In the last twenty to twenty-five years, we have heard a great deal about the rapture. In the denominational world, book after book has been printed dealing with this mysterious subject. Denominational preachers spend a lot of their pulpit time dealing with this topic. Granted, such topics make for interesting sermons and books - but what does the Bible say on the subject? That should be our concern.
As I recall, I was in the ninth or tenth grade when a friend in school asked me if we (the church of Christ) believed in the rapture. I did not know what she was talking about, so I asked her to explain. She obviously didn't know much more than I did about it, because she said it meant that Jesus was going to come back to earth at the end of time. In my ignorance, I asked her if she meant like the judgment and she said "yes." I was too ignorant to understand the difference. Since that time, I have come to a better understanding of what the rapture is all about. But what are we talking about when we speak of the rapture? [Really, what are "they" talking about, RDC].
Briefly speaking, the rapture theory says that one of these days (real soon), Christ is going to come silently and invisibly and will raise the righteous dead and all the righteous living will mysteriously disappear (be raptured). Supposedly they will just disappear into thin air. The wicked dead will remain in the grave and the wicked living will remain on earth. According to premillenialists, this will occur at the beginning of the seven year tribulation.
This theory is based on 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 (A most unlikely context to prove such a theory). In this text Paul says, "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."
In verse 17, notice the words "caught up." Rapture theorists say that the saints will be raptured or caught up at the return of Christ. How? It will be silent, invisible and mysterious. Whoever came up with this idea obviously had not read these verses carefully. In verse 16 Paul affirms that the Lord "himself" shall appear (that's a personal, visible appearance of Christ). Notice also that he shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God. That does not sound like Christ is going to come silently. As brother Wayne Jackson said, "That's the noisiest verse in the Bible!"
Notice also 2 Peter 3:10, where Peter is talking about the same day - the day the Lord will come again. Among other things, he says that "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise" Does that sound like a "silent" return of our Lord?
Furthermore, when Paul wrote Second Thessalonians (which was to correct some of the false ideas that brethren had gotten from his first letter), he said in 1:7 (talking about the return of Christ), "And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels" Notice, Paul says the Lord will be "revealed." He will not come back invisibly, but He will be "revealed" - He will be seen. First Thessalonians 4:16 affirms that the "Lord himself shall descend." That sounds like a visible, personal appearance.
So you see, the whole rapture concept is totally false. The Bible never speaks of Christ returning to this ol' earth. It speaks of our meeting him in the air when he returns for judgment (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
It's sad that so many people have so little regard for what the Bible clearly teaches on the subject of the end of time. As Christians, we need to study so that we can teach the truth on this subject. It does not take a lot of study to learn to deal with these errors. In fact, the doctrine of premillennialism is much like a row of dominoes standing on end - when one falls, they all fall. Once you topple a couple of the dominoes of premillennialism, the others will soon follow.
Remember - the truth has nothing to fear! Remember - the truth has nothing to fear!
by Mark Bass
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