Many feel they will be taken secretly to heaven before a time of tribulation. Is this idea biblical? You need to know.
[Steve] Do you believe in the rapture?
> I don’t know…
> Well I believe it but it’s up to…
>> Couldn’t you find an easier subject?
[Steve] Why is it such a hard question to answer? Do you believe in the rapture? Can you explain it? Is the rapture our rescue or is the whole idea of the rapture just a ruse? Here’s what’s important: What does your Bible teach?
Stay tuned to Beyond Today as we examine "The Rapture: Hope or Hoax?"
[Announcer] Join our host, Steve Myers and his guests, as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today !
[Steve] Look at the condition of the world today–we see conflicts, disasters economic woes. No wonder a kind of concern exists about the end times. There’s curiosity about the book of Revelation and interest in the rapture. Now if you thought that the vast majority of evangelical leaders believe in the rapture, you’d be right.
But what about you? We talked to people on the street about their thoughts on the rapture.
> I believe that the Lord will come again and so that could be a rapture.
>> No, I don’t believe in the rapture.
> I… I think so… I think there, yes… I think I do.
[Steve] Well, is there a rapture or not? I was a bit surprised to find that almost everyone I talked to on the street believed in the rapture. It seemed to verify a survey that was recently done by ChristiaNet.com. They asked, "Is the Rapture Theory Biblical?" Now out of 1900 Christians surveyed, 71% believe that the rapture theory is true. Now, believing it doesn’t make it true. So is the rapture idea really biblical? Listen to these ideas:
[Steve] Why do you feel the rapture is going to happen?
> … Because the Bible says it is?
>> I sort of believe that we live here on earth and, [the] Lord will come someday. Maybe soon but maybe not.
> Well I mean I believe there’s going to be an end to something at some point because I do believe in the Bible and follow that so.
[Steve] Does the Bible teach the rapture? Now before we get into the answer to that question. I think it’s important to understand the basics: What is the rapture theory? Now how would you answer if I asked you? Could you tell me what it’s all about?
Now when I asked people on the street this question, it was difficult for most of them to specifically describe. Now even though they believed it, they had a very difficult time explaining it.
What is the rapture? How would you explain it?
> That’s a tough one… Well… I’d say…
>> The rapture to me would mean that as long as you ask Christ’s forgiveness that we’re all going to go to heaven no matter if we’ve sinned or not.
> I believe it would be the end times of civilization and those who are eligible for heaven will go and those who are not will not so...
[Steve] What have you heard about it?
> The rapture?
[Steve] Has anyone ever described it to you? Or maybe come up to you and tell you about it?
> A lot of stupid stuff like the world ending or like Jesus coming back and, you know whatever.
>> The rapture’s a thing that some churches believe in–heavenly, and they preach it and they keep their people in line, that it’s gonna happen maybe tomorrow so you gotta be good today.
[Steve] Now these comments certainly revealed something to me. It became obvious that as we spoke to people on the street it wasn’t clear. Their ideas of what exactly the rapture is couldn’t really be described. They couldn’t put it into words. It was no easy task for those that we talked to.
Now these people weren’t so different from most Christians–probably not so different from you. When surveys ask people about the rapture, it’s common for them to say "Well, it says so in the Bible," or "My church teaches it," or "I’ve believed it from the time I was a child."
But, does it really say so in the Bible? Could your church be teaching something that’s not found in Scripture? Isn’t it about time you asked yourself; "Why do I believe the things that I do?" Like this lady that I spoke to:
What if I told you that the rapture’s not in the Bible?
> Wow…You got me with that one. Hmm…
[Steve] Now as surprising as it may be, the word rapture is not even found in the Bible. Now this may be more surprising: Jesus, the apostles and the New Testament Church never taught the doctrine of the rapture. In fact, the rapture is not even mentioned in any valid historical document before the 19th century!
So you see, the rapture is a new doctrine. The rapture is not a biblical one.
So have you taken your beliefs for granted? Can you explain what you believe and why you believe it? Can you confirm it? You see it’s important to know where you should turn to find the truth. So we’d like to help you in your search.
The rapture theory is wrapped around mistaken ideas of paradise, of judgment and of tribulation. So I’d like to offer you a study guide that will help you discover the fascinating truth. It’s called: Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach? It will help you sort out the difference between speculation, supposition and guesswork from the teachings of the Bible.
The rapture, heaven, hell–they don’t have to be confusing issues. Our helpful study aid, it will help you to base your beliefs on the solid truth of the Bible.
