|Are We Just Waiting For the Rapture?|
Actually, it's hard to take a position on the rapture. There are so many different competing theories out there that it's a little bit difficult to say exactly what the rapture is. We would have to start by asking, "What do you mean when you say, "rapture?" We take a position against speculation, and there is certainly a lot of end-times speculation. There's big money in predicting the end of the age.
One thing is certain: salvation is not based on belief in a rapture.
The problem is not with the rapture but with the speculation on the rapture. Speculation always diverts the Saints from what God has for them. It seems that all religious speculation uses the Bible to back it up. Think about how people argue about baptism, rapture, communion, sanctification, heaven, hell, creation, morality, and almost any other area of theology. They all use Scripture, but somebody is adding to or taking from Scripture.
The reality is that there are many rapture theories. The problem with the shortcut terms, such as "rapture," is that no one seems to mean the same thing when using the term. This is certainly true of the rapture theories. And every theologian is completely sure that his or her own particular twist on their rapture theory is correct. Sometimes, this argumentation seems to be fueled by pure ego.
The word, rapture is taken from a Latin word, raptus/raptio. This would roughly translate to a Greek word, HARPADZO, which is translated as "caught up" in I Thessalonians 4:16-18. It would seem that it would be better to use a word from Scripture: "manifestation of the sons of God," "redemption of the body," or "we shall be like Him."
It might help to look at the various parts of some of the theories that are out there.
There are some theoretical ideas that are put forward that actually are in conflict with Scripture. When our theories cause the Scripture to appear to be in conflict with Itself, we can be sure of one thing: our theories are wrong.
Here are some examples of things that are speculative:
I Thessalonians 4:16-18 is the one scripture that says that we will meet the Lord in the air. That is taken, by some, to mean up in the sky, and the Scripture is changed in the minds of those Christians. The word, air, is changed to sky.
The Greek word, AER is translated as "air." Literally, the Greek refers to the relatively heavy atmosphere near the earth's surface, which doesn't work for most rapture theories. This word, AER, is used in other New Testament Scriptures, and it usually has a spiritual interpretation. It means the spiritual realm of the heavenlies. This is the realm where we are now seated with Christ. Satan is prince of power of the AER, and the saints are going to put the old dragon out of the heavenlies as Revelation 12 indicates.
Paul says that we are to comfort each other, concerning our dead, so we don't grieve. This is a scripture about the return of Christ and the resurrection from the dead. The idea that was new in 1840 was the notion that we would meet the Lord and the other saints way up in the air. The Greek word, AER, doesn't help very well with that interpretation.
Perhaps we may be suddenly taken up into the sky. The Scripture doesn't say that we will be, but it may happen. If everyone is going, then I want to go, too. If only those who are found faithful are going, then I want to be in that number. If the manifestation is going to take place physically on terra firma, then I will be happy with that. The point is that the altitude is not plainly taught in Scripture and we should not be speculating about it.
The rapture theory had no history prior to 1830 when a 15 year old girl named Margaret McDonald had a vision that spoke of the coming of Christ in a hidden way and then again His returning when every eye shall see Him. Whether her vision was pre- or post-tribulation is not known. It appears that her vision is not the same as most of the rapture theories that have sprung up. There has been a lot of creative work on the part of theologians, adding much fabrication to the vision. The Scriptures that are used to back up many of these theories actually refute them. In any case, speculation of the meaning of the Bible is forbidden by the Bible.
Is the high altitude a big deal? The high altitude is not plainly taught in Scripture and we should not be speculating about it. I don't see it anyway. But, I have no problem if God decides to rapture us up into the ionosphere.
There seems to be a lot of confusion between the abiding presence (parousia) of Christ and the triumphant return of Christ. They mix the two or say that the parousia is the return of Christ. That is speculative, and likely is just plain error. Some rapture theories take great liberties in applying Scriptures to the rapture when it is very questionable that those Scriptures are being rightly applied. Then, there is the problem of the construct of a highly speculative form of dispensationalism.
Some of the rapture theories reject or deny the plain teaching of Ephesians 4 that says that the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are given to equip the saints so the saints can minister until we all come into the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God until we become a perfect man (not plural) until we come to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, and this will be by that which every joint supplies. And some also deny 2 Corinthians 3 that tells how we go from glory to glory until we are changed into the same image. The gradual change from glory to glory is seen by some to conflict with their personal theory, so they just throw the Scripture away. When a theory denies Scripture, guess which one should be thrown out.
Some theologians have begun to use more scriptural terminology, such as, "the manifestation of the sons of God." That makes the subject a little easier to talk about. There is plenty that the Scripture really says without going beyond into speculation.
I believe in the manifestation of the sons of God, too, if we can use that term. I don't know much about it, but neither does anyone else. We only know what God has revealed.
End-times theologies tend to go well beyond what Scripture says. It's easy to see how a couple of assumptions and twists of Scripture could result in some of these theories. You can read the rationalization of end time speculation all over the place. Many authors are making a fortune writing about the end times.
God forbids speculation. There are some things that are very plain in Scripture, like the scriptural pattern for offices, ministries, and gifts of the Spirit. There are plain examples of how revelation is given and to whom it is given, yet the vast majority of Christians sweep these Scriptural patterns under the rug. They replace them with their own traditions and imaginations. If someone wants to advance in knowledge of Scripture, there is plenty that is plainly written. The Holy Ghost must reveal these things and make them real, but there is no place for speculation. There is plenty about the end times, the manifestation of the sons of God and the glory that shall be revealed in us, but we must avoid going beyond what Scripture says.
Last updated: Jun, 2014
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