Has The Rapture Become Your Worst Nightmare?
Exposing A Dangerous End-time Theology
A Special Rock of Offence Commentary
Why We Talk About the Rapture
Eschatology is the study of Bible prophecy involving end-time events, which includes the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It is estimated that 1 out of every 25 verses in the New Testament is connected to this subject. Spiritual leaders that refuse to discuss these issues are avoiding a large and important part of the Bible. What is commonly referred to as “the rapture” falls under this area of “Eschatology” – and for that reason many consider it “optional or nonessential”. However, this belief couldn’t be further from the truth.
THE RAPTURE REPRESENTS THE COMPLETION OF THE CHRISTIAN BELIEVER’S SALVATION. It is a major part of the redemptive plan that Jesus sacrificed His life to establish at the cross. The Christian’s adversary, the devil, has made it his goal to distort, discredit or -- if he can -- destroy the supernatural truths that empower our salvation. He has conducted his relentless program of disinformation since the days of the first century Church -- and it’s claimed many victims. Unfortunately, the people he uses are those with noble ambitions and good intentions. They are totally unaware of the source of the hidden influence in their theology. Remember that the religious leaders who claimed to love and serve God were Christ’s most vicious opponents and critics. A favorite target is the rapture of Christ’s Church at the end of the age. When you hear certain leaders (and their followers) say, “There is no rapture” or, “the Church must go through the tribulation” or, “the rapture is a modern delusional myth” -- you are hearing this popular propaganda campaign designed to discredit, not only a major Biblical truth, but also those who correctly teach it. Since the subject of the rapture is directly linked to Christ’s salvation and His return at the end of the age, we feel it is necessary to expose this popular and mainstream disinformation campaign that can send inexperienced believers astray in their faith.
A Dangerous Covert Internal War
Why do some Christian leaders and their followers insist on redefining one of the greatest blessings in the Bible, transforming it into a nightmare filled with fear and mental torment? This commentary answers that question. A vast majority of Christian believers live in total denial about a theological war that started back in the first century. It continues unchallenged inside the Christian Church today. It’s a quiet and covert war involving “The Truth of the Gospel”. One group misapplies Scripture (abuses its context) and subjugates all believers under an Old Testament “religious merit system”. The opposing group respects the words of Christ, who said that His crucifixion and blood initiated a New Covenant, which changed all the rules that previously governed God's salvation.
(Read: Matt. 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20, 1 Cor. 11:25, 2 Cor. 3:6, Heb. 8:6-13, Heb. 9:15, Heb. 10:19-23, Heb. 12:24).
The New Covenant, also known as “The New and Living Way of Christ” (Hebrews 10:19-23), removes the original Old Testament merit requirements. This allows God to offer eternal life (Christ’s salvation after the cross) as His gift to us (Ephesians 2:4-9 and Romans 6:23). Jesus called it a "New Covenant" because it represents GOD'S NEW WAY that His Son's sacrifice made possible. Failing to recognize these Divine changes is not a minor or insignificant problem. The New Testament warns that God takes severe disciplinary action against those that preach the gospel of the “Old Testament religious merit system” (Galatians 1:6-8). It is a spiritually lethal mistake to think these things are just a matter of anyone’s “opinion”. The New Testament warns that one side is right and the other is wrong. Yet, there is a persuasive and corrupting influence in the world-wide Christian Church that claims “both sides are right”. Saint Paul warned that the Old Testament merit system preaches “a different gospel” that represents “another Jesus”. Some Bible theologians call these type of things, "spiritual counterfeits". Others use more offensive terms. Yet, a majority of the institutional Church has rejected the liberating principles of the New Covenant and unknowingly embraced the counterfeit religious system as “God’s original intention”. Remember -- a counterfeit is an imitation that masquerades as the real thing.
THE RAPTURE IS AN UNFORTUNATE VICTIM OF THIS COVERT WAR. Those that preach the gospel of the merit system redefine the rapture into “God’s reward for faithfulness, holy living and Christian service”. However, Christ’s New Covenant declares that the rapture is the “completion and fulfillment of God’s gift of salvation” freely given to His believing children (Romans 3:24-26). Those that preach the "merit system" tell us that only a few Christians with good behavior are allowed to participate in the rapture. The other "low performance" Christians are left behind for more purification by the horrific trials of the tribulation that kills approximately one third of the earth's population. Here's the problem. Under the merit system doctrine, no one can truly know if they've met God's conditions -- so no one can know if they're going in the rapture until it happens. This false, fear-laced theology suggests, among many other things, that Christ’s sacrifice is incomplete (didn’t pay the full price for our sin) and requires our efforts to finish His redemptive work. Yet, the New Covenant gospel proclaims the good news that the entire believing Church participates in the rapture. Why? Jesus Christ is, “The Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world”. After the cross, Jesus makes the entire Church worthy of the rapture BECAUSE HE TOOK AWAY ALL THEIR SIN -- PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE. CHRIST PAID THE RANSOM FOR THEIR REDEMPTION AT THE RAPTURE, IN FULL. This includes those with a high level of good works and spiritual performance -- AND THOSE WHO ARE DEFICIENT IN THESE THINGS. IT IS THIS GIFT PROVISION THAT ALLOWS THE WHOLE CHURCH TO HAVE UNSHAKABLE ASSURANCE THAT THEY WILL NOT BE LEFT BEHIND WHEN THE RAPTURE OCCURS. Once again, THIS GIFT PROVISION DID NOT EXIST BEFORE THE CROSS WHERE THE PRICE FOR OUR TOTAL REDEMPTION WAS PAID. If eternal life is truly "God's gift" (or an unmerited benefit) as He said, then it must apply equally to all true believers.
The following article offers more insight on this often ignored internal war.
The Spiritual Revolution Of Christ
We understand this commentary is long. However, take your time and carefully read the contents. It will open your eyes to a dangerous spiritual war that operates in the institutional Christian Church that carries many dangerous and unintended consequences. The only protection is to know the truth.
Clearing Up Some Misconceptions
This article is an attempt to correct some misconceptions about what is commonly called "The Rapture of the Church". We warn all readers that this is an emotional, controversial and explosive topic. From God’s perspective, “the rapture” is a most holy event that involves not only THE COMPLETION OF THE CHRISTIAN BELIEVER’S SALVATION (Jesus calls it “our Redemption that draws nigh” in Luke 21:27-28), but also marks the end of the Church Age and the beginning of the Tribulation period. For that reason, it should not be associated with fierce arguments and emotional exchanges. Yet, this topic remains the target of some of the most toxic and poisonous teachings that can be found in the world-wide Christian Church. These teachings have the potential to send us astray in our faith because they distort (the apostle Paul used the word “pervert”) the Gospel of Christ. For that reason, our commentary offers, not only a teaching, but a strong warning that can be both abrasive and offensive to our readers. Contrary to the beliefs of some, this is not an enjoyable task. We are not presenting a new doctrine in this commentary -- as some may suggest. We are only repeating and amplifying the warnings given by both Paul (in his epistles to the Church) and the writings of Peter, who both warn us of the unintended consequences that occur when we move away from the principles of Christ’s New Covenant program in the Bible.
For the casual reader, we may appear to stereotype all churches and their leadership in a negative light. This is not our goal or intention. Good and sincere leaders who love and serve Jesus disagree on these things. Unfortunately, sincerity and “goodness” does not always equal truth. Believers can be led astray in their faith -- even with the best intentions of a church leader, who believe with all their heart that they are preaching the “uncompromising Word of God”. To keep the size of this teaching from spiraling out of control, we try to stay focused on the issues and warnings given by the apostle Paul in the New Testament. We do not oppose Godly leaders, church groups, congregations and movements that follow the principles of Christ’s New Covenant in the Bible. We do not want to paint every situation with a wide negative brush. However, Jesus warned, as we get closer to the end of the age, there would be MANY false and misleading expressions of Christianity along with the leaders that rule over them. That means the subject of this teaching is not about some kind of a “fringe” insignificant group or movement -- it is a MAINSTREAM influence that ensnares literally millions of unsuspecting believers.
In this commentary, we also speak about some of the differences that exist between the religion of Judaism and Christ's New Covenant Church. These differences are taken directly from Scripture to illustrate the emotional difficulties facing the churches established by the apostle Paul and the organized religious opposition against the Gospel of Christ that these early believers faced. It may appear to the casual reader that we are "anti-Semitic" and oppose the Jewish people. If this is your perception, it is a false one. We do not oppose, but support the nation of Israel. We see the rebirth of Israel in 1948 as a fulfillment of Bible prophecy for the end times and agree with their desire to live in the land that God promised to give them. This does not necessarily mean that we agree with all decisions or actions of their current government.
The subject of "The Rapture of the Church" can be very complex and confusing because of the massive amount of misinformation that exists in the modern church. By its very nature, it produces irreconcilable differences and vicious disagreements, like the ones that both our Lord Jesus and the apostle Paul faced in the first century. In some cases, riots occurred over the teachings of these men. To compound the confusion that already exists, this subject is commonly “repackaged” various ways in order to defend cherished, yet flawed denominational teachings that are hundreds of years old. We are now in the last days before Christ’s return. The proliferation of various distorted teachings associated with Bible prophecy is now occurring at a frightening pace. If you don’t properly understand the danger and have a firm grasp of the liberating truth of Christ's New Covenant and the soon-to-occur "Rapture of the Church" – it’s almost guaranteed that you will be a victim of misleading doctrine.
What’s All the Fuss About?
