to most popular teachers of eschatology, Christians will be
raptured out of the world before a "great tribulation" comes. The word
rapt means to "be caught away". It is said that all true
believers will be snatched up into the air to be with the Lord, in
a secret rapture. The people of the world will suddenly realise
that a lot of people have gone. In this way the Lordís people
would escape the terrible time of tribulation. This is a nice
idea, but there are a number of reasons why it is incorrect.
theory is usually linked with the idea of a seven-year
tribulation. As mentioned above, this has no basis in the
scriptures. The rapture idea is based on a false understanding
idea that the church will be taken out of the world prior to a
time of tribulation has no basis in the Bible. This chapter
has looked at numerous passages that speak of a time of
troubles on the earth, but none of these mentions an escape
from these troubles for Christians. A number of passages do
speak of Christians being caught up into the air to be with
the Lord, but they all relate to the second coming at the end
of the age. For example, 1 Corinthians 15 which describes the
rapture in detail, ends by saying that "Death has been
swallowed up in victory" (v.54). Death will only cease at
the end of the age. (All the scriptures describing the rapture
will be described in detail at the appropriate place in
chapter 10). There are none which place it prior to a time of
whole idea is actually a recent addition to theology.
Originally, it was not based on the Bible, but on a prophecy
given in 1830 by a young Scottish woman called Margaret
McDonald. The rapture theory was adopted by J. N. Darby as
part of his dispensational scheme, and then popularised in the
Schofield Reference Bible. It has now become part of the
conventional wisdom. This prophecy was contrary to the Bible,
so it is not a sound basis for a doctrine.
- The rapture teaching gives
Christians a false hope. Christians should not be looking for
escape from their troubles. They are a normal part of the
Christian life, and the Lord uses them for our good. The Lord
has promised to give us strength for our trials, he did not
promise to take us out of them. The passages studied in this
chapter encourage the Lordís people to persevere, and not to
look for an escape.
Many Christians in China had
been given this false teaching. When the communists took over
and began to persecute the church, it was thought that the
tribulation had come. Many Christians expected to be raptured
out by the Lord. When escape did not come, many were
disillusioned, and they were totally unprepared for the
difficult times that were to follow. This false teaching had
given them a false hope.
teaching requires two second comings. Jesus comes the first
time to receive the church, and then again at the end of the
age. However, Jesus himself gave no hint that he would come
twice. Nor does the New Testament teach that Jesus will come
twice. Jesus taught that his second coming would be a very
public event, seen by the whole world. This just does not fit
with the idea of a secret rapture.
pre-tribulation rapture has made the church defeatist. Instead
of working to bring in the Kingdom. Christians have tended to
sit around and wait for the rapture. As the world has got
worse and worse, they have been almost glad, because they take
this as a sign that the rapture is near. They have not
realised that their retreat from the world is really the cause
of the increase in evil. If we are going to be caught out of
the world at any time, there is not much point in trying to
build the Kingdom, yet this is what Jesus commanded us to do.
Expecting to be raptured out of the world as soon as things
get tough is disobedience to Jesus.
- It is sometimes said that the
church is totally absent from Revelation 6:19, because the
church has been taken up out of the world. It is also said
that in Revelation 4,5, the church is in heaven. This is
simply not true. The vision of Revelation 4,5 includes the
whole of creation. The four living creatures represent the
whole of the created world, and are not literally in heaven.
The intention of the vision is to show that God is sovereign
over even the natural order. The fact that the church is
represented by the twenty four elders does not mean it is
There are numerous places in
Revelation 6:19 where the church is mentioned. When the fifth
seal is opened, the church is persecuted on the earth. In
Revelation 14:12 the saints are told to persevere. These are
just two examples. Anyone who reads the book of Revelation
carefully will find numerous references to the church. It is
ridiculous to suggest that the church is absent from the world.
who hold this view place too much emphasis on the nation of
Israel. They say that the Jews will evangelise the world
during the tribulation. This is based on Revelation 7:1-4,
which describes 144,000 Jews being sealed by an angel. This is
hardly a picture of the Jews evangelising the world. Anyway it
is ridiculous to suggest that the Jews, without the benefit of
Christian teaching, and without the Holy Spirit would be able
to do in seven years, what the church has been unable to do in
2000 years with the Spiritís help.
teaching is also a denial of Holy Spirit. He is often said to
be taken out of the world when the church is raptured. If this
is true then he is a failure. While he has been present, the
world has gone from bad to worse. Once he is gone, God is able
to do greater things in the world. This is an absurd thing to
teach about the Spirit of God. The Bible teaches, that through
the mighty presence of the Spirit the church will be
victorious in the world.
- There is a similar theory
called the mid-tribulation rapture. According to this view,
the church will be taken out half-way through the tribulation.
This has all the problems of the pre-tribulation view. The
Bible teaches that the church will be caught up into the air
when Christ returns in glory at the end of the age (1 Thes
The rapture occurs at the end of
history when Jesus returns. It is not an early escape for