The Rapture
Helen Dowd

All my life I have been taught that the "Rapture" is a separate event from Christ's Second Coming. I was taught that Christ would come in the air and that the Saints (true believers in Christ) would be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air.

A few years ago I attended a Bible study group at a fundamental church that didn't go along with the Rapture belief. Until that point I had no idea that there were some groups who do not believe that the Rapture precedes the Second Coming. So, learning of this group's views, I did my own study of the Rapture.

Their view was this: You might be surprised to know that the idea of the rapture is only about 170 years old. The church is almost 2,000 years old now, and for more than 1,800 of those years, the vast majority of Christians and churches have taught a single, one-time-only return of Jesus Christ to earth to gather his church and to judge the world…. About 1850, a man named John Nelson Darby came along and divided the Second Coming into two stages: Christ's coming for his saints before the tribulation (the rapture) and his coming with his saints after it. Darby said that the saints would be snatched out of the world before the tribulation...The passage consistently used to defend Darby's teaching is I Thessalonians 4:15-17, which does describe living believers lifing up off the ground and meeting the Lord in the air… to be with the Lord forever… But here's the problem: the passage does not say where we will be with the Lord. Darby figured the passage meant heaven. But you'll notice that the passage doesn't say that. So it could just as well be describing the one and only return of Christ to earth, coming to establish his kingdom forever upon the new earth...Thus these verses could picture all of his saints going up to meet him, welcome him, and accompany him as he completes his descent."

I disagree with the above teaching. I go along with Darby's teaching and was disturbed to learn of the other view. Consequently, I did some further research.

My Research:

"The word rapture comes from a Latin translation of the Greek word harpazo in I Thessalonians 4:17 which is translated in English as 'caught up.' It literally means 'to seize" or 'to snatch away.'" (p.24 THE RAPTURE by Hal Lindsey.)

The three most common beliefs:

Post-tribulationists: the Church will go through entire tribulation.

Mid-tribulationists: the Church will be taken at midpoint of tribulation.

Pre-tribulationists: the Church will be raptured before tribulation.

Some facts about the Rapture:

1) We will be wonderfully changed—a mystery. I Corinthians 15: we will have a body "like the Lord Jesus' resurrected body" v. 49 & 50.

2) We won't all die, but will all be changed I Corinthians 15:51

3) The rapture is instantaneous—I Corinthians 15:52--the twinkling of an eye is about one-thousandth of a second (a period of time which can't be divided.)

4) Believers who have died will be resurrected a split second before we are transformed and snatched or seized up.

5) We will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air." I Thessalonians. 4:17

"The post-Tribulationists say that after meeting the Lord in the air we will immediately return with Him to the earth. They agree that all believers alive at the time will be instantly transformed into immortal bodies."

If so, what does John 14:1-5 mean? Jesus talks of building dwelling places for us. "I go to prepare a place for you. ... I will come again, and receive you to Myself; so that where I am, there you may be also." Also see Psalm 110:1--When Jesus ascended He went to God the Father's presence and took a seat at His right hand.

If Jesus is building a place for us, and if we go there when He comes, how could He be speaking of an event that occurs simultaneously with the Second Advent? For at that time Jesus is specifically and personally coming to earth Zechariah 14:4-9 (esp. v. 5--last part: "and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee."

Jesus said that as He went, so shall He return. Acts 1: 10 & 11 --"And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."

"There is a distinction between the presence and the appearing of Christ: the former referring to His coming for, and the latter with His saints.... The second coming covers a period of time, and is not the event of a single moment ... It will include events such as the rapture, the great tribulation, the millennium, the resurrection, the judgments, etc.
From: THE GREAT DOCTRINES OF THE BIBLE, by Rev. William Evans, Ph.D., D.D. (Moody Press) p. 259

To the Church it means:
1) The righteous dead will be raised in their resurrected bodies;
2) The righteous living will be changed;
5) Simultaneously they shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air to be with Him forever.
4) The Church, the Bride of Christ, will be married to her Lord: Ephesians. 5:25, 52; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 19: 6-9; Matthew 25:1-10.
5) Believers will be rewarded for their faithfulness in service at His coming: Matthew 25:19; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 5:4; 1 Corinthians 5:12-&15; 2 Corinthians 5:10.

Conclusion:

* It is all right to voice a difference of opinion on a subject, but it is not all right to make an issue out of it.
* It is all right to put forth my point of view, but it is not all right to think that it is the only point of view.
* It is all right to agree to disagree, but it is not all right to make that disagreement stand between fellow believers and me.
I could look up all the Scriptures I like to emphasize my belief in the Rapture, but someone else could find just as many to emphasize an apposing point of view.

I would rather dwell on the most important issues, to which we all agree: That Christ Jesus—the Son of God—was born of a virgin, Man among men; that He suffered like a man, but without sin; that He, the Lamb of God, died on the cross for my sin; that He rose again; that He was seen by many; that He ascended into heaven, from whence He came; that He sent His Holy Spirit as His substitute, to dwell within me; and that He will come again for His Bride, of whom I am part.

© Helen Dowd




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