Whenever you bring up the subject of the rapture, it tends to stir up all kinds of heated controversy from the Christian community. Many leaders attempt to dodge these problems by ignoring what the Bible teaches. Yet, the subject of “end-time prophecy” and, more specifically, the Second Coming of Christ is found (on average) in one out of every 25 Scripture verses in the New Testament. That’s a lot to ignore. I continue to be puzzled at the reaction of these believers since our Heavenly Father calls the future “rapture” event, “Our Blessed Hope”. Some preachers oppose this teaching by pointing out that the word “rapture” isn’t in the Bible -- and for that reason alone they condemn it as false teaching. Others say that it’s a new teaching that originated around the 1800’s with J.N. Darby and the "Brethren movement" and was never taught by the apostles of the first century church -- even though the apostle Paul taught it throughout his epistles (especially in 1st and 2nd Thessalonians and his epistles to the Corinthians) along with other early church leaders.
In churches that teach about Bible prophecy, the English word “rapture” is commonly used because it best describes the original meaning behind the ancient Greek language from which the English New Testament of our Bible was originally translated. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, Paul uses the phrase, “caught up to meet the Lord in the air”. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, Paul uses a different phrase, “falling away”, which is translated from the Greek language of the Bible to mean “departure”. Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest correctly translated this as the “departure of the Church” that occurs before the Second Coming of Christ -- and he based his conclusion on an exhaustive study of the subject IN THE ORIGINAL GREEK TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
Gary Stearman of, “Prophecy in the News" gives us another example by commenting:
“Greek scholar, E. Schuyler English, wrote an interesting book in 1954, “Rethinking the Rapture”. He looked at the linguistics of the Greek word, apostasia, usually translated as “apostasy.” He noted that the six English translations preceding the KJV translated the word as “departure.” Should II Thessalonians 2:3 read, Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a departure first?”
Misinformation About The Rapture
Began In The First Century
Many readers may not understand one of the motivations behind Paul’s epistles to the Thessalonians. Someone forged a letter to the church and signed Paul’s name to it. This letter said that “The Day of the Lord” had already come. It’s important to know some facts at this point. Paul previously (when he was with them in person) gave them some basic instructions that the future “Day of the Lord” was a time of darkness, judgment and God’s wrath for the unbelieving, Christ-rejecting world. Today, Bible students refer to this period as “The Tribulation”. He also told the Thessalonians that true Christian believers would not go through this time of God’s judgment and would be removed or “taken out of the way” beforehand. Why? This special judgment was specifically designed for a world that rejected Christ -- and believers (those who accepted Christ and believed His Gospel) did not qualify for this Divine condemnation (1 Thessalonians 5:9). In other words, Paul was saying it would be unjust for God to judge Church Age believers for something that Jesus as, “The Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world”, had already paid for with His own blood. Paul referred to this event as “a great apostasy or departure”. The word used in our English translated Bibles is “apostasy”, or “a great falling away”. Many interpret this as “a great falling away from the faith of Christ”. However, in the original Greek language from which our English New Testament was translated, this word more accurately means “departure” -- as in physically leaving one place and traveling to another. Various Greek scholars have confirmed this important definition and distinction, which raises some serious questions about wrong teaching that continues to be popular in some churches and denominations today.
A Warning about Post-Tribulationalism
In churches that teach Bible prophecy, there are many that possess variations of the theology found in this forged letter to the Thessalonian believers. It teaches that the rapture of the Church will only occur at the end of the Tribulation period at the same time Jesus physically returns to the earth. Many well-meaning Christian believers and their leaders embrace this position. It’s called "Post-Tribulationalism" (or “Post-Trib) and is dominant throughout the institutional Christian church.
The Post-Trib teaching affects Christian believers in the same way as this forged letter to the Thessalonian Church. Why? It terrorizes the Church with the same idea that believers will go through the “Day of the Lord”, or the Tribulation. While the Apostle Paul’s goal was to initially debunk this forged letter falsely sent in his name, he was more concerned that the Thessalonians understood that its message, WHICH IS SIMILAR TO THE ONE POST-TRIBULATIONALISM CONTAINS, IS FALSE AND MISLEADING. He repeated the comforting words that he spoke when he was with them previously -- that the whole believing Church would be “caught up” to meet Jesus in the air BEFORE THE TIME OF GLOBAL JUDGEMENT CALLED “THE TRIBULATION" BEGINS. Why does this “catching up” occur before? The Church has already been judged for all her sins (Past--Present--and Future) through the crucified body of Christ AND IS NOT SUBJECT TO ANY FURTHER CONDEMNATION OR JUDGMENT. When you closely examine the Post-Trib message, you will find that it covertly and quietly attacks one of the core principles of the Gospel of Christ.
"FOR GOD HATH NOT APPOINTED US TO WRATH, BUT TO OBTAIN SALVATION BY OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him." (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)
"THERE IS THEREFORE NOW NO CONDEMNATION TO THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1-2)
The Post-Trib position is a popular, yet false religious doctrine found in many churches that teach Bible Prophecy. It is the result of a failure to “rightly divide the Word of Truth”, which is something that Paul warned his disciple Timothy to be careful to practice (2 Timothy 2:15). As we’ve said repeatedly in our commentaries, God’s Word consists of two spiritual programs: The Old Covenant (or Old Testament) program of Israel and the New Covenant (or New Testament) program of the Church. Paul warned Timothy to keep these programs separate (keep them “divided”) and never mix them together because each contains radically different rules and principles. The teachers of Post-Tribulationalism violate Paul’s warning and illegally mix or confuse these two programs. This is why the teachers of this doctrine believe the entire Church must go through the Tribulation. However, they always present their position in a way that sounds like good fundamental Bible teaching, which misleads many church-going people. This teaching destroys “The Church’s blessed hope” of being “caught up beforehand” (as Paul taught) and changes it into a horrible nightmare. It’s the grievous distortion of the Bible’s context, WHICH ALSO SUBTLY CORRUPTS THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST that motivated Paul to set the record straight with the Thessalonians -- and those of us reading this today.
Below are links to some additional information that the reader may find helpful.
Problems With Posttribulationism
By Ron Rhodes
Why The Rapture Is Not The Second Coming
(Originally From Tyndale Seminary)
Why Some Christian Leaders Deceive The Church
About The Rapture
We can't even begin to understand how much it upset and terrorized the Thessalonians when they received this forged letter thinking it was from Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4). They immediately concluded that the Tribulation (The Day of the Lord) had started and, since they were not "removed" as Paul originally said, they were going to endure horrible judgment with the rest of the unbelieving world. This forged letter was skillfully written. It not only cast doubt on what Paul originally taught them, but also generated great fear and terror throughout the congregation. Unfortunately, variants of this same doctrine, supported by “out-of-context" Scripture, remain alive today in many Bible prophecy circles -- and it continues to generate the same kind of fear among believers. To correct this dangerous situation, Paul wrote two epistles; First and Second Thessalonians. Paul wrote these letters to remind the church of what he originally taught when he was with them in person. For this reason, he’s just repeating, in writing, some of the things he previously said. (2 Thessalonians 2:5)
This shows how far false teachers, masquerading as ministers of Christ, will go to propagate their doctrine. Both our Lord Jesus Christ, and the apostle Paul was correct to strongly warn believers about this dangerous theology that can appear, on the surface, as good fundamental Bible teaching.
The following quote from Paul's letter gives us a better perspective.
"NOW, BRETHREN, CONCERNING THE COMING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST AND OUR GATHERING TOGETHER TO HIM, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word OR BY LETTER, AS IF FROM US, AS THOUGH THE DAY OF CHRIST HAD COME. Let no one deceive you by any means; FOR THAT DAY WILL NOT COME UNLESS THE FALLING AWAY (DEPARTURE) COMES FIRST, AND THE MAN OF SIN (THE ANTI-CHRIST) IS REVEALED, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. DO YOU NOT REMEMBER THAT WHEN I WAS STILL WITH YOU I TOLD YOU THESE THINGS? And now you know what is restraining, that he (the anti-christ) may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so UNTIL HE IS TAKEN OUT OF THE WAY. AND THEN THE LAWLESS ONE (THE ANTI-CHRIST) WILL BE REVEALED, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 NKJV -- emphasis mine)
Noted Bible scholar Dr. Thomas Ice made the following observation about the Geek word "apostasia", which is commonly translated into the English word "apostasy":
"The first seven English translations of apostasia all rendered the noun as either " departure" or " departing." They are as follows: Wycliffe Bible (1384); Tyndale Bible (1526); Coverdale Bible (1535); Cranmer Bible (1539); Breeches Bible (1576); Beza Bible (1583); Geneva Bible (1608). This supports the notion that the word truly means " departure." In fact, Jerome' s Latin translation known as the Vulgate from around the time of A.D. 400 renders apostasia with the word "discessio", meaning 'departure'."
Every Christian believer should read Dr. Ice's full commentary at:
The Rapture in 2 Thessalonians 2:3
IMPORTANT: We can also see this same understanding in a special note from the Amplified Bible about 2 Thessalonians 2:3:
“A possible rendering of apostasia is departure [of the church].” IN ITS FULL MEANING, THIS VERSE READS:
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [the day of the Lord] shall not come, except there come a departing [of the church] first, and that man of sin [the Antichrist] be revealed, the son of perdition…” (emphasis is mine)
The Book of Hebrews refers to a great “general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven”. Other references could be cited about what Paul calls, "Our gathering together unto Him (Christ)". Without going into great detail, the word “rapture” (an English term derived from the Latin word "rapere" and the Greek word "harpazo") simply means “departure” or, more literally, “the snatching away” of Christ’s Church. While it is true the English word “rapture” is not found in the Bible, Greek words and phrases that carry the same root meaning are found in God’s Word. To use the absence of this word from the English Biblical text as a reason to reject teaching on this incredible soon-to-occur event is not only mishandling Scripture and disingenuous, but it also cheats many Christian believers of the knowledge of one of the greatest blessings of Christ. When the rapture does occur, millions of believers will be surprised and shocked when they are suddenly caught up to be with Jesus in the air. They will be caught off guard because their chosen leaders failed to teach them one of the most amazing truths of Christ’s New Covenant found in the Pauline Revelation of the New Testament.
