Let me say clearly that whilst I personally believe in a pre-tribulation rapture of the church and believe I am entitled to say so, I DO NOT think anyone else has to believe likewise to be a Christian, or to be spared the penalty for their sins, or to go to heaven.
In fact, I must honestly say that even though I currently strongly lean towards there being a pre-tribulation rapture, I cannot say that I am one hundred percent certain as to the timing of this event.
Ultimately however, because God never forces us to believe anything we don't want to, I guess it's up to the individual as to their beliefs on this subject and their interpretation of the relevant bible passages. The main thing is to make sure we each have a healthy relationship with Jesus Christ, believing Him to have forgiven our sins by dying in our place for them, living like we really believe He rose from the dead and is coming back again, and serving Him with the abilities and knowledge He has given us.
If our faith is strong and we are humble, He will give us the strength to face anything between now and when we see His face.
" THE RAPTURE "
The Bible reveals in 1st Thessalonians 4: 16-17 a day will come when
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.
The Bible reveals in 1st Thessalonians 4: 16-17 a day will come when 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.
Matthew 25:13 tells us this event will come without any warning whatsoever : Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
So, where will all the Christians be after this event takes place? In the book of Revelation, John is called away to Heaven in Revelation 4:1 when he is told to "come up hither." John, a Christian, is Raptured in this passage.
While he is in Heaven, John records events taking place, both in Heaven and on the earth, during the period of time commonly referred to as the Tribulation Period. John sees two completely different environments, as recorded in the book of Revelation.
In Heaven, John witnesses a time of celebration, worship, and praise as Jesus Christ is revealed as the Saviour of the world. On earth, John records a horrible series of judgments that are taking place, the likes of which no man has ever seen nor will ever see again, as seen in Matthew 24:21.
In Heaven, John sees, as recorded in Revelation 19:7-8, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb as it takes place between the Bridegroom, Jesus, and His Bride, the Church. Since the Bride is in attendance at the wedding, we know the Bridegroom, Christ, has come to earth for His Bride. In the same manner John was told to "come up hither" in Revelation 4:1, the Church has been Raptured!
To properly understand the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, it's important to grasp the fact the Pre-Tribulational Rapture event parallels the actions of the bridegroom in the pattern of ancient Jewish wedding tradition. In this tradition, after the engagement, but before the wedding, the groom departed to prepare a new home for his bride, which was usually an addition to his father's house. The bride was kept in a state of anxious waiting pending his return which would often come at an unexpected hour, perhaps in the middle of the night, as a surprise. The wedding was usually followed by a honeymoon of seven days which matches up nicely with the Antichrist's covenant between Israel and her enemies which the prophet Daniel told us would be one biblical week in duration (seven years - the length of the Tribulation Period).
When Jesus returns at the end of the Tribulation Period, as seen in Revelation 19:14, He is followed by the armies of Heaven (the Bride), which are seen riding white horses dressed in fine linen, white and clean. The fine, white linen is symbolic of the righteousness of the saints, as seen in Revelation 19:8.
When Jesus returns with His Bride, the Church, He will be dressed for war at the Battle of Armageddon where He will defeat the armies of the Antichrist and the false prophet. In the aftermath of their defeat, the Antichrist and the false prophet will be cast alive into the lake of fire that burns forever.
1st Thessalonians 4:18: Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
I hope you are somewhat comforted by this explanation of the Rapture, but you'd do well to recognize there are many who don't believe there will be a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. Some prefer to think Christians are going to have to suffer to get into Heaven rather than be protected by the Saviour.
Here are a few things to remember from the Bible that point toward that line of thinking being erroneous:
When the flood came (a judgment from God), Noah, a righteous man, was kept safe inside the ark.
When Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed (a judgment from God), Lot, a righteous man, was kept safe.
Considering the fact the Church is referred to as the Bride of Christ, wouldn't He have an interest in protecting the Church? Of course! We don't call Him Saviour for nothing! The Church is not appointed to wrath, according to 1st Thessalonians 5:9, but to salvation through our Lord, Jesus Christ.
All these things I've just explained are demonstrative of why John saw Christ's followers worshipping Him in Heaven saying, "Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen."
Have you trusted in the Saviour? If not, this is the day to do so. Any moment now, the Lord Jesus Christ may call His Church away to be with Him.