The Rapture

As I mentioned in the first article, there are two main controversies that Christians debate about when it come to the end times. The first, discussed in the second article, is about the millennium and Christ’s return. The second point of debate is the so-called “rapture” of the church.

Believers (like me!) who believe in the future rapture believe that when the day arrives, Jesus will gather his church from the earth, and that millions of believers will be taken instantly, leaving only unbelievers behind.

The main passages of the New Testament that touch on this include 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18, 1 Corinthians 15: 23, 50-58; Philippians 3: 20-21. The passage in 1 Thessalonians talks of us being “snatched away”, using the Greek word HARPADZO, which was translated into Latin using the word RAPTURO, from which we get the English word Rapture. Thus, when you hear a critic insist that “the rapture is not in the Bible,” this is because the word ‘rapture’ is an English word, and the New Testament was written in Greek. But when you translate the Greek word ἁρπάζω (HARPADZO) into English (via Latin), you find ‘rapture.’

I also believe that 2 Thessalonians 2 talks about the Rapture in verse 3. Paul talks about the Day of the Lord not coming until the APOSTASIA occurs. Translators render this as an “apostasy”, but I prefer the original meaning of the word–“departure”–and I believe Paul is referring to the departure of the church before the Day of the Lord.

Thus, Suzanne and I believe in the so-called “pre-Tribulation Rapture”–the idea that the Church is raptured (like Sera’s mother) before the onset of the Tribulation. We note that the church is not mentioned from Revelation 4 through 22 until the very last verses in the book, seemingly indicating that the church is not a player in the Tribulation.

This is admittedly a controversial topic. Many beloved Christian brothers and sisters take different stances. Some believe there is no rapture at all. Others believe in a mid-Tribulation, pre-Wrath, or post-Tribulation rapture. They each have scriptures they use to support their positions.

As a Bible teacher, I think the balance of evidence supports the pre-Trib position, but I also believe that scripture is somewhat vague on this. And I believe that God intends rapture doctrine to remain somewhat mysterious on the subject, so that after it happens, there will be much confusion on it. Suzanne reflected this chaos in the books, and you will see many theories as to what the “white light” really was. At any rate, although we are confident in our position, we love our brothers and sisters who feel differently, and we’re humble enough to admit that we might be wrong.

By the way, I promised in the first article to define the term “dispensational premillennialism.” You already know what the second word means. The first word–’dispensational’–refers to the belief that God operates in human history according to seven periods of time (or ‘dispensations’):  (1) from Creation to the introduction of sin—the dispensation of Innocence; (2) from the first sin to the Flood—the dispensation of Conscience; (3) from the Flood to the calling out of Abram—the dispensation of Government; (4) from the calling of Abram to the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ—the dispensation of Promise (or Israel); (5) from the ascension to the Rapture—the dispensation of Grace (or the Church); (6) the Tribulation (which is actually the completion of the interrupted Dispensation of Israel); and (7) the Millennium (or Age of Christ)–Jesus’ 1000-year Kingdom on the earth. Thus—if a believer states that he or she believes in “dispensational” eschatology, that means a belief that includes the Rapture, because the Rapture divides the Dispensation of the Church from the Dispensation of Israel (Tribulation).

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