The rapture refers to the end of the age of grace, the end of the church age, when Jesus will come and gather all the believers off the earth unto Him and take them to heaven. Now there are several important details about this even. One is that the dead in Christ will rise first. Two is that the believers will meet the Lord in the air. Three is that the Bible says in the twinkling of an eye or in other words its an event that will haven very quickly.
I think itís important to notice the distinction between the rapture and the second coming of Christ because at the rapture we meet the Lord in the air. So technically you could say that is not a return of Jesus to the earth because we meet Him in the air not on the earth. So please donít confuse the rapture with the return of Christ which happens 7 years later at the end of the great tribulation.
Now when talking about the rapture the main thing I hear talked about is when is the rapture? When is it going to happen? No date is given in the Bible for it. So those who set a date are giving false information. But even though specific date is given in the bible for the rapture we can make a determination about the raptureís place in eschatology or that is to say end time evens. There are different views on this. There is the pre tribulation view, the mid tribulation view, and the post tribulation view. And of course the view that there isnít a rapture. I hold to a pre tribulation view. I think that is the Biblical view and I am going to show why in the Bible.
But before I do that I want to say something about the important of the rapture in a practical sense of daily living. You see properly understanding eschatology is important. A Christianís view on end time events is going to greatly affect how they respond to current events going on in the world. One of the primary reasonís God gave us the Book of Revelation and revealed to us end time events is that we could have peace about the future and what is going to happen without being fearful about what goes on in the world around us today. God wants us to have faith in Him not fear. God wants us to have confidence that things are going to work out according to His glory and His purposes. And properly understanding eschatology will help a Christian do just that. And that peace and confidence and faith in God is something that effects the power of a Christianís testimony to the lost people in the world around us.
So any viewpoint on eschatology that does not lend a Christian to peace of mind and faith in God and confidence about the future, This in itself is a sign thereís something wrong. The Bible and the promises of God bring peace of mind to a believer. If what you are believing does not do that then either you do not really believe what you believe or there is something amiss with your perspective and understanding of the scriptures.
The term rapture comes from a Latin word to snatch away or to seize.† When we say rapture in English in a non Biblical sense, the word means to experience bliss and extreme joy and pleasure. And I think that idea as well can be associated with the rapture. Because the joy of bliss of not having to face death and of finally being with Jesus and of instantly changing into His likeness and receiving a glorified body and of leaving this world of sin and woe that is rapture that is joy that is bliss that is pleasure. So the word rapture is a good word to describe this event because it implies both the gathering unto Christ and the† joy that will be a part of that great event.
people make the argument that the view of a pre tribulation rapture is
something that is new and has only been around since the 1800ís or so. But
thatís not true. However there is a historical document that dates between the
4th and 7th century A.D. It is called The
apocalypse of Pseudo-Ephraem. Itís just a fancy word for a sermon which was
writtena preached by someone named Ephrem the Syrian who was a pastor in the
From a logical perspective it just makes sense that there would be a rapture at the end of the church age or the age of grace because the age of grace started with grace when Jesus came to the earth died on the cross and rose from the grace, God has been shedding His grace more and more on the earth as the age of grace has progressed. We see that in how the available of the bible has spread over the centuries, we see it in the benefits of technology that God has given us, and so it makes sense that the age of grace would also end very gracefully for Christians and what is more graceful than to not have to face death the greatest consequence of sin. Thatís grace. The rapture also makes sense because at the beginning of the age of grace when Jesus rose from the grave the saints came out of the grave and some days later Jesus ascended into heaven. At the end of the church age we are going to sense be taking part in that same resurrection by ourselves ascending into heaven after the saints come out of the graves. So really the rapture is part of the resurrection of Jesus, a resurrection of which we have a part. Romans 6:5 says, ďRom 6:5† For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:Ē
Now before I get into the verses which in my mind clearly show a pre-tribulation rapture lets first establish that there is actually a rapture.
Acts 1:1-12 says, ďAct
1:1† The former treatise have I made, O
Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, Act 1:2† Until the day in which he was taken up, after
that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he
had chosen: Act 1:3† To whom also he
shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of
them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
Act 1:4† And, being assembled together
with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem,
but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard
of me. Act 1:5† For
John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost
not many days hence. Act 1:6†
When they therefore were come together, they asked of him,
saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to
††††††† 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 says, ď1Co 15:3† For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 1Co 15:4† And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 1Co 15:5† And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 1Co 15:6† After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 1Co 15:7† After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 1Co 15:8† And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.Ē
††††††† In these two passages of acts and first Corinthians we are told that
after Jesus rose from the grave the apostles saw him and over 500 brethren saw
Him. So Jesus appeared to a lot of people after His resurrection. Now we donít
know how many of them were there at the moment of His ascension it doesnít say.
