Thursday, June 12, 2014

The rapture!

This is one of the biblical passages that teach us the great doctrine of the rapture:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Let's encourage one another with these words! How do we do that? I'm sure you have your ideas, but one way is simply to speak of this beautiful doctrine frequently. We must not be uninformed.

S. Lewis Johnson, who taught a pretribulation rapture, said of the text,

"Then last time in our study we took a look at the calendar of future events. I hope we found it. I know it is exciting and thrilling, moving from the coming apostasy in the church — a measure that is already with us — through the advent of the Lord Jesus to the eternal state. We who are believers surely have a great hope – I’m not at all sure that we speak of it too much – in fact probably under the influence of criticism we do not speak of our heavenly hope enough."

The rapture is getting such a terrible knock these days, and in some, it actually sparks anger! Johnson made that statement in 1976 that due to criticism sometimes we are too gun-shy to speak of it, and look at the growing apostasy now in 2014 and the anger and fervent hatred the doctrine brings up, even among "brethren". An example of it happened to me just yesterday.

This man named Justin W. White, who in his bio says he "loves theology", tweeted a response to my tweet regarding the Southern Baptist Convention's resolution to affirm that God-ordained gender is God's will and it's sin to change it (RE: transgenderism). I'd not mentioned rapture AT ALL, but in his response, he brought it up and used profanity too.
  • #SBC14 opposes "Heaven Is For Real" because it is non-scriptural, but they buy into a literal rapture? Yeah. about that.
  • I replied, "Because heaven tourism isn't biblical, but rapture is. (no the English word 'rapture' isn't in the bible, but the concept is)"
  • He answered: "the rapture is not a historical/orthodox doctrine of the church. It is modern bs made to scare people into moralism."
I seriously wonder how someone could be a Christian and NOT be comforted by the promises that Jesus is coming soon to gather His church to Himself!

How beautiful are the doctrines of His second return. Though the rapture isn't the Second Coming per se, it is a doctrine of last things which precedes His second and final return to earth to judge the living and the dead. He will call us up to Himself and we will always be with the Lord. How encouraging to look forward to!

John 14:1-3 says,

"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; a believe also in me. 2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?b 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also."

Just reading those words are so very comforting. Knowing that the Lord is preparing a place for us, that He is returning for us, that He will resurrect our loved ones alive and dead, and bring up the ancient saints who died even during the apostolic age, that we will be given our glorified (sinless!!) bodies, that we will be with Him...there are so many encouraging things to look forward to!

S. Lewis Johnson, who taught a pretribulation rapture, said,

Lake Como: Garden, Villa Arconati, 1905
"The doctrine of the rapture of the church is an important doctrine for us. I say doctrine that suggests for us faithfulness in service. It should be a motive and incentive to give ourselves to devotion to the Lord Jesus. It should also have tremendous motivation in evangelistic activity. I refer to our own personal testimony. It also should be a comforting doctrine."

There is an old story about a man who visited the Villa Ara Connate in Italy. He saw the gardener. The grounds were kept in beautiful shape, speaking to the gardener he said, “When does the owner of this villa come here?”

He said, “Well, I’ve been working here for 20 years, and he’s only been here four times.”

“When was the last time that he was here?”

“12 years ago.”

“Who takes charge? To whom do you report?”

He said, “I report to a steward in Milan.”

“Why, you keep these gardens as if you were expecting the owner tomorrow.”

And the gardener replied, “Today, sir. Today.”

"That really is the kind of attitude provoked by the doctrine of the rapture of the church as the next significant prophetic event. I think that on balance the Scriptures teach that the Lord Jesus to come again for the church imminently, and that we have reason from Scripture to look for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and savior Jesus Christ."

So this great prophetic message has tremendous moral value. We should never think of the doctrines of the word of God with reference to the future as simply doctrines that tickle our curiosity. They are doctrines that are designed to affect our spiritual life. They are designed to make us more moral, more spiritual, more Christian in all of our activity. ~S. Lewis Johnson
"...to be with the Lord." Now, THAT is heaven. Do not let satan steal your hope. Do not let criticism suppress your encouragement of the brethren. Do not let liberal seminaries forget to teach this important doctrine. Do not be shushed in church.

"knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires." (2 Peter 3:3)As one of the commenters said, "Their very scoffing shall confirm the truth of the prediction."




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Further Reading:

J. Vernon McGee: The Rapture is Next

John MacArthur: The Rapture (14-min video explaining the rapture & why it is pre-trib)



7 comments :

  1. Hi Elizabeth,

    We as Christians have so much hope: the rapture of course, but even physical death will bring us to be with our wonderful Savior! Thanks for the good words, Laura

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  2. It's such a joy and a blessing to be able to share with others concerning this incredible blessed hope we have to look forward to. Thank you.

    You know, I have to confess that it's reaching the point where I don't even want to bring up the subject of the Rapture with somebody unless I know they're pre-trib. I don't know if that's good or bad, but that's about how I feel anymore.

    I honestly believe Satan is enlisting the aid of a growing, militantly anti-pre-trib cadre of Rapture-haters (not to point fingers, but most seem to be post-trib) who lie in wait to rip pre-tribbers to shreds--at least those who may not have the scriptural chops to effectively defend their beliefs. I'm sure that some are born again and just deceived; but I know some are not, and they take perverse delight in viciously destroying the faith and hope of any pre-tribber they manage to sink their fangs into. Don't be one of them.

    I have learned the hard way that 1 Thessalonians 4:18 does NOT say "Therefore coldcock each other with these words."

