The Bible is clear, we should look for the soon return of Jesus Christ, never the Antichrist. The Rapture of the church is a fundamental doctrine which has come under attack in recent years. Carl begins a three-part series today, addressing the ‘rapture’ or ‘blessed hope,’ in its proper scriptural context. The rapture is not a ‘false doctrine’ conjured up by John Nelson Darby, a Scottish parson of the 19th century, as some claim. Those who deny the rapture of the church, err on the side of scriptural ignorance. Although the term rapture is not mentioned in the King James Bible, it goes by many other names in scripture. Join Carl now, for this insightful broadcast regarding your soon departure from this earth…
Here is a complete transcript of the podcast (below)…
Friend, our topic today is the rapture of the church. Now, we believe in the imminent return of Jesus Christ, who is coming to receive His beloved bride in the air, prior to the tribulation period, which is to come upon the earth. Friend, eight times in the NT we’re admonished to look for the ‘soon return of Jesus Christ.’ However, at no time is the church instructed to look for the Antichrist. We are looking for Jesus’ friend, not the Antichrist, because we the church will never see the Antichrist. We will in fact be long gone before he arrives upon the scene, so I hope you’re not too disappointed. Isaiah chapter 24 describes the great and terrible Day of the Lord, which the church was never meant to see and 1st Thessalonians 1:9-10, describes how we the church will be delivered from God’s wrath to come, which is this great and terrible time of tribulation.
Now, I’m speaking to a very wide audience here on the radio, so I’m not sure how much end time study you’ve done down the years but I must say that recently, this whole concept of God rescuing the church before the tribulation period has come under a lot of attack lately. I will say right up front that the viewpoint of the church going through the tribulation is not the majority view amongst evangelicals or even Pentecostals. Lately there has been a push toward the belief that if we don’t endure God’s wrath which is the tribulation, that we are somehow cowardly or not willing to endure persecution. But this accusation is both unfair and unscriptural. But before I get ahead of myself, the English word ‘rapture’ comes from the Latin word rapere, which means ‘caught up’. Jerome of course translated the Bible from Greek into Latin and the source of the English term rapture comes from a Latin source equivalent to the Greek term for being ‘caught up’. Some scholars also believe the Latin word for ‘snatched’ is “raptus” and is more likely the source for our term, rapture. Now the term, ‘caught up’ refers to the famous passage from 1 Thessalonians 4:17, “ 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.”
Now the Greek word for ‘caught up ‘ here is harpazo. This is the precise description of what will occur. The church will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and received unto Him before God’s wrath is released on this earth. It’s important to remember that at the Rapture, Christ comes for His saints; but in contrast, at His Second Coming, at the close of the tribulation period, Jesus comes with His saints. At the Rapture, He comes in the air; but at His Second Coming, He comes to earth to rule in power and glory. Friend, without doubt, the rapture and second Coming are two separate and distinct events, not to be confused with each other. Now obviously the term rapture cannot be found in the King James Bible because it stems from the Latin term for ‘caught up’ as I mentioned previously. But there are several other terms that are used within Orthodox Christianity that cannot be found in the Bible either. For example, the word Trinity, or Second Coming, demon, or Millennial Reign are found not in the bible, although they’re in popular usage today. So don’t get hung up on the fact that the word rapture is not found in the bible friend. It’s a key doctrine of Scripture and has been described as our catching away, or gathering together or in-gathering in the New Testament. So there are indeed many ways to describe this future event. In fact there are fourteen ways it’s described in the NT. It’s called ‘the appearing’ in Hebrews, ‘the blessed hope’ in Titus, ‘the catching away’ in 1 Thessalonians, ‘the changing’ in 1 Corinthians, ‘the gathering’ in 2 Thessalonians, ‘the manifestations of the Sons of God’ in Romans and ‘the mercy’ in the book of Jude. It’s called ‘the receiving’ in 1st John, ‘the Redemption of our bodies’ in the book of Romans, ‘the rescue’ or ‘deliverance’ in the first chapter of Thessalonians, ‘the escape’ in the book of Daniel, ‘the revelation of Jesus Christ’ in the book of 1st Peter and finally ‘the transformation’ in the book of Philippians. Friend, take my word for it, this imminent event we’ve coined ‘the rapture’ in the modern vernacular, is replete within the NT. Therefore, you should have no concern whether or not this is some whimsical doctrine that’s sprung up in the past few years but it has in fact been around since the Early Church Fathers.
Now some people think the pre-tribulation view of the rapture was invented by a man called John Nelson Darby in the 1800’s. Well, it’s true this man from Great Britain revived the pre tribulational view of the rapture of the church, but it was not his invention. In fact, if we look at the writings of the early church fathers like the Shepherd of Hermes, Victorinus, Cyprian and Ephraim the Syrian, these men were all preachers of the pre-tribulation rapture and this doctrine is nothing new. You see friend, there are several mysteries concealed within God’s word which were ready to be revealed within the NT. For example, in Ephesians 3:10-21, the Church’s birth is described as being hidden. In fact throughout the OT the existence of the church birthed at Pentecost is hard to find although there are types and shadows alluding to it. The fact that the Gentiles would become a part of Abraham’s blessing was also hidden and described in Galatians 3:13-14. And finally our topic today the Rapture of the church or catching away of believers was also a hidden mystery but later revealed within the NT.
