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RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH

 

Pre-trib, Mid-trib, Post-trib?

I Thes. 4:15-18

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that

we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the

Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

16 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:

17 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.

18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Deception

The fulfillment of I Thes. 4:15-18 has been debated for quite some time. Some teach that it will be fulfilled before the tribulation, some during, some after, some teach that it will not be fulfilled at all. This is known as the rapture of the church. Part of the reason there is so much confusion, is that Satan is the author of confusion. He will go to any length to cause divisions in the Church. Another reason is, that alot of people don't take time to study scripture for themselves. They blindly accept the doctrines of their pastors without questioning the scriptural validity of the doctrine. This is why the apostle Paul warned us in I Tim 2:1,2 about the false teachings and "doctrines of devils". Timothy was a young pastor and disciple of the apostle Paul. God's instruction to him shows us that all the differences in doctrine and divisions in the church come from "devils". Also that we are not to allow strife and arguments about doctrine, but we are to "study to show ourselves approved" and "rightly divide the word of truth". In other words, we need to study scripture for ourselves. We are not to argue about doctrine, but are to know scripture for ourselves, and teach others.

I Tim 4:1,2

1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter

times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to

seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience

seared with a hot iron.

II Tim. 2:14-18

14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them

before the Lord that they strive not about words to no

profit, but to the subverting of the hearers.

15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman

that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the

word of truth.

16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will

increase unto more ungodliness.

17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is

Hymenaeus and Philetus;

18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the

resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith

of some.

 

II Tim. 2:23-26

23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing

that they do gender strifes.

24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be

gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,

25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves;

if God peradventure will give them repentance to the

acknowledging of the truth;

26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare

of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his

will.

 

When studying scripture one common mistake is to set down with the bible to prove ourselves right. Alot of times we as Christians tend to ignore the parts of scripture that don't fit into our "mold" of belief. If we have to disregard or ignore any part of God's word to believe what we have been taught, then chances are what we have been taught is wrong. I used to be afraid of the parts of scripture that didn't go along with what I thought to be truth. As I studied scripture, I began to be more open to the truth of God's word. Some of what I believed began to change, some of what I believed became more rock solid by studying the passages of scripture that I thought weakened my point of view. What I know today is that those passages are vital to my belief. This is very important to keep in mind when searching for God's truth.

What is the rapture?

Pre-tribulation

There are two very vital points to remember about the nature of the tribulation. During the tribulation, God will give man what they have always asked for as a whole...life without God's interference. When this happens, Satan will have free reign on this earth. The other is God is pouring out His wrath on a Christ rejecting world. Both of these points make it clear that the church cannot be here when this is happening. God's method of ensuring that those who have not rejected His Son will not be here during this time is the rapture. II Thessalonians chapter two tells us that the anti-christ cannot exalt himself as God until the Holy Spirit is gone.

II Thes. 2:3-12

3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day

shall not come, except there come a falling away

first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of

perdition;

4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is

called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God

sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he

is God.

5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told

you these things?

6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be

revealed in his time.

7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he

who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the

way.

8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord

shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall

destroy with the brightness of his coming:

9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan

with all power and signs and lying wonders,

10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them

that perish; because they received not the love of the

truth, that they might be saved.

11 And for this cause God shall send them strong

delusion, that they should believe a lie:

12 That they all might be damned who believed not the

truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

 

The word "let" in II Thes. 2:7 means to hinder or hold back. (see Rom. 1:13 as another example of the use of the word "let").

Romans 1:13

13 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that

oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let

hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you

also, even as among other Gentiles.

Some teach that the one who is "holding back" the evil in this world right now is the church, and some teach that it is the Holy Spirit. Either way, it makes it clear that the church cannot be here. If it is the church then it makes it clear that God is obviously going to take the church out of this world before the tribulation. If this is referring to the Holy spirit, then it is also clear that God is taking the church out of the world before the tribulation. This conclusion is drawn from the words of Christ in the Gospel of John 14:16-20. Jesus' promises are faithful and true. If II Thes. 2:7 is referring to the Holy Spirit then we have to assume that we will not be here when the Holy Spirit is taken out of the way. Jesus promised not to abandon us and leave us comfortless. The Holy Spirit is our comforter, if He is taken out of the way, we will obviously go with Him in order for Jesus' promise to be kept. This will be the fulfillment of II Thes. 4:16,17. The promise in John 14:16-18 is just as much for the church in 1998 as it was in the first century. Verse 16 says The Spirit will be with us forever.

John 14:16-20

16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you

another Comforter, that he may abide with you for

ever;

17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot

receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth

him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and

shall be in you.

18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more;

but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.

20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

 

How do some come the conclusion that the rapture will not happen until the middle point of the tribulation, after the tribulation or won't happen at all?

Mid-tribulation

The only evidence that supports the mid-trib rapture is that the antichrist cannot exalt himself as God until after the rapture. We know from Daniel chapter 9 that he will do this at the mid-point of the tribulation. From that point on, it is called the great tribulation and will last for 3 1/2 years. However, from this we know that it could happen anywhere from the midpoint of the tribulation or any number of years earlier. This does not mean that the rapture will happen at the mid point of the tribulation. It simply means that the rapture MUST happen by the midpoint.