    And since we're on the subject of the Rapture, start spreading the word: We all need to be armed with some loving, scripturally sound, Spirit-led answers later this fall after this movie "Left Behind" starring Nicholas Cage comes out (assuming we're still, you know, *here*). No matter what this movie is like, I can guarantee you that God will send a few people your way who are hungry and searching. Be ready.

    And let's not forget--it's not really about the Rapture.

    It's about Redemption.

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  3. OUCH, it always hurts when someone stomps on us like that (esp. as they claim to be Christian); REJOICE Elizabeth that you have been counted worthy to suffer for His Name's sake!!

    The dude is a tiny bit correct (not about it being "modern day bs" ~ for even the OLD Testament speaks of the rapture!! (REF: Isaiah 26)

    But about the moralism part -- it's not that it SCARES us into moralism.... it's just that by having this hope in us we purify ourselves even as He is pure!! [1 John 3:3] I even like the NLT translation on this one,
    which says:
    And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as He is pure
    **Amen!!**

    Have you guys noticed though that when we are told to "comfort each other with these words" ~ that only a SELECT FEW **CAN** be comforted with the words of our Blessed Hope?? All others, as Elizabeth mentions, want to fight about it!!

    Very early in the days of Rapture Ready site (though I knew Todd personally, I left the site many years ago as the teaching there took a turn for being too liberal ~ and teaching live your life any way you please, you're saved no matter what.... a.k.a. OSAS or unconditional security).... at any rate, many years ago Husband and I wore our "Rapture Ready" tee-shirts while visiting his (rc) mother -- she in no uncertain terms told us we looked like "EVIL FREAKS" for wearing such a thing!
    ha!!

    OH YEAH..... I'm used to the verbal abuse, too!!

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  4. You are correct, even amongst genuine believers, pretrib rapture is a much despised doctrine these days, for a variety of reasons. Either that, or believers who are pretrib can unfortunately fall into the bad habit of date setting/framing and/or engage in headline hermeneutics (trying to fit everything they read into the paper into Scripture). Neither of which you do, of course, Elizabeth. :)

    But properly taught and believed, the rapture is both our blessed hope and impetus to holy living.

    "There's a day coming soon, whether morning, night, or noon, when my Jesus will come to take His bride away. He will change us at sight, He will clothe us in white, oh what a day, glorious day that will be..." - Oh What A Day, from the album From Calvary To Glory

    -Carolyn

    -Carolyn

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    1. I second Greg's comment, that he tends to only speaks of the rapture when he knows the believer is pre trib. Same here, because those who oppose can be very "testy"... post tribbers, yes, amills also. I try to keep the spirit of 2 Tim 2:24-26, in how I deal with combative believers, but mostly I try to avoid theological discussions on topics where people love to battle. Pugnacity isn't a fruit of the Spirit.

      -Carolyn

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  5. I agree that there are some testy people. I would like to get some opinions of "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty" and "Pretrib Rapture Stealth" which I found on Google - and I would like to hear from only non-testy folks! Lord bless. Flora

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    1. Hi Flora...That's a terrific (and important) topic. I think you'll find me pretty much non-testy, at least I hope so. The only time I've been "testy" on this blog is a wee bit of snarking with Elizabeth about unconditional election, for which I have sincerely repented...not of my belief, which is solid--just for the snarking. =:)

      (I love you, Elizabeth!)

      Anyway, these terms--pre-trib Rapture "dishonesty" and "stealth"--are just a couple of terms for something that has really been gaining traction in the last few years.

      As you know, Satan flips everything God does on its head and turns it backwards. This is nothing new. One of the primary points that most of these people seem to key on has to do with 2 Thessalonians 2:3, which says:

      "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition."

      Satan has influenced many people, especially these pre-trib Rapture haters, to take this verse and flip it on its head, and claim that the great "falling away" is what will occur after the Tribulation begins and all of us silly pre-trib wimps (who will still be here) suddenly realize we've been duped by smiling, smooth-talking pre-trib "false prophets" and are caught woefully unprepared for the coming hard times, and as a result will fall away in droves to embrace the Antichrist and his system.

      Of course, *they* will be holed up warm and dry in their bunkers, cleaning their guns and making their own beef jerky, and standing tall like the spiritual Rambos they fancy themselves to be.

      Ooh...did you feel that? Did you notice the fleeting flash of appeal to the flesh that might have whisked by you when you read that? That's what they are all about.

      The flesh.

      That's why their appeal is so successful--they appeal to the flesh. I mean, wow, standing tall against the forces of evil? Protecting your family? That would appeal to any man I know.

      In the flesh.

      All I can do at this point is quote Elizabeth: "The Bible can't be interpreted to say any thing other than pre-trib."

      Indeed it can not.

      Many of these people are preppers, or have that same prepper mentality: "I can by God take of myself and my family." I know for a fact that some of these post-trib gurus are making money selling survival gear and equipment and profit from talking up the post-trib Rapture. But that's beside the point.

      And it's beside the point because the post-trib Rapture is unscriptural.

      My opinion? First and foremost, Matthew 24 has nothing whatsoever to so with the Rapture (or the Church, for that matter). If you're interested, take a look at an article I wrote recently about that same subject:

      http://www.alittlestrength.com/articles/028-glasses.htm

      (I'm not trying to promote anything--it's just my little personal site and nobody besides me reads it anyway, trust me.)

      Take away Matthew 24:29-31, and the post-tribbers don't have a leg to stand on. They're done.

      Excuse me for rambling...it's late here in Taiwan.

      Peace in Christ

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