While it’s important to defend the Biblical teaching of the rapture from critics, this is not our goal in this particular commentary. We are not necessarily writing to those who reject this teaching. We are writing to the ones who believe in it, yet are unaware of a very dangerous and seductive theology that can change what God calls “our blessed hope” into “our worst nightmare”.
Note: For legal reasons, some names are deliberately left out of this commentary. The following account is paraphrased from memory and may not represent the exact wording used. Yet, the message it communicates is the same. While this is one preacher’s account, readers should understand that a similar misleading message is being repeated by well-intentioned leaders from all over the world-wide Christian Church, who understand the importance of Bible prophecy and teach it to their congregations.
Be Afraid -- Be Very Afraid
Recently, a preacher commented, “WE MUST WORK AND CONTINUALLY REPENT FROM ALL SIN IN ORDER TO KEEP OUR WEDDING GARMENT PERFECTLY WHITE SO THAT WE WON’T BE LEFT BEHIND AT THE RAPTURE.” He went on to described his supernatural “vision” where millions of Christians were left behind, as other Christians (fewer in number) were going up to meet Jesus in the air. He said that the ones left behind were shocked and horrified. They began crying and wailing -- begging to be taken, yet Jesus ignored their cries. In this preacher’s vision, Jesus told him that these were "authentic Christian believers" that were left behind because their wedding garments were either spotted, soiled or had a brownish color, which was less than perfect white.
The first problem with this frightening account is that Bible doctrine should never be based on someone’s supernatural “vision or dream”, but on God’s written Word. Both God and our enemy Satan operate in the area of visions and dreams. A great deal of discernment must be used because Satan loves to impersonate both our Heavenly Father and Jesus in order to deceive and lead us astray in our faith. This is why many religious cults and even some “so-called” Christian churches that abuse authority and teach toxic and poisonous doctrine will sometimes point to a leader’s “vision or dream” that they claim is from God. They use this vision or dream to intimidate their audience into accepting their doctrine as “the truth of God”. You’ll hear them say, “Jesus told me” or “God said to me” as part of their defense. This often ignored tactic makes it appear that you are rebelling against God if you disagree with their teaching. Impersonating God is Satan’s favorite mode of operation and trickery. A Christian believer may receive a very convincing dream or vision of Jesus -- when in reality; the vision could be coming from the devil dressed up in his “Jesus” disguise. However, dreams and visions also come from our Heavenly Father and can carry a specific and important message. This is why great discernment is needed in this area. You must never throw the subject of dreams and visions out the window (like most churches do) just because of this danger. You could miss out on an important life-changing message God wants to deliver. Contrary to some popular teaching, God still uses dreams and visions today -- and more so as we approach the Second Coming of Christ (Joel 2:28-32).
Are You Worthy Enough
To Leave In The Rapture?
Unfortunately, the “work and repent to be worthy enough for the rapture” doctrine is very popular in many churches that teach Bible prophecy and the soon return of Christ. It can be used to control and convince (through fear) a church congregation (or a Christian television audience) that Jesus will “leave them behind” if they misbehave. Do not underestimate the overwhelming power of this religious motivational tactic. It’s been used to control unsuspecting church-goers for hundreds of years. Yet, the dangerous teaching we’re covering in this commentary actually began all the way back in the first century church. Regardless of these negative things it’s important to understand why this doctrine exists. As far as we can tell -- nobody is trying to deliberately deceive or mislead anyone. Every person involved in this effort fervently believes they’ve got Scripture on their side and is willing to “go to the mat” in order to defend their understanding of God’s truth. This is one reason we’re dealing with an irreconcilable problem. Good and sincere people disagree. However, as we said before, sincerity and “goodness” does not always guarantee that you're getting truth.
Ignoring Biblical Context Creates
The Holy Scriptures (God’s Word) always has two components. The first component is the Scripture verse itself. The second component is the original context where God placed it. The context of a Scripture is something that defines the way God wants it to be used. If anyone lifts a Scripture from its original Divine context and reinserts it into a context of their own design, what originally was God’s Word subtly becomes a man-made false doctrine that continues to “sound like” God’s Word. Using Scripture out of context is one of the basic building blocks for all expressions of aberrant forms of Christianity, abusive church governments and false religious cults (2 Peter 2:1-3, Gal. 5:4-8, Gal. 1:6-8, Rom. 16:17-18, Matt. 23:13-15, Col. 2:8).
At Rock of Offence, we interpret the Bible literally, unless a specific section of Scripture tells us that it is to be viewed figuratively (allegorically). When the Bible teaches something in a certain context, WE BELIEVE IT MEANS EXACTLY WHAT IT SAYS WHEN INTERPRETED WITHIN THAT CONTEXT.
For additional information on this important topic click HERE.
We can begin to gain a better understanding by listening to the words of Jesus Christ from Luke 21:34-36:
"And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. WATCH YE THEREFORE, AND PRAY ALWAYS, THAT YE MAY BE ACCOUNTED WORTHY TO ESCAPE ALL THESE THINGS THAT SHALL COME TO PASS, AND TO STAND BEFORE THE SON OF MAN."
The words of Jesus in this passage tell us about His future return to the earth and an “escape” from the destruction and judgment He was warning His disciples about. This “escape” that Jesus mentions, directly applies to the the subject of the rapture, since the apostle Paul taught the same thing in his epistles and referred to it as “an escape or departure for the Church” before the destruction of the Tribulation period begins. Many of us in the Christian Church correctly elevate the words of our Lord above most everything else in Scripture. Some of our Bible translations correctly highlight the words of Christ in red to emphasize their importance. Jesus is God’s Son and His words carry the full authority of Heaven. However, there is something the Bible emphatically warns about that can seriously impact our seemingly correct and flawless understanding in these matters. That “something” is failing to respect the context of God’s Word. The Bible is divided into two primary covenants: The Old Covenant and Christ’s New Covenant. The New Testament Book of Hebrews calls them, the first covenant and the second covenant (Read Hebrews 8:7 and especially Hebrews 8:13 -- also read Galatians 4:21-31). In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul warns his disciple Timothy about this Old Covenant/New Covenant division by saying…
"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly (or correctly) dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV)
Timothy is warned that IN ORDER TO PROPERLY TEACH THE TRUTH OF GOD'S WORD, YOU MUST RESPECT THIS DIVISION. Why? Different rules and principles govern each of these radically different covenants. You can’t just arbitrarily and recklessly pull a Scripture from the Old Covenant and make it apply under Christ’s New Covenant (a violation of Biblical context) in order to validate your teaching (unless it’s clear that the Scripture you’re using uniquely applies under both). Yet, it’s estimated that more than 8 out of 10 churches do this very thing.
Here’s the problem. The apostle Paul called Christ’s New Covenant “The Mystery of Christ” -- and God made Paul the exclusive administrator of its truths through what Bible scholars call, “The Pauline Revelation” (Read Ephesians 3;1-12, 2 Corinthians 12;1-4 and Galatians 1:11-12). Contrary to popular beliefs, Paul was the only apostle to receive this revelation about the mystery of the New Covenant, which was also the source of the Gospel of Christ that he preached. This mystery was not fully revealed for several years (some theologians think 7-10 years, but nobody actually knows how long) after Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Here’s a small part of what Jesus Christ had to say about the revealing of this truth:
"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I HAVE YET MANY THINGS TO SAY UNTO YOU, BUT YE CANNOT BEAR THEM NOW. HOWBEIT WHEN HE, THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, IS COME, HE WILL GUIDE INTO ALL TRUTH: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. HE SHALL GLORIFY ME: FOR HE SHALL RECEIVE OF MINE, AND SHALL SHEW IT UNTO YOU." (John 16:7-14)
Notice the timeframe in Christ’s words. The truth He wanted his disciples to know wasn’t going to be fully revealed, except for some vague “types and shadows”, until after His death, resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Why? The crucifixion (death) and resurrection of Christ, the spilling of His blood and the coming of the Holy Spirit had to happen first before the New Covenant could begin. UNTIL THE NEW COVENANT BEGAN; THE OLD COVENANT REMAINED IN AUTHORITY. The New Covenant that Jesus Christ came to initiate was “the many things” that He couldn’t tell His disciples while He was still alive during His earthly ministry on earth. The phrase “many things” also means “a lot of things”. Any way you look at it, Jesus alerts His audience to ANOTHER MAJOR STORY that’s hidden in a mystery that He said couldn’t be revealed before the cross.
Christ had a good reason to withhold the revelation about His New Covenant. Years later, the apostle Paul gives us the main reason for our Lord's action.
