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Who Goes in the Rapture?

My book from a few years ago, The Departure: God’s Next Catastrophic Intervention into Earth’s History, is a book written by a number of authors. I was one of the authors and general editor. I selected to join in this effort some of the most knowledgeable authorities in Bible prophecy who wrote chapters on the most relevant topics of our day.

 We looked at all issues and events involving what we consider to have prophetic import through the supernatural prism of God’s Word, the Bible. I consider it “our” book, not just mine.

More than that, I believe each of us who wrote for it considers it to be a volume devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ for these troubling although exciting times. We trust that it continues to be a tool to help edify those who are in God’s family by pointing to the very real evidence that proves the coming of “the blessed hope” of Titus 2:13 is likely very near. To that extent, that’s another reason I call it “our” book. It’s written for all believers alive today, with the prayerful hope God’s family will awaken to Christ’s imminent coming.

With the book now in the hands of many thousands, I thought it good to use the commentary this week to look at exactly who I believe will go in the Departure–the Rapture, when Christ gives the command: “Come up here” (Rev. 4:1).

There might be some among the authors who would disagree on a couple of my views about specifically who will go to be with Jesus at the time of the Rapture. However, I will let them answer for themselves in their own forums and in their own ways. My own feeling on the differences we might have is like that of the late Dr. J. Vernon McGee, who more than once said that you can believe the way you want to believe. But, if you want to be right, you’ll want to come along with me on this…

Dr. McGee said that with a chuckle, and I hope you can hear the chuckle in my written expression, regarding my borrowing from that grand old Christian man’s humor.

First, I will state that God’s Word says, without equivocation, just who will go in the Rapture–the Departure: “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” (1 Cor. 15:51-52).

So, it is plain that Paul the apostle was saying two major things about one classification of people. He was writing to the believers at Corinth. But, he was also writing to each and every believer who would come along during the Church Age. Every believer at Corinth during Paul’s day is long since dead. So he had to be addressing those who would be living at the time when Christ would call for them, as well as those alive at the time this letter was written.

The context of the letter is that of informing those Christians about a mystery regarding a stunning event in their future. His words were to put to rest some of their worries about what would happen to those Christians among them who had died. What would happen to them in terms of their going to heaven?

Paul was saying that: 1) Not all believers would die; some would not have to die, but would be alive at the time of a stupendous event; and 2) All believers, however, would be changed. They would be changed in one single moment of time. The dead would be made alive and put into supernatural bodies. Those alive at the time of the event would be changed into supernatural bodies while living.

The “mystery” Paul was revealing–I am convinced–was the one wrapped up in Jesus’ words as recorded by John the apostle:

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3)

Paul further expanded on this “mystery” in his letter to the Thessalonians:

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. (1 Thess. 4:16-17)

So, the thing to consider is that believers of the Church Age (Age of Grace)–and Paul was talking to believers of this dispensation—will ALL go to be with Jesus when He calls them in that “twinkling of an eye” (atomos of time) moment–the Rapture. ALL believers of this dispensation will go to be with the Lord! Not a single individual who has accepted Christ for salvation will be left behind.

This truth includes every individual who never reached the intellectual ability–through brain incapacity or because of being too young—to understand that he or she must accept Christ for salvation. These are all under the blood of Christ for redemption and reconciliation to God, the Father. All will go to be with Jesus at the Rapture.

Some believe and teach that only those believers who are living in the will of God will go to be with Christ at the Rapture. Those living “carnal” lives, they believe, will be left behind to go through a time of God’s judgment and wrath, along with the unbelieving earth dwellers. But God’s Word doesn’t teach that some will go and some will stay. ALL believers, Paul plainly writes, will go to be with the Lord at the Departure. Paul writes further to the Thessalonians: “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him” (1 Thess. 5:9-10).

It is true that we are told by the Lord as recorded in Luke 21:36 that we are to watch and pray always that we may be accounted worthy to escape all of the things of the Tribulation. But “worthy” in this sense means that we should be living in such a way that we will not be ashamed when we stand before Him at the Judgment Seat–the bema. We should desire to hear our Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

This might not seem fair to those who disagree with me on this–those who believe they are living their own lives within God’s prescription for Christian deportment. But, it’s not what we think is or is not fair that matters. It’s what the Word of God says that matters in any question of spiritual truth. God’s truth–His Holy Word—says plainly that ALL believers who have died or are living during this present dispensation will go to be with the Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ, when He makes that shout heard around the world to His bride: “Come up here!”



