah Fenech. Deborah has been diagnosed again with cancer. She has been battling with cancer in one form or another off and on for 3 years. Each time, the Lord has healed her and enabled Deborah to provide marvelous witnessing opportunities to other’s who needed to hear her testimony. After being declared cancer-free by doctors a period of time elapses and then a new cancer later turns up elsewhere in her body.
A few days ago, tumors were discovered along her spine after she began experiencing serious back and leg pain for the past two weeks or so. The following article was written during this time, despite all of the pain. Deborah publishes the website “Promise of His Coming” and specializes in the study of Biblical chronology and time, particularly in regards to prophecy.
Deborah’s latest article focuses on what happens to us as believers after the Rapture. So often we as prophecy watchers tend to focus on what transpires on Earth rather than on our own future with Christ. It is a subject that the Holy Spirit put on Deborah’s heart to write about, before she even realized a new cancer threat was emerging. For this reason, I believe it is important to share her article with A-O readers. I would also encourage readers to offer up intercessory prayer on her behalf for her health, for healing and for emotional and spiritual support for her family.
In these last days of the countdown to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, I find my heart and mind turning more and more to what lies just ahead for the believers, the born again children of God. The scripture teaches that all Christians will experience a judgment of our works and all will receive or lose a reward based on what remains following the burning of those works. Please notice, it is not the believer (spirit, soul or body) who will be burned and judged, but rather our works.
The gospel of our salvation is to believe that Jesus died for our sins and that he was resurrected on the third day. Simple logic dictates that Jesus would not have died for our sins if it was not necessary, but since he did die for our sins, it was necessary that he die for our sins, therefore it is a fact that all men are sinners and that this sin incurred a death penalty. In order to be saved, man must first acknowledge the fact of his sinfulness and agree with God that he is deserving of judgment. The judgment that will be measured out to those who refuse the gospel will finally be the eternal lake of fire. We must judge ourselves guilty and admit that this is what we deserve but that we cannot pay the price ourselves, and when we do, we are saved and delivered from that same lake of fire. Why? Because we have agreed with God that his standard of righteousness is just and perfect and have accepted the remedy, the blood of Jesus, that God himself provided.
It is an amazing and awesome thing that salvation could be so very simple.
The simple definition of sin is to miss the mark. The law gives us God’s standard of perfection, it establishes the mark that we are to aim for, and Jas. 2:10 says to keep the whole law (which consists of six hundred thirteen separate commandments) yet to offend on one point, is to be guilty of all. Other than Jesus, no man could keep the law perfectly because all of us humans have a sin nature dwelling in us.
There is one major difference between Jesus and all other humans, and that is the identity of our fathers. All of mankind has inherited a sin nature from our father Adam, but Jesus’ father was God. Until the advent of DNA testing, when it is necessary to establish the paternity of a child, the doctors did not check fingerprints or skin, hair or eye color, they checked blood type. Why? Because the blood of a pregnant woman never comes in contact with the blood of her unborn baby. While a woman’s body produces eggs every month, those eggs never develop into a baby, or are made alive, unless they are fertilized by the father’s sperm. Lev. 17:10 states that the life of the flesh is in the blood. So the egg is not made alive until it is fertilized by the sperm, which in turn produces the blood which makes the fertilized egg (baby) alive. The blood type, then, of the developing unborn child is determined by the father.
All of mankind has inherited our blood from our father Adam (Acts 17:26) but Jesus received his blood from his Father, which was God. Therefore the sin nature which all humans (including Paul - Rom. 7:15-25) struggle with is contained in our blood. In order for us to become heavenly creatures, fit to live in God’s perfect, holy heaven, that sin nature, which is in our blood, will need to be destroyed.
This will happen at the rapture. I Cor. 15:50 states, "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and BLOOD cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." I John 3:2-3 says, "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. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." We do know some things about Jesus’ resurrection body, particularly that it does not have any blood in it. He shed his blood on the cross, and in Luke 24:39 he said, "…handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." We see here a reference to flesh and bone as opposed to the flesh and blood mentioned in I Cor. 15:50.
All living humans have a sin nature dwelling in our blood, Christians are sealed in our hearts with the Holy Spirit which counteracts but does not override this sin nature, and we are only sealed with the Holy Spirit until the redemption of the purchased possession (the body of Christ) which will happen at the resurrection/rapture (Eph. 4:30). This sin nature will have to be destroyed at the resurrection: like Jesus, our resurrection bodies will not have blood in them. I personally believe the blood will be removed by fire: fire represents judgment and fire consumes. Will it hurt? Probably about as much as having a particularly annoying splinter pulled out of your finger!
I John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Sins are those things in our lives for which we have experienced Holy Spirit conviction. Those things are forgiven when we confess them. But the verse goes on to state that at that same point God also cleanses us from all unrighteousness. Because unrighteousness is a falling short of the mark of perfection set by Jesus, it is just as sinful as known sin, but God does not hold us accountable for those things of which we are unaware.
