The Rapture, Part V


Not only are we concerned about the timing of our meeting in the  clouds, but how we can really know for sure, what our  position  is  as born again believers? Let's look at what  other  researchers  have discovered. The Pre-Trib Research Center,  Editor
Thomas  Ice,  April 1995, wrote:  "Critics  of  pretribulationism sometimes state that belief in the Rapture is a doctrinal  development  of  recent origin.

They argue that the doctrine  of  the Rapture or any semblance of it was completely unknown before  the 1800s.. and the writings of John Nelson Darby.. Dave MacPherson, argue that, during the first 18 centuries.. believers were  never `Rapture separaters' [sic]; they never separated the minor Rapture aspect of the Second Coming of Christ from the Second Coming itself."  

(1)  ..  More recently, pre-trib  opponent Robert  Van Kampen  proclaimed, "The pretribulational Rapture  position  with its  dual `parousias' was unheard of in church history  prior  to 1830""  (2).  Marvin Rosenthal also  advocates  a  pre-Armageddon theory (being Jewish, for him it is correct where a resurrection is concerned. "Christian reconstructionalists.. almost universally condemn premillennialism and pretribulationism favoring instead, postmillenialism.  {Christian Research Institute seems to  be  defending that position}..

Gary North's derisive description of the Rapture as  "the Church's hoped for Escape Hatch on the  world's sinking ship," (3)..A  research of Dave MacPherson's book: The Rapture Plot  was weighed and found wanting by Frank Marotta. He writes: "Here  are a  few  of  the many deficiencies that I found  in  "The  Rapture Plot:" 1. MacPherson states that the key symbol of the  pretribulation  Rapture for Margaret MacDonald is the catching up of  the two  witnesses of Revelation 11 (p.47-49). If this is  true,  one wonders  if  MacPherson has ever read Revelation 11.  

Before  the witnesses are caught up (verse 12), the beast makes war with them and  kills  them  (verse 7). Thus the two  witnesses  go  through tribulation  before they are killed, raised and caught up. So  if MacDonald's  teaching is based on this passage, she is  certainly posttribulational! Actually there is no doubt that the woman  who said, "The trial of the Church is from Antichrist" was posttribulational.. MacPherson is the lone "historian" who has  argued  a connection  between MacDonald and Darby..

The Rapture Plot  is  a defective  work  which  distorts history. There is  no  plot.  It
misrepresents godly men such as Darby and Kelly.." (4) William Bell has formulated three criteria for  establishing the  validity  of a historical citation regarding  the  Rapture..
(5)  .. the.. criteria.. that Christ's second coming was to  consist of more than one phase, separated by an interval of years.., the view of imminency.. the movement is from the earth toward the Lord who is apparently in heaven.. that the gathering takes place "prior to the tribulation that is to come.."

The purpose for  the gathering  was so that they would not "see the confusion that  is to  overwhelm world because of their sins.".. a concern with  how Christians would survive the time of severe persecution by  Antichrist.. written well over a 1000 years before 1830."

Another  good source to establish that clergy  discovered  a pre  tribulation  Rapture long before 1830 are  the  writings  of Morgan  Edwards  born in 1722. As a student  at Bristol  Baptist Seminary in England (1742-44), he wrote an essay for an eschatology class on his view on Bible prophecy..

"Another event previous to  the Millennium will be the appearing of the `Son of  Man'  in the  clouds, coming to raise the dead saints and change the  living,  and  to catch them up to himself, and  then  withdraw  with them, as observed before [i.e.,p.7]. This event will come to pass when  Antichrist be arrived at Jerusalem in his conquest  of  the world;  and about three and a half years before his killing  the witnesses and assumption of godhead.." (p.21).

(6) The  verse "Looking for that blessed hope, and the  glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,"  (Titus 2:13)  loses it's significance if the Tribulation must  intervene first,"  declared Dr. Walvoord. The Rapture is signless  and  the
Tribulation would be a sign. It would destroy the `Blessed  Hope' and  the imminence of the event. Imminence means to  be  prepared continuously.  The event hangs overhead, is constantly  ready  to befall or overtake one. As soon as a date is set, it destroys the imminency  of  it. Only tribulation saints will  be  looking  for signs because they are set forth in perfect order.

In example the second  advent, the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,  will
happen exactly 1260 days from the day the Mark of Beast was given in  exchange for worship of the Antichrist, proving no  imminency in that case. The pre-tribulational interval is called the `Bema' judgment when  all  believers of this age must appear before the  seat  of Christ.  

