Is the Rapture Real?
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Is the Rapture Real?
As a Christian you may think Jesus will rapture you to heaven during a future time of world crisis. But what if He doesn't?
[Gary] Are you a Christian who believes that Jesus is going to save you from a time of horrendous global trouble? Are you waiting for Him to whisk you away into heaven in what is called the Rapture?
You imagine pilotless airplanes plummeting to earth... empty cars crashing into each other... and those "left behind" anxiously searching for their loved ones who disappeared. Preachers, books and movies teach this! But, is it even biblical?
How devastated would you be when you and other Christians aren't raptured? That could undermine your entire faith and belief in God. So, we need to ask: What does the Bible actually teach about the rapture?
You know, the Bible does teach of a future time when supernatural trumpets will announce God's intervention in human history. Do you expect to hear the blast of a trumpet and immediately rise to meet Jesus in the clouds?
Well, today we'll explore four biblical passages to see if the Bible can actually answer the question, "Is the Rapture Real?"
[Announcer] Join our host Gary Petty, and his guests, as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today!
[Gary] Many Christians believe that we are fast approaching a time of massive war, disease epidemics and natural calamities. Now, some Christians believe that they will be saved from these worldwide calamities by what is called the "Rapture." The rapture is the teaching that Christ comes to take away Christians into the clouds before the prophetic time of the Great Tribulation.
The book of Revelation tells of a time when seven angels will blast seven trumpets, each one heralding great events during the time leading to the return of Jesus Christ as King of Kings.
A careful study of these seven trumpets shows that the pre-Tribulation rapture teaching is based on a misunderstanding of these prophecies. There are few who are Christian who believe in the rapture. About this time, I know what you're saying: "I know this guy is wrong. I mean the rapture is mentioned in the Bible by the apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians."
Well, we're going to explore that passage, along with three other biblical passages that concern the return of Jesus Christ, and what the Bible actually teaches.
Now if you are waiting for the return of Jesus Christ, then what we're discussing today is very important in helping you understand God's plan of salvation. Don't be devastated when you and other Christians aren't raptured. Don't let an unbiblical teaching undermine your entire faith and belief in God.
Okay. So let's begin by turning to 1 Thessalonians 4. And here the apostle Paul writes to the first century church in Thessalonica. He wrote:
"But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep..." Now, in the Bible you're going to find both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, especially in the writings of Jesus and Paul, where what we have is death described as sleep. So he is talking about people who have died.
He says: "...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"—Okay, those who are alive at Christ's coming—" will by no means precede"—or have some kind of benefit over—"those who are asleep"—or dead. "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God."
And listen to this next statement, because we are going to come back to it: "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" (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).
What we have done is we have put together an illustration to help us go through the four scriptures that we are talking about today, to help us look at some very simple facts that are stated in these passages and help us understand what the Bible actually teaches about the rapture. So let's look first at 1 Thessalonians. Now we're going to look at a number of facts in this passage.
First, the time period. It actually doesn't tell us. It just says that these things are going to happen.
Where is Christ in this passage? Now think about what we just read. It's rather obvious. It says He's in the clouds, okay. But this is very important.
Then, who is gathered? The dead and then the living saints. So this is who He gathers, at this time, in the clouds.
But this is very important. Who is raised first? Well, it's obvious. He says, the dead are raised first. So the dead are raised first—remember that phrase, because we are going to come back to it.
And then, what will be heard? The voice of an angel and a trumpet.
So here is what we have. Christ comes in the clouds. He gathers the dead and the living. Those who are raised first are the dead. And it happens at the sound of an archangel and a trumpet.
This is the predominant passage used to support the "Rapture" teaching. Now to really understand this passage, we must compare it with three other New Testament passages that describe these same events.
So, let's look at what Jesus taught about His second coming and the gathering of the saints in what is called the Olivet Prophecy. A lot of people will tell you that the rapture and the second coming of Jesus Christ are two separate events. But, we're going to show you that this is an error in this teaching. The elect will be saved, but maybe not in the way many of you have been taught.
Now here's what Jesus says in Matthew 24: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matthew 24:29-31).
Well let's look at our chart again, and let's look at the differences and similarities between these two passages.
Matthew. What is the time period in which Jesus describes here about His coming? It is after the Tribulation. So in 1 Thessalonians we don't have an exact mention of the time period but we do here in Matthew. So it's after the Tribulation.
