Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 17 Number 6 June 2015
Page 11

Will There Be a Rapture?

Sunny David

Sunny DavidAccording to the Bible, Christ made the promise to His followers: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you, I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3). When will Jesus come back? No one knows (Matthew 24:36). Not only does the Bible teach that Christ will come back one day again to receive His followers, but it further teaches where He will come, how He will come, what Christ will do when He comes, and what events will take place at the second coming of Christ, all simultaneously.

The day of Christ’s Second Coming is called “the last day” or “the day of the Lord” (John 12:48). In 2 Peter 3:10 we read, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and works that are in it will be burned up.” Since the earth will be burned up when Christ comes again, we therefore know that He will not come back on this earth again.

Where will He come then? Speaking to the followers of Christ, the apostle Paul said, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the cloud to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Christ will come again in the air, in the clouds, not on earth. In Revelation 1:7 we are told when Christ comes again “every eye will see Him.”

The day of the Second Coming of Christ will be the day of resurrection of all the dead, both righteous and unrighteous. Christ said, “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice, and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29). Thus the Bible teaches that when Christ comes back that it will be the last day of this world. Further, both good and evil will be resurrected at the same time or hour and will be judged or rewarded according to their deeds. All will see Him, that is, His coming will be visible to all. He will not come upon this earth, but He will appear in the air where all the righteous will be caught up, both the resurrected and the living, to meet the Lord in the air, and thus they will always be with the Lord.

The word “rapture” appears nowhere in the Bible. It is clearly a system of speculations, errors and fanciful conclusions, without any biblical foundation. Ordinarily, the word “rapture” means a feeling of extreme pleasure and happiness, a state or experience of being carried away by overwhelming emotion, an expression or manifestation of ecstasy or passion. The doctrine of rapture is supposed to refer to a time when Christ will come back and secretly take away with Him His church, the resurrected and living saints, who will rise from the earth to meet the Lord who has secretly appeared in the air. It is taught that they will stay with Him up in the air for seven years. The people who remain on earth will not know where all these people have gone. They will not be able to account for their disappearance.

This manmade teaching additionally teaches that while the highly select group is with the Lord during the period of the rapture, on earth there will be a period of unparalleled tribulation. This tribulation period is to last seven years. Proponents of rapture expect that after seven years, Christ will come back again, this time with all those saints who have been with Him during the seven years of rapture. Then the doctrine says that there will be another resurrection of the righteous who were converted to the Lord during the period of tribulation of seven years.

That is when according to this theory that they will be raised to reign over the earth with Jesus and their fellow saints in a millennial kingdom, which these folks expect to be set up when Christ returns to earth. Only then, they think that a final judgment will to come at the close of one thousand years of reign of Christ on earth with His saints, when all the unrighteous will be raised.

The idea of “the rapture” is based on many suppositions: That Christ will return in the air secretly; that a kingdom age on earth will follow the church age on earth; that the church will be caught away secretly to join the Lord in the air; that the saints will be somewhere in the air for seven years during which there is tribulation on earth; that Christ and the saint will return to earth to gain victory and set up a millennial kingdom.

The doctrine of a rapture is built on a misunderstanding and misapplication of several passages of Scripture, including 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-57. These passages discuss the one and only Second Coming of Christ. They neither say nor imply anything about a secret or an invisible coming of Christ to “rapture” away His church either before, during or after an alleged time of tribulation.

Some think that since Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 says, “the dead in Christ shall rise first,” that he also means that the dead not in Christ shall rise last. This is not what the apostle said. The contrast is not between the resurrection of the righteous dead and the resurrection of the unrighteous dead, but the contrast in that context is between the resurrection of the righteous dead and the catching up of the righteous who are alive at the coming of Christ. The reason the wicked are neither mentioned in this passage nor in 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 is that the wicked are not under consideration in those verses. These passages were addressed to Christians to give them hope and to encourage them to live faithful lives, bringing to their minds the eternal reward awaiting them. The fact that the state of the wicked was not addressed in these particular passages does not mean that the unrighteous are not included in and affected by the single Second Coming of Christ and one resurrection of all the dead.

In the system of “the rapture” doctrine, there are at least three resurrections: One, when the dead in Christ will be resurrected at the time of Jesus coming in the so-called “rapture.” Secondly, some will be converted during the proposed tribulation, who will die during the seven years; these “tribulation saints” will be resurrected when Christ comes at the end of the seven years to set up a kingdom on earth. Thirdly, the wicked and the unrighteous dead will be raised at the end of the one thousand years of reign of Christ with His saints on earth. Yet, Christ, in John 5:28-29 taught that the resurrection of all the dead will be at the same hour. In addition the good and bad will be resurrected at the same time. Since the resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous will be at the same hour, there cannot be a resurrection of the righteous preceding a thousand years period and another resurrection of the unrighteous following that period. At least four times in John 6 Jesus said that He would raise the believer at the last day. According to John 12:48, those who reject Christ and receive not His Word will be judged at the last day. Both the resurrection of all the dead, good and bad, and the Judgment of all will be on the last day. Since the resurrection of the righteous will be at the last day, it cannot occur a thousand years before the last day.

There is no doubt that Christ will come back again and the saints, both the resurrected and the living, will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air to be with Him. That it will be a secreting away of the saints is not what the Bible teaches. There is nothing to be secret about Christ’s coming for His saints (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Revelation 1:7). When Jesus comes again, the world will be destroyed (2 Peter 3:10). There can be, therefore, no tribulation and millennial reign on an earth that no longer exists. There is to be only one resurrection of all on the Day of Judgment (John 5:28-29; 12:48; Acts 24:15). When Christ comes again, it will be to judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1; Matthew 25:31-32).

The rapture theory places Jesus’ coming again and the final judgment more than a thousand years apart. According to Christ’s parable in Matthew 13:36-43, there will be no separation of good and evil until the end of the world. The righteous and the wicked will continue to live on earth until the time the wicked are punished and the righteous are rewarded (Acts 17:30-31; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4). The righteous will not to be raised up until the last day, unlike the rapture doctrine that has them raised secretly long before the last day. It is nothing but a false doctrine, and the denominational doctrine of “the rapture” should be rejected utterly.

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