But the angels said after He ascended, ďYe men of
††††††† This seems to be implying the rapture not the second coming. In the second coming Jesus is said to come riding a white horse carrying a sharp two edge sword and having a new name, the Word of God. This verse says Jesus is going to come again in the same manner as His ascension. So it makes sense that its talking about the rapture and not the second coming. Otherwise if they were talking about the same event the second coming and there was no rapture there would be a great contradiction in the details of the two descriptions because one says in the same manner but in Revelation it says with a sword and on a horse and Jesus didnít ascend after the resurrection with a sword and on a white horse. The Bible doesnítí contradict itself so the only logical explanation is there not the same event. Itís the rapture being talked about in these passages.
Luke 17:26-37 Jesus said, ďLuk † And as it was in the
days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. Luk † They did eat, they
drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe
entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Luk † Likewise also as it
was in the days of
††††††† When Jesus rose from the grave there were hundreds of believers that saw him. Now itís interesting to note in the Bible that it only mentions believers not non believers seeing Jesus after the resurrection during that 40 days and at His ascension into heaven. So it makes sense to think that the same is going to be true at the rapture. Thatís what these verses seem to be implying. There will two people in a field and suddenly one of them is gone. This teaching is consistent with the verses on the rapture which imply in the twinkling of an eye. The rapture has many similarities to the ascension of Christ we know this because the angel said about the rapture that Jesus would come in same manner as He ascended. We see in both instances saints mentioned as coming out of the grave and we see clearly in this passage an indication that only believers will notice Jesus at the rapture just as Jesus only showed himself to believes during the 40 days after His resurrection and at His ascension. That would be same manner Just as the angels said.
††††††† John 21:20-24 says, ďJoh † Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Joh † Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Joh † Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. Joh 21:23† Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Joh † This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.Ē
In these verses Jesus was clearly implying that He might return in the lifetime of the apostles. Thatís what Jesus meant when he said, ďif I will that he tarry till I comeĒ in other words it could be Godís will that john the apostle live long enough enough, tarry on the earth long enough that he would still be alive at the rapture.
Now you might ask the question well how do these verses imply a rapture? Well there is no reason to think in the context that they imply the second return of Christ because they donít mention the important eventís surrounding His second coming. When Jesus spoke on His second coming in the gospels He mentioned events of the tribulation. Jesus didnít do that in these verses. And that is consistent with the viewpoint of a pretribulation rapture because there would be no necessary events that must come to pass before Christ raptures the Church.
You might ask why spend so much time establishing that there is a rapture and why not just talk about the verses supporting the pretribulation rapture? Heres why. To show that the verses talking about the pretribulaton rapture are talking about the rapture and not something else. Now that we have established there is a rapture we can be more certain the next verses we talk about are not going to be taken out of context.
††††††† Now Lets look at the verses that support the pretribulation rapture. First I want to look at John 21:20-24 again.
John 21:20-24 says, ďJoh † Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Joh † Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Joh † Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. Joh 21:23† Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Joh † This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.Ē
††††††† Remember in these verses Jesus was saying its possible that he might return in the apostles lifetime. Thatís what Jesus meant when He said, ďIf I will that he tarry till I come.Ē Tarry where? Tarry on earth.
††††††† This teaching is consitant with the very last chapter of the Bible which in 3 of the final verses Jesus says, ďBehold I come quickly.Ē Quickly means soon, suddenly, and without delay. In other words the rapture could happen at any moment. It was true for John in His day 2000 years ago and so it must be true today. That means a mid-trip and post-trip rapture make no sense because there are events that would have to come to pass first for that to happen. And Jesus implied that He could come at any moment. He didnít say first there must be a temple or anything like that. In fact there would have to be a temple build for a mid trip and post trib rapture because we see a temple mentioned in Revelation as being in existent during the tribulation period at least at the point of the mid tribulation when the abomination of desolation takes place in the temple on the altar.
††††††† 2 Timoth 2:8 says, ď2Ti_4:8† Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.Ē
††††††† In this verse it talks about looking forward to and anticipating Jesus appearing. Jesus wants us to be prepared for the rapture. It seems there are rewards for those who will be prepared and for those who look forward to His appearing. One reason for this probably is that this event should motivate us to make sure we are properly living for the Lord. If Jesus was to return today would you change anything in your life? Or would you do everything exactly the way your doing it now?
