Here’s seven ignorant or misguided ideas I’ve gathered from people about this subject of the rapture—which I believe is a pre-tribulation rapture. It appears from these ideas that there is a great deal of misinformation being dished out in some churches. This post is my effort to get it right. I am a futurist, not a preterist. And I believe we can interpret the bible literally. That means we can believe the Bible for what it says. I also believe that the kingdom of God in this age is not on this earth but is in the hearts of believers. The god of this world is the devil. This world is his kingdom. But soon, after the rapture and after the tribulation, He will come to set up His kingdom on this earth and will lock up the devil and reign for a thousand years. After that He will destroy the heavens and the earth and will make a new heaven and earth, which will last for eternity.
Okay, here are seven ignorant or misguided ideas, which I will try to correct, according to the way I see scripture.
1. A loving God wouldn’t secretly snatch away a few Christians, leaving cars crashing into each other and killing many people left on the earth.
Answer: We don’t exactly know how secret the snatching away will be, however, we know the rapture will occur. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 says,
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
As far as whether a loving God would do it or not, the rapture is meant to save believers from His wrath on unbelievers. That sound pretty loving to me. God loves His own and He will protect them from the wrath to come—the seven year tribulation, which is meant for the unrepentant. I think the rapture of the church can be likened to Lot and his children being rescued from Sodom and Gomorrah when God destroyed it by fire.
2. The early Church fathers didn’t teach a pre-trib rapture.
Answer: That is not entirely true. Most did not, but a few did. Here is one:
Ephraem of Nisibis (306-373)
“We ought to understand thoroughly therefore, my brothers, what is imminent or overhanging. Already there have been hunger and plagues, violent movements of nations and signs, which have been predicted by the Lord, they have already been fulfilled, and there is not other which remains, except the advent of the wicked one in the completion of hte Roman kingdom. Why therefore are we ovvupied with wordly business, and why is our mind held fixed on the lusts of the world or the anxieties of the ages? Why therefore do we not reject every care of earthly actions and prepare ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Christ, so that He may draw us from the confusion, which overwhelms the world? Believe you me, dearest brothers, because the coming of the Lord is nigh, believe you me, because the end of the world is at hand, believe me, because it it the very last time. Or do you not believe unless you see it with your eyes? See to it that this sentence be not fulfilled among you of the prophet who declares: “Woe to those who desire to see the Day of the Lord!” Because all saints and the Elect of the Lord are gathered together before the tribulation which is to about to come and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins. And so brothers, most dear to me, it is the eleventh hour, and the end of this world comes to the harvest, and angels, armed and prepared, hold sickles in their earth exists with blind infidelity, arriving at its downfall early. Commotions are brought forth, wars of diverse peoples and battles and invasions of the barbarians threaten, and our regions shall be desolated, and we neither become very much afraid of the report nor of the appearance, in order that we may at least do penance; because they hurl fear at us, and we do not wish to be changed although we at least stand in need of penance for our actions!
And there are a few other examples if we care to dig them up. But what should really be important to us is whether the scripture teaches it. And surely it does. Two clear passages that teach the rapture are 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. As to whether the rapture happens before the tribulation or not, that is evident by the fact that the church is not mentioned at all after Revelation 3:22 and all during the time of the tribulation. That is because it has been raptured.
3. Our message should be on God’s love, not on escaping the Great Tribulation.
Answer: Those are two different issues. Of course our message should be that God loves us. But He also tells us that one day He will come for us, and He will leave the unsaved behind to face His wrath. But it is also true that the great tribulation is not only meant to punish unbelievers but to get them to repent. And many will repent.
4. The teaching of the rapture—that Jesus is coming at any moment—creates irresponsible thinking.
Answer: We should be longing for His return and wanting Him to come soon. There is nothing wrong with planning for the future on this earth, but my real desire is to be with Him as soon as possible.
5. The pre-trib rapture teaching has been a product of many cults.
Answer: Cults comes from the devil. The teaching of the rapture comes from the Bible. The devil has always used the Bible to create his own false doctrine. But he will twist it to suit his own purposes.
6. The teaching of the rapture is a poor way to evangelize because there is no fear in the Kingdom, only love.
Answer: Sometimes the truth of the Bible causes people to be afraid. And people who do not believe in God and in His son will and should be afraid. Jesus said in John 3:18,
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
It is true that there is no fear in the kingdom of God, but if you are not a believer you are not yet in the kingdom of God and therefore you should be afraid of what’s to come!
7. If we are raptured who will be left to shine God’s light in the world?
Answer: When the church is raptured all who are left will be unbelievers. But God will send two witnesses (Rev. 11:3-10), and later 144,000 witnesses to shine His light. Many will be saved during that time and many martyred for their faith (read the book of Revelation).