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On Being Rapture Worthy

Author’s note: With most every indicator of the advance toward the Tribulation era in view upon the prophetic horizon, Christ’s call to the Church stands brightly against the darkening gloominess. Thus it is time to again consider what God’s Word has to say about being Rapture ready–to be worthy of Christ’s call to that great event.

This article, written some years earlier, stands more than ever as a reminder of the fact we might at any moment appear before our Lord to give an account for our lives spent here on this fallen planet.

On Being Rapture Worthy

Lately, emails and articles I’ve been receiving are trending toward the thought that Christians not living exemplary lives as believers will miss being taken in the Rapture of the Church, should they not be fully “repented up” and ready to go. These will be “left behind,” as the LaHaye and Jenkins novel title puts it. First, it is perhaps best to consider what is meant by the “exemplary life” in terms of prerequisites for making it to Heaven in the Rapture.

Those who insist that one must be living the exemplary life usually frame that as “living a life of holiness” or “living righteously.” By this, I presume they mean for the most part that one must be doing “good works” rather than living life in the “broad way” along which the pedestrian world moves. I would, of course, agree that the born-again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ should be doing exactly that every day. There’s no question that God’s Word calls us to that model for life while upon this fallen planet.

However, the question is now raise—and it is closely akin to the question raised whenever the declaration is made that one can lose one’s salvation: At what point does one “lose” his or her salvation? What particular “sin-point” is reached that causes the salvation meter in Heaven to go “TILT,” removing the sinner’s name from the Lamb’s Book of Life? Or, for our purposes here, at what point does one sin enough to be taken off the list of those who hold tickets into Heaven, who will be lifted to be with Jesus Christ in that millisecond of time known as the “twinkling of an eye” when Jesus calls: “Come up hither!” (Revelation 4:1–2)?

Those who believe that the names of the redeemed can be removed from the Lamb’s Book of Life, of course, use the following Scripture as one that prove their position is true: “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (Revelation 3:5).

This is proof, say the “conditional security proponents,” that one’s name can be removed from the Book of Life. But, let’s have a closer look to examine whether this is true.

Those who hold that believers’ names can be erased from this blessed Book of Life insist that the born-again must “overcome” sin. In their belief dictionary, this means we must stay sin free—that is, either live above sin or stay continually “repented up” in order to keep our names in the Book.

They miss the point entirely as to who actually does the overcoming. It isn’t the believer who overcomes all sin, but the Lord Jesus who died in order to take sin away from those who believe so that we are no longer separated from God the Father in the eternal sense. This is seen, for example, in the following: “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5).

It is simple belief in the Savior who takes away the sins of the world that makes us overcomers. We still sin and come short of the glory of God, but His precious blood shed at Calvary covers all of our sins—past, present, and future. We overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil–all sin in this earthly sphere—only by belief in the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16). Our overcoming is only through God’s great grace, through faith. We can never overcome by our own power.

When we sin, we break fellowship with our Lord, but we never break the eternal, family relationship. We do the following to take steps toward making right the sinful break in fellowship that we have caused. First, we must realize and admit that we are not sinless, because repentance cannot truly be made unless we confess that we have sinned. Upon such confession and repentance there is given blessed remedy: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).

God’s Word shows us that our salvation and our ability to overcome is totally based on what Christ did for us and our faith in Him alone. This brings us to the matter of being “Rapture Worthy.”

Going to Christ when He calls, as Paul outlines in 1 Corinthians 15:51–55 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, and given by John in Revelation 4:1–2, is a salvation matter. We know that from the overall gospel message and from the total context of God’s dealing with His family. Remember when Jesus prayed that beautiful prayer to His Father, as the Lord faced the cross (John 17)? Read it again, and you will see that it is absolutely clear that born-again believers are forever secure in the Father’s hand, based upon what Jesus did on the cross.

We know with absolute certainty that we are once and forever in God’s family because of the words of the One who created all that exists: “My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:29).

Paul confirms that the Rapture is a salvation matter as follows: “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. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11).