††††††† And so if there were other certain events that had to take place before the rapture the temptation would be to focus on those other events and anticipate them instead of focus on Jesus appearing. And we do see this mistake in the world. We see a certain emphasis and focus and fascination by Christians on who is the antichrist? We shouldnít be concerned about who the antichrist is we should be concerned about who Jesus is and be prepared for His appearing. If the rapture can happen at any moment, a pretribulation rapture, then it makes sense to anticipate and look for Jesus appearing.
††††††† 1 Thessalonians 5:9 says, ď1 Thess 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.Ē
††††††† What is the purpose of the 7 year tribulation also called the great and terrible day of the Lord. One of the purposes is judgment on the nations. Christians are not appointed unto wrath. Why would God put the church through His judgment upon the nations? We are not appointed unto wrath. We are appointed unto grace. So a pre-tribulation rapture makes sense.
††††††† You could argue as well, what about those who are saved after the rapture? Well they missed out. They should have repented sooner. They probably had opportunities too but didnít. There are always benefits to turning to the Lord sooner than later. But as a whole the church is not appointed to wrath. The World is appointed to wrath though. A Christian that is saved after the rapture is not being punished by missing the rapture rather it is simply a consequence of not getting saved sooner when they could have.
††††††† 2 Thessalonians 2:7-9 says, ď2Th 2:7† For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 2Th 2:8† And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 2Th 2:9† Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.Ē
††††††† These verses talk about the AntiChrist rising to power. We know that the AntiChrist will rule for 7 years. But what is it that happens that enables him to gain power so easily and so quickly? These verses tell us. Itís the rapture, the removal of the Christians from the earth. The key phrase are the last part of verse 7 and the first part of verse 8 which say, He who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that wicked be reveled. So the question becomes who is he that letteth. If someone has the power to let they also have the power to let not.
††††††† What is interesting is that very similar terminology is used of Jesus in the book of Revelation where it says in Revelation 3:7, ďRev_3:7† And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.Ē
††††††† To open and no man shutteth and shut and no man open is the same as saying to let and to not let. Itís talking about God. In other words God is ultimately the one who is in control. God decides what will and what wont happen in this world.
††††††† One of the primary ways that God operates is through His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit restrains evil. The Holy Spirit reproves the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment. All believers have the Holy Spirit inside them.
††††††† Just think about all the thousands or
millions of believers on this earth scattered throught all the nations. They
have a testimony and influence on those† in the world around them. Some of them
even work in government in high levels and in military and other important
branches such as
††††††† He that letteth will let until he be taken out of the way then shall that Wicked be revealed.
††††††† Now one of the main verses in the Bible which is used to support the idea of a rapture is First Thessalonians 4:16. It says, ď1 Thes 4:16 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.Ē
††††††† Not ice in these verses that it says about the believers that they meet the Lord in the air. The return of Christ involves Him actually coming to this earth. In These verses thereís no implication of touch down you could say or the eagle has landed. Jesus comes in the air and we meet him in the air. So the rapture is not a return to the earth it is simply Jesus gathering His believers up to heaven.
††††††† Now lets look at a passage In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 which says, ď1Th 5:1† But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 1Th 5:2† For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 1Th 5:3† For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 1Th 5:4† But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 1Th 5:5† Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 1Th 5:6† Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 1Th 5:7† For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 1Th 5:8† But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 1Th 5:9† For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 1Th † Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.1Th † Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.Ē
††††††† These verses are very interesting for several reasons. First is the phrase, the day of the Lord cometh as† a thief in the night. Now the day of the Lord is term very commonly used in the Old Testament. Itís talking about the 7 year great Tribulation. It seems like a contradictory statement because a thief comes in the night because when a person is asleep then they can break in sneak into a personís home and take what they want and sneak away without getting noticed. Thatís the concept something that happens that people are not prepared for and do not notice.
††††††† Now the tribulation is going to get noticed. The world war, the suffering and death and destruction, the forming of† a one world government that takes away everyoneís freedom and demands that the world worship the antichrist that will get noticed. So what is it that doesnít get noticed by the world? Itís the rapture. The rapture is the even that is like a thief in the night. Only the believer will see Jesus in the air. Just like Jesus said there will be two men in a field and suddenly one of them will be gone. After the rapture it will get noticed but not while it happens. Just like a thief in the night. After a thief comes in the night the sleeping people in the home wake up and notice their belongings have been stolen.
††††††† Remember there are some key differences between the rapture and the second coming of Christ. In Acts chapter 1 the angels told the believers Jesus would return in like manner as His ascension. His ascension was a peaceful event and only noticed by the believers. The return of Christ will be Jesus coming in Wrath and all the world is going to notice Him coming. There will be great sins in the heaven and He will come with on a white horse with a sharp two edged sword and a vesture dipped in blood. So when we looked at different passages in the Bible its very obvious there are two different events being spoken of.
