The Normal Rapture

From "The Normal Christian Life" by Watchman Nee, page 255-258


Once again the Lord Jesus deals with the matter of the soul in Luke chapter 17, and now it is in relation to his return.  Speaking of "the day that the Son of man is revealed," he draws a parallel between that day and "the day that Lot went out from Sodom" (verses 29, 30).  A little later he speaks of the "rapture" of the saints in the twice repeated words: "One shall be taken, and the other shall be left" (verses 34, 35).  But between his reference to the calling of Lot out of Sodom and this allusion to the gathering of the saints to him, there come these remarkable words: "In that day, he which shall be on the housetop, and his goods in the house, let him not go down to take them away: and let him that is in the field likewise not return back.  Remember Lot's wife" (verses 31, 32).  Remember Lot's wife!  Why? Because "whosoever shall seek to gain his soul shall lose it: but whosoever shall lose his soul shall save it alive" (verses 33, mg.).

If I mistake not, this is the one passage in the New Testament that tells of our reaction to the rapture call.  We may have thought that, when the Son of man comes, as it were, because of what we read in 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52: "We shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump."  Well, however we reconcile the two passages, this one in Luke's Gospel should at least make us pause and reflect; for the emphasis is here very strongly upon one being taken and the other left.  It is a matter of our reaction to the call to go, and on the basis of this, a most urgent appeal is made to us to be ready (compare Matt. 24:42).

There is surely a reason for this.  Clearly that call is not going to produce a miraculous last-minute change in us out of all relation to our previous walk with the Lord.  No, in that moment we shall discover our heart's real treasure.  If it is the Lord himself then there will be no backward look.  A backward glance decides everything.  It is so easy to become more attached to the gifts of God than to the Giver - and even, I should add, to the work of God than to God himself.

Let me illustrate.  At the present time [1938] I am engaged in writing a book.  I have finished eight chapters and I have another nine to write, about which I am very seriously exercised before the Lord.  But if the call to "Come up hither" should come and my reaction were to be, "What about my book?" the answer might well be, "All right, stay down and finish it!"  That precious thing which we  are doing downstairs "in the house" can be enough to pin us down, a peg that holds us to earth.

It is all a question of our living by the soul or by the spirit.  Here in this passage in Luke, we have depicted the soul-life in its engagement with the things of earth - and, mark you, not sinful either.  The Lord only mentioned marrying, planting, eating, selling - all perfectly legitimate activities, with which there is nothing essentially wrong.  But it is occupation with them, so that your heart goes out to them, that is enough to pin you down.  The way out of that danger is by the losing of the soul.  this is beautifully illustrated in the action of Peter when he recognized the risen Lord Jesus by the lake-side.  Though, with the others, he was back for the moment in his former employment, there was now no thought of the ship, nor even of the net full of fishes so miraculously provided.  When he heard John's cry of recognition: "It is the Lord," we read that "he cast himself into the sea" to go to Jesus.

That is true detachment.  The question at issue is always, Where is my heart?  The Cross has to work in us a true detachment in spirit from anything and anyone outside of the Lord himself.