Peace to you in the Lord! Several months have flown by. How are you recently? I remember when we studied the Bible together, we often read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, which says, “For 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.” Whenever we saw these words, we were very excited and could not help but feel sweet. We would even grin from ear to ear in our dreams. We believed that upon the Lord’s return, we which are alive should be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. What a glorious scene that would be! However, after I came to Japan, through my fellowship with the brothers and sisters here, I understand: These verses are Paul’s words, not the Lord Jesus’ words. Paul’s word isn’t the truth; even more so, it cannot take the place of the truth. Only the Lord Jesus’ word is the truth. We should believe in the Lord according to His word, and cannot take man’s word as the goal of our pursuit. “Being caught up” mentioned in these words isn’t what we think. In the past, we all thought the “being caught up” in scripture meant that the Lord’s return would bring all those who held onto the Lord’s name into the air and then they would live in heaven. Actually, our thinking is wrong. The reason why we think that way is because we don’t understand the true meaning of these verses. Regarding this issue, brothers and sisters have communicated with me about the truth of this aspect, so that I understand what true rapture is. Now I’ll share my experience with you.
Sister Liu fellowshiped with me, “There are verses which can solve this confusion. Genesis 2:7-8 says, ‘And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Jehovah God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.’ From this, we can see that our forefather lived in the Garden of Eden which was on earth, not in heaven. In the beginning, God made mankind with the dust on earth, allowed us to live on earth and manage the rest of His creations, asked us to obey, worship and glorify Him, and ordained that our destination is on earth rather than in heaven. Also, in Matthew 6:10, the Lord’s Prayer that the Lord Jesus taught us says, ‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.’ From this verse, we can see that when God’s kingdom comes, we will carry out His will on earth. Besides, His will may be done on earth just as it is in heaven. This proves that the ones left alive after God’s work of the last days finishes, still live on earth, not in heaven. It can be seen that God will establish His kingdom on earth and the kingdoms of this world must become the kingdom of our Christ. After God’s work on earth comes to an end, He will lead man from heaven and man will still live on earth. So God’s kingdom will finally be realized on earth. If we maintain that “being caught up” refers to being taken up to heaven, then won’t these prophecies be in vain? God’s kingdom is on earth; if we still pursue to be raptured into heaven, aren’t we going against His will? In reality, God does His work of saving mankind on earth from beginning to end, and we humans also live on earth. God shall carry out His will on earth, not in heaven. In the end, man’s destination is on earth and it was preordained before the ages. No one can break it, and this is a heavenly law.
“A passage of word says, ‘God entering into rest means that He will no longer carry out His work of humanity’s salvation. Humanity entering into rest means that all of humanity will live within God’s light and under His blessings; there will be none of Satan’s corruption, nor will any unrighteous things occur. Humanity will live normally upon earth, and they will live under God’s care. When God and man enter into rest together, it will mean that humanity has been saved and that Satan has been destroyed, that God’s work among man has finished entirely. God will no longer continue to work among man, and man will no longer live under Satan’s domain. Therefore, God will no longer be busy, and man will no longer rush about; God and man will enter into rest simultaneously. God will return to His original position, and each person will return to his or her respective place. These are the destinations that God and man will respectively reside in after the end of God’s entire management. God has God’s destination, and man has man’s destination. While resting, God will continue to guide all of humanity in their lives upon earth. While in God’s light, man will worship the one true God in heaven. … When humanity enters into rest, it means that man has become a true creation; humanity will worship God from upon the earth and have normal human lives. People will no longer be disobedient to God or resist God; they will return to the original life of Adam and Eve. These are the respective lives and destinations of God and humanity after they enter into rest. Satan’s defeat is an inevitable trend in the war between God and Satan. In this way, God’s entering into rest after the completion of His management work and man’s complete salvation and entrance into rest likewise become inevitable trends. Man’s place of rest is on earth, and God’s place of rest is in heaven. While man rests, he will worship God and also live upon earth, and while God rests, He will lead the remaining portion of humanity; … After God and man enter into rest, Satan will no longer exist, and like Satan, those wicked people will also no longer exist. Before God and man enter into rest, those wicked individuals who once persecuted God upon earth and the enemies who were disobedient to Him upon earth will have already been destroyed; they will have been destroyed by the great disasters of the last days. After those wicked individuals have been completely destroyed, earth will never again know Satan’s harassment. Humanity will obtain complete salvation, and it will only be then that God’s work ends completely. These are the prerequisites for God and man to enter into rest.’ Almighty God’s word has clearly told us that when God’s management work is completed, those wicked people who once persecuted Him and the enemies who were disobedient to Him will have already been destroyed by the great disasters of the last days. Afterward, God and man will enter into rest at the same time. God’s place of rest is in heaven while man’s is on earth just as it is now. That is, man will enjoy a life of heaven on earth. This life is what God prepares for man, and moreover, this is what God will accomplish. We should now understand that we humans lived on earth in the beginning, that God also carries out the work of saving mankind on earth, and that in the end, while man rests, he will still live on earth. Knowing this, will we still pursue to be raptured into heaven? Isn’t this our extravagant desire? Is it in line with the truth? In fact, many verses mention ‘being caught up.’ Let’s look at Acts 8:39-40, ‘And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.’ According to our human ideas, Philip was caught up by the Lord, that is, he was raptured into heaven. But the fact is that ‘Philip was found at Azotus’ (Acts 8:40), and that he continued to preach the gospel of the Lord in all the cities and did the Lord’s will on earth. It’s easy to see that Philip was not raptured into heaven but still lived on earth. The prophecy of Revelation mentions ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever’ (Revelation 11:15). These prophecies are sufficient to prove that when we are truly saved, we will still live on earth, rather than in heaven. We won’t be lifted up into heaven as we think. So rapture doesn’t mean that we will be raptured into the air as we’ve imagined. It only comes out of our imagination, which doesn’t hold water.”
The more I listened to her fellowship, the clearer I was. Only then did I realize that what I thought before was absurd, childish and ridiculous. I thought: “A man can’t even climb up a house without a ladder, let alone ascend to heaven. We humans are mortal beings; how can we ascend to heaven? If it were that way, then wouldn’t all necessities God prepared for man on earth be for naught? Paul said, “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” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). So I formed the imagination of “being raptured into heaven,” thinking God’s return would bring us up to heaven. How absurd my idea of rapture is!” Just then, I felt rapture was not so simple as we might suppose. There has to be truth that we must seek.
A few days later, I sought fellowship with Sister Liu. I said, “Since rapture doesn’t mean that we will be raptured into the air to go meet the Lord as we’ve imagined but actually means that we will still live on earth after being saved by God, then what does it refer to?” She patiently communicated with me, “Concerning the rapture, all believers in the Lord always strive for and aspire to it. In fact, the true rapture refers to us following the Lamb’s footsteps, coming before God and accepting His higher and newer work. As for the mystery of the rapture, let’s read a passage of words and we will know the answer. ‘“Being caught up” is not being taken from a low place to a high place as people imagine. This is a huge mistake. Being caught up is referring to My predetermining and selecting. It is targeted at all those I have preordained and chosen. … This is most incompatible with people’s notions. Anyone who has a share in My house in the future are all people who have been caught up before Me. This is absolutely true, never-changing, and cannot be refuted by anybody. This is the counterattack against Satan. Anyone I preordained shall be caught up before Me.’ From these words we know the true meaning of rapture. Rapture doesn’t mean that our flesh will be raptured into heaven to meet God as we imagine, but means that we recognize God’s voice, come before Him, obey His work and accept the words expressed by Him. This is the true meaning of rapture.
From the words the sister read and her fellowship, I understood what rapture truly is. I also realized that my relying on my thinking and imagination, and understanding of the literal meaning of the Bible to interpret what rapture is is really absurd. I hope what I had gained can also help you. If you have a different understanding or any confusion, please don’t hesitate to write to me, we can discuss and fellowship together.
From: Grow in Christ – The Second Coming of Christ