Where is Jesus? Well, He is in the clouds.
Who does He come to gather? The elect. The elect are the saints. They are Christians. They are those who are His, who are Jesus Christ's.
And what's very important here and also in understanding, is that He comes at the sound of a trumpet.
So there are very important similarities between these two passages. We don't know if there is a similarity here between 1 Thessalonians and Matthew because this doesn't tell a time.
We know that Jesus here is distinctly talking of a time after the Tribulation. Both coming in the cloud.
Who is gathered? The dead and living saints—the elect.
Who is raised first? 1 Thessalonians says, the dead. But in the Matthew, it doesn't, it doesn't say.
What will be heard? The voice of an archangel and a trumpet, and a trumpet. So we see there are similarities here but there are some gaps between these two. There are things that are mentioned in one and not in the other. We have to solve that problem.
We can see that there are remarkable similarities between what Jesus taught in the prophecy, here in the Olivet Prophecy and what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians.
So here is the question: Are Jesus and Paul talking about two different events or are they describing the same event? We're going to answer that question in today's program.
But first, I'm going to talk to you about our free offer. To provide you with much more information on this important subject, we have prepared a new free Bible study aid, The Rapture Versus the Bible. This study aid goes into much greater detail on this often misunderstood subject and it includes, by the way, the scriptural comparison chart which I have been explaining on today's program.
You can receive a free copy of this dynamic study aid by calling: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Now, we have only a limited number of copies of The Rapture Versus the Bible available in print. Once we run out, it will only be available on our website. However, if you call right now, we will be pleased to send you this unique, free study aid directly to your home. You really need this vital free publication to help you better understand the biblical truth on today's subject.
So, please call: 1-888-886-8632 or visit BeyondToday.tv, to request your free study aid.
So what does the Bible really teach about the rapture?
Well the answer to that question doesn't have to be overwhelming. Today, we're looking at four, biblical, prophetic passages that describe the return of Jesus Christ.
Now we've looked at one passage in 1 Thessalonians where Paul wrote that those who are alive at Christ's second coming won't "precede," or '"have an advantage" over those who have died in the faith. Because—and he plainly says this—the dead in Christ will rise first.
We've also looked at Jesus' teaching in the Olivet Prophecy where He talked about gathering His followers from the "four winds," or from all areas of the globe, but this is said to be done after the Tribulation.
Now, are these two passages describing the same events or two different events?
We have two more passages to explore that will help us put together the pieces of this puzzle.
If you have ever wondered about the rapture teaching, or if you have been sort of taking this for granted, you need to continue to follow along as we explore what the Bible actually teaches.
So, let's go and look at our third passage, which was also written by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. This is what he writes:
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep..."—You see this same reference before, this sleep means death—"...but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:50-53).
So let's take a look now at this passage: 1 Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 15. Here Paul is talking about a resurrection from the dead and a changing of saints into immortality. And he gives us a time period. He says it's at the last trumpet. Now this is very important because when we get to the book of Revelation, the announcement of the great events of the end time, before the return of Jesus Christ, are called the seven trumpets. So we know there is a seventh trumpet or a last trumpet. So this puts this into perspective of when this is going to happen. At the last trumpet, certain things happen.
It doesn't exactly tell us where Christ is, where the other passages we've looked at says in the clouds.
But we do know that the dead then the saints are raised. They are changed. Who is raised first in that passage? Go back and read that very carefully. It's the dead. Then we, who are changed.
And once again, when? The last trumpet!
So let's start to compare this back to what we read in the Olivet Prophecy. And we will see that what Jesus is talking about and Paul is talking about here, are the same events! Jesus says after the Tribulation. What happens at the end of the Tribulation? The Great Day of the Lord. Which consists of seven trumpets. The last trumpet. The last of those trumpets. So this is describing, these two passages, are describing the same event.
Jesus comes in the clouds. It doesn't tell us in 1 Corinthians exactly where He is. But we do know that He comes for the elect, which are all those of God. Well here, it's the dead and the saints! So, same people.
We do know in 1 Corinthians that the dead are raised first. That's very, very important.
The sound of at trumpet? The last trumpet.
So, 1 Corinthians, Matthew 24—same events. We have two passages describing the same prophetic event. Now let's look back at 1 Thessalonians, because remember 1 Thessalonians is the main scripture used to support a pre-Tribulation rapture. Now, remember we have already proven that Matthew and 1 Corinthians are describing a post-Tribulation event!
