By the late Elder Larry T. Taylor
The “Rapture of the Church” is a phrase so often repeated by so -called “Fundamentalists” that it is almost universally accepted as an unquestioned fact. It is used in reference to the doctrine of a pre-tribulation resurrection of the sainted dead and a simultaneous translation of the living saints when they are together “caught up” to some intermediate place between heaven and earth. The doctrine assumes that this will allow all the save to escape a future, specified time on earth when the terrible judgements and woes of Revelation prophesy are to be fulfilled. The rapture is taught to be the coming of the Lord at the end of time, and the judgements and woes are referred to as “The Great Tribulation.” It is not only taught that the rapture is pre-tribulation, but also pre-millennial, or prior to a 1000 year period of Christ’s personal presence on earth as king.
Although many may attempt to scripturally prove the millennial reign of Christ on earth, the “Rapture of the Church” doctrine is no where to be found the Bible! (Note: The word “church” in this phrase is taken to mean all the saved; hence, the universal church theory.) The rapture doctrine, for the most part, originated just prior to the 20th century. Little is found in history concerning such a theory before that time.
The doctrine of “The Rapture of the Church” cannot be substantiated without using many assumptions in lieu of scriptural facts. Many of these unscriptural assumptions are the product of men like Scofield, Ironside, Rice, Feinberg and others. Although the assumptions are many, I will here deal with three of the main ones.
ASSUMPTION: The rapture will be secret. – It is clear in the Bible that on one knows the day not the hour when the Lord will come again and that it will be a glorious day for the redeemed. The assumption made by those who advocate the rapture doctrine is that after it occurs, it will still be “secret” to the unbelievers left of earth! I believe that it is John R. Rice that says that the headlines in the newspapers the next day will announce a great manhunt, and report many open graves with bodies missing, and will tell of babies disappearing from the arms of their mothers, and many other strange occurrences. This, of course, sounds more like “cunningly devised fables” (or assumptions) than anything found in the Bible.
ASSUMPTION: The rapture will be invisible. – By teaching a secret rapture, the assumption that is must be invisible must follow in order to give the “secret” theory any credibility. In Acts 1:11 the Apostles who saw Jesus ascend in the clouds were told by the Angels that his second coming would be “in like manner” as they saw Him go into heaven. “Behold he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him..Rev. 1:17
ASSUMPTION: The rapture will be silent. – I Thes. 4:13-18 is used by the theorists in an attempt to prove the “Rapture of the Church.” This scripture is indeed speaking of the resurrection of the sainted dead and the changing of the living saints when both will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air. Notice, however, verse 16, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God……” The verse then tells us that the dead rise “first” before we are changed to be caught up in the air.
To prove a “silent” rapture, many refer to I Thes. 5:2 that states, “The Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” But, according to Peter, this means his coming will be when unexpected, not silent! “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise…… II Peter 3:10. Please read Matthew 24:30-31 and note the “sound of a trumpet” as the Angels gather the elect from the four winds, etc.
Matthew 24:36-41 is probably the favorite scripture of those advocating the rapture theory. Note in these verses that the Antediluvians were eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away. The Lord compares this with the end of time when two will be in the field or grinding at the mill, when one shall be taken and the other left. The destruction (flood) took away the wicked in the days of Noah, the destruction (fire) will take away the wicked when the Lord returns! Proof text: “So shall it be at the end of the world: the Angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just. Matt. 13:49.
The word “rapture” is not found in the Bible. By definition it means ecstasy. In this sense we will enjoy a rapture when Jesus comes to take us home where we shall ever be with him. This bliss, however awaits all the redeemed, not just the church, and is neither Pre-Tribulation nor Pre-Millennial. Oh! How our souls long for His return when we join those “which came out of great tribulation and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” Then we will be with Jesus forever and forever. Amen and Amen.