As we approach the end of this age and Christ's literal return, many Christians wonder what will happen to them. Many believe in a secret rapture. Jehovah's Witnesses claim to be part of the 144,000. Others wonder about the Great Multitude. What does the Bible really teach about God's saints at the end of this age?
It is important to first understand that true Christians do not only accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, but they also live by every word of the Bible (Matthew 4:4), keeping God's commandments (John 14:15), loving one another (John 15:12), and proclaiming the Gospel of the coming Kingdom of God (John 4:34). True Christians actually "do" something. They "do" the "will" of the Father (Matthew 7:21).
If we do these things, then we are on our way to being the "good and faithful servants" in whom our Master is pleased at His return (Matthew 25:21–23). But what about the rapture, the 144,000, the Great Multitude, etc.? What is real? Who should we strive to be?
Nowhere does Scripture teach a "secret rapture." Christ will not secretly return to spirit away His servants into heaven before the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. This completely contradicts numerous Scriptures, including Matthew 24:26–31. Notice 1 Corinthians 15:51–52—both the dead and those alive will be raised incorruptible at the last trumpet! The "last trumpet" is after the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord—not before.
Scripture does reveal a group of 144,000. Who are they? Revelation 7:3-4 describes the 144,000 sealed from the physical tribes of Israel. But, when are they sealed? First, these physical Israelites endure the Great Tribulation and Satan's wrath! They are not counted worthy of God's protection during the Great Tribulation (v. 14)! But then, after the Great Tribulation, they are mercifully "sealed" during the Day of the Lord.
Scripture also reveals a "Great Multitude" (Revelation 7:9). Unlike the 144,000, this "Great Multitude" comes from every nation, every language and every tribe. But notice that, similar to the 144,000, many of these people also come out of the Great Tribulation. They complete the martyrdom described in Revelation 6:11. Just like the 144,000, they did not escape Satan's wrath.
Must one enter into the Kingdom of God through the Great Tribulation? Is there another way?
Revelation 3:7–13 describes God's faithful Church at the end of this age. These Christians earnestly strive to "imitate Jesus" in how they live and worship (1 Corinthians 11:1). They are not perfect, but they strive to "walk as He walked" (1 John 2:6). They practice love, and all the fruits of the Spirit. And there is something else unique about these Christians. They are zealous. They are doing something.
They understand the "key of David" which includes understanding proper godly church government and also what is prophesied for modern Israel (compare Revelation 3:7–8 to Isaiah 22:21–22). They are not distracted with the cares of this world. They are not distracted by church politics. They are focused.
These Christians are zealously doing the work of preaching the gospel (compare the "open door" in Revelation 3:8 with 2 Corinthians 2:12). Just like Jesus, their "food" is to proclaim the gospel message of the coming Kingdom of God (John 4:34)! They imitate Christ in this (1 Corinthians 11:1).
These zealous Philadelphian Christians receive God's protection before the Great Tribulation! They are also counted worthy to marry Christ and become trusted pillars in His Kingdom (Revelation 3:12).
The end of this age is indeed fast approaching. Christ will return (John 14:3). At His return, who and where will we be?
For more on the false "rapture doctrine" please read:"The Secret Rapture-False Hope for End-time Christians!" For a much deeper understanding of the book of Revelation, please read: Revelation: The Mystery Unveiled and watch the Tomorrow's World telecast, "The Coming Day of the Lord."