††††††† Now in these verses in 1 Thessalonians it says 1Th † Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.Ē
††††††† If believers have to face the tribulation and its horrors and persecutions how are these words comforting. The comfort is in knowing that we are not appointed unto wrath, thatís the comfort. Thatís why we can look at the future and the current events that go on in the world around us and not fear who is in power or what wars or going on or when there is a solar eclipse. These are all just normal things that happen in the world. We donít have to worry about the rise of the anti-Christ or about all the horrible judgments that could come upon us because itís not going to happen. The age of grace started with grace and the age of grace is going to end with grace. And there is great comfort in knowing that.
Now lets look at some verses in Revelation. Revelation 3:10-11 says, ď† 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. Rev 3:11† Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.Ē
What is the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth? Itís the seven year tribulation. Now several times in Revelation it mentions both the AntiChrist ruling for one hour and the judgment on the world lasting for one hour. One reason itís called the hour of temptation is because the world is going to be tempted, tempted to turn away from Jesus and most will. That word temptation actually means to provoke or it means to experience adversity. The pressures of a totalitarian government that force all men to ware a mark to buy and sell, the beheading of anyone who confesses to believe in Jesus, is a great adversity a great temptation for people to reject Jesus as Savior. So itís the hour of temptation.
The key phrase in these verses though is where it says, I also will
keep thee from. Now in these first couple chapters of Revelation we have what
are called the letters to the
Now lets look at Revelation 4:1 which says, ďRev 4:1† After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.Ē
††††††† This verse says Come up hither. Now in the context it is directly speaking to John to come up to heaven and behold the visions about the future. But itís interesting to notice that the Book of Revelation is written on Chronological order. There are a few passages and verse that give an over view of human history such as Revelation chapter 12 But other than a few passages and verses which do that we see a chronological order of events. So what is noticed is that in the first 3 chapters the church is mentioned. After Revelation 4:1 we get into the 7 year tribulation and the church is not mentioned.So happened. It seems the concept of Come hither would apply to the church and the pre-tribulation rapture.
††††††† Lets look at 3 more verse in Revelation in the last chapter, chapter 22. Revelation 22:7 says, ďRev 22:7† Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.Ē Revelation says, ď† And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.Ē Revelation says, ďRev_22:20† He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.Ē
††††††† In these three verses we have the phrase where Jesus says I come quickly. The word quickly means shortly or without delay. In other words its implying something that could happen at any moment. The Return of Christ isnít that way. The Return of Christ is going to happen after certain events happen, all the events described in the 7 year tribulation. So what is the event that could happen at any moment? The Rapture. If the rapture was a mid-tribulation or post-tribulation situation then there are things that would have to happen first before the rapture such as the Anti-Christ coming to power, a temple being built and so forth. Such a situation conflicts with the teaching and emphasis in the Bible on an any moment return of Christ.
††††††† There are other passages in Both the Old Testament and New Testament that deal with the rapture. But Iím not going to look at every passage because this sermon will be too long. I think we looked at enough of them to prove that there is a pre-tribulation rapture.
What I have notice about people who donít believe in a pre-tribulation rapture but believe in a mid-tribulation or post-tribulation rapture is that their focus seems to be more on the tribulation and its evens and more on the antichrist and fear of him coming to power than a focus on Jesus Christ Himself and Jesus return. I think its fair for me to say they overly focus on it because in talking to such people about it I listen to what they say and thatís what they talk about. Now the Bible puts its focus on Jesus and Jesus return. So teaching the wrong view on the rapture I think tends to lead someone away from being focused on Jesus to instead being focused on the anti-Christ and on world event. Such is indicator that there is something amiss in that teaching.
In conclusion I just want to say this, the doctrine and teaching on the rapture is an important issue. It effectís A Christianís viewpoint on the future and what God has planned not just for the world but for Christians as well. One of the purposes of prophecy about end time events is so that a Chrisitanís can know what is going to happen and have comfort and confidence in what God has planned rather than being fearful or uncertain. Understanding the truth and believing the truth properly builds up a personís faith in Christ and gives that Christian comfort and strength. If what you believe is not doing that then perhaps what you believe isnít true.† Remember the focus is supposed to be on Jesus and looking forward to His return.
Now if you do not know Jesus as your Savior then please repent of your sins today. Jesus will save you. He will cleanse you from your sins and give you eternal life. And then you can have great comfort and confidence in knowing what your destiny is in regards to the future both in this life and in the next.
Copyright; 2017 by Charles
F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved