Skip to main content

The Rapture? Part 1

End Times Bible
Q: What biblical references support pre tribulation and which ones support post tribulation? If you care to give us your personal thoughts on the matter, that would be okay too. We have friends in both camps.

A: This is a great question. It's also a huge question. As I've been praying and thinking about how to answer, it seems that there is no short way to answer the question and still be faithful to those who hold a different view.

This is one of those questions that genuine Christians who love and serve the Lord can reasonably disagree on, in my opinion. The timing of the return of Christ is difficult to determine (unless you're Harold Camping, that is...) and there are actually several more "camps" than the question alludes to.

Within the Premillennial camp, there are those who hold to a pre- and post-tribulation Rapture of the Church, as well as those who believe in a mid-tribulation Rapture.

However, not all Christians are Premillennial. There are two distinct camps within premillennialism -- what is called "historic" and what is called "dispensational" -- in addition to those believers who are Amillennial and those who are Postmillennial.

Typically, the debate about the timing of the Rapture is confined to those who are in the Premillennial camp, while those outside of this camp (Post- and Amillennialists) seem to deny that the Rapture is going to take place.

The essential belief that all of these various camps share is that Jesus is coming back. The controversy revolves around the timing and nature of this return, in addition to the nature of His current role and rule as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Since I can't pretend to be able to give a full explanation and analysis of each position, and because I would never want to dishonor or caricature the beliefs of my brothers and sisters in Christ, I want to first strongly recommend two books to the interested reader.

First, The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views, edited by Robert G. Clouse.


Since I can't take the time to give a thorough explanation of the nuances of each position (Historic Premillennialism, Dispensational Premillennialism, Postmillennialism, and Amillennialism), I want to at least point you to a resource that does. The format of this excellent book provides an expert in each camp to lay out their case (biblical and otherwise) for their understanding of the Millennium. After each person makes their case, there is a short response by each of the other contributors to interact with and critique the view.

In this way, you can observe a dialogue between proponents of each view and see the claims and the problems with each view. I've not encountered any other book that handles this question as fairly and as openly as this one, and it is a good read for someone who is interested in understanding the different views more completely.

The second book is, Three Views on the Rapture: Pre-, Mid-, or Post-Tribulation.


This book follows the same format but brings us inside the Premillennial camp to debate the timing of the Rapture. While this book more directly relates to the question that is being asked, for the sake of completeness I simply want all who are reading this post to understand that there are those who do not believe the Rapture will happen at all and who base their position on their understanding of the biblical text and the nature of "the Millennium."

A book that I don't recommend (The Rapture Trap) provides a Roman Catholic (essentially, Amillennial) response to the belief in the Rapture, categorized by the author (a former evangelical Protestant pastor) as "end times fever."

While I don't agree with the conclusions of The Rapture Trap, I do whole-heartedly agree with the author's idea that we should not be drawing our theology from fiction. Specifically, The Rapture Trap was written to address the end times theology of The Left Behind Series.

Sadly, many people (both Christians and non-Christians) do draw their theology from fiction. Dan Brown, Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins, and William P. Young have sadly had (in many cases) more influence on the theology of the Church than the Apostles Peter, Paul and John have!

Tragic.

It's normal within circles of Christianity to get our label makers out.
Labels

I want to resist the urge to do that. Particular labels can be helpful at times. Labels of this sort tend to over communicate.

For example, in our immediate context of a question relating to the timing of the Rapture we can discuss Premillennial Dispensationalism. However, for those to whom this is not a new term, this label carries much more meaning than simply issues relating to the timing of the Rapture. And -- as with most labels -- there is a break-down within the "camp" of Premillennial Dispensationalism on a whole host of other issues which relate, not to the "End Times," but to the present times.

If we seek to fully explore every possible nuance of these various "sub-camps" we will run out of ink in our label makers before we run out of need for new labels!

In the interest of full disclosure, I received my training in a seminary that holds to a premillennial dispensationalist view. And while this view was held by most (if not all) of my professors, I am thankful that their primary focus in instructing us as students was to teach us how to handle the Word of God, not to indoctrinate us into a particular theological camp.

Instead of holding some particular allegiance to our "labels" (denominations included!), we should be committed to the Lord and His word. If the Scriptures tend to disagree with our "label" we shouldn't try and twist the Word to fit our view. We should adjust our view to come in-line with what the Word of God teaches.

This issue is so difficult because, frankly, it doesn't really matter. Although, in some circles you may find that their opinion is that this is the only thing that matters!

