Is the Pre-Tribulational Rapture
Teaching a Hoax? (Pt. 1)
Rock of Offence Special Commentary
This is Part 1 of a three-part Bible study.
Click on the links below to access the
other parts of this study.
The following represents a typical
question often found on the Internet :
"I am wondering about the pre tribulation rapture, as I have seen no biblical proof of such. I stand on the belief that the rapture is invented by man because he is afraid to suffer. For sure the word "rapture" does not show up in any bible I have ever owned. I do know that my belief, or disbelief, in a pre tribulation rapture does not hamper my getting into heaven, but I would still like some insight."
In order to properly answer
questions such as this, we
must first examine the
neglect and sometimes ...
the blatant rejection of a
powerful New Testament
warning given to the Christian
Church through Saint Paul.
God Gives a Sober Warning
to the Church Through Paul's
"Epistle to the Galatians"
All too often, criticisms about the doctrines of various groups within the Christian Church are deflected by statements like; “They have helped so many hurting and needy people – look at the many ways they have contributed to society”. We would certainly never downplay these humanitarian contributions. One of the most important responsibilities of the Church is to help the poor and needy. Yet, contrary to popular opinion, God does not use this wonderful character trait to determine whether He accepts or rejects the group in question. According to the New Testament, His acceptance of those claiming to represent Christ rests solely on whether they preach the authentic Christ and His gospel of free justification. God’s rejection occurs when they preach "another Jesus Christ and his counterfeit gospel” (Galatians 1:6-8). Regardless of whether it offends your theology or not - the Bible warns that ... after the cross, God's approval ultimately rests on this one issue.
The most disastrous, yet common practices in the world-wide Christian Church continue to be the mishandling of Scripture. It creates an irreconcilable situation where Bible verses are lifted from their context and used to defend certain popular doctrines and beliefs. Unfortunately, since the days of the first century church various theologians and church leaders (but thankfully not all) have engaged in this error. During the next 1900 years this ‘spiritual malpractice’ (often performed in ignorance but with good intentions) resulted in many of the denominations we have today – and corrupts both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism (and nearly everything in-between). If anyone dares to question the doctrine, Scriptures are quoted that prove the teachings are valid. Yet, people who are inexperienced in spiritual matters are easily misled when they fail to understand that Bible verses are often used ‘out-of-context’ in order to defend certain types of theology.
Our Heavenly Father considers this a serious problem and placed strong warnings and admonishments in the New Testament section of the Bible, starting in Acts chapter 15. More information is available HERE
Saint Paul wrote nearly half of the New Testament canon of Scripture and referred to this subject by making the following statement to his disciple Timothy;
"Be diligent to present yourself approved of God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly (or correctly) dividing the Word of Truth." (2 Timothy 2:15 - Emphasis Added)
Why is this important – and why do we repeatedly draw attention to this particular command throughout our writings, almost to the point of sounding redundant?
If God’s Word is not ‘rightly divided’ - and taught ‘wrongly divided’ or even ‘undivided’ (as practiced by a majority of the Christian Church) - the result is erroneous Bible teachings and heresies which are accepted as "fundamental Christian truth" - because they 'appear' to be established on Scripture. The New Testament warns about an entire church congregation that was led astray by this powerful spiritual deception. It motivated the Apostle Paul to write his “Epistle to the Galatians” in an effort to undo the damage. This is why some theologians and Bible scholars refer to the error as; Galatian Religion – or simply Galatianism. Some call it “the Galatian Heresy”. It is a counterfeit form of Christianity that leads people astray by disguising itself as authentic Christianity. We should keep in mind that a counterfeit of anything is designed to be indistinguishable from whatever it is trying to replace. Counterfeit money is one example. Contrary to popular beliefs, these warnings do not just apply to the various religious cults that show up at our doorstep looking for converts. God directs this warning at all members of the Christian Church, especially its leadership.
