People of The Living God

I Corinthians 13

 

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THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH

Wayne King

  

Throughout this study, the word “rapture” refers to the theory that God will cause HIs people to leave this earth and rise into the air to meet Him before the great tribulation.  The term “second coming” used herein refers to Christ’s return to earth after the tribulation (See Matthew 24:29). 

When the disciples asked Jesus in Matthew 24:3, “what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”, Jesus’ immediate response before giving any details of His coming was, “Take heed that no man deceive you.”

When we think of people being deceived regarding the things of God, we naturally think of the unchurched or false religions or perhaps even Christians that are not familiar with their Bible.  But the reality is, Jesus was speaking to His disciples.  Today, we are His disciples and His words still apply:  “You in the Christian church, be not deceived because there will be deception that overtakes even the mainstream Christian church.”

The theory of a rapture, a catching away of Christians to escape the tribulation, is a deception that causes Christians to lose sight of what is ahead for the church.  It does Christ no good to tell us about the signs of His coming and of the end of the world if we don’t think we will be a part of it—if we think we will be in heaven while the tribulation is occurring on earth.  Let us consider the facts:

Point #1:  The “rapture” theory is a relatively new doctrine that was never a consideration by the Christian church until the 1800’s or, more accurately, the 1900’s. 

The following is from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia on the internet.  This material has been condensed for space considerations and to emphasize major points:

Dispensationalist Premillennialists (such as many Evangelicals, especially in the United States) hold the return of Christ to be in two stages. The first event is to be unseen or secret, the rapture proper, when the saved are to be 'caught up,' from whence the term rapture is taken. The 'second coming' is the public event when Christ's presence is to be clearly seen as he returns at the end of the tribulation.  The majority of dispensationalists hold that the first event (the rapture) immediately precedes the period of Tribulation.

John Nelson Darby, considered the father of dispensationalism, first proposed the pre-tribulation rapture in 1827 when he espoused a two-phase return of Christ, the first phase being a secret rapture prior to the rise of the Antichrist.  The publishing of the Scofield Reference Bible in 1909 and 1919--revised in 1967—that included direct references to Darby’s rapture doctrine, contributed greatly to acceptance of the pre-tribulation rapture.  The first known theological use of the word "rapture" in print occurs with the Scofield Reference Bible of 1909.

Numerous denominations have no tradition of a preliminary return of Christ and reject the doctrine, in part because they cannot find any reference to it among any of the early Church fathers and in part because they find its biblical foundation weak. 

During the 1970s, the rapture became popular in wider circles, partially due to the books of Hal Lindsey, including The Late Great Planet Earth and by the movie A Thief in the Night.  Lindsey proclaimed that the rapture was imminent, based on world conditions at the time.

In 1995, the doctrine of the Pre-Tribulation rapture was further popularized by Tim LaHaye's Left Behind book series, which sold tens of millions of copies and was made into several movies.

Award-winning journalist David Van Biema (a senior writer at People Magazine, The Washington Post Sunday Magazine, and Life Magazine and who served as Time’s chief religion writer from 1998 to 2008 with many cover stories on religious topics) commented on John Darby:  “Darby repositioned (the rapture) at the Apocalypse’s very beginning (instead of the end), a small shift with large implications.  It spared true believers the Tribulation, leaving the horror to nonbelievers and the doctrinally misled…Darby’s scheme became a pillar of the new Fundamentalism.”

POINTS LEARNED FROM ABOVE INFORMATION:

  1. The pre-tribulation rapture theory is a new doctrine that didn’t exist prior to 1800.  Before that, it was not even a consideration of the church.  Remember Christ’s warning against “deception” in the days of His coming.
  2. Some denominations reject the pre-tribulation doctrine in part because of its weak Biblical foundation.  The fact is, the rapture theory, when studied carefully, has no Biblical foundation.

Point #2:  Jesus must have forgotten to tell us we would be saved from the tribulation via the rapture.