  1. Lyndon Weggery says:

    Terry -while you and I can respectfully have a different opinion on climate change I can certainly agree with your all inclusive stance for all “believers”to be taken up in the future Rapture!!!The comforting thought is that God has delayed it until “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in”(Romans 11:25).In other words God the Father of the Bridegroom is still sending out the wedding invitations and will hold His Son back until the last “RSVP” has come in!The apostle Peter amplifies this thought in 2 Peter 3:9.

    • Terry James says:

      Lyndon, yes, we are brothers above all else, and can agree to disagree on the matter of man made climate change. Thank you for your kind comments and friendship.


  2. Lyndon Weggery says:

    And just another thought.The believers who go up in the Rapture are the same ones who come back with Christ in Rev.17:14.They are identified as the” called,chosen and faithful followers”. Perhaps a note of caution there in that we are called to be faithful and Titus 2:11-14 are wonderful verses to keep us in that grand company of believers that are waiting,watching and praying.Also taking the extended “grace time” to evangelise our family,friends and neighbours.

  3. Tim Parsoneault says:

    Terry- What is the point of the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25?
    Thanks, Tim.

    • Terry James says:

      I like the answer my friend Jack Kelley gives to this much wondered over parable.

      So what does the parable mean? First of all, I’m convinced it’s not trying to hint at the timing of the Rapture. I believe it’s sole purpose is to serve as one of the clearest warnings the Lord ever gave to those He would find still on Earth when He returns, and that’s to make sure they remain faithful and ready to receive Him no matter how long they have to wait.

      When the Lord comes back at the End of the Age, He’ll find both believers and unbelievers present on Earth. Having previously spirited His bride (the church) away, He’ll now decide who among the Tribulation survivors should be allowed to participate in the blessings of His Kingdom, using the presence of the Holy Spirit in each one’s life as the determining factor. Those in whom the Spirit resides when He returns are invited in but those without it will be excluded.

      Because just as importantly, the parable teaches that His return signals the deadline after which even the request to be saved and receive the Holy Spirit will be denied. (The foolish virgins, as the story calls them, were on their way to replenish their oil when the bridegroom arrived.) The door will be closed, and the Lord will deny ever knowing those who’ve come too late.

      By not remaining faithful, these tribulation believers, who are not part of the Church, will have disqualified themselves from participation in the kingdom. Once everyone sees the Lord returning on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory, the opportunity for them to restore their salvation will have ended. Salvation has always been by faith and faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see (Hebr. 11:1).

      • Terry, I think this contradicts what you said in your original article in which you said even carnal Christians will be caught up in the Rapture to be with the Lord. However, the story of the ten foolish virgins immediately came to my mind before I read Tim’s question. If a “carnal” Christian goes to be with Jesus in the Rapture that implies that even if they’re out in the world doing their “own thing” and not looking for Him they will still be taken up in the Rapture yet the story of the foolish virgins implies that they believed the Lord (Bridegroom) would return for them but fell asleep without having filled their lamps first. Nevertheless, they WERE Believers (just like carnal Christians) yet Christ told them they were too late and closed the door on them. Please explain this because I’m very confused over this particular topic.

      • Terry James says:

        Please read the response to Tim. Hopefully, it will provide an answer to your confusion. I believe Jack Kelley’s thoughts on the “ten virgins”matter are correct. The ten virgins are in the tribulation after the rapture. Those left behind were not believers. This is not a passage on the Rapture.

  4. tovlogos says:

    Thanks Terry — Your proposition is clear and Scriptural. Another reason I have leaned your way is because I see a “works” underpinning in many biblical positions,
    “The more we accomplish, the prouder God will be with us”. Of course it’s wonderful to have a fruitful life for our Savior; but I find that humans have always to be watchful of the insidiousness of the enemy. Human ego never leaves the arena.

