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The Rapture of the Church

The Rapture of the Church

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Published by babaorum
"Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope ... For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the
dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (1 Thess 4:13,16-17).

Some Christians believe that the text reproduced above teaches that the Church of Christ will not go through the final outburst of evil (led by the Antichrist) that is to happen just before the coming of the Lord in judgment (2 Thess 2:1-12). They tell us that believers will be snatched up about seven years before Christ comes visibly to the unbelieving world. The Second coming, they further teach, will occur in two stages; a first stage (sometimes called a "secret" one) to rescue His saints, i.e. the Church, and a public second stage when He will come with His saints (those previously raptured) this time to judge the world. Is this teaching Biblically sound?
"Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope ... For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the
dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (1 Thess 4:13,16-17).

Some Christians believe that the text reproduced above teaches that the Church of Christ will not go through the final outburst of evil (led by the Antichrist) that is to happen just before the coming of the Lord in judgment (2 Thess 2:1-12). They tell us that believers will be snatched up about seven years before Christ comes visibly to the unbelieving world. The Second coming, they further teach, will occur in two stages; a first stage (sometimes called a "secret" one) to rescue His saints, i.e. the Church, and a public second stage when He will come with His saints (those previously raptured) this time to judge the world. Is this teaching Biblically sound?

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Published by: babaorum on Apr 07, 2009
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The Rapture of the Church
Prof. Fernando D. Saraví, DiplTh, MD, PhD
Iglesia de los Libres (Iglesia Cristiana Evangélica )Perú 1472, Las Heras 5539 Mendoza, Argentina
 
e-mail fsaravi@fmed2.uncu.edu.ar
"
 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or grieve like therest of men, who have no hope ... For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with aloud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and thedead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught upwith them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord  forever 
." (1 Thess 4:13,16-17).Some Christians believe that the text reproduced above teaches that the Church of Christ willnot go through the final outburst of evil, led by the Antichrist, that is to happen just before thecoming of the Lord in judgment (2 Thess 2:1-12). They tell us that believers will be snatched upabout seven years before Christ comes visibly to the unbelieving world. The Second coming, theyfurther teach, will occur in
two stages
: A first stage (sometimes called a "secret" one) to rescueHis saints, i.e. the Church, and a public second stage when He will come with His saints -thosepreviously raptured-, this time to judge the world. Is this teaching Biblically sound?1.
The Rapture will be no secret
 
Christians
 
at
 
Thessalonica
 
were eagerly waiting for the Second Coming, but they feared thatbelievers already dead at the time of this event would not have a share in the future glory. Paulcarefully explained them that deceased Christians would not only have a share, but that theyindeed would go before those believers still alive at that time to meet the Lord in the air, an eventthat would be announced by "
One word of command, one shout from the archangel, one blast fromthe trumpet of God and the Lord himself will come down from heaven
! (Phillips’ translation). Theauthoritative divine
command
(Greek 
keleusma)
, is transmitted by the
shout
of a powerful angel,and echoed by God’s
trumpet
. This seems to be a
very noisy event
!Of course, trumpets were used to usher public events (see Lev 25:9; Num 10:8; Jer 4:5; Matt 6:2)and later they came to be used as a symbol of the announcement of judgment and of the end of theAge (see Isa 27:13; Zeph 1:14-18; Rev 8:2,6-13; 11:15). Indeed, trumpet calls were used to makesure that
everybody
would pay attention! Our Lord Jesus himself taught that the trumpet wouldannounce the Lord’s Day: "
 And he
[Christ]
will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and theywill gather his elect from the four winds
..." (Matt 24:31). Paul taught the same when he wrote"...
we will all be changed ... at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed 
." (1 Cor 15:51-52).From the above it is crystal clear first, that the rapture will be a noisy, public event, and second,that it will happen in a
one and only Second coming
, since it occurs at the
last trumpet
. It should
Page 1 of 4The Rapture of the Church4/7/2009http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/eschatology/rapturechurch.html
 
be obvious that there cannot be any trumpet after the last one! (see also Rev 11:15-19).2.
A single Second Coming
 The belief in a split Second Coming seeks support in Dan 9:24-27. However, this text announcesan
already past
490-years period (Seventy "weeks" of years). In the last 7 years –the last "week"-Messiah would come, according to the Scriptures (see Luke 24: 25-27, 44), bringing eternalrighteousness and making an atonement for sin. Messiah would confirm the new covenant with thetrue Israel (see Romans 9: 6f, 27-29) and His death would put an end to the Levitical system of sacrifices (see Hebrews, Ch. 9-10). Those who rejected this covenant would be punished (see John3:18). All these things came to pass,
as they were foretold
, in the first century of the Christian era.It has been rightly said that "Scripture teaches clearly that this [Second] Advent will be personal,visible, sudden and unexpected, glorious and triumphant":
Personal
, 1 Thess 4:16, "
The Lord himself 
";
visible
, Acts 1:11, "
This same Jesus ... will come back in the same way you have seenhim go into heaven
" ;
 
sudden and unexpected
, 1 Thess 5:1-3, "
the day of the Lord will come likea thief in the night 
" (see also Matt 24:42-44; 2 Pet 3:10);
glorious and triumphant
, 2 Thess 1:7-10, "
when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels ... on theday he comes to be glorified in his holy people
..." (see also Hebr 9:28; Rev 1:7).The Holy Scriptures witness a
single Second Coming
and a
single physical resurrection
for theblessing of the righteous and the punishment of the wicked. This bodily resurrection is depicted inRev 20:11-15, "
 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books wereopened ... The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done
."
 