Any doctrine that is considered (whether concerning the rapture or any other subject) must align with the plain statements of Jesus Christ.  In Matthew 24, Jesus is plainly describing the events preceding His coming.  His “coming” would include the rapture if there were to be one.  In verse 5, He spoke of false Christs; in verse 6—rumors of wars; verse 7—famines, pestilences, earthquakes; verse 8, the beginning of sorrows; verse 9, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake”.  Oops, what was that?  Jesus said, “YOU (His disciples) shall be afflicted, and killed, and hated”.  There should have been a verse before this somewhere stating that the righteous of that day would escape.  Perhaps…, Jesus forgot.

Most people would say that the purpose of the rapture is to allow the church to escape the tribulation.  There is no such intent to have the church escape.  The church will be protected by God but, like the three Hebrew children, will be in the midst of the fire.  1 Peter 4:17 “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?”  In times of persecution and hardship, the church has always thrived and grown.  Although, some shall be killed and many afflicted and hated, God’s glory will come and the church will triumph in the midst of Satan’s fiercest assault.

 

Point #3:  The “rapture” scripture tells us when the rapture will occur.

In Matthew 24:31, we read concerning the second coming of Christ, “he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet,…”.  This is all we want to glean from this verse at the moment:  At the second coming of Christ, there will be the sound of a trumpet.  Now let us go to 1 Corinthians 15:51 and 52 (commonly referred to as the “rapture scripture”) which read, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

Did you notice that?  Verse 52 tells us that we shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump, or at the last trumpet sound.  Since we just noted above that there will be a trumpet sound at the second coming after the tribulation, then the “last trump” of 1 Corinthians 15 has to be at the second coming of Christ or later…not before.  The moment we are changed and raised incorruptible occurs after the tribulation.  Once again, the “rapture” theory is wrong.  Don’t be deceived.

Point #4:  In scientific study, a “theory” is discarded if any part is disproved.

From Brethren In Christ in North America –www.bic-church.org, we read: “By taking the definition of a scientific theory as described by the Simple English Wikipedia of the internet, and applying the definition to Biblical concepts, we have:  A theory is a tested and expanded hypothesis that explains scripture and fits ideas together in a framework.  The theory must be tested a number of times, by different scholars, and must pass the test every time.  If all or part of a theory is false, then that theory must be changed or rejected.”

We’ve found several inconsistencies in the rapture theory already.  This theory is already worthy of rejection.  But there is more to come.

Pointe #5:  The rapture theory states that man will come forth from the graves and rise in the air before the tribulation. 

5a:  Jesus said He would raise man on the last day.

In John 6:39, 40, 44, and 54, Jesus stated that He would raise Christians up on the last day.  John 6:40 reads, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”  The resurrection from the dead, which is a part of the rapture scriptures, cannot occur until the last day.  The dead cannot be raised before the tribulation.  Again, no rapture.

This idea of the resurrection of the dead occurring at the end is also stated in 1 Corinthians 15:23: “But every man (shall be resurrected from the dead [verses 21 & 22]) in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's (shall be resurrected) at his coming.  24 Then cometh the end.”

There will be no resurrection in a rapture. 

 

5b:         The separation of the good and the bad occurs at the same time and occurs at the end of the world.

Even though 1 Thessalonians 4:16 states, “…the dead in Christ shall rise first” and no mention is made of those not in Christ, we know from the scriptures that the good and the evil rise at the same time.  Jesus said in John 5:28-29, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”

Then in Matthew 13:39, Jesus gives additional information about the separation of the good and the evil when He said, “The enemy that sowed them (the tares among the wheat) is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.  40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.  41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;  42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.  43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

There are not two resurrections--one at the rapture and one at the second coming.  There will be one resurrection at the end of the tribulation.

Point #6:      The church will be glorious during or at the end of the tribulation—on earth, not in heaven.

6a:         The bride “hath made herself ready”. 

The bride (the church) hath made herself ready for the bridegroom near the end of Revelation when the day of God’s wrath (tribulation) is over.  The bride will be ready and without spot or wrinkle.  Revelation 7:14 reads, “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”  The righteous church will not be in heaven in a spiritual rest home but will have completed God’s glorious plan on earth.