"However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. BUT WE SPEAK THE WISDOM OF GOD IN A MYSTERY, THE HIDDEN WISDOM WHICH GOD ORDAINED BEFORE THE AGES for our glory, WHICH NONE OF THE RULERS OF THIS AGE KNEW; FOR HAD THEY KNOWN, THEY WOULD NOT HAVE CRUCIFIED THE LORD OF GLORY." (1 Corinthians 2:6-8 NKJV)
The "rulers of this age" that Paul speaks of here are "high order" demonic spirits, which were responsible for planning and orchestrating Christ's crucifixion "behind the scene". If Jesus and His disciples (during His earthly ministry) went around preaching the details of the yet future New Covenant, Paul said that these demonic spirits would have never crucified Christ. Why? The New Covenant in Christ's blood (Luke 22:20 and 1 Corinthians 11:25) was God's secret plan (Paul calls it "hidden wisdom") to utterly destroy Satan's dominion over the human race. Christ's crucifixion was the centerpiece of God's plan. The New Covenant couldn't become reality without the crucifixion of our Lord. As a result of Christ's "information blackout" Satan and his demonic world didn't learn about their mistake until it was too late.
The vast majority of Christian believers think that Jesus revealed everything about our salvation in the gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) that records His earthly ministry. Yet, both Jesus our Lord and the apostle Paul said that this was not the case.
The Two Covenants
God’s Word is represented as “a divided book” (divided into two covenants) that we call the Bible. These two covenants represent two different programs: God’s Old Covenant program involving Israel and God’s New Covenant program with “The Church” (Read Galatians 4:21-31). This is true whether your fellowship teaches it or not. Yet, the Bible slaps you in the face with this fact every time you open its pages and see the division boldly labeled, The Old Testament and The New Testament.
Why is it imperative to understand these things? When Jesus was alive during His earthly ministry, He taught and preached under the authority and principles of the Old Covenant. The New Covenant was yet future and carried no authority until after His death, resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Contrary to popular opinion, God does not project the New Covenant backward in time before it was initiated and couldn’t legally operate.
Under the Old Covenant your “worthiness” (or righteousness) was dependent (and conditional) upon your obedience to the laws of this covenant, the performing of certain works and “bearing good fruit”. When Jesus said, “PRAY ALWAYS, THAT YE MAY BE ACCOUNTED WORTHY TO ESCAPE ALL THESE THINGS THAT SHALL COME TO PASS, AND TO STAND BEFORE THE SON OF MAN”, He was speaking within the context of the Old Covenant, which was in authority at the time. What Jesus said was correct for the time and the audience He was speaking to.
However, we are no longer under the Old Covenant. Christ’s New Covenant is in authority and there is now a “new and living way” in operation (Read Hebrews 10:19-23 and Hebrews 8:13). Yet, many churches teach the Bible as if the crucifixion of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit didn’t change anything. Most of their fundamental doctrine continues to deal with sin, salvation, righteousness and the rapture, as if the principles of Christ’s New Covenant and the principles of the previous Old Covenant are the same. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME and we will see why this kind of flawed theology carries serious unintended circumstances that may shock Christian believers. This is the same error that plagued the first century church (especially the Galatian Church) and continues to be a dominant source of trouble today. Frightening forms of false doctrine are created and taught when we try to make our qualification to leave in the rapture, which is the completion (or fulfillment) of our New Covenant salvation, dependent upon Christian service, good works and religious performance.
Paul’s “Shock and Awe” Warning
The apostle Paul correctly warned the first century church that teachings, which ignore Biblical context, causes dangerous “religious bondage” (Galatians 2:1-5). In this commentary, we’re talking about what’s commonly called, “Partial Rapture Theology”. Other names used to describe variants of this teaching are Legalism, Latter-Rain Theology, various forms of Holiness and Reformed Theology (especially the teachings of Calvinism) and, what some theologians call, “The Galatian Error”. Countless other names for this belief exist in the world-wide Christian Church. Most of those who hold to this teaching reject the apostle Paul’s warning that, while sounding good and “Biblical” on the surface, Partial Rapture Theology -- a teaching that adds religious works and devoted Christian service to God’s gift of eternal life and His requirements to leave in the rapture -- actually originates from a demonic source. Paul uses two powerful words in his description of this dangerous doctrine; “bewitched and accursed”. These are occult terms. The word “bewitched” carries the idea of being controlled, fooled or deceived by an evil spirit or a demon. Evil spirits are agents of our enemy Satan, which should warn the reader about the seriousness of this subject. The word “accursed” is a frightening word that suggests being eternally rejected by God. You will probably never hear this subject properly taught from the pulpit on Sunday morning because it offends the beliefs of too many church-going Christians.
"O foolish Galatians! WHO HAS BEWITCHED YOU that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: DID YOU RECEIVE THE SPIRIT BY THE WORKS OF THE LAW, OR BY THE HEARING OF FAITH? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:1-3)
"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, TO A DIFFERENT GOSPEL, which is not another; BUT THERE ARE SOME WHO TROUBLE YOU AND WANT TO PERVERT THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. BUT EVEN IF WE, OR AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN, PREACH ANY OTHER GOSPEL TO YOU THAN WHAT WE HAVE PREACHED, LET HIM BE ACCURSED. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, LET HIM BE ACCURSED." (Galatians 1:6-9)
Paul called this demonic doctrine “a different (or false) gospel of Christ” (Read: Galatians 1:6 and 2 Corinthians 11:3-6). He then informed us that this “different gospel of Christ” was actually A PERVERSION OF THE AUTHENTIC GOSPEL OF CHRIST. That means it’s a counterfeit (an imitation or good looking substitute) of the real thing. It is skillfully crafted to deceive Christian believers -- even the most educated and highly trained among us. No one is exempt from this dangerous influence. These are very serious accusations spoken by the man that God used to write nearly half of the New Testament Scriptures. Yet, many of these dangerous teachings that Paul condemns are now viewed as basic fundamental Christian theology by various sectors of the world-wide Christian Church. They are taught in some places by false apostles and teachers as the original “apostolic doctrine” of the early church. These teachings are currently hitting all sectors of Christian Orthodoxy like a giant tsunami. It is not some fringe influence or movement. It’s mainstream and is inflicting untold damage on the faith of unsuspecting believers -- especially the ones who think they’re safe by attending a fundamental “Bible-believing” church.
"But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, TRANSFORMING THEMSELVES INTO APOSTLES OF CHRIST. And no wonder! FOR SATAN HIMSELF TRANSFORMS HIMSELF INTO AN ANGEL OF LIGHT. THEREFORE IT IS NO GREAT THING IF HIS (SATAN'S) MINISTERS ALSO TRANSFORM THEMSELVES INTO MINISTERS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, whose end will be according to their works." (2 Corinthians 11:12-15)
Peter referred to these teachings and their variants as “damnable heresies” (Read 2 Peter 2:1) because they attack the totally sufficient and sin-purifying power of Christ’s blood -- by adding the requirements of our weak and insufficient works and religious performance to Christ’s finished work. He said that these teachings “deny the Lord who bought us” -- a very serious, yet often ignored accusation. They represent incredibly evil and wicked practices cloaked in good-sounding Bible teaching, which is why Paul used such offensive terminology to get our attention. The apostle Paul was very concerned and upset about these practices. Yet, in most churches today we are told that everyone believes in the same Jesus and should lay our differences aside to preserve Christian unity. Peter used another offensive word by calling it “damnable” because it deceives its audience by sounding like fundamental Bible teaching (that uses out-of-context Scripture in its defense), which makes it difficult to discern. Yes -- it’s always right for Christian believers to do good works, engage in Christian service and repent from sin when it occurs. Scripture commands us to do these things (Titus 3:8). No one is saying these practices are wrong or no longer needed. Yet, the problems begin when churches and their leaders try to apply these good practices in a way that’s contrary to the principles of the New Covenant. Their goals are achieved by redefining GOD’S GIFT of eternal life so that it is DEPENDENT on these works. The teaching suggests that a Christian believer who is deficient in these things can either lose their salvation or will be left behind at the rapture in order to receive the purification from sin (during the Tribulation period) that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ did not provide. Most of us fail to realize that this practice effectively makes the term “God’s Gift”, nonsensical. That’s why fear is a characteristic of this kind of theology. Fear is always the result when we’re believing in a false theology that causes us to doubt whether we’ve done enough to meet God’s high standards. Thank God that the Bible gives us good news. Under the New Covenant, only Christ’s blood makes our wedding garment (commonly interpreted to be our righteousness before God) PERFECTLY WHITE. Even with the best of intentions, none of our good works or continual repentance, as good as those things are, can reach the level of perfection that God requires. This is why He imputes the perfection of Christ’s finished work and His blood directly to us in exchange for our simple act of faith (believing in the Gospel).
"...BEING JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE THROUGH THE REDEMPTION THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:24-26 NKJV)
(Read the next Scriptures carefully)
“Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. BUT TO HIM WHO DOES NOT WORK BUT BELIEVES ON HIM WHO JUSTIFIES THE UNGODLY, HIS FAITH IS ACCOUNTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man TO WHOM GOD IMPUTES RIGHTEOUSNESS APART FROM WORKS: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; BLESSED IS THE MAN TO WHOM THE LORD SHALL NOT IMPUTE SIN." (Romans 4:4-8)
"AND IF BY GRACE, THEN IT IS NO LONGER OF WORKS; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work." (Romans 11:6)
"But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, NOT BY WORKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH WE HAVE DONE, BUT ACCORDING TO HIS MERCY HE SAVED US, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, THAT HAVING BEEN JUSTIFIED BY HIS GRACE WE SHOULD BECOME HEIRS ACCORDING TO THE HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE." (Titus 3:4-7)
Romans 4:4-8 literally screams an important truth at all Christians today, yet few seem to hear. “BUT TO HIM WHO DOES NOT WORK BUT BELIEVES ON HIM WHO JUSTIFIES THE UNGODLY, HIS FAITH IS ACCOUNTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” The righteousness that all Christians possess under Christ’s New Covenant is “a righteousness that does not require work”. Paul later tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that this “righteousness that does not require work” is actually God’s own perfect righteousness -- and Romans 4 tells us THAT GOD IMPUTES THIS RIGHTEOUSNESS TO US (ALL TRUE BELIEVERS IN CHRIST) APART FROM WORKS. No true Christian today possesses a righteousness that results from any work or performance they have done -- even if they’ve been tricked into thinking that way by their church. Why do so few Christians understand this truth? They’ve been blinded by what Paul calls, “another gospel” that sounds like the authentic Gospel of Christ, but isn’t.