This is not to say that a person can be saved yet continue living as he pleases so long as he remains in ignorance. In John 8:31-32 Jesus said, "IF ye continue in my word, THEN are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Disciples are those who continue in the Word of God, this in turn educates us and convicts of sin, this causes us to repent for those things of which we are convicted, and this brings freedom from those sins. A close reading of the ten commandments would show that this is not a list of ‘thou shalt nots’ that has no purpose, instead, they are the basics of how man should live to obtain the maximum health and blessing while on this earth. (For example, a person who does not lie does not need to worry about remembering what he said to who so he can keep his stories straight so as not to get caught in the lie.) Eph. 5:26-27 says that Christ gave himself for the church "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might PRESENT IT TO HIMSELF a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." Jesus will receive a perfect, spotless bride, and this presentation happens at the rapture.
Nevertheless, no human will perfect the Christian life this side of the resurrection because we are finite beings who have a sin nature dwelling in our blood. This sin nature causes us to commit unrighteousness, or dead works, which will have to be cleansed out of us before we may enter heaven, and this is the fulfillment of the prophetic Day of Atonement for Christians.
I Cor. 3:12-15 teaches that our works will be burned, those that are wood, hay and stubble will be consumed away while those that are gold, silver and precious stones will remain. Each Christian will receive a reward based on what remains after his works are burned, and in Rev. 22:12 Jesus said, "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." For Christians, Jesus is coming at the rapture.
This judgment of our works should not be seen as a punishment because it is in fact the final, total, complete cleansing of the church. Thank God! As for me, I don’t want to carry around dead works for all eternity. I understand it like this: the works will be burned (a flash fire?); the wood, hay and stubble (dead works) will make the fire hotter and will utterly consume away; the gold and silver (good works) will be purified (the dross will burn away) by heat which will also soften the metals. They can then be formed into crowns with the precious stones (representing those we have led to the Lord, Mal. 3:17) set into them.
Scripture designates several incorruptible crowns for believers: I Thes. 2:19 speaks of a crown of rejoicing at the appearing of Jesus; Jas. 1:12 (+ Rev. 2:10) speaks of a crown of life promised to those who love the Lord; II Tim. 4:8 speaks of a crown of righteousness to be given to all those who love his appearing; and I Pet. 5:4 speaks of a crown of glory promised to elders when the chief Shepherd appears. Notice that three of these crowns are to be awarded at the rapture. Significantly, when we first see the elders in Rev. 4 they are all wearing crowns.
II Cor. 5:10 says, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." Rom. 14:10-12 says, "But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God."
A judgment seat (Greek: bema) is occupied by a judge, not a prosecuting attorney. When we appear before the judgment seat of Christ we will already have been changed or glorified. We must be because our first meeting with him will be in the air and these mortal bodies are subject to gravity. Our glorified resurrection bodies will be like Jesus’ body, will not be subject to gravity, will have no blood (thus no sin nature) in them and the dead works will have already been consumed away. I do not expect anyone to be changed then caught up into the air only to be told to return to earth because they just aren’t good enough.
While Satan may try to accuse us before this judgment seat in the air, our King Jesus will be holding a scepter of righteousness (Heb. 1:8) which he will point at us thus declaring our righteousness IN HIM. We will be found not guilty and Satan’s objections will be overruled. It’s possible that any last minute Satanic accusation is the reason why the resurrected/changed believers will be seized from the earth. This could also be the explanation for the archangel’s pronouncement (I Thes. 4:16). He could say to Satan, "The Lord rebuke you" (Jude 9).
There is no description of this judgment seat of Christ in scripture, but the passage in Romans quotes Isa. 45:23. The following verses (24-25) tell us what those tongues will confess. "Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory." While the concept of a judgment seat can be scary, understanding Christian judgment and looking at the full passage in Isaiah lets us know that this judgment seat will occur after the judgment of our works: there will no longer be any dead works to confess.
In Rev. 5 we see the first worship ‘service’ following our arrival in heaven. A study of the word ‘glory’ will show that when it is used in scripture there is usually something visual occurring. This scene occurs following the arrival of the resurrected saints in heaven which occurs following the judgment of our works. They are wearing crowns, which would be those that are given to the Christians at the judgment seat, or bema, of Christ, and those crowns are the material, visual evidence of the reward that is given. Here, we see the elders casting their crowns before the throne of God, and in the doing of it, they quite literally give the glory for their good works, their lives, their salvation to God, who alone is worthy.
This does not mean the elders lose their rewards because the actual reward is ruling authority with the Lord Jesus during the millennium (Rev.5:10). The crown is evidence to others of a person who has ruling authority, and the removal of the crown has no more effect on that ruling authority than what happens when the Queen of England takes off her crown to go to bed at night. She is still the Queen, and the elders will still rule and reign with Jesus. They are simply giving the glory, honor and praise, the beautiful things, to the Lord.