       6b:  Jesus must remain in heaven until all things are restored. (Acts 3:21)

In order for “all things to be restored”, something must have been lost or destroyed.  What has been lost since man began?  Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the cool of the day.  Man had access to the Tree of Life.  For all things to be restored, man must return to his original state of intimacy with God.  Even the outpouring of God’s Spirit at Pentecost did not bring complete restoration to the church.  Jesus will come back after all things have been “restored” to the then-glorious church shown in Revelation—on earth, not in heaven.

6c:  The glory of the last days’ church will be greater than the first.  (Hag.2:9, Joel 2:23)

During the first “rain” of Pentecost, John’s and Peter’s shadows healed the sick.  The dead were raised, the demonic were delivered, and the church had “all things common”.  The latter rain of the outpouring of God’s Spirit is coming.  God’s church (as described in Revelation) will be glorious.  When Satan is released from the bottomless pit onto the earth and his previous limitations are removed, God’s Spirit will also be released.  It will be a time of great separation and God will cause those that love Him to triumph. 

       6d:  The 144,000 become the firstfruits unto God. 

In James 5:7 we read, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman (Jesus said in John 15:1, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.”) waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

The entire purpose of creation is for God to receive the precious fruit.  Rev 14:4 “These (hundred and forty four thousand) are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.”  This scripture is followed closely by Rev 14:15 that reinforces the idea of the precious fruit coming forth from earth: “And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.”  Note: some theologians consider the 144,000 to be literal Jews, some consider them to be spiritual Jews (Christians).  Either way, the church has become glorious on earth and has not been raptured.

             

6e:  The marriage supper of the Lamb takes place on earth.

In Matthew 22:11, a guest at the marriage supper had on an unclean garment and was cast out.  There are no unclean in heaven.  The marriage supper is a celebratory feast of the Bridegroom with the bride.  Remember Matthew 25:6, “Behold the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.”  Then in verse 10,

“they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.”  The marriage supper will be attended by the righteous church—on earth.

 

The evidence against a rapture has been presented above and establishes the rapture theory as a deception.  The idea that “the church is now all that it is going to be” and that we are just “waiting to be made perfect in the twinkling of an eye” is absurd.  The church will be glorious.  The bride will make herself ready.  God has great and mighty promises ahead for His church. 

Many will fall away (“the love of many will grow cold”) and many will come (“then shall this gospel be preached unto all the world”).  The spiritually maimed, the halt, and the blind (those that have been hurt by dead religion or have never caught a glimpse of who God is) will be invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.  Revelation 22:11, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”

The end-time church will experience the latter rain, the perfection of the bride of Christ, the final triumph of Jesus over Satan, the restoration of all things, and the marriage supper of the Lamb.  Some will be martyrs and, like Stephen, will die declaring the glory of the Lord. Some will enter into His rest.  Hebrews 4:6-7:  “Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein (into His rest), and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:  …To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”

Zephaniah 2:2 “…before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD's anger come upon you.  3 Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD's anger.”


 

 

 

Scripture given by Tim LaHaye on God TV:

Rom 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

1 Thess. 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,

Why is “Pan” Trib bad?  Why should it matter when the tribulation will take place?  If we say, “I will just trust God regardless”, that sounds good on the surface.

  1. Church won’t know the good things that are in store for us.
  2. Church won’t be prepared mentally and perhaps spiritually.
  3. God wants us to study the scriptures to know what we can.
  4. Jesus spoke in parables but He wanted His people to understand them.
  5. Are those that are not expecting to go through the tribulation now asleep?  To me, being asleep means drifting away from God and not maintaining a close relationship.  Or being asleep means you don’t know what’s going on…you have no knowledge.
  6. Although surviving the tribulation is impossible without a close relationship with God, is it correct to prepare as we can?
  7. Even though we see ominous clouds rolling in, we are not certain this is the tribulation.  Many have faced extreme conditions in the past.