The Rapture, by Dr. Andy Woods

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Rapture (Part 6)

Andy WoodsBy Dr. Andy Woods Sugar Land Bible Church
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My previous articles commenced a series on the rapture of the church. We began with the question, “What is the Rapture?” This question can best be answered by noting ten truths about the rapture from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. In previous articles from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, we saw that the rapture is an important doctrine and not something that can be marginalized or explained away as a secondary doctrine. We also noted that the rapture is an event that is distinct from the Second Advent of Christ. We further observed that the rapture will involve the catching up of every believer to meet the Lord in the air, and that the rapture will involve a reunion between living and deceased Church-Age believers. We then began to examine several more points from 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. In the last article, we noted that the rapture will be a resurrection. We now move on to our sixth point.

Rapture

An Exemption from Death

Sixth, the rapture will exempt an entire generation of Christians from death. First Corinthians 15:51 says, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed.” Verses 54-56 say, “But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY. O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” Thus, Paul explains, that the rapture will involve the removal of an entire generation before the expiration of their natural life spans and the experience of death.

As our human bodies, tainted by original sin, are decaying and dying, it remains heartening to note that there will be a generation of Christians that will not have to face the prospect of death. Death, even for the believer, is never an easy process. Perhaps we are that generation of Christians that will not experience physical death.

Some reject the notion of a future rapture since the concept of a supernatural removal prior to death is foreign to the Scriptures. However, despite the fact that an event of this magnitude may seem like science fiction to some, it remains a biblical fact that many raptures have already taken place. Both Enoch (Gen. 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kgs. 2:11) were snatched up into heaven by God before the expiration of their natural life spans. Thus, neither man experienced physical death. Christ was similarly raptured through His Ascension (Acts 1:11; Rev. 12:5). However, His rapture was somewhat different since He was taken to heaven in His resurrected body. Although they were eventually brought back to the earth, other examples of individual raptures include Philip (Acts 8:39) and Paul (2 Cor. 12:2, 4). The latter was caught up into the third heaven to receive divine revelation.

As noted in an earlier article, the Greek word translated “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is harpazo, which means to be seized or caught up by force. According to a leading lexicon, this Greek verb has the meaning of “to grab or seize suddenly so as to remove or gain control, snatch/take away.” [1] Interestingly, this same verb is also used to describe the catching away of Christ (Rev. 12:5), Philip (Acts 8:39), and Paul (2 Cor. 12:2, 4). Like Philip and Paul, who were eventually returned to the earth, John was similarly caught up to heaven (Rev. 4:1-2) in order to be divinely given much of the Apocalypse (Rev. 4–22). In the future Tribulation period, the two witnesses will also be raptured (Rev. 11:12).

These numerous biblical examples reveal that the concept of the rapture is not foreign to the Bible. Many individual raptures have already taken place. Thus, it should come as no great surprise to learn of a future rapture for the church. Such an event is in harmony with how God has worked in the past. The only difference with these other events and Paul’s prediction of a rapture is that the future rapture will entail the removal of an entire generation rather than merely the translation of an individual. What Paul unfolds in 1 Corinthians 15:51, 54-56 is that the future rapture of the church will exempt an entire class of people, as opposed to merely a specific individual, from the prospect of death. Our hope and prayer is that we are that very generation spoken of by Paul.

In sum, not only is the rapture an important doctrine, an event that is distinct from the Second Advent of Christ, an event that will involve the catching up of every believer to meet the Lord in the air, a reunion of living and deceased Church-Age believers, and a resurrection, but the rapture will also exempt an entire generation of Church-Age believers from death.

(To Be Continued…)

Endnotes


[1] Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.) (134). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.



Categories: Bible Prophecy

15 replies

  1. [Recently ran across the following item on the net. Any reactions?]

