By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
Many people in the religious world are surprised to learn that the churches of Christ do not subscribe to the doctrine known as “the Rapture.”
I remember several years ago preaching a series of radio sermons on the topic of the Rapture and Premillennialism on our old program, “Rest For The Weary.”
After I was finished with those lessons, I was contacted by two preachers in the local area who at first had been shocked when they heard these things. Then, realizing the fact that the Bible was opposed to this teaching, they requested my sermon outline on the topic (which I happily provided them).
They were both from different denominational churches, and had been convinced that the Rapture doctrine was true, until they started studying the Scriptures in depth.
What is it about this doctrine that is so fundamentally opposed to the Bible?
In this series of articles, we will learn the answers to that question.
What Exactly Is The Rapture?
To begin with, let us carefully notice a definition of the “Rapture” doctrine.
Rapture proponents teach that the Second Coming Of Jesus will occur in “two phases.”
The first phase is known as the Rapture, in which Christ returns quietly and takes the church.
At the same time, the righteous dead are resurrected and taken to Heaven.
People “left behind” on Earth know that all of this has happened, yet they have not seen the Lord’s Return; so there are lots of theories about what has happened.
Some will say that there were government experiments, others that “aliens” beamed them away, etc.
Over the next seven years on Earth, there will be a terrible guy who comes to power and who stops all the fighting in the world. He makes plans to begin rebuilding a third Jewish Temple.
Unbeknownst to the people on the Earth, this political leader is actually the Antichrist! Meanwhile, some of the folks who had been “left behind” will somehow be converted to Christ. The Antichrist will make war against them, and there will be a “great tribulation” on Earth.
Finally, at the end of the seven years, Christ will again return again and conquer the Antichrist, setting up a kingdom in the city of Jerusalem over which He will reign for one thousand years.
The Origin Of The Rapture Doctrine
The idea of a two-phase Second Coming of Christ is not found in Scripture. Indeed, the idea was not invented until the last two hundred years! One researcher has pointed out:
“The Rapture has become embedded in American Christian culture today, but the idea of the Rapture is less than two hundred years old….The Rapture has its origins in the nineteenth century beginning, according to one critic, with a young girl’s vision.2 In 1830, in Port Glasgow, Scotland, fifteen-year-old Margaret MacDonald attended a healing service. There, she was said to have seen a vision of a two-stage return of Jesus Christ.3 The story of her vision was adopted and amplified by John Nelson Darby, a British evangelical preacher and founder of the Plymouth Brethren. At the time, the belief that Jesus will come again was not new. Christians have always taught that Jesus will return to earth and that believers should live in the urgent and hopeful anticipation of his second coming. This teaching is central to ancient Christian creeds and is taught by all churches. But Darby’s new teaching was the claim that Christ would return twice. The first return would be in secret, to “Rapture” his church out of the world and up to heaven. en. Christ would return a second time after seven years of global tribulation to establish a Jerusalem-based kingdom on earth (which they call the “Glorious Appearing,” a phrase from Titus 2:13). For Darby and his sympathizers, the search was on for Bible verses to support this two-stage version of Christ’s return.” (Barbara R. Tossing, The Rapture Exposed: The Message Of Hope In The Book Of Revelation, 21-22 (Kindle Edition): New York, NY; Basic Books)
The idea of the Rapture is not found in the Bible, my friends.
What’s more, the teaching of the Bible is completely against the main tenants of this doctrine.
Everyone Will Know When The Second Coming Of Christ Occurs
In this article, I would like you to notice with me one of the biggest problems of the Rapture teaching: according to the Bible, the Second Coming of Christ will be witnessed by everyone!
There is no ‘secret Rapture’ in the Bible.
In fact, the passages which mention the Second Coming show that His Return will be sudden and visible to every person.
Acts 1:9-11-9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,
11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
Often, people claim that only believers will see the Return of Christ.
Yet this is definitely not true, for the Apostle John writes:
Revelation 1:7-Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
Did you notice that beloved? Not only will God’s people see the Lord when He returns, but so will His enemies!
The Bible also teaches that the Return of Christ will be heard by everyone, as the Apostle Paul teaches:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18-13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
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.
We are told here that the Second Coming will be heralded by “shouts” and “trumpets” and the ‘voice of an archangel.” My friends, these are not signs of something quiet!
When Christ returns to the Earth, there will not be “second chances” to avoid eternity. The Earth will not continue for seven years (like the Rapture doctrine teaches); for when Christ returns the Earth will be destroyed by fire and the Day of Judgment will commence (2 Peter 3:9-13).
Friends, I implore you to make your life right with God today. He loves you so very much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay for the price for our sins on the Cross of Calvary (2 Corinthians 5:14-21). Jesus died for us, was buried, and arose from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
If we want to be saved, we must: hear His Word (Romans 10:17; John 6:44-45); believe in Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 16:31); repent of sin (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30-31); confess our faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:37; 1 Timothy 6;12); be baptized into Him to have our sins forgiven (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38); and live faithfully to Him even to the point of death (Revelation 2:10).
When we as a child of God fall short and sin, we are forgiven when we repent of that sin and pray to the Lord (Acts 8:22; Hebrews 7:25).
Will you not turn to Him today? The churches of Christ stand ready to assist you.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.