Issues of Faith
It has long been stated that you can misrepresent anything long enough that it eventually takes on the appearance of truth. It seems with so many people talking about "the rapture," and so much preaching about it, one might easily conclude it must be one of the central themes the Bible. It was even mentioned in the 2004 presidential race by some commentators who were seeking to describe some of the supporter of Mr. Bush and how their view on this teaching guided their vote. (Actually the issue here is not just the rapture but dispensationalism and and how the present day nation of Israel factors into
Biblical prophecy, but these are issues for another study and beyond the scope of this material)
I think you arrive at the position stated above not through a reasoned study of the Scriptures, but a blending together of unrelated verses and topics to form what has arguably become the cornerstone teaching of many pastors and churches today. I am sure we are all misguided in some aspect of knowing God since none of us have infinite minds. Additionally, the mind we have is still effected by the corruption of sin so that now we see as in a mirror dimly. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
But this concept of a pending secret rapture of the church does a great deal of harm as it has changed the attitude of many Christians from that of "victory in Jesus" to a mentality of "I'll fly away," all I need to do is hunker down and hope we can survive until the rapture takes us away. One view sees the power of the gospel moving the church forward, even in a hostile world, knowing that the very "gates of hell" cannot prevail against the church and her mission. (Matthew 16:18)
The other looks to the daily news for it's theology, sees things are getting worse and concludes escape (through rapture) is the only hope of the church. This is because most Christians today are ignorant of church history and have no idea that over the past two-thousand years there have been periods where the church was strong and had great influence and other times when she was under great persecution. In both cases, God was (and is) at work and Christ's church has no need to escape. "Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world." 1 John 4:4
While our friends who preach and teach this idea of rapture would want to deny it, in reality it is not an affirmation of Scriptural teaching, but a denial of the power of the gospel to change the world around us. The idea that the church cannot prosper, it can only escape. Contrast that with: And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)
Simply put, Israel, like all other tribes, tongues, and nations, is to be evangelized with ever effort the church can muster, and God will provide a harvest there, by Jews coming to faith in Christ, and Christ alone. Compare the two Scritptures below, both spoken to Jews.
If you carefully examine the works of the early church fathers, the counsels, creeds, and statements of faith within Christianity, you will find that the teaching of rapture originated with the Anglo-Irish theologian John Nelson Darby in the 1830s. The idea was popularized by an American preacher, C. I. Scofield, in his very popular Scofield Reference Bible, which was published in the early 1900s.
The most popular feature was in the Scofield Bible, the Scripture text was on the top half of the page, and Mr. Scofield's interpretation on the bottom half. You did not have to go look for help in understanding a passage, you just kept right on reading. A great problem developed when many folks just saw the whole page as Scripture. I have personally been in a discussion with someone and had them open their Scofield Bible and actually point to Mr. Scofield's notes and say "See, it says it right here in the Bible." In Christianity, being very popular and being correct, are not always the same thing.
Scofield, like Darby before him, moved away from 1800 years of interpreting the book of Revelation as the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D., but instead, a look into the future here on earth after the church is gone, i.e., raptured.
The material that follows is my editing and updating (style, not substance, and imbedding Scripture texts) of a small pamphlet I was given years ago. It is simply called THE RAPTURE by D. W. Baker. It lists the "Old Paths Tract Ministry" of Easley, South Carolina, as the source. I have tried to locate Mr. Baker and "Old Paths" but have not been successful. His work is short, but a very good treatment of this subject. It is not dated, nor is there any copyright notice. If you know of Mr. Baker, some member of his family, an associate, or the current address of "Old Paths Tract Ministry, I would be most happy to give full credit where it due and to seek approval of my use of this material.
This doctrine could be the most popular doctrine of the professing church. Though it is, we who know the truth, know for sure that it a strange doctrine to the word of truth.
This message is sent forth for those few left who desire to know the truth, trusting it will be a help to them. We are well aware that most professing Christians care nothing for the truth. Most are well satisfied with just being religious. Jude's exhortation means nothing to them:
"...I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." (Jude 3)
Christian friend, the following nine points are scriptural reasons why we must reject this popular teaching of a "secret rapture" as false; and at the same time, earnestly contend against it.
There is not one verse that teaches this doctrine in Scripture.
Does this surprise you? One would think a teaching so popular would have many scriptures to support it. But not so with this teaching. But do I hear many say, "What are yon going to do with 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18?"
Many teach that the words "dead in Christ shall rise first" mean that the dead in Christ shall be raised first and the dead outside of Christ later. But a closer examination will prove that the distinction is between the dead in Christ, that is, those who died before His coming, and the living in Christ, that is, those who are alive at His coming. The resurrection of the former shall occur before the change of the later. This is the meaning of the text, and nothing more.
Considering the passage, it certainly means that there will be nothing private or secret about this coming. Consider the setting of the coming of Christ in 1 Thessalonians 4:16
With the trumpet of God in mind, ponder well the second point on why we reject this false teaching.
In 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, Paul makes it very plain that the resurrection takes place at the last trumpet.
There cannot be anymore after the last one, can it? The trumpet here is the same one as in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and the same one as in Matthew 24:31
The "secret rapturist" teachers have a problem here. Now the secret rapturist preacher will tell you that the trumpet in Matthew 24:31 will occur seven years later than the one in 1 Corinthians 15:52; yet the inspired apostle said that at the resurrection of the saints the last trumpet shall sound! Who shall we believe?
Another reason why this doctrine should be rejected as false teaching.
The Word of God teaches the resurrection of believers will be at the last day.
Not as the secret rapturist teaches, some 1007 years before the last day! And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. John 6:39.