Unfortunately, Paul could only warn us about the error through Scripture – and was unable to stop it from spreading throughout the early church during the remainder of his ministry.
Today, after 1900 years of religious
modifications and rewording, what many
modern-day Christians (but thankfully
not all) refer to as ‘the gospel’ and
‘faith in Christ’ – is actually
Galatian Religion. Some Biblical
research projects have placed the
numbers at greater than 85% !
Paul’s warning continues to exist in the New Testament – but is often ignored (or even rejected) because it causes division, reduces church attendance and offends falsely religious people. However, this particular kind of division is ‘God-approved’ (also called “earnestly contending for the faith" - Titus 1:3-4) because it exposes a dangerous counterfeit - and always follows the preaching of Christ’s authentic New Covenant program of salvation.
Galatian religion sets the stage for a particular kind of deception. A professing Christian or church leader can claim to be a devoted ‘Bible-believer’ ... while, at the same time, believe and interpret the Bible in a ‘wrongly divided or undivided’ way. This also applies to religious movements, church organizations and denominations. Paul uses the phrase “rightly divided” when speaking about the Scriptures (God's Word) because they generally consist of two major spiritual programs known as ‘covenants’. As a result, the translators sub-divided our English Bible into two parts or "divisions" known as 'The Old Testament and the New Testament' - and placed clearly marked title pages in the text to alert the reader about this dividing line. This was not done arbitrarily. (Note: In Scripture the English word 'Testament' is often used interchangeably with the word "Covenant".)
Paul refers to these two covenants
in the following Scriptures ...
"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 – Also read Galatians 4:21-31)
"But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He (Jesus) is also mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second." (Hebrews 8:6-7)
“In that He (Jesus Christ) says, ‘a new covenant', He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (Hebrews 8:13)
"For these are the two covenants:
The one (also called the first
covenant) from Mount Sinai that
gives birth to bondage ...
Read the entire account in
IMPORTANT NOTE: The two covenants Paul refers to are; (First) the Mosaic Covenant governed by the Law of Moses enacted at Mount Sinai - and the New Covenant established by Jesus Christ at the cross on Mount Calvary ... also called the second (and better) covenant in Hebrews 8:6-13. While a majority of the Bible consists of these two covenant programs, there are other subjects, such as Bible prophecy, which might not be specifically categorized under one or the other because they involve "a future mystery". Also, there are other covenants and subjects taught in the Bible that will not be discussed here. For these reasons, some Bible scholars correctly teach that everything in the Bible is written for the education of the Christian believer. However, not everything in the Bible is binding upon (or is to be obeyed by) the believer. One example is the temple worship and animal sacrifices of the Mosaic Law (also known as Judaism), which operated according to 613 commandments (and includes the Ten Commandments). Under this Old Testament program you had to perfectly keep all 613 commandments to be in a right relationship with God. According to James, the half-brother of our Lord, failing to be obedient in one point, made you guilty of violating all the Law (James 2:10). Yet, after the cross this Old Testament requirement to be righteous before God - became obsolete and was replaced by the New Covenant of Christ according to Hebrews 8:6-13 (Also read Romans 5:13, Romans 5:15-21, Romans 6:14, Romans 4:4-8, Romans 5:15-21 and Titus 3:5-7).
Each of these covenant programs, mentioned by Paul, operate according to a vastly different set of rules, which is why they must never be mixed together – but must remain separate or “rightly divided”. Also, Christ’s New Covenant is said to make the previous (or first) covenant “obsolete”. You never mix something obsolete with something new. But, this is the deceptive way Galatian religion operates, while insisting that it teaches God's original intentions of the Bible.
Paul emphasizes these differences
by telling us that Christ’s new
covenant program, established at the
cross, “sets us free” from the previous
covenant law of sin and death.