    PRETRIB RAPTURE SECRETS

    How can the “rapture” be “imminent”? Acts 3:21 says that Jesus “must” stay in heaven (He’s now there with the Father) “until the times of restitution of all things” which includes, says Scofield, “the restoration of the theocracy under David’s Son” which obviously can’t begin before or during Antichrist’s reign. (“The Rapture Question,” by the long time No. 1 pretrib authority John Walvoord, didn’t dare to even list, in its scripture index, the too-hot-to-handle Acts 3:21!) Since Jesus can’t even leave heaven before the tribulation ends (Acts 2:34,35 echo this), the rapture therefore can’t take place before the end of the trib! (The same Acts verses were also too hot for John Darby – the so-called “father of dispensationalism” – to list in the scripture index in his “Letters”!)
    Paul explains the “times and the seasons” (I Thess. 5:1) of the catching up (I Thess. 4:17) as the “day of the Lord” (5:2) which FOLLOWS the posttrib sun/moon darkening (Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20) WHEN “sudden destruction” (5:3) of the wicked occurs! The “rest” for “all them that believe” is tied to such destruction in II Thess. 1:6-10! (If the wicked are destroyed before or during the trib, who’d be left alive to serve the Antichrist?) Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the posttrib end of “death” (15:54). (Will death be ended before or during the trib? Of course not! And vs. 54 is also tied to Isa. 25:8 which is Israel’s posttrib resurrection!)
    Many are unaware that before 1830 all Christians had always viewed I Thess. 4’s “catching up” as an integral part of the final second coming to earth. In 1830 this “rapture” was stretched forward and turned into a separate coming of Christ. To further strengthen their novel view, which the mass of evangelical scholars rejected throughout the 1800s, pretrib teachers in the early 1900s began to stretch forward the “day of the Lord” (what Darby and Scofield never dared to do) and hook it up with their already-stretched-forward “rapture.” Many leading evangelical scholars still weren’t convinced of pretrib, so pretrib teachers then began teaching that the “falling away” of II Thess. 2:3 is really a pretrib rapture (the same as saying that the “rapture” in 2:3 must happen before the “rapture” ["gathering"] in 2:1 can happen – the height of desperation!).
    Other Google articles on the 182-year-old pretrib rapture view include “Pretrib Rapture Politics,” “Pretrib Rapture Scholar Wannabes,” “Famous Rapture Watchers,” “Pretrib Rapture Diehards,” “X-Raying Margaret,” “Edward Irving is Unnerving,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Walvoord Melts Ice,” “Wily Jeffrey,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism,” “Scholars Weigh My Research,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal,” “Thieves’ Marketing,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy,” “Deceiving and Being Deceived,” “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” and “Christ’s return is NOT imminent!” – all by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” (see Armageddon Books). Patriots should also Google “The Background Obama Can’t Cover Up.”

    • I don’t know, Jim, I didn’t write this article. I just posted it. However, before you make a decision, there is a very interesting, Biblical book by John Shorey that is out called, “The Window of the Lord’s Return.” I’ve read many of the ones you’ve mentioned here, and i must say, John Shorey’s book makes the most sense and goes hand in hand with the Bible more than pre trib, post trib, etc. I feel if we’re going to make important decisions, we must study to show ourselves approved. You can order his book at http://www.tribulationtruth.com I’ve been reading it and I was blown away. I would love it if you read this book (which probably wouldn’t take you long…it’s a page turner and it’s not that long) and then write to me here your opinions on the book. I’ve heard some pretty convincing post trib preachings, and to be honest, compared to the one I’m seeing in this book, it holds no water. You’d have to read this book to understand what I’m saying before you refute it. And, finally, I think we’re all about to find out for sure…my fear is that pre trib people are going to be disappointed, and believing they’re all going to be saved from suffering (Chrsitians have suffered and been martyred for hundreds of years..they suffer every day…that’s a silly notion to think we’ll be exempt from all tribulation things)..anyway, many Christians, beleiving they will be rescued from all things, will not be prepared with food and water. Many will begin to starve to death, and watch their loved ones starve. Eventually, they will doubt their own faith because this rapture they believed would happen in the beginning of the tribulation did not happen. As a result, many of them will undoubtedly take the mark out of desperation, and turn away from the faith. I was raised pre-trib..but it, just as post tribulation, holds no water. Remember, “at the last trumpet…” and then silence in heaven for a half hour… remember, after the last of the seven trumpets is when the saints are taken. There’s way more than that though..just read the book and then come back and tell me your thoughts..please. Thanks. God bless you.

  2. Lyn I learned about the pretrib rapture in high school by reading various books on bible prophecy. Although, after much study I have come to realize that neither Yeshua, Paul nor John taught the pretrib doctrine. In Matt 24:9 Yeshua said that His followers would be killed (martyred), as you might expect in 24:10 He talks about many people \”will fall away\” from the faith; this is known as the \”great apostasy\”. Then if 24:15 Yeshua explains about the \”abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet\”. In 24:29 He talks about His coming on the clouds and with the sound of a great trumpet the angels will gather the elect (i.e. resurrected and living believers on earth) which is known as the rapture. Matt 24:29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 31 And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Matt24:29-31 NASB Yeshua taught that the rapture was after the apostasy and after the abomination of desolation. This is also what Paul wrote to Thessalonian believers in Yehsua: 2 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 2 Thess 2:1-4 NASB So here Paul explained the same things that Yeshua did; namely that before believers are gathered together with our Lord in the clouds (i.e. the rapture) that two things must happened before the rapture; the apostasy and the abomination of desolation (the antichrist takes his seat in the Temple and declares himself to be God).

