However, it happens to individuals, each in their own time and each in their own way. It is not a collective experience. There will not be a so-called "Rapture of the Church," for while that idea is popular among so-called "born-again Christians" (and was the inspiration for the misguided and misleading "Left Behind" book series), it is merely a fantasy and myth.
The "rapture" myth misleads people to think they will collectively be "beamed up" by God, magically, out of this "evil" world to their heavenly reward. But that idea comes from one single idea Paul may have written in a letter to the Thessalonians, and the trouble is that what we find written there is not correct in certain instances. For instance, Paul thought that the "second coming of Jesus" and the "end of the world" was imminent and would come during his lifetime. But he misunderstood and was wrong on both counts. In fact, Jesus will not come again in this world, and the world will not end as self-righteous religious zealots think it will.
Part of the problem is that certain misguided Christians have insisted that everything written in the Bible must be taken absolutely literally, and that is what has led to a lot of the misinterpretation and misunderstanding. For example, let me show you a couple of other phrases from the Bible that have contributed significantly to the "second coming" myth.
In Matthew 24:30, Jesus speaks of his "coming in the clouds," which is one of the phrases that has often been used to describe his so-called "second coming." But when he said that, he quickly added that "this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled."
In other words, this was fulfilled shortly after Jesus was crucified and while his generation was still very much alive, because not long after his death he appeared to his apostles in the spirit as the "Holy Ghost" by "coming in the clouds" ethereally. The words "coming in the clouds" were not meant literally, and they were not talking about something that will happen in the distant future. That is why Paul, who became an apostle later, sincerely believed that the "end" was imminent and felt his mission was to prepare everyone at that time for it.
The immediacy of the event is confirmed by Mark and Luke, who also wrote that "this generation shall not pass away before these things are fulfilled." That is also confirmed by John in his Book of Revelation in the very first chapter where he wrote that Jesus appeared to him in the realm of the spirit to show him "things which must shortly come to pass, for the time is at hand." (Revelations 1:1-3) Continuing on, John wrote: "Behold, he comes with clouds, and every eye shall see him." (Revelation 1:7) Again, that did come to pass when Jesus appeared as the Holy Ghost before his apostles, and every one who was there saw him. (And that, by the way, is unique because as a ghost Jesus was able to appear as a fairly material apparition before a whole group of people, while not many recently departed ghosts manage to appear to even one loved one to reassure them of the continuation and resurrection of the spirit-soul.)
Of course, as some would point out, according to many scholars the Book of Revelation was written a long time after Jesus was crucified (some scholars say about 63 years later). But it must be kept in mind that John’s revelations and visions took place in the realm of the spirit, which is beyond space and time as we know it. That is why John describes things in the past as well as things far into the future (like the fall of "Babylon"), as if they were in the present. That is confirmed by the fact that John uses the same terminology as Matthew, Mark, and Luke, not only about Jesus "coming with clouds," but about the immediacy of the event.
There is much more scriptural evidence that reveals the truth that has been "hidden" from so many authorities of organized religions and sects. That's why the man-made doctrine that right-wing conservative fundamentalist Christians sell is actually based on a gross misunderstanding of divine intent. They pick and choose certain gospel phrases and see what they want to see in them, and ignore clarifying phrases. Furthermore, their man-made doctrines are also based on a misunderstanding and a distorted view of Jewish scriptures in the "Old Testament."
For example, another traditional Christian belief is that the Prophet Isaiah was referring to Jesus when he wrote the following:
"Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delights. I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgement to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street." (Isaiah 42:1-2)
Many Christians believe that too speaks of Jesus because one sentence in the book of Matthew claims it does. But it clearly does not. That is a blatant error in the Christian gospels, and it is not the only one.
The truth is that Isaiah clearly speaks of God's servant, and the fact is that Jesus did rise up as a teacher-orator. He did cry out to make his voice heard on many occasions, and he certainly did cause his voice to be heard in the street.
After all, even Matthew 4:25 states: "Great multitudes followed Him, from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan." Matthew 13:14 states: "Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns." Luke 14:25 states that: "Great multitudes went with him, and he turned to them and said..." Those are but a few parts of the real story of Jesus that make it very clear that he spoke to the multitudes who followed him during his travels on foot, on the roads and streets. That means Isaiah 42:1-2 was not about Jesus, but about the current son of man.
Unlike Jesus, the current servant of God -- the son of man and the messenger for the Spirit of truth -- does not rise up, and he does not cause his voice to be heard as an orator in public. He fulfills Judaic prophecies that Jesus did not.
Ironically, the Christ Jesus knew the truth even though his original apostles or later followers did not. That is why Jesus foretold the coming of this son of man and predicted he would "first suffer many things and be rejected by his generation," because Jesus knew the prophesies of the prior Jewish prophets, particularly Isaiah.
Isaiah foresaw that the "witness and servant of God" (Isaiah 43:10-11) would "carry the grief and bear the sorrow" of the people, and be "esteemed as stricken of God and afflicted." (Isaiah 53:4) And in instances like that, Isaiah was referring not to Jesus, but to the current messenger. (See also the pages titled Christians Divided, The Martyrdom of Jesus, and The Plant of Renown, which help to explain that.)