    I believe that it what we believe, and the accompanying passion for Jesus that causes God to cheerfully serve the fatted calf on our behalf. I see good works as a side effect of sincere belief in God, which is what leads us into conformity to His Son. And through our the persistence in His love, unfailing faith in that blessed hope, God can use us to accomplish whatever is appropriate per person.
    If one person had 100 talents, and another had 10; and the one with 100 produced 10 more — yet the one with 10 also produced ten more — the one with 20 did very good work. So, as you indicated, it the heart’s quality that speaks volumes.


  5. Tim Parsoneault says:

    I look at this parable somewhat differently. I have wondered about it for years and I think what it says is basically “be actively watching,” v13. There seems to be no difference between the two groups except the lack of oil causing the foolish group to be absent when the bridegroom arrived. The word “know” in v12 is not the same word as in Matthew 7:23. The “know” in v12 could be rendered “see or perceive.” Maybe because of their absence they were not seen and so left behind.

  6. Tim Parsoneault says:

    Terry-it would seem that if the ten virgins parable is in the context of the second coming then it doesn’t make any sense to me. If the virgins represent the church how can they still be on earth at Chrisr’s return? Doesn’t the church return with our Lord at the second coming?
    Looking again at 1 Corinth 15 there is an important word in v 58. It is the word “therefore.” Are not the “all” of v 50 only those who heed the admonishment of v 58?….thanks for your consideration.

    • Terry James says:

      I’m having trouble following what you are saying. It sounds like your position is that 1) The ten virgins parable has nothing to do with the Second Coming, but involves the Rapture and 2) Only those who are living righteously will be taken in the Rapture.

      I am convinced that the body of scripture, taken in total context, indicates that the parable of the ten virgins means exactly the conclusion to which Jack Kelly has come to and expressed as previously posted.

      Same with the Rapture, in my view. The vast body of scripture on the subject of the Rapture indicates that “all” means “all” when Paul says we shall “all” be changed, etc. The use of pronouns clearly delineate between those that are lost and those that are in Christ in these passages.

      It is easy for one to take individual verses and think one can make a point that only those living righteously will be taken in the Rapture. But, taken in total context, scripture proves beyond any doubt –to me, at least– that Christ will never leave part of His Bride here to be beaten up in the time of God’s Wrath. –And, the entire 7 years of Tribulation is God’s Wrath.

  7. Charlotte says:

    Dear Terry,
    I’m having some difficulty reconciling 1 Corinthians 9:8-10, with the statements regarding carnal Christians …”… 9Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.…” Does this mean that professing Christians who are effeminate, practice homosexuality/fornication/adultery, practice stealing, etc will inherit the Kingdom of God? Can professing Christians really “live like the devil” and see God’s Kingdom….just because they believe in Jesus as Savior, albeit embarrassed in His presence? Is living in willful sin really “ok” as long as we are saved? How does this make “carnal” Christians any different from those in the world? “Oh, I’m ok, I can _______(fill in any sin), God will forgive me. I’m saved.” Romans 6:1-2 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” If this is the case, then what is the point in the renewing of our minds, repenting, and turning from our sin? Please forgive me, I’m not trying to be difficult….I’m trying to reconcile these passages of Scripture and rightly divide His Word.


    • Terry James says:

      The operative words are “Christians” and “professing.”

      You say you are having trouble reconciling the scripture you mention with its statement concerning carnal Christians. You go on to ask whether “professing Christians” can live like the devil and still see the Kingdom of God –meaning, I presume, will they still go to Heaven when they die, or to Christ in the Rapture.

      I don’t know whether you believe that the Bible teaches eternal security. If you don’t believe it does, then I can understand your trouble with this text. What you are saying in this case is that the Bible doesn’t teach eternal security of the believer. One can lose his or her salvation.
      If you truly understand that once a person has accepted Christ for Salvation, that person is forever in Gods Family no matter what, there should be no problem understanding that Paul isn’t referring to the “Christian” here. He is talking about those who don’t know Christ for salvation.

      A “Christian” is one who has put his or her trust in Christ for the salvation of their soul. Jesus has promised that no one or nothing can pluck them from His Father’s Hand (read Romans 8:38-39, for example.) Once that person is “in Christ” he or she is a Christian –forever.

