The Rapture

There is no agreement on the rapture issue and there will be none until the Lord takes us up. The only reason a dialogue matters is that a false security has permeated the fundamentalist church. If this is also influenced by determinism, dispensationalism or Heaven forbid, Harold Camping, they are super deluded by a lying spirit. I used to be pre-trib rapture, then post trib, now I am pro-trib. Whenever we go is fine with me. The false security of an immanent rapture is leading Christians to ineffectual witness. All that is left for them is praise, worship, a false doctrine, and allowing government to usurp the Kingdom. No action that leads to repentance and revival. This is not a foundational doctrine or a nature of Christ issue. We can be certain that whatever side heretic bashers are on, is the wrong side.

The word rapture is not in the Greek text but taken from the Latin of I Thessalonians 4:17, "to meet the Lord in the air." It represents the underlining fact that the church will go through the fire but the saints will somehow avoid the wrath. At least that's what the scriptures imply, and it is a powerful message.

Before the day of the Lord's anger come upon you, seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth which have wrought his judgment. Seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be you shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger.

Because you have kept the word of my patience, I will also keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

It is easy to believe against a pre-trib rapture. There are just too many verses in scripture that teach otherwise and if left up to a clear understanding of the text, the rapture controversy should never have come up. There will in fact be a rapture, what it actually consists of is in question and there is nothing to support pre-trib except a few verses taken out of context. I do believe this view is harming the church in that it is giving Christians a false security and puts them in a passive position of thinking that they will not be a part of the end-time harvest and separation because they will already be taken away. Again, that is only my opinion and not something that should divide us. The lesson learned is that we agree on loving each other being more important than coming on agreement with things that do not matter either way. So we do agree if we are not a part of those that cause the offense and where only the contentious would disagree.

Paul calls the resurrection a "mystery" in 1 Corinthians 15: Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 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. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

With God's help, we can certainly understand these mysteries but Paul also speaks of this mystery in 1 Thessalonians 4: saying, But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 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. 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Many Christians think that this is the rapture described here as well as the resurrection of those that sleep. Just understand that this is as the last trumpet is sounded, not the first and it comes at the coming of the Lord where Jesus teaches will be following the tribulation (Matthew 24) and then He will gather the elect. To clear up part of my confusion, I looked at the verse in 1 Thessalonians 4:14 very carefully - "even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." If they are asleep, awaiting resurrection, how can God bring them with Him when Jesus comes to raise them up? They must somehow already be raised up and wherever God is. Whenever the rapture is, when we which are alive are caught up to meet the Lord, Jesus brings those that sleep with Him. They are only asleep in relation to our temporal existence, they are alive now, always have been and always will be, that is the essence of eternity, God is the God of the living and faithful Christians believe in the communion of the saints. Through these verses we may understand that we will not precede those that are asleep and the rapture will occur at the coming of the Lord.

We could understand the first resurrection of believers as being posited in this life. Jesus is our resurrection. When we are baptized, it is the symbol of our being raised into newness of life. It is not the baptism in itself that saves you but without that obedience to a gospel commandment, we can argue that we may not truly be saved. We are not laying any new foundations here, only trying to come unto the understanding that the early apostles had on the resurrection issue. Doctrines concerning the resurrections are foundational principles and as long as there is confusion, we need to work it out before we can go on to perfection (Hebrews 6). There is also the possibility that we may never work it out but if it is foundational, it should also be understandable as the milk of the word.

Bob Mumford, a teacher during the charismatic renewal is quoted as teaching the book of Revelation at a seminary. The first year, he had all his charts, timelines, sequences down pat (Pre-trib) except at the end of the semester, he found he had a couple of verses left over that did not fit. At the end of the second semester he taught the course he had about 10 verses that didn't fit. Half way through the third time he taught it, he threw away all the charts and declared he was a pan-tribulationist, meaning it was all going to pan out the way God wanted it to, and Bob didn't have a clue.

The restitution of all things has started in the minds of hearts of those that have been called to bring it about and that it will not be completed until after the Times of the Gentiles are over and the church or at least part of it goes through tribulation, become among the overcomers and join themselves to the Bridegroom as the Bride of Christ. That means during the tribulation period, many of us will be a part of it no matter when Jesus takes the saints and the Bride needs to be readied. For those of you that believe that we will be here and those of us that believe that we will not be, I can only ask that each of us act as if each of us will be together until the Lord comes and that we can work side by side in the meanwhile.

Anyone that believes that either side of the rapture issue is promoting heresy should now look at it from a perspective of love. The same goes from millennial points of view. I suggest that we all take a softer stance on the rapture issue for the sake of the brethren. Heretic bashing is something that this group is learning about, many words have been said that should not have been said and it is a learning process for us all.