Let's look at 1 Thessalonians. 1 Thessalonians doesn't tell us a time period, but it does tell us that Christ is in the clouds. It does tell us that, who is gathered? The dead and the living. Matthew says the elect. 1 Corinthians says the dead and the saints.
Who is raised first? This is very, very important. The dead are raised first. We know that in 1 Corinthians the dead are raised first. How could this be two different events? Let's really think about this and look at this a minute.
1 Corinthians, 1 Corinthians, last trumpet. Dead raised first. Last trumpet is at the end, after the Tribulation, right? So it's the same as Matthew's account after the Tribulation. What we have here in 1 Thessalonians, the dead being raised first. Either there are two resurrections of the dead, or these two events are both the same event.
At Christ's return, there is one resurrection. The Bible does talk about a second resurrection, but that is after the Millennium. You can read about that in Revelation 20. So this is very important. We are now showing that 1 Corinthians, Matthew, 1 Thessalonians are all describing the same events! Which means this is a post-Tribulation event.
The pieces of the puzzle are beginning to fit together. These three passages of Scripture—1 Thessalonians, Matthew and 1 Corinthians—are all describing the same events. Now, we do have one more passage to add to the picture.
The book of Revelation states that there will be seven major events that happen toward the end of the Tribulation. These events are called the "Seven Trumpets." At the last, or seventh trumpet, Christ returns. Now here's what the apostle John was inspired to write about the events of Christ's return in the book of Revelation. Now listen to this:
"And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years." Now listen, "But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished." This, the event that happens at Christ's return, "This is the first resurrection." The second resurrection doesn't happen until after the Millennium. The first resurrection happens at the beginning of the Millennium. Now remember, the resurrection is when the dead in Christ are raised.
Now, John continues: "Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years" (Revelation 20:4-6).
What we have in Revelation is the seventh trumpet. We know exactly when this is. It is at the return of Jesus Christ. And you could really understand this, if you not only read Revelation 20, but go back to Revelation 19, and 18, and 17, and you will see how this fits together. And the sound of the seventh trumpet and there are all these events and Christ's returns. And people see Him descending to earth. At this point we also know the dead are judged and the saints rewarded—seventh trumpet. Christ returns at the sound of the seventh trumpet. Now let's tie these back in together.
Seventh trumpet, last trumpet, after the Tribulation—these are all describing the same events. Matthew, 1 Corinthians, Revelation.
Now we can see that Christ is descending in the cloud, He is coming down to earth. We look that in all four of them, the dead and the elect—the saints, are being gathered.
But what's very important too is that in 1 Corinthians and in 1 Thessalonians, the dead rise first. In Revelation, the dead are not resurrected until the return of Jesus Christ at the seventh trumpet.
Now think about that just a minute. The dead are not resurrected until the return of Jesus Christ at the seventh trumpet or what Paul called the last trumpet. This means, this can't be a different resurrection from the dead in 1 Thessalonians. The dead, the first resurrection isn't before... The first resurrection isn't before the return of Jesus Christ, to stand on the Mount of Olives. It is after the Tribulation. 1 Thessalonians has to be describing the same events as these scriptures.
And when do these events happen? Seventh trumpet, last trumpet, trumpet, trumpet.
It all fits together. And what's happened in the Rapture Theory, is that this event has been disengaged from these other three events, or passages. But they can't be disengaged. These events are all the same.
And the key is, the dead in Christ shall rise first. That's 1 Thessalonians. When do the dead in Christ rise? Matthew, 1 Corinthians, Revelation all tell us the same thing. They all happen—the trumpet, the last trumpet, the seventh trumpet—after the Tribulation, at the return of Jesus Christ.
All of these New Testament passages are describing the same events. Those who meet Christ in the air cannot precede those who are dead, because the dead rise first. The dead are raised at the sound of the seventh trumpet when Christ returns after the Tribulation.
When we look at these scriptures it is a plain fact that there is little support for the pre-Tribulation rapture. Jesus Christ is returning for His followers, but it will be at the end of the Tribulation, at the sound of the last, or seventh, trumpet, when all the elect and dead are changed together.
The supernatural trumpet supplies a key to understanding the events leading to Christ's return to establish God's Kingdom on this earth.
