“When Christ appears again, will people actually be ‘caught up’ to meet him?” New Era, May 1973, 49
Answer/Sidney B. Sperry
The answer to this question is a simple yes. Let me illustrate it with a few citations from scripture. In the Doctrine and Covenants, in a context dealing with our Lord’s second advent, notice these words:
“And the saints that are upon the earth, who are alive, shall be quickened and be caught up to meet him.” (D&C 88:96. Italics added.)
Notice also these words in Doctrine and Covenants 27:18:
“… and be faithful until I come, and ye shall be caught up, that where I am ye shall be also.” (Italics added.)
In another passage of scripture, in some respects even more remarkable for its clarity, the Apostle Paul makes this observation concerning the second coming of the Savior:
“For 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.” (1 Thes. 4:16–17. Italics added.)
Although it thus appears perfectly clear that there will be people literally “caught up” to meet the Lord at his coming, it does not follow that all people on the rolls of the Church will have this blessed privilege. Even as those who are heirs of telestial glory “will not be gathered with the saints, to be caught up unto the church of the Firstborn, and received into the cloud” (D&C 76:102), so a large proportion of Church members will not be “caught up.” Such is my opinion and for the following reasons. First of all, notice these scriptures:
“And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins.
“For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day.” (D&C 45:56–57. Italics added.)
“… in the day of the coming of the Son of Man.
“And until that hour there will be foolish virgins among the wise; and at that hour cometh an entire separation of the righteous and the wicked.” (D&C 63:53–54.)
As the parable of the Ten Virgins (Matt. 25) makes clear, many members on the rolls of the Church will have no oil (or very little) in their lamps when the bridegroom comes, and they will not be in a spiritual condition suitable to be caught up to meet him.
Finally, it should be noticed that the Lord says that those who are of the Church of the Firstborn (D&C 76:54) are “they whom he shall bring with him, when he shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over his people” (D&C 76:63). Isn’t it therefore reasonable to believe that only the most spiritual and righteous of the Saints on earth will be worthy to be caught up into the heavens and return to the earth with the Lord’s Church of the Firstborn? As a matter of fact, relatively few Saints have been sealed up unto eternal life, thus to become members of the Church of the Firstborn. Nevertheless, there are many who are keeping holy covenants made with the Lord, Saints who, if they remain faithful, will eventually become members of it. The Lord may permit a goodly number of these to be caught up to meet him. Our knowledge is incomplete in this respect.