In 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 the rapture is called a ‘mystery’ for the first time. The 2nd coming was certainly revealed in the OT several times but the rapture rarely was. That’s why this rapture is called ‘a mystery’. Let me read this passage to you now, and Paul is speaking, 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
When Paul uses the term, sleep in this passage friend, he means death, not sleep as we know it. Instead of dying there are some of us who will be changed from a corruptible to incorruptible physical body of flesh and bone, when we are caught up to meet the Lord in the air in this rapture event. However, because Israel was disobedient they will not see it. This rapture is the marker which ends the church age and then God completes His unfinished business with Israel. The very purpose of the rapture is to remove God’s beloved church or the bride of Christ, ready to meet the bridegroom in the air, so that we may escape the tribulation period that is to come upon Israel because of their rejection of Christ as Savior and the remainder of the earth’s inhabitants. Seven times in the book of Revelation, it describes God’s wrath being poured out in various ways, with vivid descriptive language like that of a winepress or, vials, or the cup of the wine of His fierceness etc.
Now many people today fail to acknowledge that the rapture is indeed the “Blessed Hope” spoken of in Titus 2:13. This ‘blessed hope’ is the assurance that we may escape the wrath of God as I’ve mentioned. But throughout history of course, the Church has suffered millions of martyr’s at the hands of wicked men who’ve persecuted it. Friend, although this may not be evident so much in the USA thus far, the wrath of Satan has definitely been poured out on the church for the past 2000 years resulting in the death of millions upon millions of Christians, and the tribulation period has not even started yet! Friend, the tribulation period is very clearly documented as the ‘wrath of God’ and we haven’t been appointed to God’s wrath, in scripture, only unbelievers are appointed to God’s wrath. In Nahum 1:2, it says the wrath of God is appointed only for His enemies. In Ephesians 5:6, it says the wrath of God is come upon the children of disobedience. In 1 Thessalonians 1:10, it says that Jesus has delivered us the Church, from ‘the wrath which is to come,’ talking about this tribulation period that’s fast approaching. In Luke 21:36, Jesus warned His disciples they should ‘watch and pray,’ that they might be counted worthy to escape the tribulation period and stand before the Son of man. In Romans 1:18, it says ‘the wrath of God is revealed against the ungodly,’ not the church and finally in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, it states that ‘God has not appointed the righteous to His wrath.’ No friend, ‘the wrath of God,’ which is the tribulation period, is clearly for the unrighteous, the ungodly and the sinner but not us, the church.
People who embrace the notion that it’s somehow godly to endure God’s wrath and venture into the tribulation period as a badge of honor, either do not comprehend the love of the father properly or fully ascertain the severity of God’ judgments that will fall upon the earth in unrelenting cataclysmic. I think it’s fair to say, that these Christians who desire to go through the tribulation have no real comprehension for just how awful or terrible, it’s going to be and have no scriptural justification as to why Christ’s precious bride should have to endure the wrath of God the father when, it’s already garbed in the robe of righteousness and made spotless by the blood of Jesus. Don’t forget the words of Christ himself when speaking to the Church at Philadelphia in Revelation 3:10, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” Friend, this makes it very clear the Church will be absent for this terrible hour of temptation. The bottom line is friend, the Jews are instructed to flee God’s wrath in Luke 3:7, but we the church are going to escape it all together. So, if there is a rapture; did Jesus speak of it himself? Yes friend, I’m glad you asked, and I’m reading from John’s Gospel, chapter fourteen, verse one “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.”
Friend, Jesus said, He would gather us together unto himself and this is the mystery spoken of in 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 by the Apostle Paul, that I read to you moments earlier. So what is the timing of the rapture exactly? Or when will it occur? Some scholars believe the Book of Galatians is the first Epistle Paul wrote in 48 AD but others contend his first letter to the Thessalonians was his first Epistle. This is significant because in every chapter of 1 Thess the rapture is mentioned and I will get into this in more detail in our future broadcasts. But regarding the timing of the rapture, our focus should be Romans chapters 9 thru 11. These chapters describe the church age coming to fruition because of Israel’s rejection of Christ as Savior. Because of this rejection, Israel is spiritually blind for a season until blindness is removed from their eyes, as to the identity of the true Messiah. Once we the church are raptured Israel will no longer be blind and that is the marker by which God’s focus shall shift from the Church to Israel once more within the tribulation period, better known as the time of Jacob’s trouble.
Israel will then be purged by the coming tribulation. Israel was the elect of God, but no longer. Both Jew and Gentile are in Christ, not Gentile only. Romans 11:25 says this, “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” This process will continue until the set number of believers that God has ordained to be in the Body of Christ, then and only then will the Body be complete and the rapture finally occurs. When the fullness of the Gentiles is reached, then Christ will come that very second.
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