      Paul, in the scripture you mention, is talking about the “unrighteous”. He says: “do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?”

      These aren’t “carnal Christians.” They are “unrighteous.” They do not know Christ for salvation. Christians are forever “righteous” because their sins have been paid for –past, present, and future. The Heavenly Father now sees them as “righteous” or “in Christ”. He did it all on the cross.

      Paul is exhorting the Corinthians, who were steeped in idolotry before coming to Christ to not be drawn into that vile, pagan activity again. Christ has saved them out of that terrible life.

      There is always a price to be paid by the Christian who falls into any of this type of sin and doesn’t truly repent –that is, change directions after asking for forgiveness and being forgiven. The Lord will take the child of God to the woodshed in one way or the other if such repentance isn’t forthcoming. The Christian will face the loss of rewards at the Judgment seat of Christ, for example. In some cases the child will be called home, much like we would call our children in when they were small if they kept doing rebellious things that displayed deliberate disobedience –continuing to do things we knew were harmful to them.

      You and I can’t judge the individual and his or her relationship with God. God Knows the heart. We can discern, however, the Word of God, and it unequivocally teaches that a Christian, no matter the status of his walk as God’s child, is forever secure and will go to Heaven when they die or when Christ calls them at the moment of Rapture.

  8. Catalina says:

    Dear Terry thank for explaining . I have been concerned for my children thinking that even thou they gave their life to THE LORD in their childhood . Because they have chosen to walk away from THE LORD as they got older that they would be left behind and I have suffer so much thinking that. The University’s turned their hearts away from GOD. But when they where little they Loved HIM so much . Now I have peace in my heart PRAISE THE LORD . Blessings

  9. Mike says:

    Dear Terry

    Some points to ponder…

    2 Peter 2:20 If indeed they have escaped the corruption of the world through their knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, only to be entangled and overcome by it again, their final condition is worse than it was at first. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to have known it and turned away from the holy commandment passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.”

    Remember Lot’s wife!
    Luke 17:26 Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man: 27 People were eating and drinking, marrying and being given in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.
    28 It was the same in the days of Lot: People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But on the day Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
    30 It will be just like that on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day, let no one on the housetop come down to retrieve his possessions. Likewise, let no one in the field return for anything he has left behind. 32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed: One will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together: One will be taken and the other left.”

    Jesus’ letters to the seven churches give warning and council to all but two of them. His letter to the Church of Philadelphia states in Revelation 3:10 Because you have kept My command to endure with patience, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

    Salvation is by Grace through Faith we can do nothing for it. Nevertheless, there are rewards “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.” (Rev 22:12).

    God bless

  10. Deedee says:

    Hi, please explain “wages of sin is death vs to be carnal minded is death.” Are the end results salvation or being lost… thanks

    • Terry James says:

      “Wages of sin is death” means that unrepented of sin will reap the “second death,” which is eternal separation of the soul from God. The born again believer is not subject to this “law” because Christ paid, by way of the cross, for all sin of true believers. –That is for all sin past, present and future.

      I believe that “to be carnal minded is death” means that, again, those who are not believers (born again) are separated forever from God, if they die without repentance. For the Christian who is “carnal” minded, I believe, means that he or she will be taken home to Heaven –will die—prematurely in many cases, depending on the will of God. However, they will never lose their salvation.

      It’s like a parent continuing to tell little Johnny or Susie to stop doing something dangerous while playing outside or they will have to come in. They refuse, but do things even more dangerous to them so the parent calls them into the house.

  11. Ted Bates says:

    I agree. Paul said “All”. We are accounted worthy not based on our works but based on Jesus’ works on our behalf. We are worthy because Christ has made us worthy in God’s eyes because of His works not our own. I do have a question though about the 10 virgins.

  12. Dianne Doonan says:

    Thank you! I have always believed the
    the Scripture teaches that all who are
    in Christ will be Raptured, how could
    the Holy Spirit leave a part of Himself
    behind?! ln these last days, l have
    been hearing conflicting views from Teachers l listen to, but God’s Word
    to me is the final authority!

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