RAPTURED OR REFINED
These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
(Rev 7:14, NASB)
Why should we at all bother to take a stand regarding the doctrine on the Rapture? Does it really matter? Why do we not just accept the different opinions? There are those who choose to believe in a Pre- Mid- or Post Tribulation Rapture on the one hand; and a few others who call the brethren to be alert and ready for a time of great tribulation. Why then should be bother? Indeed, we should!
Jude wrote a very short epistle with a very stern and powerful appeal to the congregation, pleading with them to ‘contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints,’ (Jude 1:3). This appeal was necessary, ‘for certain persons have crept in unnoticed’ (Jude 1:4), and they caused division by introducing doctrines which were contradicting the message of the gospel, (Jude 1:1-25).
The apostle Paul encouraged the Ephesians to be built up and equipped in their faith so that they would grow up to be mature in Christ Jesus, in order not to be ‘tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming,’ (Eph 4:13-14). The warning against false doctrines does not ONLY apply to the early church (Mat 7:13-23; Mat 10:16-23), but is a very specific warning to those who will live in the latter days, (Mat 24:4-5; Mat 24:9-13; Mat 24:23-28).
It is specifically stated that false doctrines will be prevalent in the latter days, ‘For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from truth, and will turn aside to myths,’ (2 Tim 4:3). [See also 1 Tim 4:1-2; 2 Tim 3; 2 Peter 2; 1 John 4:1; Jude 1.] Our faith and doctrines have to be grounded on the principle truths laid down by the apostles and prophets (Eph 2:19-22; 2 Peter 1:19-21), for how shall we measure truth if God has not provided a plumb line for us. Truly, if we move away from this principle, one could really prove anything by adding new doctrines to that which was already laid down, (1 Cor 3:10-15).
We studied the Scriptures together on the doctrine of the Rapture. The term does not appear in the Word of God, and the basic doctrine relies on inference, mostly using single verses out of context. The assumptions are derived from “eisegesis,” reading meaning “into” a text, and not from “exegesis,” reading a text in context. Great confusion sets in when Scriptures on the resurrection is applied to the Rapture (1 Cor 15; 1 Thes 4:13-18), because it contradicts the climactic event when the ‘sons of God’ will receive their glorified resurrected bodies at the visible Second Appearance of Messiah, (Rom 8:16-25; Rev 19; Rev 20:4-6).
Also, the doctrine on the Rapture causes great confusion if one tries to incorporate it into the book of Revelation, especially in the chapters where Almighty God reveals His thoughts on sealing His bond-servants during the last seven years (Rev 7; Rev 14), before the climactic appearance of Messiah to establish His everlasting kingdom on earth for the Millennium, (Rev 11:15-18; Rev 19; Rev 20). To make sense of all the contradictions appearing in these Scriptures only leads to “cutting and pasting” passages together without reading them in context, a dangerous approach in keeping God’s Word intact.
The real danger of this doctrine, and the real issue at hand, is actually connected to the mind-set of the latter-day Church. If the Rapture should prove to be true, the Body of Christ have no need to be alert and ready to persevere in their faith during a time of great tribulation – they will simply not be here! It is indeed a preferable thought. But is it true!! If we are nor girded in our minds for persecution and tribulation, we indeed stand a very good chance of “growing cold in our love for Christ,” and thus succumbing under the pressure of the hardship. In fact, this is exactly the call to the saints who will be persecuted during this time, as stated in the book of Revelation, ‘Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus,’ and, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on! Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them,’ (Rev 14:12-13). [See also Rev 13:6-10.]
Let us thus take our position on the wall as watchmen (Ezek 33), and warn the saints to stand firm in their faith during the imminent great tribulation, so that they will not lose their crowns (Rev 2:10-11); moreover, let us call them to endure until the end, and so keep keep their garments of righteousness, (Mat 24:9-13; Rev 16:15).