By: Tonya Parrott
The first part is a portion of a sermon by a preacher by the name of Scott Coltrain. I will add my thoughts at the end of his message.
The Rapture Theory claims, in short, that the Lord will come secretly to rescue faithful Christians from the “Great Tribulation” on the Earth. That so many believe and promote this Rapture Theory, one might think that it has always been the doctrine held by the Church since its founding. However, this is false.
John Nelson Darby first proposed and popularized the Rapture in 1827. Popular books also contributed to acceptance of the Rapture, including William Eugene Blackstone’s book Jesus is Coming, published in 1878, which sold more than 1.3 million copies, and the Scofield Reference Bible, first published in 1909 with periodic up-dated editions.
During the 1970s, belief in the Rapture became popular in wider circles, in part due to the books of Hal Lindsey, including The Late Great Planet Earth, which has reportedly sold between 15 million and 35 million copies, and the movie A Thief in the Night. In 1995, the doctrine of the Rapture was further popularized by Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind series of books, selling tens of millions of copies and many made into several popular movies. Thus, the Rapture was not taught and believed during the Church’s first 17 centuries.
On the contrary, the Rapture doctrine is a relatively modern doctrine. Let’s examine the Biblical passages that purportedly support the Rapture:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, “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. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
Teachers and believers of the Rapture Theory claim that this passage speaks of a secret resurrection of Christians (those who had died and those who are alive) apart from the resurrection and punishment of the wicked. But are these points really taught here? Let’s take a look:
A. How can this resurrection or ‘Rapture’ be said to be ‘secret’ when it is preceded and announced “with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God”? The fact is, when Christ returns, no one will miss the spectacle.
B. How can it be said that this event will be accomplished apart from the resurrection and punishment of the wicked when the next chapter talks about this whole event being the “Day of the Lord” which also brings doom to the wicked unbelievers?
The message of the Apostle Paul on the resurrection does not conclude in 4:18. Rather, Paul’s message continues through Chapter 5:1-6, “Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.”
From this passage, we learn:
(1) That the resurrection of the righteous is part of the “Day of the Lord” in which sinners will be destroyed.
(2) We don’t know when the “Day of the Lord” will come, but He will come “just like a thief in the night.” Thus, the resurrection of the righteous will happen the same “Day” as the destruction of the wicked; therefore, this passage does not teach there is a time period between the resurrection of Christians and the destruction of the wicked….it occurs on the same Day.
Not only will this all happen on a single “Day”, but Jesus stated that this will all happen in “an hour” (John 5:28-29). Both the resurrection of the righteous and sinners will come during the same “Day” and “hour”. So, we cannot use Paul’s instruction in 1 Thessalonians 4 & 5 to support a secret Rapture.
**It’s me again. 🙂
Another Scripture that is used to support a secret Rapture is:
Matthew 24:40-41 Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.”
However, these verses are in reference to Judgement Day, as is this whole section of Scripture:
Matthew 24:36-41 But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. 42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.
Matthew 24 begins the prophecy of the Destruction of the Temple that took place in 70 AD. Then, the latter part of that chapter gets into details of Christ’s Second coming leading all the way up to the Day of the Lord when believers on earth are separated from non-believers at that Day and Hour. Not to mention the Rapture doctrine puts Christ coming three times instead of two.
Then, Matthew 25 describes what Christ’s Second coming will be like in a parable of the Ten Virgins:
Matthew 25 The Parable of the Ten Virgins
25 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Matthew 25:31-46 The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
There really is no coming secret Rapture. There is only one more coming of Christ, and He’s coming to separate the sheep from the goats! Don’t be one of the goats!!