The Rapture will be Christ keeping us from the hour of temptation or Tribulation (read Revelation 3:10). The Tribulation is the time of God’s wrath–to which Paul tells us we are “not appointed.” However, there are many who insist that Christians who haven’t properly confessed their sins will go through that time of God’s wrath (and the entire seven years of the Tribulation will be God’s judgment and wrath). These use the following verse to make their case: “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).

The key word they hold forth as relevant here is the word “worthy.” Does this word not mean that we as born-again believers must be good enough to stand before Jesus in that raptured throng? Does this word not mean, therefore, that if we fail to live up to God’s standards while on this Earth, we will (at some point in God’s holy view of what it takes to fall from being Rapture ready) lose our ticket in that translation moment, thus not be taken when the shout is heard, “Come up hither!”?

Like in examining the issue of salvation, in looking at the term “overcoming,” we now look at the word “worthy.” What does it mean to be “worthy,” as given in this Rapture example? Again, the answer is wrapped up in the same name as before: “Jesus.” Jesus is the only person “worthy,” in God’s holy eyes, to be in the heavenly realm.

Remember what Jesus said to a man who addressed Him as “Good Master”? “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God” (Luke 18:18).

Jesus, the second person of the Godhead, was not seeking to chastise the man for addressing Him in this way. The Lord was confirming through this question that He is indeed God, the only good, the only righteousness. Righteousness is the only ticket to Heaven–either through the portal of death, or through the Rapture. Only through Jesus–being born again into God’s family through belief in Him–can a person enter the heavenly realm.

Jesus spoke to this all-important matter by addressing Nicodemus: “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

God’s Word says about fallen mankind: “As it is written, There is none righteous no not one” (Romans 8:10) and, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 8:23).

So, Jesus is the only person “worthy” to enter Heaven. It is through Him that any of us are worthy to stand before Him in that heavenly realm. That is the truth found in the Scripture in question.

On a less magnificent scale, the word “worthy” in this passage means that we should be in a constant mindset of prayerful repentance. We should always want to be found “worthy”–cleansed of all unrighteousness, as stated in 1 John 1: 9, so that we will hear our Lord say to us on that day, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).


11 Comments

  1. Chris Madder says:

    I have come across this teaching that only the righteous will be taken in the pre-tribulation rapture – it is referred to as a partial rapture I believe and I find it horrifying that anybody would ever teach such a thing, it makes such a mockery of all that Jesus did for us. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and I still sin but He is just and faithful to forgive me of my sins when I ask Him to and He cleanses me from all unrighteousness – 1 John 1:9 – it is as simple as that.
    But I have a friend who has been taught she can lose her salvation and she now avoids me like the plague as she believes I am teaching her a doctrine of demons when I try to get her to see, using the Bible, that she is saved, sealed and will always be saved and sealed. I find this heartbreaking that the enemy has penetrated her church so much she is completely unable to believe anything else.

  2. A Clark says:

    Is important to understand righteousness because at the end of the day there are only two groups of people. The righteous and the wicked. The distinction is clear. The righteous are those in Christ that have a righteousness that is from God by faith. A legal declaration of righteousness that comes with salvation. How do we know we are indeed saved? The treatise on that topic is 1 John. There are some tests in 1 John we can apply to ourselves to see if we are truly in Christ.

    1 John 2:3-4 (KJV) And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

    This is not works based salvation but a check on ourselves to see if we are truly in the faith. Even Paul said we should examine ourselves whether or not we be in the faith. John gives us the tests by which we should make the evaluation. It’s based on the love for one another, specifically within the household of faith. We tend to equate righteousness with good works but that’s not really it. It’s as was stated in the post – walking in repentance and obedience. If that’s not the direction of your life then you need to run some diagnostics. Are you indeed saved?

    • Chris Madder says:

      In other words, at its simplest level the question is: “Are you IN CHRIST”, it is absolutely amazing how often this little two-word phrase is used.

  3. Ed Wood says:

    I won’t debate the “once saved always saved” concept. Terry certainly presents an excellent argument here for it, but I must admit that I’m still on the fence.