Compare these additional verses from John 6:
Again in John 11:24: Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Many of our modern-day preachers accuse Martha of not having much light concerning the resurrection. But we are convinced that she had much more than they have. Martha's doctrine agrees with Job's teaching. so a man LIES down and rises not again, TILL the heavens are NO MORE he will NOT AWAKE or be ROUSED out of his sleep. Job 14:12
Job, as we see, was not part of the secret rapturist group. Job knew that man Lieth down and riseth NOT, TIL the heavens be NO MORE! How plain! Peter taught the same doctrine: "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" 2 Peter 3:10.
At that day, the day of the Lord, or the day of Christ, (which are one and the same) at the last day, the just and the unjust shall be raised to appear at the judgment. Beware of adding to the "last day" by saying it means the last day of this dispensation, or the last day of grace, etc.
Mr. Oliver B. Greene in his commentary on John's gospel, when commenting on chapter 6, (specifically John 6:39, 40, 44 & 54), words which were spoken by our Lord, said nothing about the term "last day. " But when commenting on John 11:24 on the words spoken by Martha, concerning her brother being raised at the last day said this: "She believed in the resurrection but with a vague understanding. Martha did not have the epistles of Paul, she did not have the marvelous account of the rapture as given in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4, she only had the Old Testament scripture."
When Martha put the resurrection of believers at the last day, she is accused of having a vague understanding, but when the Lord (Who knew the epistles of Paul before He wrote them!) mentioned it four times in John chapter 6, nothing is said about his "vague understanding!" The truth of it is, both Christ and Martha believed the same truth," that is: believers, as well as unbelievers, shall be raised at the LAST DAY, at the LAST trump, at the time when the heavens shall be no more.
The apostles taught that the heavens have received and will retain Christ until the times of restitution of all things.
"Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:21). Christ is in heaven by the right hand of God exalted, crowned with glory and honor. According to the scriptures, Christ will remain there UNTIL the time God restores this world back to its glorious state it had before sin entered .in and brought it into bondage of corruption. See Romans 8:19-22; 2 Peter 3:10-14. This verse in Acts 3:21 leaves no time after the coming of Christ when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord
In 1 Corinthians 15:24-26 the Scriptures teach that Christ is reigning and will reign until God puts all of His enemies under His feet.
Now according to Paul, the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:26). Paul goes on to say in 1 Corinthians 15:54: Death is swallowed up in victory. (When?) at the resurrection of believers! If this is so, and it is, how can the secret rapturist preacher preach that there will be death after the church is raptured out of the world during the tribulation and then again after the millennium in the battle of Gog and Magog??? This is going against Paul's teaching that death WILL BE swallowed up in victory at the resurrection of believers. Here is another reason why Christians ought to reject this unscriptural teaching.
The parables of Matthew 13:1ff are totally against this man-made doctrine
(a) The parable concerning the tares and wheat. The scripture teaches that "BOTH grow together UNTIL the harvest" (Matthew 13:30). The harvest is the end of the world (Matthew 13:39) at the end of the world (not the church age) the wheat shall be gathered unto Christ but the tares shall be gathered to be punished in everlasting fire (Matthew 13:40-42).
(b) The parable of the net (Matthew 13:47-49). The good and the bad fish were to be separated at the end of the world. In other words, the angels (and it is always the angels that do the separating: Matthew 24:31 and 2 Thessalonians 1:7) at the end of the world shall come with Christ and sever the wicked from among the just (Matthew 13:49). No secret rapture taught in these verses. There will be no time after the time when the wicked will be severed from among the just.
In the writings of the apostles they all taught the lord's coming would be (secret? No!) a revelation that all would see.
"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the REVELATION of Jesus Christ" 1 Peter 1:13.
A revelation is a revealing, not something secret! This exhortation is to saints of all ages. God's grace is brought unto us at the revelation of Jesus Christ; not before then. Read the following scriptures: 2 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1, 8; Titus 2:13; and 1 Peter 1:7.
This may surprise our reader but another reason why we should reject this false doctrine is because the lord warns us of believing in a secret coming of Him!
"Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you., behold, he [Christ] is in the desert; go not forth, he is in the secret chambers, believe it not. [Now in the very next verse our Lord tells us why we should not believe those who come to us saying that Christ is here or he is there. Ponder well the Lord's next words.] For as the lightning cometh out Of the east, and shineth even unto the west; SO SHALL ALSO THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN BE" Matthew 24:25-27.
These verses tell us that the Lord's coming will be visible not secret. Another sound reason why we must reject this secret coming of Christ.
The theory that believers must look forward to their final redemption through the coming of the lord before the great tribulation and the end of the world is contrary, to all teachings of the Word of God cf Revelation 13:6-7 and Daniel 7:21.
The rapturists hope of escaping the great tribulation is not spiritual but carnal and it is as dangerous as it is false, because it fills its followers with a false hope which will leave them unprepared in the evil day.
The Church of Christ (or God, whatever you choose to use) will be here until the end of the world. This is plain from many Scriptures. Consider these verses from 2 Thessalonians 2
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction....
The Lord Jesus will come after these two things which the apostle mentions and NOT BEFORE. How soon afterwards we are not sure: only it will be afterwards. Our gathering unto Christ will be fulfilled when the Lord comes to destroy the antichrist and the anti-Christian kingdoms of this world at the last day. The church will be here till the end. There will be no secret removing of them before that day. Let no man deceive you by any means!
The secret rapture is a false teaching that ought to be rejected and exposed as such. May God open your eyes to see the truth as He has mine; I once held to this man-made doctrine. I am thankful that God in His rich mercy has been pleased to deliver me from it. For Christ's sake, I trust that He would be pleased to use this message to help others.