Galatian religion (and its countless variants) is what results when Paul’s command to keep these programs ‘rightly divided’ – is either rejected or ignored. Unfortunately, there are Christian churches and major denominations that practice this historic, yet improper type of Bible interpretation. It causes them to unknowingly preach various brands of Galatian religion, while thinking that it’s authentic Christianity. Some of the more devoted adherents choose to call this doctrine “Biblical Christianity” because it is taken directly from the pages of the Bible. However, what they don't tell you is that it’s taken from the Bible in violation of the Bible's context – or in a way that fails to “rightly divide the Word” as Paul instructed.
This is one reason their understanding of
the rapture is corrupt and misleading.
Wrong Teachings about the
Rapture are Always Caused
by the Failure to ‘Rightly
Divide' God’s Word
As we previously stated; just because anyone claims to be a Christian or a "Bible-believer" does not automatically mean that they believe and teach the Bible correctly. Once again, this applies not only to individuals, but also to churches and denominations. Galatian religion has been around for over 1900 years and is responsible for the existence of many of the denominations within Christendom. All of these groups insist they represent Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. Yet, Galatian religion causes a mishandling of the Scriptures that ultimately produces a 'curse' according to the New Testament writings of Paul.
In order to provide different viewpoints, we sometimes include the following commentary from C.I. Scofield, who was the architect of the popular “Scofield Reference Bible” and speaks a sober warning to the church. We are not necessarily students of Scofield. Yet, we find that his writings reinforce the subject of this Bible study. Scofield writes:
“In contrast to Reformed theology is Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism says that to find the believer’s rule of life you must go not to Mount Sinai, but to Mount Calvary. Mount Sinai is powerless to justify a person and Mount Sinai is also powerless to sanctify a person. The law is not the believer’s rule of life. Something else is. The Scofield Bible states this position very clearly: "The test of the gospel is grace. If the message excludes grace, or mingles Law with grace as the means of justification or sanctification, or denies the fact or guilt of sin which alone gives Grace its occasion and opportunity, it is ‘another’ gospel, and the preacher of it is under the anathema of God.”
[From "Footnote #6" in the Scofield Reference Bible under Galatians 1:6.]
“Most of us have been reared and now live under the influence of Galatianism. PROTESTANT THEOLOGY IS FOR THE MOST PART THOROUGHLY GALATIANIZED, in that neither the law or grace is given its distinct and separate place as in the counsels of God, BUT THEY ARE MINGLED TOGETHER IN ONE INCOHERENT SYSTEM. The law is no longer, as in the divine intent, a ministration of death (2 Cor. 3:7), of cursing (Gal. 3:10), or conviction (Rom. 3:19), because we are taught that we must try to keep it, and that by divine help we may. Nor does grace, on the other hand, bring us blessed deliverance from the dominion of sin, for we are kept under the law as a rule of life despite the plain declaration of Romans 6:14.”
-- C.I. Scofield --
IMPORTANT NOTE: Reformed theology, Calvinism (and its countless offshoots) and Galatian religion generally represent the same error. The word "dispensationalism" is a modern theological term that carries a similar meaning as Saint Paul's command to "rightly divide the Word" - from 2 Timothy 2:15.
The most frightening aspect of these quotes is Scofield's use of the word "anathema" when talking about those who preach the popular gospel that mixes Old Testament Law with New Testament Grace - which is the dominant characteristic of Galatian religion.
We should not make the mistake of thinking that Scofield is just offering us his own personal beliefs concerning this problem. He is citing the Apostle Paul, who uses the word "accursed" when describing the misleading Biblical message of these preachers (Galatians 1:6-8). Both words (anathema and accursed) suggest a type of "Divine rejection" that falls upon these unsuspecting ministers (and their followers who teach the same distorted Bible message).
Abberant forms of theology supported by the mishandling Scripture are responsible for all the many wrong beliefs concerning the rapture. The Internet is filled with these misconceptions (some of the most popular are listed below), which can lead inexperienced Christians astray in their faith.