The rapture is the taking away of the saints in the air. One of the biggest problems in the church today is that many ignorant souls believe themselves to be saints when they are not. Most Christians who think they will be raptured, won't. There is an error taught in the church that will tell you that all Christians are saints, those in the open door of the Holy Spirit trace their spiritual roots to the truths of justification and sanctification being separate processes and will teach you the difference between the two.

Sanctification suggests the idea of separation. In the broadest sense of the word, we are all saints (or holy ones) because we are separated from non-Christians in that we are saved. The Bible teaches that the we (the saints) will not all sleep but be translated in a twinkling of an eye at the last trump (not the first trump). I Cor. 15:52. Most of us think that our loved ones that died in the Lord are in heaven now. They are not awaiting judgment but are in eternity. I believe that too but I also believe in a future resurrection that will be in judgment. Now if those that having accepted Christ are not judged and those that have rejected the Lord are judged already, then where lies the judgment? I am admitting my confusion on this unless I understand that there are differing degrees of one's walk with the Lord and that many will be numbered with the transgressors and will not be raised to judgment until the future.

Now I understand that those raised in the twinkling of an eye are at the last trump, but God reckons time differently in eternity than we do. There is no past or future in heaven, only the eternal now. There is a kingdom in heaven (the eternal now), Jesus' kingdom on earth today reigning in our hearts, and a kingdom to come on earth in the future where Jesus will rule over the nations. There is a clear separation here. When the rapture occurs, it will be only the saints that will be raptured, those on earth during the millennium will be waiting for even another judgment while the saints are in heaven. Again, I am admitting confusion on this and since the Bible does not make it perfectly clear, none of us should think that we have all the answers.

On the issue that the Holy Spirit will be taken out during the tribulation, the interpretation goes that "who now letteth will let" from II Thessalonians 2:7 is the Holy Spirit who is allowing these things to happen "until he be taken out of the way", whereupon the man of sin is revealed. I have seen this verse used to prove that the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the way during this time. This is an assuption on the part of pre-tribbers to bolster their views and many have also concluded that all of their views are mere assumptions from verses taken out of context. Using Revelation 4:1 to illustrate the rapture, for example, is a case of outright adding to the scriptures. Since we believe that Jesus is part of the Godhead along with the Holy Spirit, it follows that when Jesus says that He will always be with us and never forsake us, this would apply to the Holy Spirit as well and throughout all time. Since we also believe that Jesus died for all humanity and not for just the elect and that God's spirit is poured out upon all flesh in the full sense of the revival and harvest to come, it should preclude this thinking.

Again, I think these false assumptions are giving the church a false security but that the best that we can teach is that we are all to be ready regardless and love each other in spite of any true or false assumptions that we think others are making. That's why it does not make a good discussion any more and those who would rather unite than divide would rather not talk about it. Babylon will fall during these times and if we are truly part of the remnant that will come out of her, we have to be here to do it.

Those that have responded to this pretty much feel that there will not be a pre-trib rapture and agree that it is a dangerous error that is giving the church a false sense of security and putting them into an escapist position where they need not be concerned with the harvest and sifting to come. As far as satanic lies, Jesus is truth and any lie is from satan, that does not mean the person that speaks an error is from satan. I once also taught a pre-trib position that may have come from a lie, that does not make me a liar but rather mistaken, there must be many mistakes that I still hold to that I must humble myself, identify them, overcome and come to truth. I believe that there will come a time where the Lion will lay down with the Lamb, Jesus will rule over the nations and there will be a thousand year period which is the Sabbath rest of man.

Jesus did not pray that we should be taken out of the world: I have given them your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through your truth, your word is truth.

It is hard to image the rapture being anything like what people are expecting. Can you imaging hoards of people suddenly disappearing from their driver's seat on the freeways? Many do, but I believe that it will be much more subtle than that. The passage that refers to the catching away of the saints places what is called the rapture after a resurrection of the dead in Christ. "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an 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." The resurrection is at the last day, not seven years before the last day, or a thousand and seven. The church at Sardis would be considered dead in Christ. They have reputation of being alive but are told to strengthen what remains. "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: But for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened."

We are not told what the rapture is, or when it will be taking place and we are not sure how it will occur. I do not believe in a pre-tribulation rapture but I do believe that the saints will be delivered and protected from the wrath to come. "The day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night." "Then shall two be in the field, the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore for you know not what hour your Lord does come." What we must be sure of is that when He does appear that we are not among the foolish virgins but are wearing wedding garments and have trimmed our lamps with the oil of the Holy Ghost.
[Zephaniah, I Thessalonians 4, Revelation 3, John 17, Matthew 24, The issue of the rapture was a topic of the latter rain discussion group]

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