The elect will receive salvation, but the pre-Tribulation rapture is not supported by Scripture. Don't be devastated when you and other Christians aren't raptured. Don't let an unbiblical teaching undermine your entire faith and belief in God. The elect will be saved, just not in the way that you've been led to believe.
You will find it helpful to review the information that I have presented so far today. You can do that by requesting your free, new study aid: The Rapture Versus the Bible. You can read it online now at BeyondToday.tv. Or, you can have your own hard copy sent right to your home. Please call us toll free at: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. If you live outside of North America, you can also write us at the address on your screen [Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254].
Remember, we are offering this special Bible study aid in print for just a limited time. After that, it will only be available on our website. So, if you'd like a printed edition, please call today while copies are still available.
We'll also send you a free subscription to The Good News magazine. This unique publication is packed with stimulating articles on world news and events, prophecy and Christian living—all with biblical insight. Your comprehension of the Bible and Jesus Christ will grow with each issue. We look forward to hearing from you.
We're joined by fellow Beyond Today presenters, Darris McNeely and Steve Myers.
You know we've been looking at the Rapture Theory today, which many people believe. Does it really matter whether you believe in the rapture or not? I mean, what does it matter?
[Darris] It matters a great deal, as you have very well shown with your chart up here today, Gary. You have to be scripturally accurate and look honestly at what the Bible says. Put the scriptures together on the subject to come to a biblical understanding. And the interpretation that so many have put to the rapture is just not biblical as you've shown. Putting it all together as you have done helps us to understand a far greater hope and a far greater purpose that God has in mind than just the limiting factor, the limiting teaching of the rapture.
[Steve] I think you made a good point in the sense that, sincere people should continue to look at what the Bible really says. So if you were to take that one passage in 1 Thessalonians and you have a misunderstanding about it, but when you begin to see how these other passages give more detail and they give insight into helping us realize, "well wait a second, this is talking about the resurrection. It is not talking about some rapture." And so I believe that Christ expects us to come to the truth. And when we understand the truth, it gives us a much deeper understanding of what God's plan is really all about.
[Gary] An important thing to remember is that when Christ returns, those that are alive, are changed, do rise in the air to meet Him. It's not like there's no salvation. But it is a matter of you know, if you were waiting for a pre-Tribulation rapture, and the Tribulation starts, and bad things start to happen. It could really destroy your faith, couldn't it?
[Darris] I think so. I think that is a very good point that anyone who believes in the rapture should think about. If, as you believe that you are going to be raptured, you would not be raptured, when these events begin to take place—the Tribulation, the Day of the Lord—what would your reaction be? Would it cause one to lose faith? Would it cause you to mistrust God and the truth of His Word?
Further deception I think could be the result of such a time, and the Scriptures talk about deceptions that lead to those who will actually fight Christ at His coming. And I don't think people who believe in the rapture want to find themselves in that category, which brings us back to another good reason to get the truth right and believe it. And that strengthens faith in a God who is going to bring these things to pass.
[Gary] Let me remind you about our offer today, a Bible study guide called: The Rapture Versus the Bible and of course when we send this to you, we will also send you a free subscription to The Good News magazine. Call right now toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or, you can read online at BeyondToday.tv.
We are pleased to offer all of our publications absolutely free of charge as an educational service. So, please call or write to us right now. We're looking forward to hearing from you!
Also, while visiting our BeyondToday.tv website we invite you to watch BT Daily. These are short daily videos on important Bible topics and breaking news. Join us throughout the week on the Web for BT Daily and get additional analysis on prophecy, the Bible and God's plan for humanity. You can watch Beyond Today and BT Daily on YouTube, or on our Roku Channel.
And, the United Church of God has hundreds of Saturday, Sabbath-keeping congregations across the United States and around the world, with caring pastors who can help you in your Christian journey as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Go to BeyondToday.tv—click on the "Contact" tab to find a congregation near you. Call one of our pastors and share your story with them. Find out more about how the rapture is not based on biblical teaching.
God has a plan of salvation that succeeds by His power.
The dead in Christ will be resurrected and His followers who are alive will be changed and "caught up together in the clouds." But they won't stay in the clouds. Christ is coming to this earth to save humanity and establish God's Kingdom. This is the hope for those who anticipate His return.
Join us next week on Beyond Today as we continue to discover the gospel of the Kingdom. We also invite you to join us in praying, "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today, I'm Gary Petty. 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!