Now in a moment, I’ll tell you how you can get this free booklet, so stay with us.
Now as I mentioned earlier that the rapture theory isn’t found in any valid historical document before the 19th century. Now is it possible that the rapture is a biblical teaching but we hadn’t discovered it for over 1800 years? No.
It never was a part of the Old Testament. It was never anything that Jesus Christ taught and it was never taught by the New Testament Church. So it’s a modern concept. It’s a new idea. It’s a new notion–hasn’t been around for all that long. In fact, you go back 200 years and you wouldn’t even find the idea of the rapture. So when you look at your Bible, you won’t find it there. Listen to this.
Do you know where in the Bible it talks about that or what it says about it?
> Not specifically…
[Steve] Now despite the fact that the rapture theory is not mentioned in the Bible many believe that Christians will suddenly and secretly disappear from Earth and be taken up to heaven just before a time of terrible trouble and tribulation.
Now where does that idea come from? Do you really understand it? Or perhaps you’re like those who I spoke with on the street. You just can’t quite explain it very well. Now why would that be? I think it’s because it’s not a biblical teaching.
> Okay I’m going to do you, explain it to me…
[Steve] She has an important question. How do you properly explain biblical truth? Well you’ve got to get into your Bible! It’s critical to read it for yourself. You have to prove it to yourself. And when you do, you’ll find the rapture isn’t in the Bible. So just because so many believe it, just because churches teach it and just because you thought it was true from your childhood doesn’t make it so.
So let’s take a moment. Let’s look at one passage that many say speaks about the rapture theory. Now that verse is found over in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 1 Thessalonians 4:16For 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:
American King James Version×. Here’s what it says, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangle, and the with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 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. Therefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 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: 17 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. 18 Why comfort one another with these words.
American King James Version×).
Now when we read that, there’s at least three problems with claiming that this passage refers to the rapture.
First of all, the rapture is supposed to be a secret. It’s supposed to be a silent event. What does this passage say? It says there’s going to be a trumpet. It says there’s going to be a shout! That’s a very loud public event. That is not a secret.
Now secondly, another problem with this passage and the rapture: This passage and in fact, nowhere throughout this Book does it mention Christ returning two times: First coming to take Christians away and then coming back again to return to earth. Doesn’t say that! So that’s a problem.
There’s a third problem as well. There are so many other New Testament verses, references to Christ coming in the clouds but you see, those aren’t talking about a rapture. They’re referring to His second coming–no connection to the rapture.
Now as a pastor, I’ve talked to many that have a difficult time realizing what exactly is this passage talking about. Now I try to remind them to put away your ideas of what you think might be there. What you may have been told and look specifically at what the verse is saying. You see many confuse the wrong idea of the rapture with the resurrection and return of Jesus Christ.
So what should you do? Look at the context. Start reading a few verses before this section. Go back to verse 13, and we can begin to see what this whole section of Scripture is all about. Notice verse 13. It says, "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. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 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" (1 Thessalonians 4:13-15 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15 13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
American King James Version×).
So you see according to this passage, God’s people shouldn’t be sorrowful like the rest of mankind who don’t understand the truth. You see God’s people were grieving over the unexpected deaths of their fellow members.
Well, why was that? You see they thought that Jesus would return in their lifetime. They were caught unprepared for the death of their faithful friends. So the point is that those who have died are not at any disadvantage. The fact is that living Christians will be together with their departed loved ones–those who have died in the faith obedient to God.
Now how and when does that happen? You see according to this passage that occurs at the resurrection. That occurs at the second coming of Christ when faithful Christians who died will be resurrected to meet Jesus in the air at His coming and then return to Earth. You see that’s good news!
We can encourage one another with these words since Jesus Christ is coming again. He’s coming back! He’s going to establish His Kingdom on this earth. So true Christians will be resurrected and rise to meet Him! It’s like an escort of honor, we’ll officially welcome our newly arriving King and accompany Him back to earth where He will rule from Jerusalem.
That is good news! That’s new that we can encourage one another with. Now, before Christ returns, it’s going to be a very difficult time, a terrible time on earth–much worse than any one tsunami. Much worse than any one hurricane, or war that humanity has ever faced. Two of the people I spoke with mentioned their thoughts about this event:
How would you explain it?
> Before the second coming of the Lord, they’ll be a time when all people will be judged in terms of whether they go to heaven or stay during the time of trial and tribulation when He’s here…
>> I think time is near, I mean not near near, but you know like, you know we there. I mean what we’re facing now is what the Bible is describing that what will come when the world ends so forth. So, yeah.