    • I understand what you are saying, and thank you for your comment. However, personally, I definitely don’t believe in post tribulation…I am mostly pre tribulation…however, the arguments of mid and pre both make sense. Do I think Christians are going to be exempt from all suffering? No. God’s Word speaks clearly on Christians suffering. I believe we are all silly to believe that we will not suffer, but that we will escape all of God’s judgment on the world. Look at how much the Israelites suffered? The apostles all died horrible deaths. Clearly, the Bible gives us examples of Jews and Christians suffering. It is unbiblical to believe we will not suffer, and we are only setting ourselves up for some terrible times during some of the tribulation judgments. So many Christians aren’t going to be ready for this time because they believe they are escaping everything. They will not have food stores in their homes, nor will they take any other measures necessary and thus will greatly suffer. I look at the past few years of being without electricity, in one case for weeks, and in another, recently, during 100+ temps for three days. I look at all of the mass destructions in the last ten years or more, tsunami’s….and more….did Christians suffer? Most definitely. I think we all have faith in what we believe to do with the tribulation; regardless, I don’t think anyone can honestly one hundred percent, except out of denial of the worst, say they know for sure what will happen. Scholars and Bible Prophecy geniuses have been wrong before. Such as, everyone had the one leg of the statue from Daniel as Rome for so many years, but now they’ve discovered it’s not Rome, it’s the Middle East, or Islam. People used to think 666 would literally be stamped across the head, now they know, not so. People have discovered the truth about the ten kingdoms… clearly, no one knows exactly for sure anything. John the Revelator saw so far into the future, things he had a hard time describing because in his time, those things did not yet exist. How do we describe things that we’ve never seen? If we saw an airplane or a semi thousands of years ago, we would literally freak out and describe it as a monster. The most important thing, I think, for us to do at this time is to obey God, walk in the truth, live in Christ, pray continuously, and serve Him one hundred percent. We should always be prepared for calamity and destruction regardless of what we believe. As we’ve learned over the past years, things can get ugly and things can happen, Christian or not. To be unprepared is to be foolish. God bless you.

  3. We are one day closer!
    Maybe today . . .

  4. Very interesting post, Lyn. I agree with this. I know that there are “Christians” who don’t believe in the rapture, and some only believe that it will happen after the tribulation, but I fail to see where that is a sound teaching in the Bible. Thank you for sharing this and all the work you do for our Lord and Savior.

    • You’re welcome. I know for sure we won’t go through the great trib (the last 3.5 years) But I must be honest, I’ve always believed pretrib..but here lately, I could go pre trib or mid. Both sides of the argument on that one make sense. And I think many of us, if that be the case, will be unprepared.

      • Lyn, have a look at 1 Thess 5:9 and check out the word ‘wrath’ in the Greek. Compare it with words used for the day of tribulation elsewhere.

        • Explain it to me sister…. I don’t have all of that handy right now… and I don’t want to forget… I’m open..tell me. Please?

          • Well Lyn, I read it that God has not appointed us to the day of tribulation and is just one of the many indications that the Church will NOT go through the tribulation – any of it. I won’t be over-dogmatic on the issue, but to me pre-trib is the only way that fits in with ALL the Scriptures on the subject. However, I don’t think it is something that needs to be debated or that should divide, so I usually stay out of such areas. Any way, we are one day closer and I am ready!

          • Shoot..say whatever you want here. You can say what you believe..and to be honest, that’s mostly what I believe too. It’s just been here lately over the past couple months that I’ve ‘wondered’ because there’s some ministers saying this, and what they say makes sense. So does pre-trib. I’ve been born and raised pre-trib. And I pray to God it’s true! I hope these ministers who are now leaning toward mid are completely wrong, to be honest. Speaking your mind isn’t arguing at all. The only thing that is arguing is when someone is being really pushy and you tell them you don’t share the same belief, and you politely bow out, but they come after you with a vengeance and hammer it down your throat and follow you around basically calling you a heathen because you don’t believe some ‘unbiblical’ stuff that they do. I have one around here who does this to me. Anyhow, I’m not like that. I love for people to express their thoughts on Bible prophecy and stuff. This is God’s website…I just help Him run it. Furthermore, I asked ;-) Again, I do for the most part believe as you, as I said, it’s just been a worried thought, esp since I found out the RFID chip is mandatory in March of next year. I thought the Lord was coming for us before this becomes mandatory… but there’s still more time between now and March, and though the bill has been passed, God could say, “not yet…” and that could change. Regardless, I’m a pre trib, but mid trib ‘curious’. LOL God bless you. And, by the way, whenever you come, if you have a question or a different opinion, share it..I want you to. If I disagree, I’ll share my opinion. No hard feelings. My parents have different opinions on things, and I still love them, and they love me. No matter what, we’re family…and family sticks together sis! If anything does ever come up, we can always agree to disagree and give a kiss on the cheek! God bless!

          • Well, when you climb into the chariot of fire before you twinkle quickly away…have the driver swing by my place and pick me up so we can chit chat on the ride home! LOL That would be something! Wouldn’t it?

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  1. BROKEN RESURRECTION « CHRISTIAN NOTIONS
  2. Rapture-Pre-Tribulation, Mid-tribulation or Post-Tribulation?

"If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14 God's call to the world! Are you ready?

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