Eschatology – 4

The Church Will Be Raptured

This week we are looking at Scripture that supports the belief in the rapture of the Church, the body of Christ. There are three positions on when the rapture will take place. Some believe that the rapture will occur at the end of the Great Tribulation and is known as  Post-Tribulation. A less popular belief is the rapture will occur in the middle of the Great Tribulation and they are Mid-Tribulation. The most popular belief is that the Church will be raptured prior to the Great Tribulation and that is called Pre-Tribulation. As I am a Pre-Tribulation for the purpose of this study this is the view that will be mostly discussed.

The term rapture is nowhere found in the Scriptures but is a theory based upon the Scripture. The word Rapture comes from the Latin verb “Rapere” and means to be “carried off” or “to catch up.” Those who believe in the Rapture Theory say that at the time of the rapture the body of Christ, His Church, will be taken from the earth by God and join Him in Heaven. At that time the Great Tribulation will begin and last for the last week in Daniels prophecy, seven years. After the Great Tribulation Christ will return and set up His earthly Kingdom and reign for a thousand years.

The rapture is when the believers of Christ will be caught up to meet Christ in the air and taken to Heaven. “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17) The present generation at this time will be alive in their mortal bodies and in a twinkling of an eye will be in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in their immoral body. That will be a moment that no other generation of believes will ever experience!

There is several clues in the Scripture that points to the rapture taking place before the Great Tribulation. This means that the body of Christ, the Church, will not go through the judgments prophesied in Revelation 4-18. The Pre-Tribulation position is most consistent with a literal interpretation of Bible prophecy.

Some of these clues are in Revelation 3:10, “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” This was written to the Church of Philadelphia. The Church will be keep from “the hour of testing” which is specific and not just any testing. He must have meant the future Testing of the Great Tribulation described in Revelation 6-19. The wording of the text is that the Church will be kept from the “hour of testing” and not just the testing itself. This is the established saints of Christ and not those who become believers during the Great Tribulation. Those new converts will suffer the tribulation.

In the following passages of the Old Testament on the Great Tribulation it is noted that the Church is not mentioned. (Deuteronomy 4:29-30; Jeremiah 30:4-11; Daniel 8: 24-27; 12:1-2) Neither in the New Testament are passages on the Great Tribulation to be found to mention of the Church. (Matthew 13:30, 39-42, 48-50; 24:15-31; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; 5:4-9; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-11; Revelation 4-18) The absence of the Church in these Scriptures seems to indicate that the Church is not on earth during the Great Tribulation.

The Holy Spirit dwells the believers in Jesus Christ (John 14:6) and if the Church is removed before the Great Tribulation this would explain the massive apostasy that the world will face after the removal of the “the restrainer.” “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-7) Without the restrainer, the Holy Spirit, apostasy will erupt among the people.

Neither is the Church appointed to the wrath of God during the Great Tribulation. “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” (Romans 5:9) Jesus Himself will rescue His Church from the wrath that is to come in the Great Tribulation. “And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thessalonians 1:10) Surely then the Pre-Tribulation point of view is the most accepted from a biblical perspective.

The rapture itself is described as a mystery in the Scripture. A Biblical mystery is a truth that cannot be discerned by human investigation. A Biblical mystery requires a special revelation from God to understand. The mystery generally refers to the people of the Old Testament times that was a truth that was unknown at that time. In the New Testament times this mystery was revealed through the ministries of Jesus and the Apostles. “Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:25-27) The rapture of the Church was a mystery in the Old Testament times but now has been revealed in the New Testament times. “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-54)

The Church has a marriage relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. This is one reason that the desecration of marriage is so evil and surely will be judged by God. The institution of marriage was decreed by God in the book of Genesis. “The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:22-24) Scripture portrays Jesus as the bridegroom. (John 3:29) the Church is the bride of Christ. (Revelation 19:7) The model of marriage is rooted in Hebrew weddings and is conducted in three phases. First the marriage was consummated by the parents of the bride and groom. Then the groom was to go and prepare a place for the bride in his father’s house. Then the bridegroom would come to claim his bride. Then would come the marriage feast which could last for several days. All of these phases are seen in the relationship of Christ with His bride the Church.

Those living in the present Church age who come to know Jesus as their personal savior become a part of the bride of Christ, the Church. Meanwhile Jesus is at the Father’s right hand preparing a place for them. “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 14:3)

The Bridegroom, Jesus, comes to claim His bride at the rapture and take His bride, the Church, to heaven. “And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” (Matthew 24:31)

The marriage supper of the lamb will occur following the second coming of Jesus and before the millennial reign. “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” (Revelation 19:7-9)

Today the Church is being sanctified, set apart, and in waiting for the return of the Bridegroom to come and claim her. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, July 13,2017

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