[Steve] You see, many believe that an end-time rapture will fulfill God’s promise to protect His people. Now there’s no doubt, the Bible does talk about protection but notice what God says to His Church in Revelation 3:10 Revelation 3:10Because you have kept the word of my patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall come on all the world, to try them that dwell on the earth.
American King James Version×, "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth."
You see nothing in this verse or in any others about God’s protection says that Christians will be protected in heaven. They’re not going to be swept away to heaven to be sheltered from tribulation. That is not found. It’s not even hinted at in Scripture.
So for the truth, you’ve got to go to the Source. Instead, if there is any indication of a place, Revelation 12:14 Revelation 12:14And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
American King James Version×simply calls it "the wilderness." Even then, the same prophecy tells that at least some of the people of God will be under attack (Revelation 12:17 Revelation 12:17And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×).
So what can we learn? What’s the greater lesson when it comes to the wrong ideas about the rapture? Don’t take things for granted. You see I think the lesson is about focus. It’s about priorities. It’s a lesson about understanding the truth. You see in other words, get into your Bible! Prove it for yourself. Do you know what the Bible really teaches?
I find that as a pastor, so many are confused about what Scripture really says. Do you know it? Do you understand God’s plan for mankind? Do you understand God’s plan for you? These things will impact your life. Now’s the time to do something about it. We live in challenging times that foreshadow terrible difficulties ahead. Heaven, hell, the rapture, these are critical concepts that you need to understand.
Most seem to believe something just because they’ve heard about it. So don’t take the truth, don’t take the Word of God so lightly. Instead, thinking you know the Bible and what it says, can get you into trouble. Get it out. Open it up. Read it for yourself. Then you can begin to understand the truth.
Now there’s so much more to talk about on this subject. Up next, we’ll be talking with the Beyond Today panel. But first, we have a valuable offer for you. I’d like to offer you a study aid that will help you sort out the end times, the last days and the rapture theory. It’s called, Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach?
We’d like to help you as you discover what the Bible says and why it’s important to understand it. So go online to BeyondToday.tv to read or download Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach? Or request your free copy by calling toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That’s 1-888-886-8632. Now if you live outside North America, you can write to the address on your screen.
Heaven, hell and the rapture don’t have to be confusing. This helpful study aid, it will help you base your belief on the solid truth of the Bible. Isn’t it time for truth in your life?
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Now we’ve been discussing "The Rapture: Hope or Hoax." It’s time for our Beyond Today panel to discuss the topic. So joining me now are fellow hosts of the program, Darris McNeely and Gary Petty.
You know as we think about this topic, probably one of the issues that comes to people’s minds is so what? Why is it important? What’s the difference if I believe in the rapture or not? You know, how would we answer a question like that?
[Darris] I would answer Steve, by saying that a person should be always on a continual quest for biblical truth. It’s either true or it’s not. Now you’ve gone through a good explanation that it isn’t truth. In our world today most people really don’t want to come to face the truth of any matter–about life, about themselves and certainly about God and these big questions of life. And this is a matter of truth that everyone should want to know from the Bible. Christ said the truth will set you free and it will set us free from ignorance, from unbelief, from uncertainty and those are major freedoms that one should have when it comes to the Bible and life, and the future as the Bible shows it.
[Steve] It seems like we take things for granted in some ways. Oh, you don’t think it’s true well, okay. But hopefully people would dig out their Bible and see if what we’re saying is true or not.
[Gary] Well you know it’s interesting Jesus said that the Father was looking for those who would worship Him in spirit and in truth. All of us are to be growing constantly in truth. Whatever you believe about any subject shapes and molds how you see your life, those around you, your worldview, how you interact with other people. I recently had a man call me, very upset, very anxious because he had believed he had missed the rapture. And he called me because as a pastor, he had found my phone number and he was just in turmoil. He had missed it. What was going to happen to him? He didn’t know what was going to happen and it shows us how beliefs shape how we see things. And so how we view the end times– what’s going to happen, how we interpret prophecy–this is important.
[Steve] It’s very important. I think we miss it if we just think this is just another belief and it’s okay if this is just one of many things I believe. But, is it fair to realize how it impacts our worship of God? Isn’t there a connection there to what we believe–whether it’s truth or not–and worshipping God in the right way?
