Pat’s Chat (September 30)

One of my high-school classmates said he would like to know about the so-called Secret Rapture. In my snail mail that day, I got a tiny little leaflet about The Secret Rapture, so I decided to let all of you see it for yourselves:

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“When Jesus promised His disciples ‘I will come again,’ He created a hope that has burned in the hearts of nearly all Christians for two thousand years. And seldom has this hope burned more brightly in the hearts of more Christians than it does today.

“This hope is darkened, however, by one shadow. According to the Bible, a terrible time of trouble—often spoken of as the ‘tribulation’—will take place on earth just before Christ’s second coming.

“For nearly eighteen hundred years, Christians have believed that all of God’s people will pass through this tribulation. However, about two hundred years ago, a new theory was proposed that God will take true Christians—the church—out of the world and transport them to heaven prior to the tribulation. Jews and unrepentant Gentiles who are left behind will have to pass through the tribulation at which time millions of Jews will be converted to Christianity. The actual second coming of Christ will take place at the end of the tribulation.

“This carrying away of the saints to heaven prior to the tribulation is called the ‘rapture.’ This ‘event’ is also referred to as a ‘secret rapture,’ because supposedly no one will know it has happened until those who are left behind on earth realize that many people have suddenly disappeared for no good reason.

“This view of the end of the world could be called a dual second-coming theory, because it splits Christ’s return to our planet into two parts: the rapture before the tribulation and the Second Coming after the tribulation.

“A careful study of the Bible suggests three reasons for rejecting this two-stage theory of the second coming of Christ.

“(The Vocabulary of the Second Coming) Advocates of the rapture claim that when Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians 4:15, he used the word parousia, which means ‘coming,’ to describe the secret rapture. But in 1 Thessalonians 3:13, he used the same word to describe ‘the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints’ (NKJV), which according to advocates of the rapture occurs at Christ’s actual second coming. Again, in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, Paul employed the term parousia to refer to the coming of Christ that will cause the destruction of the antichrist, which rapture proponents understand refers to Christ’s actual second coming.

“Thus, the vocabulary of the bible provides no basis for a two-phase second coming of Christ. Its terms are used interchangeably to describe a single, indivisible, posttribulational advent of Christ to bring salvation to believers and retribution to unbelievers.

“(Not a Secret Second Coming) The rapture, according to its advocates, will be a very secret event. However, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, which gives the most famous description of Christ’s second coming, suggests the very opposite. It speaks of the Lord descending ‘from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God.’ 

“(How and When Jesus Will Come) The second coming of Christ will be anything but a secret. Here are some of the bible’s clearest declarations: 1. It will be very visible: ‘Every eye will see him’ (Revelation 1:7).  2. It will be very audible: ‘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’ (1 Thessalonians 4:16).  3. It will be glorious: ‘The nations of the earth… will see the son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory’ (Matthew 24:30).  4. It will have consequences: ‘The Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done’ (Matthew: 16:27). 

“The dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17).

“(God’s People and the Tribulation) In His discourse about signs of His second coming in Matthew 24, Jesus spoke of the great tribulation that will immediately precede His coming, and He promised that ‘for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.’ Proponents of the rapture theory argue that ‘the elect’ in this passage refers only to Jewish believers and not members of the church, for the church will be taken out of the world before the tribulation. However, this view overlooks the fact that Christ was addressing His apostles, who represent not only national Israel but the church at large. This is confirmed by the fact that both Mark and Luke, who wrote their Gospels for the Gentile church, report the same discourse.

“Christ never promised His church a pretribulation rapture out of this world. Rather, He promised protection in the midst of tribulation. In His petition to His Father He said, ‘My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.’ If the church were absent from the earth during the hour of testing, there would be no necessity of divine protection.

“In light of the reasons discussed above, we conclude that the popular teaching of a SECRET coming of Christ to rapture the church before the final tribulation is devoid of any biblical support.” (Used by permission of Family Heritage Books.)

Remember that my final word when I write is MARANATHA, which means “Jesus comes!” And this Chat should help you to see that the second coming of Christ will be one event, not split events. Those He resurrects as immortal beings at that time will join with those living who are changed in the twinkling of an eye into immortal beings at the last trump (see: I Corinthians 15:52-54) and together we all will go to Heaven as one group.)


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