- The word ‘rapture’ is not in the Bible, therefore it's a false teaching
- The Bible doesn't support a Pre-trib rapture
- The Pre-trib rapture is a man-made religious hoax
- The Pre-trib rapture teaching is heresy
- The Pre-trib rapture is a false doctrine created by John Alexander Darby
- The rapture is a reward for righteous living and Christian service
- Very few authentically saved Christians will qualify for the rapture
- The rapture occurs half-way through the Tribulation
- The rapture only occurs at the end of the Tribulation at the
Second Coming of Christ (the Post-Tribulational View)
At this point in our study, instead of providing our own comments - we decided to include various quotes from other Bible teachers and authors who address the same subject. Readers should understand that our use of these quotes does not necessarily mean that we are in complete agreement with every teaching given by these ministries. It should also be understood that they may not necessarily agree with everything we teach. If you visit their website and read their materials; discernment should always be exercised.
From the commentary "What is
the Rapture" – by author
and Bible teacher;
Many people have asked me this year, “What is the Rapture”? Here’s what I tell them.
While the word rapture does not appear in modern English translations of the Bible, the concept is rooted in Scripture. The word itself comes from the Vulgate, the Latin translation of the Bible. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17 in the Vulgate, the Greek word harpazo is translated rapturo or raeptius, which means “to seize, carry off by force; to seize on, claim for one’s self eagerly; or to snatch out or away.”[i] Most English translations of the Bible—including the King James Version, the New King James Version, the New American Standard Bible, and the New International Version—have, therefore, translated the word harpazo as “caught up.” But English-speaking Bible scholars who studied the Latin Vulgate decided the word rapture was a useful and suitable term to express the scriptural concept of believers being suddenly removed from the world.
If “you happened to pick up a copy of the Latin Vulgate at a garage sale, produced by Jerome in the early 400s, you would indeed find the word Rapture,” Bible scholars Mark Hitchcock and Thomas Ice have noted. “The Vulgate was the main Bible of the medieval Western church until the Reformation. It continues to this day as the primary Latin translation of the Roman Catholic Church. . . . It should not be surprising to anyone that an English word in regular use today was developed from the Latin. That word, of course, is rapture.”
Question: "What is the rapture of the church?"
Answer: The word rapture does not occur in the Bible. The term comes from a Latin word meaning “a carrying off, a transport, or a snatching away.” The concept of the “carrying off” or the rapture of the church is clearly taught in Scripture.
The rapture of the church is the event in which God “snatches away” all believers from the earth in order to make way for His righteous judgment to be poured out on the earth during the tribulation period. The rapture is described primarily in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50–54. God will resurrect all believers who have died, give them glorified bodies, and take them from the earth, along with all living believers, who will also be given glorified bodies at that time. “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17).
The rapture will involve an instantaneous transformation of our bodies to fit us for eternity. “We know that when he [Christ] appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). The rapture is to be distinguished from the second coming. At the rapture, the Lord comes “in the clouds” to meet us “in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). At the second coming, the Lord descends all the way to the earth to stand on the Mount of Olives, resulting in a great earthquake followed by a defeat of God’s enemies (Zechariah 14:3–4).
The doctrine of the rapture was not taught in the Old Testament, which is why Paul calls it a “mystery” now revealed: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52).
The rapture of the church is a glorious event we should all be longing for. We will finally be free from sin. We will be in God’s presence forever. There is far too much debate over the meaning and scope of the rapture. This is not God’s intent. Rather, the rapture should be a comforting doctrine full of hope; God wants us to “encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
[Recommended Resource: Three Views on the Rapture by Gleason L. Archer, Jr., ed.]
This information is also available below
at the following link:
What is the Rapture
of the Church?
From the Bible study; "Defending The Pre-Trib Rapture (Again)" by Jack Kelly and the Gracethrufaith.com ministry website.