[Darris] Yes. There is a link in believing and having worship in the true God. You know, so many times… Look, everyone needs to examine their belief and stack it up against the Bible especially when it comes to coming to know the God that is revealed in the Bible. And this particular teaching is just another example of an erroneous teaching that hides another component aspect of truth about God. And again, you wonder at times when you read in the Scriptures how the armies are gathered to fight Christ at His coming, and how man will not repent in those times of that final period of the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. Could it be, it will be because they will, even then do not know the true God?
And teachings like this and many other false biblical teachings that religions hold and people have, hide them from, not only a relationship with God but coming to even recognize the God–true God, and why people will not recognize Him even at His glorious appearing in that day, and still gather to fight Him because they don’t know Him. Truths or teachings like this hide that knowledge, not only a relationship with God and the knowledge…
[Gary] You know if the rapture isn’t true and the end time events start to happen, would that destroy people’s faith? The rapture didn’t happen. What happened? God must be lying! He didn’t tell me the truth!
[Gary] Well, it’s not true! So we have to understand that or people will lose faith as we get closer to the end times.
[Steve] And I think that brings us to the point that we’ve got to get into our Bible. What is the truth?
[Gary] You know it’s interesting what Jesus said Himself. If you go to Matthew 24, the Olivet Prophecy, He talks about how there will be a Great Tribulation. He talks about the Tribulation. Of course that’s one of the reasons people are so attracted to the concept of the rapture, they want to escape the Tribulation. And you mentioned that in the program, but "such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved [alive]; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened" (Matthew 24:21-22 Matthew 24:21-22 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
American King James Version×).
Now the elect are the people of God. They’re on the earth and the Tribulation is going to be shortened so they can be saved. In fact, a little later in this same passage, He says immediately after the Tribulation. This is verse 29 of Matthew 24: "of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; (It talks about how all the stars will start falling from heaven) there will be..Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, an then all the tribes of the earth will morn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the coulds in His glory…. And He will send His angels with a sound of a great trumpet, and they gathered the elect." (Matthew 24:29-31 Matthew 24:29-31 29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
American King James Version×).
So they gathered the elect at His second coming and this is at the end, according to what He taught, of the Tribulation. So the pre-Tribulation rapture doesn’t fit what Jesus taught right here.
[Steve] So with the hope of the resurrection, what do we do? Rapture is untrue. The resurrection is our hope. How should that affect our behavior?
[Gary] If we want to be with Jesus Christ when He returns, we love the Father, we love Him. We give our lives to Them. We become disciples. It’s a total complete giving of yourself to God and His plan of what He wants to do.
[Steve] I think it’s so important that you remember that the truth comes from the Bible. What does God’s Word have to say about it? Now we don’t have time to get into all the scriptures so we hope you’ll join us on BT Daily and get the truth! Understand the truth!
Don’t forget our free offers that we have today. One of them is this booklet, Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach? And of course, don’t forget your free subscription to The Good News magazine. Call us! Toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That’s 1-888-886-8632. Or, you can read both The Good News and Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach? online at BeyondToday.tv .
Now imagine a time in the near future when Christians are going about their daily business when suddenly and secretly, they’re removed from the earth. Now is that what your Bible teaches? No, it doesn’t.
We do face a challenging time of world trouble that lies ahead but Jesus Christ is coming again to set things right. He will resurrect His loyal and obedient people–those who keep the commandments of God.
They will meet the returning Christ and return to the earth to rule from Jerusalem. The question is: Are you loyal and obedient to God and His commands? If not, now is the time to repent and change. It’s not too late! Don’t be caught up in the idea of the rapture theory. Understand what Jesus actually teaches in His Word–the Bible.
I’ll be right back for a final word after this:
[Narrator] Christ came to earth with a central message of the Kingdom of God. What is the Kingdom of God? Most have never heard or understood what Jesus actually taught on this subject. The United Church of God is hosting free seminars held simultaneously around the world.
[Steve] That Kingdom is coming to earth–that was the message of Jesus Christ. It’s not a Kingdom that’s off up there in heaven but it’s a Kingdom that Christ is going to establish right here on this earth.
[Narrator] Go to KOGSeminars.org for details to find one near you. Kingdom of God Bible Seminars–giving the message of hope for tomorrow, beginning today.
[Steve] Thanks for joining us. Don’t forget our free offers and be sure to tell your family and friends about us. Tune in again next week for another edition of Beyond Today and join us in praying, "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today, I’m Steve Myers. Thanks for watching.
[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today’s program, go online to BeyondToday.tv. Please join us again next week on Beyond Today!