"For  we  must all appear before the  judgment  seat  of Christ;  that every one may receive the things [done]  in  [his] body,  according  to that he hath done, whether [it be]  good  or bad."  (2 Corinthians 5:10, see also Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor.  3:10-15; 4:2-5)

 The second advent brings with it God's judgment of  unbelievers called the krino' judgment. "Whatever the view one  holds in  regard to our Lord's return, one thing is clear in  prophetic Scripture, the marriage occurs in heaven (Rev. 19:7-9) before the
triumphal return of Christ with His redeemed church at His side." (Rev.19:11-16) (7)
Dr.Charles Ryrie explains the 24 elders of Revelation  4:1-5:14:  "..twenty-four  elders were appointed by  King  David  to represent the entire Levitical priesthood (1Chron.24).. redeemed human beings included.. in heaven before the tribulation begins."

(8)  These are Old Testament saints resurrected when the  Rapture occurs: the dead rise first. There  is  a  tendency to omit Israel  completely  from  the second coming, leaving just the Church. In fact there has been  a decided effort from the beginning to erase the nation of  Israel, probably due to the unexplainable miracles that meander  throughout the history of the Jews. The nation is unique, the only  one founded  on  a Father's faith in God, a miracle from God,  a  new name from God and a close relationship with God that brought  the nation  into existence and so far has prevailed over 4000  years.

The  highlights  are the voluntary move to Egypt due  to  famine, enslaved by Pharaoh and rescued with miracles. The miracle of the ministry and the crucifixion of our beloved Lord and Savior,  the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. by Romans, followed a world-wide scattering of the Jews possibly for survival purposes. Amazingly  this  was all prophesied in the Holy Bible,  just  as  the present  regathering. In spite of the scattering, many Jews  lost their lives and their heritage through persecution and  intermarriage with Gentiles.

It is extraordinary that the forces are still alive  wanting to  destroy the nation of Israel. Another holocaust is  predicted during the tribulation. Thank God, God is able: "to miraculously resurrect" their bodies, they should not fear death. "I will also gather  all nations, and will bring them down into the valley  of Jehoshaphat,  and  will plead with them there for my  people  and [for]  my  heritage Israel, whom they have  scattered among  the nations, and parted my land."..

"Let the heathen be wakened, and come  up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I  sit  to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for  the harvest  is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full,  the fats  overflow;  for  their wickedness  [is] great.Multitudes, multitudes  in  the valley of decision: for the day of  the  LORD [is]  near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon  shall be  darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their  shining. (Joel 3:2,  12-15) note Joel does not mention the Church because it is gone.  

The  following  vision is explicitly  concerned  with  God's renewal  of His promises to Israel (Ezekiel 37:14), the reign  of Messiah  begins (Ezekiel 37:24,25) Prior to this, the revival of the  Jews has taken place and the Antichrist has  overcome  them. They  have been martyred. Ezekiel wrote the following: "The  hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of  the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which [was] full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold,
[there  were] very many in the open valley; and, lo, [they  were] very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones  live?

And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. Again he said unto  me, Prophesy  upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye  dry  bones, hear  the  word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD  unto  these bones;  Behold,  I will cause breath to enter into  you, and  ye shall  live:  And I will lay sinews upon you, and will  bring  up flesh  upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in  you, and  ye shall live; and ye shall know that I [am] the LORD.

"So  I prophesied  as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was  a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon  them, and the skin covered them above: but [there  was]  no breath  in  them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the  wind, prophesy,  son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith  the  Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon  these slain,  that they may live."

"So  I  prophesied as he commanded me, and the  breath  came into  them,  and  they lived, and stood up upon  their  feet,  an exceeding  great  army. Then he said unto me, Son of  man,  these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our  bones
are  dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for  our  parts.

