An Overview of the Rapture and Things to Come

(This article has been reprinted with Pastor Cucuzza’s permission. You can find the PDF version online here, and if you want to order a nice looking semi-hard color booklet, call 320-252-5677 or email office@northlandchurch.com)

By Dr. Thomas M. Cucuzza

“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Romans 13:11).

Almost 2000 years have passed since Paul penned these words. The salvation that Paul was writing about was the deliverance from this world that the Rapture of the Church would bring to believers.

This amazing event that is coming will change the course of history. The world will never be the same, literally. Not only that, but it could happen at any moment. When it happens, all those who have trusted in Jesus Christ and Him alone as Savior, millions of people, will suddenly disappear from the earth instantaneously.

While this event is only for believers in Christ, it will affect the entire world. It will usher in a 7-year period of catastrophic events on this earth that will be unprecedented in all of history. This may sound like science fiction, but it isn’t. It is clearly spelled out in the Bible.

In this booklet we are focusing on the Rapture of the Church. We are also talking about those who will be left behind on earth at the Rapture.

What is the Rapture of the Church?

It is the literal event of when Jesus Christ will descend from Heaven and call out of the world to Himself all those who have trusted in Him alone as their Savior. Only believers will see Him. We will disappear from the world, in a moment, and will meet Him in the air to go to Heaven. It is the fulfillment of what Jesus told His disciples in John 14.

“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).

We see a parallel passage which gives more details in 1 Thessalonians 4.

“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 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

While the word rapture is not found in our English Bibles, it is nevertheless a Biblical teaching. It comes from the Latin word rapturo, which means to be caught up, which is what we DO find in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, where it says we will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. It means to seize, to catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by force).

What Will Happen at the Rapture?

The order of this wonderful event is clearly explained in 1 Thessalonians 4.

“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).

Those who are “asleep” are those believers who have previously died and have gone to Heaven. They will be coming back with Jesus to be reunited with their bodies that will have been resurrected and changed.

“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep” (1 Thessalonians 4:15).

Prevent: this word means to precede, or go before. The bodies of the dead in Christ will be changed and resurrected first. This is explained in v.16.

“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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

Another passage that speaks about this event is 1 Corinthians 15, the great resurrection chapter of the Bible.

“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 Corinthians 15:51-52).

Notice that believers will be raptured “in a moment.” This word “moment” is the Greek word atomos, and it is where we get our word “atom” from. Atoms are very small. Here in our text it means an instant of time. It will be faster than a blink!

All of a sudden, millions of people all over the world will disappear! This will create unprecedented chaos around the globe. Many cars will lose their drivers, some airline pilots will go missing, doctors and patients will disappear from operating rooms, children will be gone from their families, school teachers will disappear, some government leaders will be gone. Some churches will be empty and some will not, while some churches will be missing only a percentage of the population of those who attend. Some preachers will be gone and some will not. Many places of the world will come to a sudden stop.

Yet while this will result in chaos for those left behind, this will be a wonderful experience for the believer in Christ, when he sees his Savior face to face, and is freed from all sickness, infirmities, and the problems of this life. We will not only see Jesus, but we will be reunited with loved ones who have gone on to Heaven before us. No wonder the Bible calls it the Blessed Hope and that we should find comfort in the Lord’s coming back to take us home!

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

“Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

Who Will Be Left Behind?

The sad truth is that the vast majority of mankind, every person in the world who has never trusted in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior, will be left behind. This will include all those of the other faiths of the world. This includes most of the religious leaders of the
world as well. I know this is an offensive statement to many, but it is exactly what Jesus said! Jesus made it very clear that not all religions lead to Heaven. He said this:

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

The vast majority of people in the world are trusting in some form of their good works or deeds to get them to their idea of heaven. They do not believe that Jesus is the only way. They will all be left behind.

This also includes many people today who claim to be Christians but still hold fast to some amount of good works being necessary to get them to Heaven. They think they will be taken because they are being faithful.

If your faith is in anything but Jesus Christ and only Jesus Christ, you will be left behind. Again, that includes anyone who adds to faith alone in Christ alone as the way to live with God forever.

Notice the clear teaching of the Bible:

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

No other name. That includes your name as well as mine. The only way to be saved is through faith in Jesus Christ.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:3-6).

Jesus paid the complete payment necessary for our salvation.

“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12).

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5).

We are saved by God’s grace, unmerited favor, through faith in Jesus Christ, believing He paid for ALL of our sins on the cross and that He rose from the grave. If He paid for all of our sins then we have nothing to pay for.

He did it all. All He asks us to do is trust in Him that He did it for us. When we do, we receive everlasting life.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

When Will the Rapture Take Place?

