My granddaughter is attending a Christian school in Florida which teaches a secret Rapture of the Church. Since I have taught my granddaughter that the Dispensational view of the Rapture is not rooted in biblical theology, she has become confused for her teacher is presently teaching that perspective. With her in mind, I told her mother I would try to write a short blog to help clarify the issue for a child in the sixth grade. If I were teaching a sixth grade Bible class on this subject, this is what I would say:
Young people, I believe that you, when properly instructed, can understand spiritual matters, and so, I want to tell that the idea of God’s people disappearing some day from the earth is simply not taught in Scripture. Now many people disagree. Many good Christians really do believe that one day, suddenly and without warning, all over the globe, people will disappear from the earth. This event is said to be the Rapture of the Church.
It is an exciting concept. Books have been written on this topic and movies have been made. In the movies and in the books, people who are flying on an airplane suddenly disappear. Maybe even the pilot. Families are riding down the road and suddenly the mother, or the father, or the children disappear. One moment they are here and life is normal, suddenly, a loud sound is heard and they are gone. It is an exciting idea.
But the question remains, “Why do these people believe the Rapture?”
Those who believe in the Rapture of the Church might say they believe the Rapture is taught in Scripture. The passage cited most often for support is 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. So, I want you to turn to that passage and let us read it together. The Bible says, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”
Those who believe in the Rapture believe that the words “shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” is the Rapture.
According to Dispensational teachers, when the Rapture takes place, people disappear, the world is left to enter into a terrible tribulation period that will last for seven years, and then at the end of that period all the Christians who left in the Rapture will return with Jesus and other saints to earth.
Now, I want you to see that 1 Thessalonians does not say anything about a seven year tribulation period. It does not say anything about people returning in seven years. It does not say anything about people disappearing to heaven.
What the Bible does say is that when Jesus comes again there are Christians who will rise to greet Him in the air. That is what the word “meet” means in v. 17. The word refers to a friendly encounter.
Now, young people, you are familiar with this word and what it means. If the president of the United States were to come and visit your school, he would probably land at the Orlando airport. He is coming to see you. And what would you do? You would want to go and meet him, to greet him, to welcome him in a friendly encounter. Then what would happen? You would return with the president to his intended place of his travels, your school.
That is what the Bible teaches. When Jesus comes, some will go to meet Him. They will greet Him and then escort Him to where Jesus is coming which is back to earth, the second time, for all who believe, according to the promise of Hebrews 9:28. Turn to Hebrews 9:28 in your Bible and let us read the text together. “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
Notice that Jesus is coming the “second time”. Young people, the idea of the Rapture, as taught by Dispensational teachers, creates a third coming of Jesus and that is contrary to what we just read.
It is true. Notice that Jesus came the first time 2000 plus years ago in the virgin birth. Then, according to Dispensational teachers He will come at the Rapture, and then, seven years later he will return a third time. First Advent (Virgin Birth), Rapture, and then the Second Coming. That is three comings of Christ. But the Bible says Jesus is only coming “the second time”.
There is something else. The Dispensational teachers say that Jesus is coming so suddenly, people will not know what is happening. One author has called the Rapture, “The Great Snatch.”
It is interesting that a secret, silent coming of Christ is appealed to from one of the nosiest passage in the Bible, for in 1 Thessalonians we have “a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God.” Now when someone shouts and blows a trumpet loud enough for the whole world to hear, well, that is not much of a secret, silent coming to snatch people away.
The truth of the matter is that Jesus will return, not in secret only to disappear, but He will come in the same manner or way in which He went away.
Young people, how did Jesus go away?
We find the answer in Acts 1:9. Turn there in your Bibles and let us read the words of the text together. “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
Jesus went away, slowly, bodily, and visibly. The disciples watched in amazement as Jesus ascended and those who will one day greet Jesus shall watch His descent. Jesus is coming again the same way or, “in like manner”, as He went away.
So, what have we learned based on what we have read in the Bible?
We have learned that Jesus is coming the second time for all who believe.
We have learned that some will go to meet or greet the Lord in a friendly encounter.
We have learned that Jesus will come with a shout and the blast of a trumpet.
We have learned that Jesus will descend slowly, bodily, and visibly.
We have learned that many people are reading into the Bible some ideas that are simply not there.
There is much more that could be said on this topic, but that is our lesson for today. Let us pray and say with the apostle John, ‘Even so come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.’”