One of the most telling indicators that the rapture is near is the number of people who write fearing that because of their behavior they’re going to be left behind. People didn’t worry so much about that when they thought the rapture was off in the distant future.
I’m sure some of this is due to the normal conviction of the Holy Spirit and in that case it’s not a rapture issue because as we’ll see born again believers can’t be excluded from the Rapture for any reason.
No, I think most of the fear of missing the rapture comes from the false “partial-rapture” teaching. There are several variations on this theme but they all claim that just being saved is either not enough to put you in the rapture, or it’s not enough to get you into the Kingdom after you are raptured. They say you also have to be worthy in some additional way. In my opinion none of this can be reconciled with Scripture.
I want to approach the subject the way the US Treasury department trains bank employees to recognize counterfeit money. Instead of showing them all the fakes and pointing out what makes them fake, they focus on what legitimate bills look like. That way when bank tellers spot a bill that doesn’t look like what they have learned to recognize, they know it has to be a fake.
Let’s use that same principle to focus on what the Bible says about who qualifies for the rapture. Then we’ll know whether what we hear matches that. If it doesn’t it’s a false teaching.
How Do We Qualify?
In order to exist in the presence of God, we have to be as righteous as He is. In the Lord’s time the Pharisees were thought to be the most righteous men in Israel. They were absolutely compulsive about keeping the Law, even straining their water before drinking it to avoid accidentally swallowing a tiny bug.
They come off badly in the Bible because of their resistance to the Gospel, but they were held in high esteem by the people as role models of righteousness.
Their problems with Jesus began in the early days of His ministry. Speaking to a large group on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus said, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matt. 5:20). They didn’t like hearing that they would be excluded from the Kingdom.
Then He explained that righteousness is not just a matter of outward behavior, but also includes inner motivation. Anger is as bad as murder, lustful thoughts are as bad as adultery. He went on to teach them things that were utterly amazing to them, even saying they must “Be perfect therefore, as your Father in Heaven is perfect”(Matt. 5:40) in order to qualify for the Kingdom . By the time He was finished it was clear that no human on Earth could ever achieve this high standard.
Then He said if they asked Him for this righteousness He would give it to them. All of them. He said, “Everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds, and to Him who knocks the door will be opened (Matt. 7:7-8).