"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
This explains why ALL Christians who have placed their faith in Christ, regardless of how deficient they are in works and repentance, will leave when the Church departs at the rapture. All true believers, from the least (those deficient or lacking in Christian service and good works) to the greatest (those with an abundance of Christian service and good works), will leave when Christ returns for His Church because the wedding garments (that represents our righteousness) OF ALL CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS are made perfectly white only by the cleansing power of Christ’s blood THAT ALL BELIEVERS POSSESS.
The Crucifixion of Jesus Changed Everything
Many Christians never stop to consider that the New Covenant did not begin until after Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit -- and now supercedes the previous Old Covenant religious system (Read Hebrews 8:13 and Hebrews 10:19-23). The following is a basic outline of how New Covenant salvation, which includes our qualification to participate in the rapture, is acquired and kept. More things could be added to this list, such as water baptism and the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Our goal is not to write a book, but to provide a very basic outline for New Testament salvation. Carefully read the Scriptures provided -- even if you think you know them.
We believe in Christ and enter God’s salvation by meeting two simple requirements found in Romans 10:8-10. Our Heavenly Father made these requirements so simple a young child can both understand and act on them -- which is why He designed it that way and referred to it as “His gift to us”.
"But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus (confess that Jesus Christ is your Lord) AND believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, YOU WILL BE SAVED." (Romans 10:8-10 NKJV)
"FOR "WHOEVER CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, WHO BRING GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS!" (Romans 10:13-15 NKJV)
Immediately following our belief in the Gospel as outlined above, we are supernaturally sealed with the Holy Spirit, which is given as GOD’S GUARANTEE that our salvation and its many blessings will remain in force “until the redemption of the purchased possession” (the future day when Christ returns). Important Note: Under Christ’s New Covenant we are sealed ONCE. We are not sealed, then unsealed when we sin, then sealed again when we repent, as many Christian believers are wrongly taught. PERSONALLY POSSSESSING GOD’S GUARANTEE MEANS THAT OUR SALVATION IS SECURE FOREVER. The word “guarantee” is deliberately used in Scripture so that the reader will not misunderstand our Heavenly Father’s intention. Many critics in the Christian Church -- in leadership positions -- attack and attempt to redefine this truth.
"In Him (Jesus Christ) you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, YOU WERE SEALED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT OF PROMISE, WHO IS THE GUARANTEE OF OUR INHERITANCE UNTIL THE REDEMPTION OF THE PURCHASED POSSESSION (ALL TRUE BELIEVERS), to the praise of His glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14 NKJV) (Also Read About “God’s Guarantee” In 2 Corinthians 1:22 and 2 Corinthians 5:5)
"Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place ONCE FOR ALL, HAVING OBTAINED ETERNAL REDEMPTION. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, HOW MUCH MORE SHALL THE BLOOD OF CHRIST, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason HE (JESUS CHRIST) IS THE MEDIATOR OF THE NEW COVENANT, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant (Old Covenant), THAT THOSE WHO ARE CALLED MAY RECEIVE THE PROMISE OF ETERNAL INHERITANCE." (Hebrews 9:12-15)
"But this Man (Jesus Christ), AFTER HE HAD OFFERED ONE SACRIFICE FOR SINS FOREVER, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. FOR BY ONE OFFERING HE (JESUS CHRIST) HAS PERFECTED FOREVER THOSE WHO ARE BEING SANCTIFIED." (Hebrews 10:12-14)
"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, THAT HE MAY ABIDE WITH YOU FOR EVER; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, AND SHALL BE IN YOU." (Words of Jesus From John 14:16-17)
At the same time as our “sealing with the Holy Spirit”, we receive (among many other benefits) two very important gifts from God, which are given without any merit requirements. These gifts are eternal life and God’s perfect righteousness. The New Testament uses the word “gift” to describe these blessings so that we will not be deceived into attaching some regiment of works, code of ethics, religious performance or church affiliation when trying to understand them. Real authentic gifts are given unconditionally -- THAT’S WHY GOD, UNDER CHRIST’S NEW COVENANT, CALLS THEM “GIFTS” THAT ARE GIVEN BY HIS “GRACE” -- AND NOT REWARDS OR SOME KIND OF PAYMENT FOR SERVICES RENDERED (Carefully read Romans 4:4-8, Romans 11:6). Under the previous Old Covenant religious system (also recorded in our Bibles) THESE THINGS WERE NEVER OFFERED AS GOD’S GIFTS BECAUSE CHRIST HADN’T GONE TO THE CROSS TO MAKE THE BLOOD PAYMENT ON OUR BEHALF. Once again, many critics in the Christian Church in leadership positions attack and attempt to redefine this truth.
"For the wages of sin is death, BUT THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
"FOR BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED THROUGH FAITH, and that not of yourselves; IT (SALVATION) IS THE GIFT OF GOD, NOT OF WORKS, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV)
“For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, MUCH MORE THOSE WHO RECEIVE ABUNDANCE OF GRACE AND OF THE GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so THROUGH ONE MAN'S (JESUS’) RIGHTEOUS ACT THE FREE GIFT CAME TO ALL MEN, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, SO ALSO BY ONE MAN'S OBEDIENCE MANY WILL BE MADE RIGHTEOUS." (Romans 5:17-19)
"Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, NOT IMPUTING THEIR TRESPASSES TO THEM, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, THAT WE MIGHT BECOME THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IN HIM." (2 Cor. 5:18-21)
God makes it abundantly clear that His decision to give us these gifts will never be reversed.
"FOR GOD'S GIFTS AND HIS CALL ARE IRREVOCABLE. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.]" (Romans 11:29 Amplified Bible)
The Need To Keep A Balanced View Of Grace
Christ’s New Covenant salvation is the most incredible blessing in the world. The book of Hebrews tells us:
"...how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him" (Hebrews 2:3)
In this commentary we emphasize the free and unmerited nature of God’s Grace. However, there are always some people that think it’s acceptable to “receive Christ’s salvation” and then continue to live in sin because we are now under “God’s Grace”. Nowhere in our commentaries and teachings do we approve of this belief and practice. Paul addressed this problem in his letter to the Romans.
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Romans 6:1-4)
I’ve yet to meet a true Christian that wasn’t looking for a way to experience a sin-free life. This attitude comes from the Holy Spirit who indwells us. When we are sealed with the Holy Spirit at the time we first believe the Gospel, God immediately begins a process called “sanctification”. It is not necessarily a work that you do (even though it requires your cooperation and willingness to change) -- it is a work that God does on the inside of you (in your heart). Sanctification is simply a process where we begin to separate from sin and the world’s values -- and begin to move toward being aligned with God’s values.
"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, 5for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, THAT HE WHO HAS BEGUN A GOOD WORK IN YOU WILL COMPLETE IT UNTIL THE DAY OF JESUS CHRIST..." (Philippians 1:3-6)
As with most things involving our redemption, there is usually more than one aspect. On the topic of sanctification there are at least two. First, there is the “legal” aspect where we are IMMEDIATELY sanctified (or separated unto God) by Christ’s blood sacrifice. Our “sealing” by the Holy Spirit, described in Ephesians 1:13-14, is part of this immediate and legal act of sanctification that God performs (and personally guarantees) apart from our own worthiness or merit. Second, there is the “experiential” or personal side of sanctification, performed by the indwelling Holy Spirit, for our benefit…and it’s a process that continues in our physical life here on earth until Jesus returns. Legalists and other critics of God’s Grace attempt to merge these two aspects together, making our salvation (eternal life and our place in the rapture) totally dependent upon OUR ABILITYTO SEPARATE OURSELVES FROM SIN AND THE WORLD. Even though these self-purifying efforts should be viewed as proper and right (1 John 3:1-3), our Heavenly Father does not make the obtaining and keeping of New Covenant salvation dependent upon these acts. Once again, if eternal life is dependent upon our ability to purify ourselves, then Jesus died for no reason -- and the term “God’s gift” becomes nothing but nonsense.
"I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain." (Galatians 2:21 NKJV)
This brings us to a “gray area” in the doctrine of Grace that will be debated until Jesus comes back. What about those that call themselves “Christian”, yet carelessly and unashamedly continue in a sinful lifestyle? Are they really destined for Heaven, or are they “false Christians”, who are definitely headed for hell? There is a reason we label this as a “gray area”. Why? The final outcome in this case is unknown. It’s unknown because we can’t really look into their heart to see if they’ve received God’s gift of eternal life, yet are chosing to resist the Holy Spirit’s work that brings outward change. And, yes, it is possible for someone to take this unscriptural position and still go to heaven when they die. However, there are many in the church that subtly criticize God’s Grace (not directly, but by redefining it) and will confidently tell you that these folks are hell-bound because of their sin and lack of repentance. But, the truth is; only God, who can see into their heart, can know for sure. This is the reason all Christian believers, as the apostle Paul clearly taught, should avoid sin to the best of their ability and stay out of this spiritual “gray” area, which puts your eternal destiny at risk.