It could take place at any moment. The Bible emphasizes that it is an imminent event. While there are no signs for the Rapture, there are signs for the Tribulation Period, which will begin soon after the Rapture.

How do we know we are close to the 7-year Tribulation Period? Because of what Jesus and the writers of the Bible told us about the last days and the Tribulation Period. In our day we are seeing the fulfillment of many of the prophecies written over 2000 years ago. These are all indicative of the Tribulation Period. While there are many more, here are some of the signs of the last days:

1. Israel would be regathered to her land. This is one of the greatest miracles in all of history. No nation has ever survived such a dispersion as Israel has, beginning in 70 A.D. and then been regathered. But God promised it would happen in the last days. Also, this is the major factor for the 7-year Tribulation Period. Just as Israel was in the land and dispersed in the time ofJesus, they would have to be back in the land for the Tribulation to take place. This happened on May 14th, 1948. Jeremiah 30:1-5 speaks of this regathering, and it is called the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) Trouble. Ezekiel 36-37 also speaks of this regathering and the nation being reborn.

2. The movement toward setting up a one world government. Today, the United Nations, the European Economic Community, the World Health Organization, and the World Economic Forum are all working to bring about a one world government. It is a movement towards globalism. What we see in Europe today is a revival of the Roman Empire prophesied in Daniel 2 and 7. Out of this body of nations or regions will the Antichrist, the world dictator, arise.

3. A move towards a one world currency and cashless society. We see this particularly in the global movement towards digital currency. Once a digital currency is implemented, the people of the world will have no control over their money and will be cut off from doing business unless they comply with what the government dictates. Ultimately this will come down to receiving the mark of the beast, who is the Antichrist. When a person receives the mark they will be pledging loyalty to the Antichrist.

“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:16-17).

4. The Jewish Temple will be rebuilt on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This could take place before the Rapture, but if not, it will certainly take place afterward. The Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement has been ready for many years to do this. See the website: www.templeinstitute.orgThe Temple Institute has already created the implements for the temple worship and many other aspects are being fulfilled as you read this. The Bible tells us that in the middle of the 7-year Tribulation Period, the Antichrist will walk into the rebuilt temple and claim to be God and to be worshipped as God. Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4.

5. Russia will be a major world player, along with the neighboring Islamic nations of the Middle East, and together they will invade Israel. Ezekiel 38-39. They will come from the nations surrounding Israel, especially from the north. Ezekiel 38:1-6,15. God will supernaturally destroy the armies that come against Israel.

6. Deceivers are going to be a major part of the last days. Matthew 24:4-5, 11, 24. There are many things that are conditioning the world for this. There will be false teachings and false messiahs. There will be a great falling away from the truth of the Bible, even among so called Christians. There will be a tremendous compromise of the truth and there will be a mindset of finding a common ground with other religions, regardless of whether they contradict the Bible or not.

Many people today, even in churches, are being led astray through the occult and mysticism. There is the practice of yoga in the church, visualization, and contemplative spirituality. Bible centered ministries are being replaced by experience centered ministries. Humanistic reasoning is taking the place of Scripture. 1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 4:1-5.

Please carefully study the Bible passages listed in the 6 points above. For some helpful commentary you can go to secureforever.org/ntcommentary.

Jesus said this:

“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22).

Along with Matthew 24, please read Revelation 6-19 to see what will take place during the 7-year Tribulation Period. It will be a time when God is pouring out His wrath on planet earth. There will be catastrophic events taking place that have never taken place before in the history of the world. Only a fraction of mankind will survive it. You do not want to be on earth during that time.

Is There Anything That Must Happen Before the Rapture Takes Place?

The answer to that is NO. The apostles were even looking for the Rapture in their own day. They wrote to us to be looking for the Lord to come back at any time. They saw it as imminent. Here are some examples:

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13).

“For our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

“And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

In all three of these above passages, the words looking, look, and wait are written in the present tense. In other words, it is something that we should be doing at any given time. If we should always be looking, then it could take place at any moment. Also, many times in the book of Revelation Jesus says, “I come quickly.” Revelation was written around A.D. 95. Why would He say this if He didn’t want His readers to be looking for Him?

In John 14:1-3 Jesus told the disciples to not be troubled, for He would come again and receive them unto Himself. There is no reason to say this to them unless He wanted them to see His return as imminent after He left.

Also, in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 it says WE which are alive and remain. Paul included himself as one who could be alive when Jesus came back at the Rapture.

If this is true, then the Rapture must take place before the Tribulation, the worst time in history. Otherwise, how could it be seen as imminent? The Tribulation has many signs to it. If we have to go through certain events of the Tribulation before the Rapture takes place, then we cannot say the Lord could come back at any moment.

