Saturday, October 15, 2011

Rapture: When Will It Occur? Is The Doctrine Of Imminence A Fable?

     There is much confusion today concerning the Rapture or the gathering of believers in Christ a.k.a. "Blessed Hope".  The confusion that exists today is centered around the specific timing in which the Bride (represented by the Church) is caught up or translated/received by the BrideGroom (represented by Christ).  The common theme today being taught is that the Rapture is an imminent event, that it can happen at any moment, this teaching is known as the Doctrine of Imminence and is widely taught among believers in the Pre-Trib camp of theological thought.  Pre-Trib is a desigination of those that believe that the bodily translation of believers both dead and alive will occur prior to the Tribulation or "Time of Jacob's Trouble", represented as the final 7 years in which the wrath of God will be poured out upon the unrepentant and ungodly populace of planet earth.

     The Apostle Paul documents the event known commonly as the Rapture in several passages, 1 Corinthians 15:51-55, 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3.  During the ministry of the Apostle Paul he established many churches in Greece, both in Corinth and the seaport city of Thessalonica, there he shared the gospel with many Greeks and established the faith among the Gentiles.  During the second missionary journey of the Apostle Paul to Corinth, he received word that some of the believers in Thessalonica had become confused concerning coming of the Lord to gather them unto himself.  Letters were being ciculated from others that these believers had not only missed the Rapture yet were now in the Time of Tribulation.  The second epistle of Thessalonians was recorded and sent by the hand of the Apostle Paul to reveal their error.

     The following passage in 2 Thessalonians 1:4 reveals the situation of the Church in Thessalonica at that time; "So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulation ye endure".  It was clear that this Church established by the Apostle Paul was coming under fierce opposition and being persecuted for their faith, the response sent to this Church was one of comfort and exhortation to continue the work set before them.  The letter was also a message of warning to those that were persuading the believers to follow fables, refusing to work with their hands while expecting the brethren to support them, walking disorderly, elevating themselves as kings over them.  The Apostle Paul addresses this plainly "For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you; Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves and example unto you to follow us.  For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat"-2 Thessalonians 3:7-10.

     Many scholars today have taught that the Rapture is a signless event, that it can happen at any moment, yet in the address of the Apostle Paul to the Church in Thessalonica, we see clearly that this is not true and that we are not to be deceived.  The following text provides the order of events that must precede the time of our gathering to Christ (Rapture).  "NOW WE beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.  Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition"-2 Thessalonians 2:1-3.  The Apostle Paul designates that two key events must occur prior to our gathering, the text in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 corresponds with 1 Thessalonians 4:16.  "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 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 first event to take place prior to our appointed gathering is the "falling away" followed by the next event known as the revealing of the AntiChrist or "Son of Perdition".  The falling away or "departure from the faith" is also identified by the Apostle Paul in his address to his protege Timothy.  This passage is found in 1 Timothy 4:1, "NOW THE Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils".  2 Timothy 4:3-4 also identifies with this Latter Days apostasy, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables".  This clearly illustrates the time we are now in for apostasy is spreading like a cancer in many churches today.  With a rampant departure of the faith and the acceptance of fables we can expect that the rise of the AntiChrist, the greatest deceiver of all (2 Thessalonians 2:9) will soon take place.

     The revealing of the AntiChrist to the world will be as a peacemaker, promising "peace and prosperity" to a shattered world.  The enevitable global economic collapse that is to come, coupled with a great conflict recorded in Ezekiel 38-39 involving many nations, will create the precise scenario required for this seed of the Serpent to take his position.  "Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders"-2 Thess 2:9.  It is also clear that at the conclusion of this battle of Gog/Magog recorded in Ezekiel 38-39 that the Lord God will then turn his full attention to Israel, a concrete identification that the Church, will be translated during this aftermath.  Ezekiel 39:29 identifies with a transition from the Church that began with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, to the Holy Spirit being poured out upon the House of Israel after this great battle, providing clarification that the end of the Church Age, coincides with the restoration and redemption of Israel.  In conclusion, we can see clearly that the Rapture is not a signless event, nor, could it happen at any other moment then what we are seeing currently develop.