"Therefore  prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the  Lord  GOD; Behold,  O my people, I will open your graves, and cause  you  to come  up out of your graves, and bring you into the land  of Israel. And ye shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your  graves, And  shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and  I  shall place  you in your own land: then shall ye know that I  the LORD have  spoken [it], and performed [it], saith the LORD." (Ezekiel 37:1-14) Ezekiel was told that Judah and Israel would become  one once again. (see Ezekiel 37:17)

Ezekiel  leaves no doubt that Israel and the Church  have  a different  function  relative to the Day of the  Lord.  The  name Israel was given to Jacob approximately 180 years after Abraham's birth.  And  the  tribulation is not the "time  of  the Church's trouble," but the "time of Jacob's trouble." The Church is absent from the Tribulation. Not one Old Testament passage on the tribulation  refers  to the church, nor does the  New Testament ever speak  of  the church in relation to the tribulation,  except  as present in heaven. (9)
Before the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus,  nobody knew  about  the Body of Christ. God's program was to  offer  the Kingdom to Israel.

Rejected, He purchased by His own blood all of humanity  and  from it is building the Body of Christ,  the  true Church,  invisible, not of any denomination nor any  other human organization.  Soon the body will be complete,  which  represents the  end of the Church Age. Each of us is a member of this  Body, membership in a church has nothing to do with it. The message  of salvation  is  by  grace alone, through faith  alone,  in Christ alone.  

If you are not already part of the Body of  Christ,  when you do come in, you are becoming a member simply by believing  in Jesus  Christ  as your personal savior. You become  part  of  the greatest  entity, the greatest institution, the  greatest  living thing  in the whole universe, the Body of Christ, whom God  finds totally acceptable. The Rapture of the Body of Christ not only ends the Church Age,  but it begins the Day of the Lord.

Peter describes  to  us: "But,  beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that  one  day
[is]  with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years  as one  day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise,  as  some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that  any should perish, but that all should come to  repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which  the  heavens shall pass away with a great noise,  and  the elements  shall  melt with fervent heat, the earth also  and  the works that are therein shall be burned up." (2 Peter 3:8-10)

While  still  on earth, the Body of Christ is  a  source  of protection for this world against the wrath of God. The wrath  is being stored up and growing. The Divine condemnation that is  due upon  the world cannot happen because of the Church.  Rather,  it will come during the Day of the Lord. It is described in  Revelation  from  Chapter 6 through 21. The world  will  discover  what protection they had due to the Body of Christ. The Rapture clears the  way  for the Antichrist.

"For the mystery of  iniquity  doth already  work:  only he who now letteth [will let], until  he be taken  out  of the way. And then shall that Wicked  be  revealed, whom  the  Lord shall consume with the spirit of his  mouth,  and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming. (2  Thessalonians  2:7-8)  `He who now letteth refers to the  Body  of  Christ, since the Holy Spirit will remain throughout the Tribulation.

The Antichrist will get away with his lies, because a strong delusion will have come upon the whole world. (see 2 Thess. 2:11) Up  to now the world was under Grace (forgiveness) and  with  the Rapture,  Grace will be ended. With the Church gone the fiber  of society will begin to unravel. The world will be completely  lost in  confusion, heresy, anarchy, lying, stealing, and  desecration of every kind. The people's opinion will be, that they don't need God. God is irrelevant and to them probably non-existent.

Of  great importance is the fact that the Rapture  will  restart God's program for Israel. Jesus said to the Jews:  "Behold, your  house  is left unto you desolate," (Matthew  23:38) reason being  the  crucifixion. Paul, through the Holy  Spirit  promised them eventual deliverance in Romans 11:26-27: "And so all  Israel shall  be saved: as it is written, There shall come out  of  Sion the  Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from  Jacob:  For
this  [is]  my covenant unto them, when I shall take  away  their sins."  "God hath not cast away his people which  he  foreknew.." (Romans 11:2) Foreknowledge on the part of God cannot be changed.

In  the Tribulation, Israel will make an alliance  with  the Antichrist but that covenant will be broken in the middle of  the Tribulation  which will invite tremendous persecution  and drive them  to  God. Dave Breese wrote a couple of booklets  about  the Rapture (1993/ 1994) (10) He divides events from the birth of  the Church, the Body of Christ, until the end of the Millennium, into three segments.

The Gospel of Grace is the church age which began with  Pentecost  when the Holy Spirit was released on  people  of faith and culminates with the Rapture. Scripture to confirm:  ".. now  made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus  Christ, who  hath abolished death, and hath brought life and  immortality to light through the gospel:" (2 Timothy 1:10)

"For we know  that if our earthly house of [this] tabernacle were dissolved, we have a  building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in  the heavens.  For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be  clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:" (2 Corinthians 5:1-2) "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." (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17)

"Behold, I shew you a  mystery;  We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 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 15:51-52)

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