The Rapture is not another name for the Second Coming. As 1 Thes. 4:15-17 and John 14:1-3 explain, the Rapture is an unscheduled secret event where Jesus comes part way to Earth to meet His Church in the air and take us to be with Him where He now is. I say unscheduled and secret because its specific timing will remain unknown until it actually happens. On the other hand, The Second Coming is a scheduled public event where Jesus comes all the way to Earth with His Church to establish a Kingdom here. I say scheduled and public because the general time of His coming will be known on Earth over 3 1/2 years in advance, and public because everyone on Earth will be able to witness His arrival. Matt. 24:29-30 says it will happen shortly after the Great Tribulation has ended and all the nations will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds in the sky.
Membership in the Church and therefore participation in the Rapture is contingent upon having personally accepted the Lord’s death as payment in full for your sins. While His death actually purchased full pardons for everyone, we each have to personally ask to have ours activated. Everyone who asks for salvation receives an unconditional, irrevocable “Yes!” (Matt. 7:7-8, John 3:16, Ephes. 1:13-14) For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. (2 Corinth. 1:20)
Kelly goes on to say ...
In the New Testament, the clearest indication we get in the timing department is found in 1 Thes. 1:9-10. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
The Greek word translated “from” in this passage is “apo.” Translated literally, it means we’re to be rescued from the time, the place, or any relation to God’s wrath. It denotes both departure and separation. This is supported by 1 Thes. 5:9 that declares, “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Some folks are fond of pointing out that you can’t use God’s wrath interchangeably with the Great Tribulation. They’re not the same, they say. And they’re right, the two terms are not synonymous. The Great Tribulation is 3 1/2 years long and begins in Rev. 11-13. God’s wrath is much longer, beginning in Rev. 6, as verse 17 explains. Post-trib. and pre-wrath rapture advocates try to deny this but the Scripture is clear. The time of God’s wrath begins with the Seal Judgments. The Bowl Judgments that come later don’t begin the time of His wrath, they conclude it. (Rev. 15:1) Being rescued from the time, the place and any relation to God’s Wrath means the Church has to disappear before Rev. 6, and that’s why we believe the Rapture takes place in Rev. 4 and the Church is the group of believers in view in heaven in Rev.5.
Note: This is only a sample of
a more detailed Bible study
available at the following link.
Defending The Pre-Trib Rapture
If the connection above becomes inactive
the information is also available below
in PDF format:
Defending The Pre-Trib Rapture
Another detailed study can also be found on the Christinprophecy.org website entitled; "Why I Believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture" by Nathan Jones. "Christ in Prophecy" is associated with the Lion and Lamb ministry under Dr. David Reagan. We will not present sample quotes from this commentary, which is available in its entirety at the following link:
Why I Believe in a Pre-Tribulation
From the YouTube Audio Presentation Entitled; "Why the Church of Jesus Christ Will Not Go Thru the Tribulation" by J. Vernon McGee.
Dr. Vernon McGee addresses the subject
of the rapture in such a clear and
thorough way - we decided to provide
several methods of access.
Direct Link to this Presentation
If the connection above becomes inactive
the information is also available below
in MP3 format:
Local Link to this Presentation
If you are using the emergency DVD version
of our website and the Internet is offline or
unavailable - the information can still be
accessed locally on the disk at the following
Disk Link to this Presentation
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under Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of the “fair use”
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any copyrighted work on this website is provided
under the “fair use” provision without profit or
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discussion purposes only.
[End of Quotations]
Supplemental information concerning this
subject is found at the following links:
Why the Rapture Must Happen
Before the Tribulation
64 Reasons the Rapture is not
the Second Coming of Christ
Important Information About Who
Goes at the Rapture (Pt. 1)
Israel and the Church
Why The Term ‘Christian Fundamentalism’
Causes So Much Confusion
This is Part 1 of a three-part Bible study.
Click on the links below to access the
other parts of this study.
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