THIS CHURCH AGE began on the day of Pentecost 50 days after Jesus rose from the grave and will conclude with the Rapture of the Church.
When the Rapture occurs, believers who have died during this Church Age and those still living will be raised, changed, and then caught up to Christ in heaven.
Those who are not caught up will suffer the fearful judgments of the seven-year Tribulation before Christ returns to the earth to reign as King of kings over all nations.
Some Christians have taught that there will be a Partial Rapture and that not all Christians living at that time will be caught up to heaven. They believe that only victorious Christians will be changed at the Rapture and preach that unless we are walking spotless lives with the Lord when Christ calls His own to heaven, we will be left behind with the ungodly to pass through the Tribulation. Is this Scriptural? Who does the Bible say will be caught up at the Rapture?
- Those “in Christ” will be Raptured
The Bible states that the “dead in Christ” will be raised together with “we who are alive and remain” that will be changed and caught up.
The only qualification to be a part of the Rapture is to be “in Christ”. There is no other requirement. We are either “in Christ” or we are not “in Christ”. So what does it mean to be in Christ?”
When a sinner acknowledges his need of salvation and turns to Christ, calling on the Lord to save him from his sin and its eternal consequences, the Holy Spirit does a saving work in that persons heart and they are made a child of God.
But not only are they brought into the family of God with God as our Heavenly Father, but the Holy Spirit places us in the Body of Christ for
“For by one Spirit ARE WE ALL baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.” (1Cor.12:13-14).
The Corinthian Church was far from being a perfect Church. They had many believers who were not walking with the Lord but they were believers and they were “in Christ” i.e. in the Body of Christ and will be Raptured.
- The Judgment Seat of Christ Requires all Believers to be Present
When the Church-age believers are Raptured they stand before the judgment seat of Christ and Paul states
“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” (Rom.14:10).
If ALL believers stand before the judgment seat of Christ and those acts of service that are deemed to be “wood, hay and stubble” are burned i.e. evaporate, then surely this indicates that imperfect saints will be there.
Furthermore, the Judgment Seat of Christ is not a judicial judgment but likened to a judge at the olympic games who awards prizes for success.
The Judgment Seat of Christ is not to deal with our sins for those have been fully paid for on the cross and when we believe on Christ we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”. God sees us as clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Our failures as Christians will impact on our fellowship with our Heavenly Father but they can never remove us from his family.
The task of the judge at the Olympic Games is to reward those who win and not to denigrade those who do not win however in life’s race we can all receive a prize for faithful service (1Cor.4:5).
“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” (1Cor.9:24-26).
No runner in the Games has been judged for failing to be in the top three competitors! There is no condemnation
at the judgment seat of Christ because our sins are not the issue. It is our service that is the subject. We may suffer loss of rewards but never have to answer for our sins. Jesus bore them all.
- The Rapture is of the Bride of Christ
The judgment seat of Christ is where the Bride of Christ receives her garments for the wedding. In Israel it was the custom for the Bridegroom to provide the wedding garment for the Bride. The Rapture is the day the Bride of Christ is snatched away to receive our wedding garment and to be with Christ our heavenly Bridegroom.
In Revelation chapter 19:8 we have a description of the Bride of Christ who comes with Christ at His glorious appearing after the Tribulation. She is clothed in fine linen white and clean which is “the righteousnesses of the saints” or “the righteous acts of the saints”.
It is unthinkable that a bridegroom would spend time telling his bride of her failures. The wedding day is a day of celebration and rejoicing. There can be no tears or remorse for failure on the wedding day of Christ and His Church.
When the Church returns with Christ after the Tribulation she will display all the faithful acts of service by all the saints and martyrs, throughout the entire Church age. Heaven is yet to see how millions of believers lived and died for no other reason than that they loved Christ.
We have read some amazing stories of believers who have toiled long years, suffered persecution and even died
rather than deny their Lord and Saviour. But there are countless numbers of believers we have never heard about who went to prison, suffered physical violence and deprivation for Christ.
“others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” (Heb.11:36-40).
When Christ returns with His saints all those acts of love will be on display to the glory and praise of Christ like spotless white and clean garments. There will be no remembrance of our failures and sins for they have all been washed away in the crimson tide of Calvary!
- The Rapture is the End of the Church Age
There are seven Dispensations of time and in each dispensation God has administered His witness on earth differently. The age of law finished with its last prophet, John the Baptist, and when Israel rejected her Messiah God turned to the Gentiles so that on the day of Pentecost they all spoke in “other languages”; Gentile languages.
This Church age was not known in ages past and God did not reveal it until He made it known to the Apostle Paul. It was “the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God” (Eph.3:9). And what was this mystery?
“That the Gentiles should be
fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Eph.3:6).
On the Day of Pentecost the nation of Israel was temporarily put aside and God turned to the Gentiles to call out a people to the name of Christ. A new Dispensation began and will conclude at the Rapture after which God will again deal with the nation of Israel. Paul said:
“I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins” (Rom.11:25-27).
The “fulness of the Gentiles” is the completion of the Church; the Gentile Bride of Christ. There is another seven years of God’s program for Israel to run before the Kingdom of God can be established on earth (Dan.9:24) and the Rapture will usher in that last seven years when Israel will again become God’s witness on earth.
If there was a partial Rapture and part of the Gentile Church remained on earth they would be in a Jewish dispensation. The Book of Revelation chapters 4 to
19 describes the seven-year Tribulation and there is not one mention of the Church in all those chapters. Only Israel and Gentile nations are mentioned!
The fulness of the Gentiles, not a partial completion of the Church, must occur before the Rapture so that Israel can play her part in the last days.
For these four reasons there cannot be a partial Rapture of the Church.