By: Tonya Parrott
Hebrews 9:27-28 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Both of the verses above are speaking of physical death, as verse 27 compares the death of all men to the physical death of Christ on the cross. Notice this verse completely refutes the Rapture Theory, as this theory would do away with the physical death appointed unto men.
Paul seems to imply an apparent contradiction in the following verses:
I Thessalonians 4:15-18 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. 16 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: 17 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. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
However, we have to remember here that the New Covenant had just been implemented approximately 50 years prior to the writing of I Thessalonians. Those who died in Christ under the Old Covenant are referred to here as the ‘dead in Christ’. They died before receiving sanctification, as the Old Covenant was justification by faith alone. Under the New Covenant, we are not only justified by our faith upon our confession of Christ, but are also sanctified by the Holy Spirit upon baptism in the name of Jesus. So, what the new converts were actually concerned about here was the sanctification of their relatives who had died under the Old Covenant.
The reason the dead in Christ shall rise first is to receive the fulfillment of their sanctification through baptism of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the ‘we which are alive and remain’ refers to those under the New Covenant whom are alive in Christ via sanctification of the Holy Spirit. This is evidenced by Paul’s inclusion of himself among this group. Obviously, Paul’s flesh died long ago. So, this passage cannot be in reference to those whom have not tasted physical death as further supported by Hebrews 9:27 (above).
Therefore, the expressed concern of the New Covenant coverts was in relation to the act of sanctification of their family members whom had died under the Old Covenant. This passage does not support a Rapture Theory, as has been taught by the false doctrine of the Rapture for many years. However, it is a striking comparison of those under the Old Covenant and those under the New Covenant. It leaves no room for the sanctification process of any other, lest they died under the ‘terms and conditions’ of the Old Covenant and expresses the importance of sanctification by baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is only received by water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 19) for those wanting to be included in the New Covenant.