THE RAPTURE AND PREMILLENNIALISM?
It may be that driving along the road sometime you may see a bumper sticker on a car that says something like, "In case of the Rapture this car will be unmanned." Many religious people believe and teach a doctrine that there will be a time of Rapture and tribulation prior to the 1000 year reign of Christ, but what about the Rapture and a 1000 year reign? Is this something the Bible teaches?
THE DOCTRINE OF THE RAPTURE.
In defining the Rapture, it must be understood that the word "rapture" is not found within the pages of scripture. However, the word "rapture" means "to seize; snatch out; take away." This carries the idea of a sudden and secret coming of Christ in the air to catch away from the earth the resurrected bodies of those who have died in the faith and with the living saints. Those who teach this believe the rapture is to occur just before the seven years of tribulation that overwhelm the earth as they believe is described in Revelation 4 through 19. Those that believe in the "rapture" will often refer to the secretive taking away of those on earth. They say that families will be shocked by the strange disappearance of a father, mother or a child. A husband and wife we are told will be in bed and one will hear a sound and will turn to look to find the other is gone.
This doctrine then teaches that the second coming of Christ will be invisible, leaving confusion and chaos among the remaining unbelievers. 2 Thes. 4:13-17 is an often used passage to support this doctrine. However, we must remember that this passage was written to reassure the Christians that their loved ones that had died will share in the Lord's return and that living saints will not have any advantage over those who have died. The passage does not contradict or teach anything different about the second coming of Christ that is not taught elsewhere in the scriptures.
There are several scriptures that come to mind as we think about the secretive aspect of Christ's coming that the idea of the "rapture" teaches. In Revelation 1:7, we notice John speaks of the second coming of Christ as being with the clouds, cf. 1 Thes. 4:17, says, "and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him", Rev. 1:7. Here we are told "every eye shall see him" and the unbelievers will not be wondering what happened, but they will see and "wail because of him." As we see this we must recognize that this is also in keeping with what Jesus taught about His second coming when He said, "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", Jno. 5:28,29.
Without doubt, we must conclude that the idea of a secret carrying away of the saints and the leaving of the unbelievers cannot be supported by the scriptures, but is a clear contradiction of what the Bible teaches. Based on that, we must conclude that the scriptures do not support the doctrine we often hear referred to as "The Rapture" and that it is a false doctrine.
THE DOCTRINE OF PREMILLENNIALISM.
The doctrine of the rapture is tied closely with the doctrine of premillennialism. The rapture and the seven years of tribulation are said to occur just before the 1000 year reign of Christ in His kingdom on earth.
The doctrine of premillennialism says that Jesus has yet to establish His kingdom and will one day return to establish the earthly kingdom that He was not able to accomplish while He was here on earth.
The doctrine of premillennialism indeed ought to raise some immediate questions in our minds. Did Jesus fail to accomplish His will while He was on earth? Jesus' mission was to save the lost, Lk. 19:10. He saved them by shedding His blood and purchasing the church in which people could become a part of the body of Christ, 1 Jno. 1:7; Acts 20;28; Eph. 5:25. We must understand that the church was not just an interim or make-shift relationship until the kingdom is established, but that the church and the kingdom are one and the same and have already been established. Jesus promised to build His church and gave Peter the keys of the kingdom, Mt. 16:18,19. To enter the kingdom Jesus taught one must be born again, Jno. 3:;3-5. To the church at Rome Paul said that they had begun their new life when they were baptized into Christ, Rom. 6:3,4. The brethren at Colossae were members of the church and citizens of the kingdom, Col. 1:13.
Christ is the Head of the church, Eph. 1:22, and the King of His kingdom, Col. 1:18. Jesus is ruling and reigning in His kingdom and will do so until He comes again and then will deliver the kingdom back to God, the Father, 1 Cor. 15:21-24. The kingdom was prophesied to come with power and some of those there would not die before it was fulfilled, Mk. 9:1. The kingdom was to begin in Jerusalem with the preaching of repentance and remission of sins, Lk. 24:44-49. This was fulfilled in Acts 2 as the Holy Spirit came with power, Acts 2:4 and the preaching of repentance and remission of sins was preached, Acts 2:38. It seems clear that the scriptures speak of the church and kingdom as being the same institution. According to the doctrine of premillennialism, and teaching of Jesus in Mk. 9, some living at the time of Christ would still have to be living today. Indeed, all must admit that this is simply not true, so the kingdom must already be established.
We must understand as well that the Bible teaches that the Kingdom of Christ was not an earthly kingdom. Jesus himself taught this when He said, "My kingdom is not of this world..." Paul affirmed this as well when he wrote the church in Rome, "the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost", Rom. 14:17. We also learn that the kingdom was not just to be for a literal 1000 years, but it was to be an eternal kingdom, 2 Pet. 1:11; cf. Daniel 2:44.
With all this teaching from the scriptures, are we going to hold to a doctrine that is not in keeping with scriptures just because a passage in a book tht is filled with figurative language in Rev. 20 refers to 1000 year reign of Christ? And in order to hold to the doctrine of premillennialism we must believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, failed in fulfilling His mission and Jesus clearly taught that wouldnot happen, Mt. 5:17. We must conclude that the doctrine of premillennialism, like the doctrine of the rapture, cannot be true.
-David A. Cox, in Gospel Power, Vol. VII, No. 44, Oct. 29, 2000.
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