The Danger Of Being Led Astray
In Our Faith
In the churches that teach Bible prophecy, the rapture is commonly referred to as “a reward for Christian service and good behavior”. This is why you have popular preachers telling their congregations that they must “clean themselves up”, mainly because they secretly hold to a theology, which teaches Christ’s blood isn’t sufficient to complete the entire sin-cleansing process without our help. They instruct their audience to “purify themselves” by doing good works and Christian service if they don’t want to be left behind to be purified by the soon-to-occur Tribulation period. One popular preacher warned his Christian television audience that “God won’t rapture a dirty church”. Obviously, many Christians agree with his comments and fail to discern the dangerous theology that quietly lurks behind the words. I’m still in shock about how this seemingly harmless, good sounding statement blatantly denies the sufficiency of Christ’s cleansing blood while sounding so righteous and “Biblical”.
At the beginning of our commentary we said that the word “demonic” is used to describe this influence. This offensive term suggests that the teaching or doctrine originates, not from God, but from our enemy, even if it’s taught by a well-meaning church leader. What makes this kind of doctrine “demonic” (as the apostle Paul correctly defined it) is the common practice of mixing the principles of salvation that existed under the Old Testament (or Old Covenant Law) -- with the principles of salvation found under the New Covenant Grace of Christ. Each of these covenants have different rules for obtaining and keeping eternal life and righteousness. Salvation and righteousness (or “worthiness”) under the Old Covenant was “conditional” on certain works and religious performance associated with Jewish Law or what we understand today as “Judaism”. Salvation and righteousness (or “worthiness”) under the New Covenant is given unconditionally through God’s Grace, which are now benefits and blessings PREPAID BY THE SACRIFICIAL DEATH OF CHRIST. Judaism is not and can never be New Covenant Christianity, even though both share a common history in the Bible. This is why such radical changes in salvation doctrine took place following the cross of Christ. Many Christian churches today either ignore or attempt to redefine the changes that occurred following Christ’s crucifixion because they contradict some of their most cherished fundamental religious traditions that have been around for hundreds of years -- and are wrongly placed on an equal level as the Holy Scriptures.
The New Covenant, is also called "the new and living way of Christ" established on His blood (Read: Matt. 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20, 1 Cor. 11:25, 2 Cor. 3:6, Heb. 8:6-13, Heb. 9:15, Heb. 10:19-23, Heb. 12:24).
Paul sternly warned his disciple Timothy that God’s Word is a divided book (2 Timothy 2:15) -- and you must never violate its context by mixing or merging the principles of these two radically different covenants into one “unified” theology. If you mix them together, like many churches and their leaders do today, you unknowingly create a dangerous religious doctrine that sends God’s people astray in their faith. The rapture is not a reward God gives His children for religious service and good behavior. The rapture of the Church is a future event where true Christian believers receive their full and complete salvation, which God has already declared to be HIS UNMERITED GIFT, WHICH IS PREPAID BY THE SACRIFICIAL BLOOD OF CHRIST. The reason God gives these blessings and benefits as “gifts” is because Jesus Christ has already paid for them IN BLOOD -- AND IN FULL. No other payment is required, which is why God calls them “gifts” given by His Grace. When Jesus was speaking about His future return to the earth and the events taking place at that time He said, “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; FOR YOUR REDEMPTION DRAWETH NIGH." (Luke 21:27-28) If our “redemption draweth nigh” when Christ returns in the near future, then that means we don’t have all of it right now. At the future event of the rapture, we receive our full redemption (salvation) when our mortal bodies ARE CHANGED to immortal as the apostle Paul taught in the Holy Scriptures.
Five Wise and the Five Foolish Virgins
This commentary has already exceeded the length originally intended. However, we must briefly touch on another commonly misapplied section of Scripture.
Following the rapture at the end of the Church Age, the Scriptures tell us about a great marriage celebration in heaven. At this event Jesus Christ, known as the bridegroom, is married to His Bride. On earth, His bride is known as “the Church” and “the Body of Christ” uniquely purchased (redeemed) by His blood. At the rapture, this redeemed group moves to heaven. Jesus said that He has prepared a place for us in His “Father’s House”, which has “many mansions” (John 14:1-3). When the Church arrives in heaven, it becomes “the Bride of Christ” who gets to live in “The Fathers’ house”. A number of parables tell us about this future wedding celebration. I’ve chosen the one from Matthew chapter 25 to illustrate some important truths. Few Scriptures in the Bible are distorted more than this one, which is why it’s perfect for this commentary.
"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." (Matthew 25:1-13)
Notice that there are three distinct participants involved in this heavenly celebration: The bridegroom (Jesus Christ), the bride and the 10 virgins. Notice that the bride is not specifically mentioned in this parable. But, there can’t be a wedding celebration without the bride. This is why her presence at this celebration is an understood fact. Next, notice that the 10 virgins are part of the “marriage party”. THEY ARE NOT THE BRIDE. In western culture the 10 virgins might be understood as the bridesmaids. However, Jesus is describing a Jewish wedding celebration. Some theologians claim that these 10 virgins represent “the friends of the bridegroom” that make up the marriage party of a Jewish wedding. One thing is clear, whoever these 10 virgins are--THEY ARE NOT THE BRIDE, which was known on earth as “the Church”.
I’m making this point because many Christians and their leaders wrongly equate these ten virgins to Church Age believers under Grace, who are redeemed by the blood of Christ. The only way to become a “true Christian” is by accepting the sacrificial death of Christ and His blood as the only payment that can fully “redeem” you. Contrary to popular religious teaching, there is no other way. The word “redeem” means to purchase, buy back or pay “ransom” money for someone held captive. In the case of Christ’s redemption, it was not paid in “installments”. It was paid IN FULL AND FOREVER through His one act of obedience at the cross (Read Hebrews 1:1-3, Hebrews 10:12-14). This truth lies at the very core of Christ’s New Covenant. It is the dominant truth that Paul taught throughout his epistles.
If we believe that these 10 virgins represent Church Age believers, then their “redemption” is obviously insufficient and lacking. Why? When the 5 foolish virgins left to go “buy” additional oil for their lamps, this suggests an additional performance requirement (something they had to pay) in order to gain entrance into the marriage celebration. It represented “their efforts or work” to purchase the oil, which was required to keep “brightly burning lamps”. To craft a theology that these virgins represent Christ’s New Covenant Church under Grace is contrary to the whole idea of eternal life being God’s unmerited gift to the believer. Yet, it’s a common church teaching that these “brightly burning lamps” represent good works and Christian service that believers must maintain to avoid being “shut out” of the marriage celebration. We don't agree with this interpretation. In a traditional Jewish wedding, the bride’s place in the wedding is secured by THE BRIDEGROOM'S FULL PAYMENT OF A "DOWRY" to the parents of the bride. Remember that the bridegroom (Jesus) is Jewish. Once again, it’s appropriate to fill our lives with good works that honor Christ. However, under the New Covenant, the “good works” performed by the bride contribute nothing toward Christ’s (the bridegroom’s) redemption or dowry, WHICH HAD TO BE PAID IN DIVINE BLOOD. Our works, religious efforts and devoted deeds can never be somehow magically transformed into “Divine blood” in order to help make the required payment. None of us possess this qualification. Christ’s redemption (meaning “to buy back”) literally “purchases” the believer’s position as “the Bride” in this heavenly wedding celebration. That could be one reason the bride isn’t specifically mentioned in this parable. The privileged position held by “the Bride” is attributed entirely to Jesus the bridegroom -- her future husband. If it were not for His act of obedience at the cross, the Bride wouldn’t exist.
One thing is certain. CHRIST'S BLOOD IS FULLY SUFFICIENT. It fully paid the redemption fee (dowry) for His bride without any contribution from her. IF THE BRIDE HELPED TO PAY THE DOWRY, IT WOULD BE CONSIDERED AN ACT THAT DISHONORS THE BRIDEGROOM. It is common for individual Christians and their leaders to continue to abuse the context of God’s Word in order to frighten Christians into “acceptable Christian behavior”. What the apostle Paul called “carnal Christians” can be a bad advertisement for churches that need to regularly attract new members. That’s only one of many reasons some churches warn their congregations to “keep their lamps burning brightly” (or keep doing good works and attending church services). The idea is to frighten them into obedience so that they won’t be one of the 5 foolish virgins that were “shut out of the marriage celebration”, WHICH IS ANOTHER WAY OF SAYING THAT THEY LOST WHAT GOD CALLS HIS FREE GIFT OF SALVATION. Do you see the contradiction in this kind of theology? The common misapplication and distortion of Christ's parable of the "Ten Virgins" continues to represent some of the most toxic doctrine found in churches that teach Bible prophecy. Twisting the context of Scripture and using “the fear of losing salvation” against church members is a common and popular control mechanism. Some preach these things because they sincerely think that it’s Scriptural. Yet, as we’ve said before, good intentions and sincerity does not always equal truth. I know we’re being repetitious about the total sufficiency of Christ’s blood. However, I’m convinced there will be a day of reckoning for many of the preachers and ministers who constantly distort the New Covenant and oppose our freely justified position (Romans 3:24-26 NKJV) in Christ with this kind of misleading “out of context” teaching. Unfortunately, I have no power to stop anyone from believing wrong things. All I can do is repeat the warning, share the truth of Scripture and hope someone listens.
