I’ve read several contributions to HEART on the doctrine of the Rapture of the Church, some concerning its timing and some maligning its reality altogether.
One letter (‘No second chance’, Feb/Mar) claimed that the Rapture is built on a misunderstanding of 1 Thessalonians 4:17. This is not so.
The English phrase “caught up” in verse 17 translates the Greek word ‘harpazo’, which means “to seize upon with force” or “snatch up”. The Latin translators of the Bible used the word ‘rapturo’, the root of the English term ‘rapture’.
Contrary to the letter writer’s claim, Paul is not using imagery taken from the practice of citizens going out to greet visiting VIPs in order to escort them back to the city; visiting VIPs were not “seized by force” or “snatched up”!
At the Rapture, living believers will be “caught up” to join the Lord in the air. Paul uses the words “clouds” and “air” to draw attention to multiple examples of people having already been “caught up”, including Enoch, Elijah, Philip, Paul, John and of course Jesus at his ascension. The descriptions of all these events use the same terminology as Paul.
This is a separate event to the second coming of Christ to earth. If the Rapture does not exist, how could the Bride (the Church) come with Jesus at his return?
Jesus taught his disciples about his return in the context of the Jewish marriage custom, where the bridegroom returns at the time of his father’s choosing to claim his bride, something generally lost on the Gentile Church. Thus in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 (and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52), the Lord comes for his Church and takes her to his Father’s house (John 14:3).
However, at Christ’s second coming with his saints, he descends from heaven to set up his Messianic Kingdom on earth (Zechariah 14:45; Matthew 24:27-31).
Furthermore, the Rapture is characterised as a “mystery” (1 Corinthians 15:51-54), that is, a truth not revealed until its disclosure by the apostles (Colossians 1:26), whereas the second coming was predicted in the Old Testament (Daniel 12:1-3; Zechariah 12:10; 14:4).
In summary, the movement of the believer at the Rapture is from earth to heaven, whereas at the second coming it is clearly from heaven to earth. At the Rapture the Lord comes FOR his saints (1 Thessalonians 4:16), while at the second coming he comes WITH his saints (1 Thessalonians 3:13). And the second coming then commences Christ’s millennial kingdom on earth.
Banned for my biblical views
Recently I was banned from the Nextdoor (sic) community website for violating their guidelines.
Previously I had used the site to good effect to counter recruitment campaigns of spiritualists and occultists.
The website probably took issue with this comment of mine: “First it was LGBT, now it’s LGBTQIA+: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or questioning), intersex, and asexual (or allies). Will paedophilia, necrophilia or kinky be added next? It’s the rebirth of Sodom and Gomorrah.
“I once doubted the historicity of Noah’s Ark. Professors Whitcombe and Morris’s seminal book ‘The Genesis Flood’ put me right on science, history and biblical truth. Before the flood homosexual marriages, all kinds of bestial practices and human sacrifice were rife, such that God regretted creating humankind. Worse still, fallen angels were fathering babies.
“God sent a universal flood to wipe out mankind, apart from Noah and his family, to halt the spiritual degradation which would have thwarted divine plans to bring salvation to fallen humankind though Jesus Christ.
“God covenanted he would not judge the earth this way again. He ratified the pledge with the promise of a rainbow, which the LGBT movement ironically has appropriated. The Bible condones only heterosexual relations within marriage. LGBT practices are contrary to Scripture. The choice is ours, but in the next life we will all have to give an account of our lives to determine where we’ll spend eternity.”
Nextdoor has acted against freedom of expression, yet debate underpins a true democracy. In the past, LGBTQIA+ lobbyists had the freedom to express their views and seek legal legitimacy. Now, they are going full pelt at stopping biblical views on sexuality.
I got a nil response locally when I urged churches to set up their own watchdogs to monitor all forms of media and give a Christian response, to establish links with politicians and to complain to embassies when persecution of believers occurs in their countries.
Instead of bemoaning what’s happening in the UK, Christians must be more pro-active in countering the moral rot.
The farmer knows what he’s doing
Imagine for a moment that you are walking past a farmer’s wheat field.
The crop sways gently in the breeze, the corn golden in the autumn sun. Suddenly you notice a weed.
Where did that come from? Then another appears, and another. Soon it seems the whole field is a mixture of wheat and weeds.
And that gentle breeze? It’s now a howling wind threatening to rip the wheat out of the soil which sustains it.
How could the farmer allow this to happen? Why isn’t he doing something about it?
Out of sight, a competitor for the local corn market chuckles to himself. His strategy to destroy the farmer’s harvest is coming together nicely, thank you very much.
But the farmer is aware of this threat. And he has a plan of his own.
Today I suspect there are many Christians concerned with the onslaught of worldliness lapping at their feet. Some would even suggest that God is sitting idly by while weeds spoil his creation. Bluntly put, allowing Satan a victory. To think that is to totally misunderstand our God and his plan for the world.
In Matthew 13:24-30, Jesus gives us the parable of the weeds which shows that God is in total control. We have nothing to fear or get anxious about, as long our lives are built on his sure foundation.
And that is the key. Because if our lives are so built, then whatever the world throws at us should leave us unmoved.
But don’t be like the apostle Peter who took his eyes off Jesus to look at the waves and started to sink beneath them. Fix your sight firmly on Christ and do not allow your vision to be hijacked by what is going on around you.
Don’t doubt. Have faith.
Richard DJJ Bowdery