Friend, we are living in perilous times. This booklet is not sensationalism or science fiction. These are facts in the Word of God that have been there for thousands of years. We are rapidly seeing them fulfilled in our day. God has a perfect track record of fulfilling His Word. The world and the nations are setting up for the Tribulation Period. It is very close. But believers have the promise of God:

“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 Thessalonians 5:9-10).

How Can You Be Sure YOU Won’t Be Left Behind?

While reading this booklet you may have come to the realization that you have been trusting in your good works or your own ideas to get you to Heaven. You cannot be saved that way. Please take some time to read, review, understand, and believe the following

The Bible tells us that we are all sinners, less perfect than God.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

To sin is to miss the mark of God’s perfection. We have all violated His Word and broken His commandments. The price that God demands for payment of sin is death. If you choose to pay for your own sin, you will have to die and spend forever separated from God in Hell.

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

God’s Word also says that no sin can enter Heaven because Heaven is a perfect place and sin would bring death. Man must be sinless in God’s eyes to enter Heaven.

“And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27).

There is absolutely nothing you can do to obtain the sinless perfection God requires for eternal life. No amount of good works or sincerity can give you the righteousness needed.

The Bible says,

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Because God loves you, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ — God in the flesh — to earth to die in your place and make the complete payment for all your sin. Three days later, He came back from the dead proving the payment was accepted by God the Father.

“But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

All you can do to possess everlasting life is believe, or trust, that Jesus Christ alone paid the price for your sin.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

God promises that if you put your trust in Christ alone you will receive, at that very moment, everlasting life. Everlasting life is everlasting. It cannot stop and God cannot lie. Because He has promised it, on the authority of God’s Word, you can be sure of going to
Heaven today. 

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13).

Why not, right now, trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior? If you do, He will give you everlasting life and you will be secure forever.

If you have any questions about the Bible, salvation, or how to grow in the Christian life, please feel free to contact me.

Dr. Thomas M. Cucuzza
3686 County Road 8 S.E.
St. Cloud, MN 56304
Phone: 320.252.5677
Email: tmcucuzza@northlandchurch.com

You can also enhance your Bible Study at secureforever.org.

Copyright © 2023 by Thomas M. Cucuzza
All rights reserved. St. Cloud, MN 56301

Previous Rapture Articles found here.

4 Responses to “WILL YOU BE LEFT BEHIND?

  • David J Busciglio
    12 months ago

    Amen and amen, Holly. Thank you. Wonderfully, simply and clearly laid out presentation by Dr Cucuzza of the everlasting gospel of the grace of God (!!), echoing exactly the same clarity presented by Dr Arnold on his website and youtube episodes/teachings.

    This AND the promise of THE Blessed Hope (the declared certainty — Titus 2:13) that Jesus IS coming back to take us HOME (may I repeat that: HOME !!), very, very soon, is a much appreciated and personal encouragement, a literal balm (the ONLY balm) to my often strained spirit. I pine every day, every single day, that He would come then, so that I (and every blood bought believer) can finally see my/our Savior face to face, in bonded fellowship forever with Him AND with my believing loved ones who have already preceded me (the ” bonus ” blessing). ….Thank God for His unspeakable and incomprehensible gift ! (II Corinthians 9:15)

    • Hi David… I think so many of us can relate to you. This world is very dark, and everywhere we look we see evil. I have a neighbor who has a rental, and I looked out at the lake, and there were these two girls making out, and I turned away and prayed for them. But I wanted to weep thinking if my little grandchildren had been there to witness that. The constant attacks on the gospel is wearing, but I think on Gal 6:9, And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

      I’m thankful for the faithful, we need to uphold our pastors and other pastors who are clear in the gospel, in prayer. They are under great spiritual attack and need our support. We all need each other. Yes, He is going to bring those we lost for a time back with Him, what a wonderful day that will be. Love that verse (2 Cor 9:15).

  • David J Busciglio
    12 months ago

    Thanks very much for the encouraging response. And yes, watching believers are all pining for THAT day. Forums like this are a much needed encouragement. Couldn’t agree more that pastors today who stand for clarity, for the true (and one and only) gospel are under savage and unrelenting attack, from multiple directions. Drs. Cucuzza and Arnold are among those, as is young Jesse Martinez, Pastor of Calvary Community Church in Tampa (successor to, and mentored by, Dr Arnold). They, and many others, all need our prayers in these dark and darkening days (II Timothy 3:13). … As always, God bless.

    • David, our women’s group has a list of all of these and others that we’re praying for. I think all churches should do the same for other Grace-based churches. We need each other, we are all the church. Those standing on the front lines need our prayer support and more. Funny, I watched an interview with Jesse and Tom today, very good. God bless you too.

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