Daniel 9:27

27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one

week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the

sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the

overspreading of abominations he shall make it

desolate, even until the consummation, and that

determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

The "weeks" discussed in Daniel chapter 9 are weeks of years. In other words, 1 week equals 7 years. This is the seventieth week of Daniel and is known as the tribulation. Scripture shows that it is a valid point to say that the rapture happens at the midpoint or before. However, you have to throw out other parts of scripture in order to say that it will be at the mid-point.

Some teach that there will be a "split rapture". This view says that the "spiritual christians" will be taken before the tribulation and that the "carnal christians" will go through the first half or all of the tribulation as a means of sanctification. This must be rejected on the grounds that justification comes by grace through faith not works or suffering.

Ephesians 2:8,9

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not

of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Post-tribulation

Another view is that the rapture won't happen until after the tribulation (Post-trib). This view is centered around I Corinthians 15. This view comes from Paul’s statement about the "last trump". IThes. 4:16 also mentions a "trump". In order to come to this conclusion, an assumption is required. You have to assume that the "trumpet" mentioned is connected with the "trumpet judgments" in Revelation 8:2.

I Corinthians 15:50-55

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot

inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption

inherit incorruption.

51 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.

53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and

this mortal must put on immortality.

54 So when this corruptible shall have put on

incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on

immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying

that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy

victory?

 

Revelation 8:1,2,6-10,13

1 And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was

silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.

2 And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and

to them were given seven trumpets.

 

 

6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets

prepared themselves to sound.

7 The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and

fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the

earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and

all green grass was burnt up.

8 And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great

mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and

the third part of the sea became blood;

9 And the third part of the creatures which were in the

sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the

ships were destroyed.

10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great

star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it

fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the

fountains of waters;

 

13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the

midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe,

woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the

other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which

are yet to sound!

Revelation 9:1,13,14

1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall

from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the

key of the bottomless pit.

 

13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from

the four horns of the golden altar which is before

God,

14 Saying to the sixth angel which had the trumpet, Loose

the four angels which are bound in the great river

Euphrates.

 

Revelation 11:15

15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great

voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world

are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his

Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

 

Though I cannot explain what the trumpet's in I Cor. 15 and IThes. 4 are referring to, I cannot make the mistake of assuming that they are the "trumpet judgment" trumpets. To do that would mean I have to throw out II Thes. chapter 2. There are many things in scripture that I cannot explain, however, to start throwing out certain scriptures in order to help myself explain other scriptures would be rather foolish on my part...not to mention dangerous. Another point is that the Revelation 8,9 & 11 trumpets are judgment trumpets, the I Cor.15 and

I Thes. 4 trupmet is a call of gathering for the Body of Christ. No where in Revelation does it mention one of the trumpets being the call to rapture the church. When examining the text in Revelation, you see that God went to great length to explain what each trumpet causes, none of which are the gathering of the church. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the Lord has not revealed why I Cor.15 and I Thes. 4 are referred to as the "last trump", but He has made it clear that it is not a "judgment trumpet" as mentioned in Revelation 8,9 & 11. We know this because Rom. 8:1 tells us "there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus..." It is clear that the trumpet judgments are God pouring out His wrath on mankind for their rejection of His son. He would not pour out His wrath on those who have "no condemnation".

No Rapture View

 

There is no biblical evidence to support this view. Some religions somehow manage to twist some points of scripture and delete others. These are known as cults. This is a very dangerous teaching because those who believe it have been convinced that scripture is either invalid or requires special interpretation unavailable to the average person. If anyone tries to preach this doctrine to you, you should make that person an object of intense constant prayer. They have been and are being deceived. In I Thes. 4:15 we see that the doctrine of the rapture comes "by the word of the Lord". Anybody rejecting the doctrine of the rapture is rejecting "the word of the Lord". Those who believe it will be during or after the tribulation are only misunderstanding, misinterpreting or confused by scripture. Those who reject this doctrine are in grave danger.

II Timothy 2:13

13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse,

deceiving, and being deceived.

 

I Thessalonians 4:15-17

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that

we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the

Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

16 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:

17 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.

 

Rapture and the Second Advent of Christ

A final point to realize is that the rapture and the Second Advent of Christ are two separate events. In the rapture, we (the church) meet the Lord in the air. He does not touch the Earth. (IThes. 4:16,17)

At the Second Advent He will stand on the Mount of Olives. (Zech. 14:4)

At the rapture His appearing will be only to "those who look for him" and will be "apart from sin" (either justifying or judging). This is in Hebrews 9:28. In the first advent He came to justify sinners, in the Second Advent He will come to judge a sinful world and set up His righteous kingdom. The rapture will be between these two advents... apart from sin.

 

Zechariah 14:3,4

3 Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those

nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.

4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of

Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the

mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof

toward the east and toward the west, and there shall

be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall

remove toward the north, and half of it toward the

south.

Hebrews 9:28

28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many;

and unto them that look for him shall he appear the

second time without sin unto salvation.

 

 

 

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