The apostle Paul provides the proper perspective on all of this in his epistle to the Corinthian Church. In some of his writings, he claimed that the Corinthians were the most “carnal” group of Christian believers under his care. The word “carnal” suggests worldliness and a lack of good works and Christian service. Yet, listen to what he tells the entire Corinthian congregation when instructing them about the rapture:
"Behold, I show 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. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:51-57 NKJV)
Notice that Paul didn’t say that only the “good” Christians in the Corinthian Church would be changed, while the ones with questionable behavior would be left behind for further purification during the Tribulation. If this was truly the case, Paul would have warned about the danger in this passage. Instead, Paul uses the phrase, “BUT WE SHALL ALL BE CHANGED”. We are ALL CHANGED BECAUSE ALL TRUE CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS HAVE RECEIVED THE VERY SAME FREE GIFTS OF ETERNAL LIFE AND CHRIST’S RIGHTEOUSNESS PAID FOR BY THE BLOOD OF THE SON OF GOD. Contrary to popular teaching, the Church of Jesus Christ IS NOT DIVIDED into different “performance and works” groups where they are treated differently by God -- even if your church teaches that way. God always treats The Church (all true Christian believers everywhere) as ONE UNDIVIDED BODY (Carefully Read: Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 10:17, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 1 Corinthians 12:20, Ephesians 2:16, Ephesians 4:4, Colossians 3:15). This is why Christ’s Church is also called “The Body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27). Yet, there are many misguided preachers who believe that it’s alright to mutilate and dismember Christ’s body into different performance groups at the rapture.
The following is a special insert included on certain commentaries
dealing with end-time events. It will repeat some things
already addressed in this study, but will also provide
answers to some questions not previously covered.
Important Information About
Who Goes at the Rapture
The Rapture And Its Gospel Connection
One of the most controversial and misunderstood topics in the church is "the rapture of the Church". It’s far more than just some optional theory or opinion involving end-time events. According to Saint Paul, the rapture (or "catching away") represents the completed salvation of Christ's New Testament Church (also known as "The Body of Christ"). THE "CATCHING AWAY" IS A SALVATION EVENT, where God changes (or translates) Christian believers (both those who are in the grave -- and those who are still living) from mortal flesh to an immortal spiritual body. This immortal spiritual body is just like the body Jesus Christ received at His resurrection and now possesses. The Church is also called "the Body of Christ" in the New Testament. This name suggests that "Christ's many membered body of earthly mortal believers" will, one day, be given the same kind of immortal spiritual body that Christ has. Our destiny is to be changed into His image. This change is necessary to complete God's redemptive program. The transition from mortal to immortal occurs during the "catching away" of the Church. Instead of using the word "rapture", some theologians refer to this event as "the translation of the Church". Regardless of the label, this translation or rapture is the final stage of the unmerited and undeserved salvation Jesus purchased for us at the cross. Receiving a spiritual body like our Lord is the fulfillment of our promised salvation that occurs at His future return. THE TRANSLATION OR RAPTURE IS NOT SOME ISOLATED TOPIC OF BIBLE ESCHATOLOGY. Yet, depending on what church group you belong to, contradictory teachings and opinions abound causing massive confusion and emotional accusations.
Identifying the source of the confusion is not easy or popular. Most church leaders avoid it like the plague. Yet, it's the cause of false (and popular) religious teachings with roots that can be traced all the way back to the first century. The apostle Paul sounded one of the most horrific warnings found in the New Testament about this crisis. After Christ's crucifixion, a group of ministers and evangelists began preaching a particular type of "gospel of Christ" that Paul condemned as "a different gospel". He also warned that "another Jesus" (not the authentic Jesus of the New Testament) is the central focus of this "different gospel". That means there are two accepted versions of "the gospel of Christ" circulating around the institutional church that claim to be "fundamental Bible truth". Yet, only one is accepted by God. The version Paul taught in his epistles is the correct one. The "different gospel of Christ" (and its "other Jesus") is a dangerous counterfeit that happens to dominate the modern church hidden behind countless good-sounding names and labels. In order to preserve unity, most modern-day Christians are wrongly taught to accept both versions. We are told that both are valid and the problems are just "a difference of opinion" that should be set aside. Yet, the New Testament warns that the "different gospel" and its “other Jesus” is a teaching that does not come from God. Paul went even further and offended his audience by saying....those who believe this "different gospel" are "bewitched" and have fallen from God's Grace. (Galatians 1:6-8, Galatians 3:1-3, Galatians 5:4, 2 Corinthians 11:3-4)
[Since this problem is discussed in other commentaries, we won't go into great detail in this abbreviated insert]
The authentic gospel and the counterfeit gospel BOTH HAVE THEIR OWN INTERPRETATION OF THE RAPTURE AND THE TRIBUALTION PERIOD. Few church members understand that one interpretation is right and one is wrong. The conflict between these two versions of the gospel is the root cause of the confusion. The authentic gospel correctly claims that God provides the rapture (a salvation event for the Church) for all true believers according the "free justification of Christ's blood" -- and "the free gift of eternal life obtained without works or merit" (Romans 3:24-26, Ephesians 2:4-9, Romans 6:23, Romans 4:4-8, Titus 3:5-7). The "different gospel" (and its countless variants) insists that the rapture is only for "a worthy few" and given as "a reward for righteous behavior, faithfulness and Christian service". It makes our qualifications to participate in the rapture dependent on religious performance and some form of obedience to Old Testament Law -- INSTEAD OF CHRIST'S FINISHED WORK AT THE CROSS THAT PURCHASED OUR COMPLETE SALVATION, INCLUDING ITS FULFILLMENT AT OUR TRANSLATION. Under the "different gospel" and its association with the Law, only a few meet the high religious performance standards to be worthy and righteous. But, God warns that no one meets these standards to His satisfaction.
Christ's New Covenant gospel of Grace THAT STARTED AFTER THE CROSS gives all believers far better news:
"For as by one man's disobedience (Adam) many were made sinners, SO ALSO BY ONE MAN'S OBEDIENCE (JESUS CHRIST) MANY WILL BE MADE RIGHTEOUS." (Romans 5:17-19)
The righteousness THAT COMES FROM CHRIST'S OBEDIENCE, WHICH IS THEN IMPUTED TO THE BELIEVER qualifies (or makes worthy) MANY for the blessed hope of the rapture. Understanding the root cause of the controversy allows us to cut through the confusing rhetoric and false accusations of the critics.
Did Paul Really Mean What He Said?
In his epistles to the Church, the apostle Paul taught that "all saved Christian believers" would be changed and caught up at the rapture of the Church (1 Corinthians 15:50-56). He deliberately used the phrase, “WE SHALL ALL BE CHANGED” to silence religious critics and Christian tread-mill theologians who teach that the rapture is a reward only given to a few high-performance devoted believers. If it didn’t include ALL, Paul would have said so. When he used the word ALL, he was emphasizing a New Covenant truth that those with a high level of spiritual performance AND THOSE WHO ARE LACKING OR DEFICIENT IN THESE THINGS (Paul called them "carnal Christians") are both included, along with everyone in between. The popular teaching that the rapture is a special reward for Christian service and holy living, reserved for a few Christians with exceptional behavior is misleading and false. THE RAPTURE INCLUDES THE WHOLE BELIEVING CHURCH MADE RIGHTEOUS AND WORTHY BY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST, which is known as "The Body of Christ" on earth and will become "The Bride of Christ" upon its arrival in heaven.
However, there are dangerous errors, masquerading as fundamental Bible teaching such as the more recent "bridal rapture theology". It’s a derivative of the "partial rapture error", which is foundational in many Bible prophecy circles. It teaches that "The Bride of Christ" is a special sub-group within the believing Church and does not include "all saved Christian believers", but only the more committed Christians, who attain (or achieve) some high level of devotion to Christ and sinless "holy living". It warns that only this special group will leave at the “catching away" (or rapture), while those deficient in these values and attributes will be left behind for more "purification" during the tribulation. Here's the problem: How can you know (or have any assurance) what group you're in? How is it possible to know that you've "crossed over" and are now one of God's "privileged few" (as these preachers define it). If you’re someone watching for the return of Christ, your inability to answer these questions creates intense doubt, fear and torment. Being "left behind" will result in an automatic death sentence for many remaining on the earth during the tribulation period. The same ones preaching this end-time “bridal theology” message project the illusion that they’ve satisfied God's performance requirements to be part of "Christ's Bride". Yet, this is only an illusion based on a dangerous assumption. The truth is...under their aberrant theology, they can't really know that they qualify until the rapture occurs -- and by then it's too late to change. This is why we call their teaching "tread-mill or squirrel-cage religion". Saint Paul called it deception and religious bondage. You are terrified of being "left behind" so you keep trying to be righteous enough, holy (or sinless) enough and faithful enough -- hoping to satisfy the qualifications to become one of God's "chosen few". Here's the tragedy: These unfortunate congregations are taught to reject the liberating truth that the blood of Jesus Christ washed away all their sin. It's only His blood that makes them perfectly righteous, perfectly worthy, perfectly holy and fully qualified to participate in the "catching away" of the Church when it happens. The cleansing power of Christ's blood is sufficient to "fully qualify" the whole believing Church (from the least to the greatest) to participate in the rapture – AND NOT JUST A PRIVILEGED FEW.
