Thank you, my friend, for asking about the rapture. I myself was brought up in a mainline denomination where this concept was not taught, so I remained oblivious to this lovely truth until I was saved, 45 years ago. Actually, the term “rapture” is not used in Scripture at all, but it refers to what I call the first step of the second coming of Christ.  We read in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, “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. 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”. Thus, the term “rapture” refers to this catching up of the saints of earth, both the living and the dead, at the second coming of Christ.

But now, as to why there are different beliefs on the rapture, I cannot explain better than to say that Satan actively works to deceive the minds of people on the earth, so that they might believe his lies instead of the truth. We read in Revelation 12:9: “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world…”. Now, earlier I suggested that in the second coming of our Lord, that there would be two parts: the first part would be the Lord Jesus coming in the air to take His people, the church, both living and dead, into the air to be forever with Him. This part, I believe, occurs before the tribulation period. I believe that the second aspect of His coming again refers to the time near the close of the Great Tribulation when the Lord will actually return to the world with all His saints in order to defeat all of His enemies, and then He will usher in the millennial kingdom (the 1000 years of His righteous rule over the earth.  See Revelation 19 and 20). Now, I am aware that there are some who believe that this second coming of Christ comes all at the same time, which would necessarily place this event in the middle or end of the tribulation; however, I do not believe this. Thus, you might be asking why it is that many believe the rapture of the church occurs prior to the Great Tribulation, not during it; and how I know that we Christians will be caught up to be with the Lord before this very terrible period of judgment. In Revelation 3:10, we read, “Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation (tribulation), which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth”. This last verse should afford much comfort to Christians today that we will already be in heaven, and thus not experience the woes of the actual great tribulation.

Following along with this line of thought, I believe that the second coming of the Lord to the earth does in fact occur after the church is removed from the earth, and in this coming of the Lord, sometimes called “the Great Day of the Lord” (see Joel 2:31), there will be judgment upon the earth. The Morrish Bible Dictionary reports, “That the Lord Jesus will actually come to the earth is plainly revealed in Acts 1: 11, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” “His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east.” (Zechariah 14: 4). “The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple…but who may abide the day of His coming?” (Malachi 3:1-2).  (SF)  (497.3)