It should be noted thatthe "first resurrection" mentioned in Rev 20:4-6 is the
present
blessed life of those that have diedwitnessing about Christ. To the world they are just losers, but in fact they have truly conqueredand reign with God and Christ for a period that is very long (a thousand years) when comparedwith the time of their suffering. Although
all
believers have been reborn and qualify as royalpriests (Matt 8:22; Luke 15:24; John 5:24-25; 11:25; Rom 6:13; Eph 2:1,5; Col 2:13; 1 Pet 2:9,24),martyrs already enjoy God’s full peace while their brethren must still suffer for "
a little while
".About the judgment to take place at the Second Coming and its consequences, our beloved Lordsaid: "
then they
[the wicked]
will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternallife
." (Matt 25:46) ; "
 Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his
[Christ’s]
voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live,and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned 
." (John 5:28f). And Paul asserted: "
For wemust all appear before the judgment seat of Christ...
" (2 Cor 5:10); "
and I have the same hope inGod as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked 
." (Acts24:15, see also Acts 17:30-31; Rom 2:5-16). The teachings of Peter, John and James are alsoconsistent with these truths: see 1 Pet 4:5,17; 2 Pet 3:7; Acts 10:42; 1 John 4:17; Rev 20:12; James5:8-9.Everyone will see Jesus in His Second Coming: "
all the nations of the earth will mourn. They willsee the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory and ... hisangels ... will gather his elect.
.." (Matt 24: 30f). From 2 Thess 1: 6-10 it is plain that the hour of mourning of "
all the tribes of the earth
" is the very same hour of the rapture and joy of believers!3.
 
The tribulation of the Church
 
Page 2 of 4The Rapture of the Church4/7/2009http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/eschatology/rapturechurch.html
 
Those who believe that the Church will be spared from the end-time tribulation argue that
"
God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ 
." (1Thess 5:9; see 1:10, "
 Jesus ... rescues us from the coming wrath
"). But it seems clear that thesepassages do not refer to a satanically launched persecution against the Church, but to
God’srighteous punishment against the wicked
; it goes without saying that by definition, believerswill not pass through this.On the other hand, the sufferings and persecutions that we Christians must endure
because of ourwitness of Christ
are in fact tribulations. The Greek word
thlipsis
, translated "trouble","suffering" , "tribulation", etc., appears 45 times in the New Testament, and it usually refers to thehardships that believers must endure for Christ’s sake. Some examples follow: "
 In this world youwill have trouble
[
thlipsis
]..." (John 16:33); "
We must go through many hardships to enter thekingdom of God 
." (Acts 14:22); "
we also rejoice in our sufferings
" (Rom 5:3; see Rom 8:35-39;12:12); "
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ... who conforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble...
" (2 Cor 1:4); "
we boast about your  perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring
." (2 Thess 1:4); "
Theseare they who have come out of the great tribulation
" (Rev 7:14). In Revelation, John identifieshimself with those persecuted Christians to whom he addresses the book, and styles himself astheir "
companion in the suffering
" (Rev 1:9).The Church must endure right to the very
end of the world
as Christ’s witness to all the nations(Matt 28:18-20). Our Lord did not ask His Father to have the Church raptured before the end, butprotected from the evil one (John 17:15). Real believers and unbelievers are to remain
together
upto that great Day of the Lord when their separation will take place: "
 At that time I will tell theharvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned, then gather the wheat and bring it to my barn
." (Matt 13:30).To some confused believers who thought that Jesus’ return could happen "at any time", Paulwrote: "
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask  you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy ... saying that the dayof the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not comeuntil the rebellion
[
 parapipto
] occurs
and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed todestruction
." (2 Thess 2:1-3). Therefore, the manifestation of the end-time Antichrist and theapostasy –
 parapipto
, i.e., defection from the Christian faith by many- are things that true believerswill see and suffer
before
our Lord’s coming in glory and their gathering together with Him.4.
Summary: Our blessed hope
 A Rapture that will supposedly deliver the Church from end-time persecution
is never styled as"our blessed hope"
in the New Testament
.
Paul taught Titus that our blessed hope is the
eternallife
(Tit 1:2), and admonished him to live according to this hope "
while we wait for the blessed hope –the glorious appearing of our great Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
" (Tit 2:13).The New Testament teaches that the Church will be the witness for Jesus Christ
until the daywhen her Lord returns
for the blessing of His people and the cursing of His foes. Before thatday, the Church will have to endure great tribulations, and particularly, right before the end of theage, the
apostasy
and the
persecution
led by Antichrist, the Man of Lawlessness. As during allher history, the true militant Church will fight "
the good fight 
" until the Lord comes. No
specific
 sign will announce the imminent coming of Jesus Christ (Luke 17:26-36). It will be as a thief inthe night, since not even believers know on what day the Lord will come (Matt 24: 42-44; 25:13, 1Thess 5:1-3; 2 Pet 3:9-10). This is why we are repeatedly called
to be alert
: real Christians do notneed to be prompted by signs, since as good Christ’s soldiers they are always ready.Peter spoke of our Lord’s
patience
, "
not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come torepentance
" (2 Pet 3:9) . Here is the reason why Jesus is delaying His coming; and if this –everyone’s salvation- is the Lord´s sovereign wish, then it must also be important for us. But, how
Page 3 of 4The Rapture of the Church4/7/2009http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/eschatology/rapturechurch.html

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