Almost all brands of Christians believe in the rapture. Its the timing of when it takes place thats controversial. Will believers be raptured before, during or after the great tribulation period thats prophesied for the end of this age? The issue itself pales in comparison to many of the central truths of our faith, but people still take different positions on this question and feel very strongly that their view is right and those who disagree with them are dangerously wrong. There are whole denominations who wont admit you to fellowship if you take a different position on this. So today rather than add more fuel to the fire by arguing fiercely why my position on this is right, lets step back and look at the beautiful truths we learn about God from the rapture.
A. Is there a rapture?
Unquestionably: 1Th 4:13-18; Mt 13:40-43, 49, 50; Mt 24:31, 40, 41; The first rapture Ac 1:9-11
B. What is it?
- Notes from Raymond Ludwigson, A Survey of Bible Prophecy, Zondervan, Brand Rapids, MI, 1973 pp 133-160
- Rapture (Latin verb rapere, to seize)
- . . .the doctrine of the catching away or transporting of believers from the earth to heaven by the Lord at His second coming.
- Me: What happens to people who are resurrected while still alive on this earth.
C. When will it take place?
(Ludwigson) The doctrine of the rapture is almost universally held. There are however, varying views as to the time this event will take place. These views may be divided into these groups.
1. Pre-tribulation rapture: before the great tribulation.
2. Mid-tribulation rapture: during the tribulation period . . .the last half of the tribulation is held to be extremely severe and tense (the great tribulation).
3. Post-tribulation rapture: after the tribulation period.
PRE: Christ comes in two phases:
- For His saint (rapture, parousia, presence)
- Afterwards He will come with His saints (the revelation, epiphany, appearing)
- Believers are caught up secretly before the last 7-year time of tribulation begins.
- The tribulation is Gods wrath poured out on the unbelieving earth and Israel for rejecting Christ (Jer 30:6, 7 Jacobs trouble; Zec 13:8, 9)
- God always protects His people from judgment.
MID: Between the 2nd and 3rd woes
- The last trumpet (1Co 15:52; 1Th 4:16; 17) is the seventh trumpet (Rev 11:15).
- The little book (Rev 10) describes the end of the Jewish Age.
- The seals arent judgment but beginning of sorrows (Mt 24:3-12)
- The resurrection of two witnesses is symbolic of the rapture of the church (the two olive trees are the Old and New Testament saints; Rev 11:4)
- The church escapes the hour of judgment (Rev 14:7)
The second coming of Christ and the rapture are parts of the same event.
- While believers will not be subject to the outpouring of the wrath of God, being sealed in protection, they may be exposed to the persecution of the antichrist during the tribulation.
- Da 12:1, 7, 11
- Mt 24:9-22, 29
- Christs coming is not imminent but contingent upon the fulfillment of certain events
1. Gospel preached in all the world (Mt 24:14)
2. Parables of Mt 13
3. Apostasy 2Th 2:8
4. Man of sin 2Th 2:8
When will it take place? You decide, but remember:
1. We know He will allow believers to be persecuted
- Mt 5:10-12; Jas 1:2-4, 12; He 11:32-40; Lk 9:23-26; 1Co 4:9-13
2. We know He wont pour His wrath on us
- Lot/Sodom; Noah/flood; Firstborn Hebrews/Egypt; Rahab/Jericho; 144,000
D. What does the rapture tell us about God?
1. He will draw us to His side to be with Him forever (marriage supper of the Lamb; Rev 19:9)
2. He will transform our physical nature so we can endure His glory
- Moses in the cleft of the rock (Ex 33:18-23)
- Spiritual body (1Co 15:35-41, 50-57)
3) He will never let us die or suffer again - Rev 7:13-17
E. Does what I believe about the rapture make a difference? Yes, heres how:
a) Negative: I dont need to prepare myself for hard times. Im getting out of here before it happens
b) Positive: I could see Jesus at any moment!
2. Mid and Post:
a) Negative: I dont expect Jesus return anytime soon
b) Positive: I must be prepared to suffer for Jesus
1) If you are pre-trib how are you preparing yourself for the coming of the Lord?
2) If you are mid- or post-trib how are you preparing yourself for the coming of the Lord?