In verse 11 the elders sing a song of worship acknowledging that God alone is worthy to receive glory and honor and power because he is the one who created everything and the creator is greater than his creation. The song tells us that all things, including us, were created for his pleasure.
And there is the primary reason for our existence: to bring pleasure to God. At this point we need to ask ourselves if our lives and actions and attitudes and reactions are bringing pleasure to God, because all things that don't, including our works, will be judged and destroyed, and we will receive a reward based only on what remains.
Scripture tells us rewards are given for receiving a prophet or righteous man or giving a cup of water in the name of a disciple (Matt. 10:41-42); assisting the brethren in Jesus' name (Mar. 9:41); enduring persecution (Luke 6:22-23); loving our enemies, doing good, lending without expectation of repayment, or giving (Luke 6:35); doing all things heartily as unto the Lord and not unto men (Col. 3:23-24).
Heb. 11:26 tells us that Moses had respect unto the recompense of the reward: he turned his back on the things that he might have rightly expected - including the expectation of ruling authority in Egypt - to follow the will of God. II John 8 says, "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward." According to the apostle John these rewards are important and can be lost.
There is a difference between a reward and wages. Wages are paid for work performed while a reward is given for voluntary acts. The reward giver is not obligated to give the reward - he does it because he wants to. Think of the lost wallet: if the person who returns it takes some of the money for himself he has taken payment for his performance, but if the same person returns it with nothing missing, the owner may give something to reward the voluntary act. So we see that a reward is based on the generosity of the giver on his own terms, not the worthiness of the receiver.
For Christians, the reward is given for response to God’s instructions for living and to his calling, and is based on having a willing attitude (read I Cor. 9:16-17). The person who does not respond will be judged, and the person who unwillingly responds is only performing his expected duties. But the person who responds out of a willing heart is truly serving God because he WANTS to. This is what God is looking for and this is what he will reward.
God is using us as a great object lesson for Satan (which truly delights me - lol). In Isaiah 14:13-14, the record of Lucifer's fall, five times in his heart he said 'I will usurp the position of God'. God is pleased with men who say in their hearts "I will serve God." I firmly believe that God will be glorified in the end by having a people who will serve him, not for what we can get and not for what we can escape, but simply because we want to.
I believe that all Christians have a calling and none of us will be given a greater or lesser reward based on man's perception of the importance of the calling: the person who intercedes in private prayer may receive a greater reward than the person who preaches to filled stadiums. The calling on the individual is important to the kingdom or God wouldn't have given the calling, but the response of the heart is even more important to God. Responding to the calling of God alone is not grounds for reward: it is merely our expected and reasonable service: he gave his life for us, we owe him our lives.
The perceived ability to perform God's calling should not be a matter of concern: God gives the ability as he sees fit, gives the calling to match the ability and empowers both by the Holy Spirit, so, like Jesus, we say 'the Father that dwelleth within me, he doeth the works'. The glory goes to God because we have no ability at all other than what he gives. The last couple lines of Don Francisco’s song Balaam say it well: "So when the Lord starts using you don’t you pay it any mind, He could have used the dog next door if he’d been so inclined."
Further, Rom. 11:29 tells us the gifts and callings of God are without repentance - he doesn't change his mind, and Matt. 22:14 tells us many are called but few chosen. Use of the gifts and callings is God's choice, and I think it depends on a correct heart attitude - it must be a person who will glorify God instead of himself. The person who is not being used by God, in whatever calling, should check his heart, take his pulse, to find out why.
Judas and Paul were both called to be apostles. Paul was willing and we know what he did: he spent time with God preparing and then he was used to write most of the New Testament. Judas was not willing - he wanted to do things his own way, and as a result he is referred to as 'the son of perdition' (ruin, loss), and he lost his reward and any hope of eternal life. The willingness is a condition of the heart but it will be demonstrated by preparation and performance.
In Matthew 6 Jesus spoke of rewards. He said rewards would be given for doing alms in secret, they would be given for private prayer, and they would be given for private fasting. In essence, Jesus taught that God is not impressed with public displays of righteousness, but that rewards would be given to those who have an intimate, personal relationship with God and that this relationship would consist of private, personal fellowship with him, not for reward, but out of a desire of the heart. The person who lives like this is not concerned about his works, he is concerned with fellowship with his God. This person is the one who will receive the reward because his works will be good because he lives in right relationship with God. This is an attitude of the heart and it produces the fruit of the Spirit which will manifest openly in our relationships with others, beginning with those who are closest to us and moving outward from there.
As for me, I want to follow after the Lord with joy and thanksgiving and live as sinless a life as possible because I would like something to remain after the burning of my works. I see in Rev. 4 that while the elders already have crowns when we first see them, as part of the worship in verse 10 they cast those crowns before the throne, literally giving all the glory (something visual, seen) for their good works, which have been purified by fire, to God.
P.S. Please notice that ALL twenty-four elders are wearing crowns.