    Yet, I’m also not worried about it overly much because these things I do accept without reservation:

    John {6:28} Then said they unto him*, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? {6:29} Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. *Jesus

    John {14:1} Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. {14:2} 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. {14:3} 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. {14:4} And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. {14:5} Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? {14:6} Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

    1 John {2:1} My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: {2:2} And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world.

    Truth is, none of us are worthy to get to heaven, something this makes clear.

    Psalm {53:3} Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; [there is] none that doeth good, no, not one.

    Romans {3:10} As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.

    The only reason we get to go there is to accept that Jesus took the punishment we all deserve in our place. That means that everyone who believes these things already has an address in heaven and Jesus is coming soon to take us there and I think that is the most important reality of all.

    • Chris Madder says:

      I have just one question then for you Ed and that is if you think there is a chance we lose our salvation, we lose the seal the Holy Spirit has put on us, the Lamb removes our name from HIS Book, not just the Book of LIfe, our destination is in doubt – what kind of a god does that make him? This is the thing which keeps me believing, it would appear it is totally uncriptural but it is as a result of reading the Word of God from cover to cover on a regular basis for over 47 years which means I have an idea of what God is like. I may not know what a father is like but I am certain I know what the Ideal Father is like.

      • Ed Wood says:

        Hi, Chris.

        Wish I could give you an answer but the plain truth of the matter is that I just don’t know!

        Maybe a true believer can never reject Jesus, though he or she may spend a long time away from the faith like the prodigal son spent away from home partying until his money ran out. If this is true, then OSAS is right.

        Thanks for asking what really were several excellent questions. Gives me more to ponder, and I certainly will do just that.

      • Chris Madder says:

        No, thank you for taking on board my questions and not assuming I was being provocative. You see for several years during the time I was ill with chronic clinical depression I did not walk with the Lord at all and I am well aware that many were praying for me but I just did not want to know, I even attempted suicide but, looking back, I know now I was still God’s child I had just lost my way. never forget the prodigal son, brother.
        You see at the end of the day it is not what WE do which matters it is what Jesus has done, is doing and will do that is the issue and He has made promises that He will never break, therefore, once we are a child of God as per John 1:11-13, that’s it. I know for some of us that sounds way too easy, that there has to be a catch somewhere, but that is because we only have finite human minds, whereas God is entirely different and if He says He will do a thing, you can guarantee He will do it and that means even YOU cannot pluck yourself from His hand because NOTHING can – if anything could then God is not God and we are the most miserable of people. Think about it!

      • Ed Wood says:

        Hello again, Chris.
        Thanks for your testimony. You have made some more good points and actually addressed one of the major questions I’ve always had. It concerns “plucking out.”

        It’s true that Jesus can stop another person from taking a believer “out of the fold,” if you will, but I always wondered if a person can do it to themselves. So, maybe it all goes to what I said before, that a true believer would never do that, even if he or she becomes estranged from God. If this is so then, somewhere along the road, that person will always end up coming back home. Now that is something I never considered before.

        Thanks for giving me something new and important to ponder upon.

      • Chris Madder says:

        You are very welcome as I am sure you realise we have walked on similar paths but, in this instance, perhaps I am a little further on than you. XX

  4. Judy Moore says:

    “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and has redeemed us to God by His blood, to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory and blessing!” “Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto Him that sits upon the throne and unto the Lamb forever and ever.” Revelation. May all our love and praise and worship be for Him alone. He only is worthy.

    Thanks for sharing again this wonderful article, Terry. God bless you! We need this reminder so very much today.

  5. SRB says:

    Believers cannot lose their fellowship with God. Jesus paid for all our sins, past present and future. If we could lose our fellowship with God, then we would be in and our of fellowship with him every few minutes. Even our thought life is not holy. God doesn’t stand in the corner with His arms folded scolding us and saying, oh, we blew it again! Don’t talk to me until you beg forgiveness and promise to never do or think that thing again. No, no and no. Jesus did it all on the cross. His blood is our righteousness. We should admit when we have done wrong and do better but that is the Holy Spirit who will convict us of our shortcomings. We have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. He cannot break fellowship with Himself.

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