We've been examining the validity of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Theory which has permeated end-time thinking in the evangelical church for over 40 years. We've already seen that Christ tells us twice in Scripture (Matthew 24 & Mark 13) He will gather His elect (the Church) immediately after the Tribulation. Why people wanna believe the exact opposite of what Jesus plainly, clearly said is a topic for another day!
We're looking now at one of Paul's prophecies about the Rapture, that used most often by Pre-tribbers to make their case, 1 Thessalonians 4: 15-17. The Apostle tells us twice just who is eligible for this wondrous event: "we which are alive and remain"! "Alive" is easy----it means our hearts are still beating. But what about "remain"? Oh, remain on earth, you say.
Can I tell you that not all Christians living now will "remain" Christians? Some will leave voluntarily; others will be thrust out! "Why dooya say that, Matt?" Because 2 Thessalonians 2:3 warns, "Let no man deceive you by any means, for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first..." There is a coming Apostasy before the Day of the Lord! "Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils..." (1 Timothy 4:1) And again, "Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." (Matthew 24:113) Those who endure shall be saved, those who remain will be caught up!
Moreover, the Lord Himself will purge His Church of counterfeit Christians among the true believers! John the Baptist predicted Jesus "...will thoroughly purge His floor, and will gather His wheat into His garner, but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable." (Luke 3: 17) "The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity:" (Matthew 13: 41). We shall study the Parable of the Tares in greater detail next time. The point I'm making here is, the Rapture doesn't happen until after the Falling Away....He's not going to catch up all "Christians", but those who remain through all the temptations to leave. Not everyone in the church is a Cristian, ya know...jus'sayin'. Meantime, study Paul's other Rapture prophecy in 1 Corinthians 15.