What we need to keep foremost in our minds is this: Christ is coming back. That's the important part. And He wants us to be busy and ready when He returns.

The Devil uses issues like this to sow dissension amongst believers. To divide us into separate camps that are more concerned about being "right" than the reality that Jesus is returning and bringing His recompense with Him.

This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you (2 Thessalonians 1:7b-10, NIV).

On the other hand, this question does matter because our loving heavenly Father has told us what to expect in advance for our edification and encouragement to do His will while we await His return. Our beliefs on the timing of the Lord's return do have implications for our present behavior. In Part 2 I will provide my understanding of what the Bible teaches in relation to the Rapture and Christ's return.

That is, of course, as long as He doesn't come back in the meantime!

(Continue reading Part 2)

Comments

Popular Posts

Prayer vs. Petition

Q: What's the difference between prayer and petition? Phil 4:6 for example.

A: An excellent word study question! When attempting to study words from the text it is necessary to analyze the word being studied in the original language (in this case Greek) as attempting to look up the words in English will often produce erroneous results.

For example, in English the word petition has within its range of meanings things that are certainly not within the scope of meanings for the Greek word (i.e. “a sheet that is signed to demonstrate agreement with some principle or desire for some social action to be taken” is part of the range of “petition” but not of the Greek deesis from which “petition” is translated).

The word most commonly translated as “prayer” in our English Bibles is proseuche, which appears 36 times in the New Testament (NT) in one form or another (for the purposes of this study, we are only examining the usage of these words as nouns – the verbal forms will not be included…

What is Salvation, Part 4

Q: What is salvation and can you lose it?

There's the saying "once saved always saved". Using the scripture that no one is able to snatch them out of the Fathers hand. (John 10:29) but it says in verse 27 My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me. So the no snatching is referring to those who hear and follow, in other words who are obedient to His Word. So, the ones that do not heed the call of the Lord and follow can be snatched?

What about sin hardening the heart? (Hebrew 3:13)

Shipwrecked faith? (1Tim 1:19)

I have heard the saying - "It's not how you start the race but how you finish it."

In Hebrew 3:14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,

If you aren't a true follower of Christ then how can you have the strength on your own to even run the race. It is because of Christ and who He transforms you to be that you would even want to run the race at all. So…

The Judgment Seat of Christ

Q: If our sins are forgiven, what are we going to stand judgment for?
A:Part of the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that "...there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). This is great news indeed! How amazing that the Holy and Righteous Judge and Creator of the world has made a way for rebellious and wicked sinners to be reconciled to Him.

Jesus the Christ, the one who became accursed by God so that all who believe in Him could be justly forgiven, and who rose from the dead and who is exalted at the right hand of God, has secured a victory over sin, death and the devil both now and forever. On the foundation of this completed work of Christ, believers can have assurance that they will be able to stand on the Day of Judgment. This is why it is good and right to sing the praises of Him who has overcome!

Because of what Jesus has done, the Bible teaches very clearly that our salvation is not on the basis of deeds, but on the basis of…

The Sign of Jonah

Q: Jesus Himself states, "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

According to John 19:31, it seems as though Jesus died on the "day of preparation" which was immediately followed by the sabbath, and then followed by the first day of the week. This leads us to when Mark 16:2 happened, the ladies went to the tomb "very early on the first day of the week". It was at this time that the empty tomb was discovered.

My question is, according to history and maybe even Greek text, is there any explanation as to why Jesus said that He would be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights when as I am reading the accounts, I am not coming up with three days and three nights?


Thank you, as always!


A: This question has been raised by many people. Numerous answers have been suggested. The reasons for asking this question are good ones. The r…

Who the Heck is Melchizedek?

Question – I've read about Melchizedek a number of times but am confused about who he is entirely. Can you let me know about him, I feel like I'm "missing" something?

Answer - Join the club!

I think this is a question that has been asked almost as long as the scriptures have been in print and distributed for people to read and study. Melchizedek is one of the most mysterious characters to appear in the Old Testament narrative.

The Book of Genesis is categorized as a history book. Rightly so. It contains thousands of years of history. From the literal beginning of history to the death of the man whose name was changed to Israel.
Among other things, it is a book of lineages and genealogies tracing mankind from the first created man (Adam) to the patriarch of the nation that God chose to be His representatives on earth.

So, it is a little surprising that in the middle of this narrative, in the story of the life of Abraham, that a person greater than Abraham (shown in Ab…