A Dismembered Body of Christ
Partial rapture theology dominates most churches that teach end-time Bible prophecy. It's directly tied to a modified "works-based" Old Testament conditional salvation that the apostle Paul called "a different gospel" and condemned in his epistles. He warned that it was a false system of faith THAT GOD DOES NOT HONOR. While the few churches and ministries that teach Bible prophecy are to be commended for their efforts, what many do to the blessing of the rapture (also called "the believer's blessed hope"--Titus 2:13-14) is spiritually deadly, misleading and criminal. In the New Testament, the rapture represents the future fulfillment of the believer's salvation. THIS MEANS THE RAPTURE IS A SALVATION EVENT FOR CHRIST'S BLOOD-BOUGHT (REDEEMED) CHURCH. However, many in these Bible prophecy churches and denominations like to illegally strip the rapture from its context in Christ's salvation (also called God's unmerited gift to the believer--Romans 10:8-13, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9 Romans 4:4-8, Romans 3:24-26 and Titus 3:4-7) and transplant it into an "optional" Bible eschatology context where they can redefine it into anything they want -- or even ignore it. A vast majority choose to redefine the rapture as a major end-time event reserved for only the most obedient and devoted believers. This common teaching carries horrific spiritual consequences. It perverts the fulfillment of the Church's salvation through Christ (at the rapture) into a works-based religion that the New Testament labels a heresy.
Partial rapture theology is found under countless names and labels designed to hide its real characteristics. Bridal rapture theology is only a more recent variant of this error. Here's another example :
Some evangelists and prophecy teachers claim that the rapture is only for what they call, “the overcoming remnant Church”. They define this group, not as the whole Church that consists of all believers, but as a special high-performance sub-group that are few in number (hence the word "remnant"). Similar to bridal rapture teachings, the leaders insist that this "remnant church" does not include all believers. It excludes those who are living in or struggling with some kind of sin. The believers in the “overcoming remnant church” (as they call it) are those who ACHIEVE some high level of sinless living and are given a place in the rapture as a "special reward for faithfulness". The key word here is "achieve". It is believed that this special position is achieved (or earned by self-effort) through a personal “deep devotion to Christ”, which places them in a separate and privileged class above all other nominal true believers who are "less devoted" and fail to overcome sin. They insist that only this "overcoming remnant church" is "caught up" to meet Christ in the rapture, while all other true believers who continue to struggle with sin are penalized and left behind for more purification during the tribulation on earth. (Personal note: This is exactly the kind of religious hypocritical arrogance practiced by the Pharisees that angered Jesus.) The New Testament condemns any doctrine or theology that dismembers and divides the Body of Christ into some "multi-leveled class system” based on a member's achievement of some sinless spiritual state of what they call "holiness". The apostle Peter condemned these doctrines and called them, "damnable heresies that denies the Lord who bought (or redeemed) us" (2 Peter 2:1-2). It’s the same kind of misguided theology found in the "bridal rapture teaching" and is nothing but an old error with a new modern name. (It was rejected by the first century apostolic leadership in Acts chapter 15). Saint Paul exposed it as "a different or counterfeit gospel" THAT GOD DOES NOT HONOR (GALATIANS 1:6-8).
BEWARE OF THESE FALSE DOCTRINES THAT DENY THE COMPLETE REDEMPTION AND TOTAL SUFFICIENCY OF CHRIST'S SACRIFICE TO WASH AWAY ALL SIN (PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE) OF ALL BELIEVERS IN THE CHURCH.
Below is a link to some additional information that the reader may find helpful.
Who Is The Bride of Christ?
When we use the phrase “all saved Christian believers” WE DO NOT MEAN “all those who profess to be Christian”. THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE IN THOSE TWO GROUPS. According to Christ's New Covenant program that began after the cross, an “authentically saved Christian” is one who receives God’s gift of eternal life obtained only through His unmerited favor (also called Grace) as outlined in Romans 10:8-13, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9 Romans 4:4-8, Romans 3:24-26 and Titus 3:4-7. A vast majority of religious people label themselves as a “Christian”, yet refuse to accept eternal life as the free, unconditional and unmerited gift of God fully purchased by the blood of Christ. They attempt to obtain eternal life (salvation) the Old Testament way through good works, trying to achieve (through self-effort) their own righteousness and holiness, striving to keep Old Testament Law -- and through church affiliation. THESE WELL-INTENTIONED AND HIGHLY COMMITTED PEOPLE ARE ZEALOUS FOR CHRIST AND HIS TEACHINGS. HOWEVER, they are part of a stealth group that the apostle Paul calls “false brethren, false apostles of Christ and false ministers of righteousness", who fellowship among us. They openly carry Bibles, attend church services, pray, evangelize, participate in praise and worship -- and act like real Christians. Unfortunately, they are also highly educated and respected spiritual leaders. IT IS LIKELY THAT MANY IN THIS GROUP WILL NOT LEAVE IN THE RAPTURE WITH THE REST OF THE CHURCH. Why? They have placed their faith and trust in "a different gospel", which is a close counterfeit (or look-alike) of the real Gospel of Christ. The counterfeit gospel motivates its followers to obtain salvation in a way that Christ’s New Covenant declares to be illegal. It means that God does not honor, nor does He grant salvation according to its principles and rules. The apostle Paul labels those that teach and propagate this "different gospel" as being "accursed", WHICH SUGGESTS DIVINE REJECTION. Paul gives one of the most terrifying warnings in the Bible on this topic of “a different gospel”. Do not make the spiritually lethal mistake of thinking all of this doesn't matter and is just some "difference of opinion". It represents a popular false theology that's been plaguing the Church since the first century -- and believers should avoid it at all costs.
GOD DOES NOT USE THE TRIBULATION PERIOD TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL PURIFICATION FOR UNDER-PERFORMING CHRISTIANS.
Here are some Scriptural references, which are repeated throughout our commentaries.
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 14:12 KJV)
"...BEING JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE THROUGH THE REDEMPTION THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS, whom God set forth as a propitiation BY HIS BLOOD, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:24-26 -- Emphasis Mine)
"I MARVEL THAT YOU ARE TURNING AWAY SO SOON FROM HIM WHO CALLED YOU IN THE GRACE OF CHRIST, TO A DIFFERENT GOSPEL, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. BUT EVEN IF WE, OR AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN, PREACH ANY OTHER GOSPEL TO YOU THAN WHAT WE HAVE PREACHED TO YOU, LET HIM BE ACCURSED." (Galatians 1:6-8 NKJV -- Emphasis Mine)
"And this occurred BECAUSE OF FALSE BRETHREN SECRETLY BROUGHT IN (WHO CAME IN BY STEALTH TO SPY OUT OUR LIBERTY WHICH WE HAVE IN CHRIST JESUS, THAT THEY MIGHT BRING US INTO BONDAGE), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, THAT THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL MIGHT CONTINUE WITH YOU." (Galatians 2:4-5 -- Emphasis Mine)
"O foolish Galatians! WHO HAS BEWITCHED YOU THAT YOU SHOULD NOT OBEY THE TRUTH, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:1-3 -- Emphasis Mine)
"But none of these things move me; neither do I esteem my life dear to myself, if only I may finish my course with joy and the ministry which I have obtained from [which was entrusted to me by] the Lord Jesus, faithfully to attest to the good news (Gospel) of God's grace (His unmerited favor, spiritual blessing, and mercy)." (Acts 20:24 Amplified Bible, WHICH DEFINES THE GOSPEL OF GRACE AS GOD'S UNMERITED FAVOR AND MERCY)
But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, TRANSFORMING THEMSELVES INTO APOSTLES OF CHRIST. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. THEREFORE IT IS NO GREAT THING IF HIS MINISTERS ALSO TRANSFORM THEMSELVES INTO MINISTERS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, whose end will be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:12-15 -- Emphasis Mine)
"FOR AS MANY AS ARE OF THE WORKS OF THE LAW ARE UNDER THE CURSE; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” BUT THAT NO ONE IS JUSTIFIED BY THE LAW IN THE SIGHT OF GOD IS EVIDENT, for “the just shall live by faith.” YET THE LAW IS NOT OF FAITH..." (Galatians 3:10-12 -- Emphasis Mine)
"You have become estranged (separated) from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; YOU HAVE FALLEN FROM GRACE." (Galatians 5:4 -- Emphasis Mine)
"For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: FOR IF RIGHTEOUSNESS COME BY THE LAW, THEN CHRIST IS DEAD IN VAIN (THE WORD "VAIN" MEANS THAT CHRIST'S DEATH BECOMES MEANINGLESS)." (Galatians 2:19-21 NKJV -- Emphasis Mine)
If you are a Christian believer and currently under the popular false teaching that creates fear and doubt about your involvement in the soon-to-occur rapture, this commentary should dispel these fears and put you in a place of rest, peace and comfort.
"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. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and 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 4:13-18 NKJV)
Some Additional Information
That May Be Helpful
Commentaries From Gracethrufaith.com
Left Behind For Bad Behavior
By Jack Kelly
Back Slidden Brides Maids?
By Jack Kelly
Conditions For Going In The Rapture
By Jack Kelly
The Rapture And The Ten Virgins
By Jack Kelly
More On The Parable Of The 10 Virgins
By Jack Kelly
Avoiding the Error of Replacement Theology
The Assault On The 1000 Year
Reign of Christ
The Prime Directive of Christ's Authentic Gospel
The Holy Spirit's Role In Salvation
After the Cross
Myths About Pretribulationalism
By Dr. Thomas Ice
Visit the Rock of Offence Bible Prophecy Section