When the topic of the rapture comes up in conversation, certain questions get asked regularly. Is the rapture real? When will it happen? Who will be raptured? Will children be included? These questions will be briefly addressed in this article.
Is the rapture real?
Matthew 24:30-31, Mark 13:26-27, Luke 17:34-35 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 all talk about people being gathered together by Christ. Paul talks about being gathered in the air. Some say this is not literal, but figurative. However, neither the Greek nor the context require a figurative reading. Therefore, it seems apparent that some will be ‘raptured’ to meet Christ. The rapture is real.
When will the rapture take place?
According to Scripture, no man knows when Jesus will return and gather his people (Matt 24:36, 42-44, 50; 25:13; Mark 13:32-35; Luke 12:46; Acts 1:7; 1 Thess 5:2). However, Jesus said we will know the season is near when certain events take place. The events which will signal the season is near are not war, pestilence, and technological advances. Instead, they are the darkening of the sun and moon, falling stars (Matt 24:29-33; Mark 13:24-29), a massive earthquake, lightning, thunder, and giant hail (Rev 8:5; 11:19; 16:18-21). Therefore, it seems clear that we do not know when the rapture takes place; we only know that it will occur some time in the future.
Who will be raptured?
Scripture tells us that the saved will be raptured. It describes the saved using the following terms (NASB quoted):
- “His elect from the four winds” – Matthew 24:31; Mark 13:27
- “dead in Christ” – 1 Thessalonians 4:16
- “we who are alive and remain” – 1 Thessalonians 4:17 (Paul is writing in first person)
- Luke 17:34-37 seems to point that those who remain will face physical judgment, meaning that those who are taken are those who are saved.
To sum up, Scripture teaches that those from around the world who are saved will be raptured. Both the living and the dead believers will be raptured.
Are children raptured?
This involves two questions. The first question is whether children are saved (often refered to many as the “age of accountability,” meaning that before this time children are not held accountable for their sins because God graciously allows them in). The second, whether children will be in the rapture, is greatly dependent upon the first. If they are saved, they will be raptured. If they are not saved, they will not be raptured.
Two passages often used to support this doctrine are 2 Samuel 12:21-23 and Deuteronomy 1:39. However, neither of these passages specifically say that children will be in heaven if they perish before a certain age. No scripture is explicit on this case. The only thing that it is explicit on is that no one is righteous and no one seeks after God on their own (Romans 3:10-11; cf. Psalm 14:1-3). Therefore, I rest on the hope that God will have grace on the young who do not know about sin. For God said that “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Rom 9:15; cf. Exod 33:19).
Personally, I believe that those who are unable to comprehend their sin will be given saving grace by God out of compassion and mercy. Only God knows whom these individuals are. Therefore, if God does grant saving grace to young people, then they will be raptured. If he does not, then they will not be raptured.
The rapture will take place at some time in the future. When it occurs, those who are believers will be taken up to meet Jesus in the air. Although I cannot be dogmatic about this, I believe children will be included. However, if you want to be confident you will be with Christ rather than face the judgment that follows, you must put your faith in Christ alone for salvation.