Summary: The rapture of the church.
The Rapture of the Church
Even though many groups deny the rapture, the Bible clearly teaches that there is a rapture of God’s people when Christ returns. I can understand why there is a debate as to when the rapture will occur, but I can’t identify with groups who deny the rapture will happen at all. I have had people tell me that the word ‘rapture’ is not found in the Bible therefore it is unbiblical. The word ‘sermon’ also is not found in the Bible, but preaching a sermon is clearly taught in the Bible. There are many words that are not found in the Bible but we use to represent biblical principles that are taught in the Scriptures.
I realize that many people have predetermined not to believe certain biblical doctrines that do not align with the beliefs they cling to, however, many people don’t believe simply because they have not been exposed to the Bible’s teaching on this topic. My hope is that in this message we will gain a deeper understanding of this teaching of scripture and also avoid the pitfalls of putting doctrine into a box that we have created. We all come to the table with ideas and beliefs, therefore, we need to understand the importance of drawing our doctrine from scripture and not overlaying scripture with our beliefs. When we lay our beliefs onto scripture, we filter out anything that doesn’t fit our mold. When we overlay scripture, we interpret scripture based on predetermined beliefs instead of allowing scripture to interpret scripture and shape our beliefs.
It is difficult to avoid forcing scriptures into our mold if we stay on the superficial level. We need to dig deep into God’s word and allow the Bible to teach the meaning of scripture. No scripture stands alone. We should not hold one single doctrine that is derived from a single passage; the Bible is one complete revelation. From Genesis to Revelation, God is revealing His character, His plan, and our role in His plan. If we cannot confirm a doctrine with two or more supporting passages in their proper context, then we should avoid that doctrine.
This is especially true in prophecy. What God reveals about the future will always agree with what He has already done in the past. God does not change. In prophecy, either God has been teaching mankind His coming plan from the beginning or God is working future events just as He has done in the past as revealed in the Old Testament. The coming of Christ was first revealed in Genesis. From Genesis to Malachi, God continuously revealed more about His Son so there could be no mistake at the time when Jesus presented Himself to the world bodily. The second coming is taught in the Old Testament and confirmed in the New Testament. In Revelation, He is unveiled so clearly that only His appearing could add to it.
1 Thessalonians 5 instructs us:
20 Do not despise prophecies.
21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
The test of all things is the Word of God. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that the scriptures are given to us for doctrine, reproof, correction and for instruction. Teachers may present doctrine as truth, but the scriptures are our measuring stick to determine what is true and what falls short – or as D. L. Moody once said, “Let us lay down the straight truth of scripture and by this all that is crooked will be revealed”. Scripture reveals where we fall short and corrects our focus. The mysteries of the Bible are interpreted by the scriptures within the Bible. The scriptures are interpreted by the Holy Spirit who works within us (1 Corinthians 2:14). With these things in mind, let’s examine the doctrine of the rapture of the church.
The Rapture Taught in Scripture
The first reference to the second coming of Christ in the clouds as a specific event is found in Daniel 7:13. Two passages in the New Testament spell out the rapture doctrine in unmistakable terms. Look at these passages:
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.