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Don Stewart :: Are There Some People Who Will Never Die? (The Rapture of the Church)

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Don Stewart
Since the fall of humanity, with Adam and Eve, the normal experience for each human has been death. The writer to the Hebrews stated.

And just as it is appointed for humans to die once, and after that the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

As we read through the pages of the Old Testament, we find this truth emphasized. There were, however, two exceptions to this rule - Enoch and Elijah. Neither of these men died. The Bible says of them.

Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away (Genesis 5:24).

As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven (2 Kings 2:11).

A Mystery Revealed

Not only are Enoch and Elijah the exception to the rule about death, the New Testament reveals to us something that had not been foretold - there will be a generation of people who will never die.

Rapture Of The Church

Before Christ returns to earth there will be an event known as the "rapture," or "translation" of the church. The Scripture explains it in the following manner.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the Word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord Himself, with a shout, with the archangel's call and with the sound of God's trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Another explanation is given in First Corinthians.

Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:51-58).

Observations

From these passages we can make the following observations.

1. Not Everyone Will Die

Although death has been the norm for humanity, the Old Testament recorded two prominent exceptions - Enoch and Elijah. The New Testament also says that a living generation of Christians will not experience death, but will be taken up to meet the Lord.

2. No Need Of Resurrection

Those believers who are living at the time of the rapture, or translation, of the church, will not have to be resurrected. They will be changed, while they are alive, from mortal to immortal, from corruptible to incorruptible.

3. Meet Christ

Those who are instantaneously changed at the time of the rapture of the church will be with Christ forever in their glorified body.

Summary

The resurrection from the dead will be what most believers experience. A small number in comparison will not die but will be changed as was the case with the Old Testament characters Enoch and Elijah. This event is known as the "rapture" or "translation" of the church.
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.