Summary: Message 30 in our exposition of Revelation continuing a discussion of the rapture of the church.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
“The Transfer and Transformation of the church” Part 2
Last week we focused on the “WHAT” of the rapture or what I like to call the transfer and transformation of the church. Most all biblical scholars agree there are two phases to the return of Christ in the last days. The differences are too stark to ignore. Below is a chart showing the contrast between the two final appearances of Jesus.
RAPTURE 2nd COMING
Meet in the air Return to earth
Transformation No Transformation
Jesus returns to heaven with saints Jesus remains on earth with saints
Earth not judged - sin continues Sin judged and righteousness reigns
Before the day of wrath After the day of wrath
Imminent event Follows predictable signs
No Old Testament revelation Both Old and new revelation
Involves only the saved of this age Involves both saved and unsaved
Only affects those IN Christ Everyone affected human and angelic
Revelation describes the 2nd coming but has little to say about the transfer and transformation state of Christ’s return. For that, we need to consult Paul’s writings. Everyone insists that their view is based on the Scriptures. Proponents from each view demand a specific Scriptural reference from the other, but the reality is that none of them can produce one because there are no specific passages that clearly spell out the placement of the rapture. We must keep to the point. Jesus will return to transfer and transform His bride exactly as promised. No amount of heated debate will affect the timing of that event one bit. Our primary responsibility is to be watching and ready whenever He comes. Scripture calls us to watch and be found faithful at his return; holy and blameless.
I mentioned last week that it is a shame most of the books on the subject of the rapture get so caught up in trying to prove their view of the timing is their correct on they miss the wonder of the event itself. That is why I covered the nature of the rapture first and will take only this week to summarize the issues concerning the timing of the rapture. The rapture of the church includes more than just catching Christians up to meet Jesus in the air. It is more than a change in location. It is more than escaping an uncomfortable circumstance. It concerns the physical uniting of living and previously deceased Christians with their Lord. It is the marriage of Christ and His bride the church after a period of engagement. In order to eternally live with Jesus, we must undergo a fundamental transformation of body and soul. It is not only a rapture or evacuation from the earth but a complete supernatural transformation.
Paul described the journey to perfection to the Romans.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Romans 8:28-30
Our whole being will function according to the renewed Spirit He gave us at our new birth.
The main views concerning the rapture of the church boil down to four basic views.
• The pre-tribulation rapture where Jesus returns for his church prior to the tribulation.
• The mid-tribulation rapture where Jesus returns for his church after the first 3 1/2 years of the tribulation sometimes called pre-wrath rapture.
• Finally there are those who hold to a post-tribulation where Jesus returns in the air to catch up his church and turns right around and descends to the earth to destroy the wicked and to rule and reign during the next 1000 years.
• A minority suggest a partial rapture where Jesus returns only for those who are ready.
Since there are no specific definitive passages that pinpoint the placement of this glorious event, we must take what Scripture we do have and make some inferences. Inferences are not invalid. We must be sure to evaluate them on the basis of how well they answer the questions and fit the facts. There are both strong and weak inferences. In the end we must make our decision on what we think best fits what data we do have.
Example of valid inference.
The neighbor calls and ask me to please come and get my dog out of his yard.
I say to him, “my dog is sitting in front of my fireplace.
The neighbor hangs up realizing that it is not my dog in his yard not because of any specific denial by me but by inference.