• David Lee Brown

The Rapture of the Church

The rapture of the church is yet another contested item in the list of denominational variations. Some believe in the rapture before the tribulation. Others believe the rapture will occur at the second coming of Christ. Yet others believe in the rapture of the church in the middle or end of the tribulation. And some of these experts can be very smug about what they think. I’ve been guilty of being smug about what I believe. But we all agree there will be a rapture and all those that are alive and born-again will take part in The Rapture of the Church.


The Rapture of the Church


So, you might ask, what is the rapture of the church? 1 Thessalonians 4:17 says, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” The Greek word for caught up is harpazó, which means to be caught up or snatched away forcefully. The term “Rapture” comes from the Latin verb rapiemur which means “to snatch, seize, carry away.” The Bible says, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:52. So, it’s when those that have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior are taken from the earth, and their bodies change into incorruptible eternal bodies.


The Debate Concerns the Timing of The Rapture of the Church


The fact of the rapture is well established throughout Christendom. But there are a few that don’t believe in it at all. They are a small group, though. I shared last week that Dr. Feddes thought that the rapture was ongoing, but I was mistaken. He believes that the rapture will take place just before Jesus’ second coming. We will meet Jesus in the air, be changed, and then descend with him for his second coming. I don’t see it this way, I believe that we will be caught up in a rapture event and dwell in heaven while the tribulation is transpiring on earth.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 talks about this and tells us that we will not experience the tribulation, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath.” So, we can “…comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” So, if we were required to experience the tribulation, we would also experience God’s wrath, but scripture clearly states we will not experience His wrath. Therefore, the Pre-tribulation rapture makes the most sense to me. But let me provide you a very brief description of each belief.


Pre-tribulation

Christians are caught up to meet Jesus in the air and will change from mortal to immortality. We dwell in heaven during the tribulation and then return with Jesus and rule with Him as our King on earth for a thousand years. Then comes the final judgments.


Mid-tribulation

Christians are caught up after they suffer part or half of God’s wrath that he pours out during the tribulation. Then we will dwell in heaven during the remainder of the tribulation. And then return with Jesus and rule with Him as our King on earth for a thousand years. Then comes the final judgments.


Post-tribulation

Christians must endure the entire tribulation. They are caught up to meet Jesus in the air and immediately are changed and descend with Christ to earth in the second coming. Then comes the final judgments.


The Rapture of the Church and My Beliefs


You may ask, “why so many interpretations?” Well, it’s because we are fallen people in a fallen world. We can’t see the truth clearly, regardless of how much we know or study. So, getting the big picture right is the best we can do. The big picture, in this case, is that there will be a rapture of all those accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. After the rapture, we will live forever in the glory of God, with perfect bodies and minds. Virtually all true Christians believe this “big picture” I’ve just presented. Those that are not true Christians have all kinds of funny notions that are not in the Bible. So, let’s stick to what the Holy Bible says. I am a pre-tribulation, dispensational, credo-Baptist. What the heck does all that mean?


I believe that I will be caught up to meet Jesus in the air before the tribulation. I think that the treatment of Jews and Gentiles will be dispensational. In other words, the blessings and curses in scripture will be treated differently because of the Jew’s special relationship with God. Jews still must be saved to get into heaven, but there are specific blessings and curses set aside for gentiles and Jews, respectively. In other words, I don’t believe in replacement theology. And finally, I believe in credo-baptism or believer’s baptism versus infant baptism. Acts 8:12 says, “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” You must believe first and then be baptized.


The Rapture of the Church Final Thoughts


What about babies and children that don’t understand what accepting Christ is all about? I have always been under the impression that children are not accountable because they don’t understand. So, all young children go to heaven when they die. But because of recent studies, I’m thinking about changing that perspective. The paedo-Baptists believe that familial ties protect from God’s wrath. I mentioned the scriptures last week as Acts 16:15, Acts 16:31-33, Acts 18:8, 1 Corinthians 1:16. So, this may lend credence to the postulation that only the children of true believers are afforded entry into heaven if they die. All other children suffer the fate of their parents. Just imagine how many aborted babies would not see heaven. I’ll have to give this more thought.


The most important thing is that you and your family are born-again believers. That’s the only way to be sure you, your spouse, and your children will enter heaven.