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The Abandoning of the Rapture Doctrine

There are those who scoff and deny a rapture, whether its pre-mid-and even a post tribulation event; they believe there is no removal of the saints from the earth.

Jay Grimstead COR founder and director stated (March 11, 1988 letter) the many “good, scholarly pastors” who were still naively saying, “Our solution to the problems of this age is the coming of Christ”(quoted Whatever Happened to Heaven by Dave Hunt).

The Rapture idea is ridiculous...One has to conclude that the secret rapture theory may be evangelical, but is nonetheless unbiblical. It is a grotesque idea - the rapture may be a most agreeable doctrine for cowards, but it is nothing better than wishful thinking and must be relegated to the area of myth and fantasy” (Gerald Coates “What On Earth Is This Kingdom” p. 36). 

The wicked are taken out, and all sin and rebellion is removed from earth.

In a videotaped message entitled The Coming Glory John Bevere proclaims: Listen…the greatest…eh…eh…I get so frustrated when people start talking about, “well we're going to be raptured” and, they kind of have the attitude of “I can't wait to get out of this mess.” Look, do you think God's brought us through all this wilderness just to get us out? Do you think He's put us through all this training just so He could fly us away? There's been a reason. A reason. And we're on the brink of it. I believe we're on, we're on the brink of it. (John Bevere, Videotaped message: “The Coming Glory”, (Orlando, Fla.: John Bevere Ministries found on www.deceptioninthechurch.com

Bevere holds to the idea as many others in the kingdom dominion camp that the greatest revival, God's glory is soon to appear. Yet Scripture teaches instead a great apostasy and the man of sin to appear that will be a counrefeit Christ for all people. There will be a real revival that will take place in the tribulation period (which by the way we are not in yet).

 Some thoughts on the rapture

There are several ways the rapture/ resurrection can take place. One is to make it evident to the whole world; that everyone would become aware it took place. The Holy Spirit does not specifically teach us what this event will be like exactly, it may very well be a loud announced event and it may not. The trumpet sound and a shout indicates an official “announcement.” God often introduced things with a “voice” from heaven: the Law from Mt. Sinai, the sound was deafening like a trumpet. The Father speaking to Jesus at His baptism, and on the Mount of Transfiguration. But it does not mean all will hear it. It may mean only those who are summoned will hear, or it may be quiet with the announcement taking place in heaven, we are not specifically told in Scripture.

The other way is that this event would be done secretly where no one would notice. Such as in the middle of a cataclysmic event, such as in a world war. This could make the event hidden from the world, millions would not be noticed missing because there would be more serious issues at hand. Then a deception could set in as various explanations are offered.

Many have considered that if it is a known event this would cause fear, and some would come to the realization that what the Bible has said is true. If cars or airplanes crash all over the world because the drivers are missing it would certainly be major news. They then would have to come up with an alternate explanation to make sense out of why millions of people are missing. The media could have dozens of explanations to choose from, but they would all have to be more convincing than the Bibles explanation. Especially if there is a consistency in those who are missing are all Christians. the New age already has the explanation that mankind is going to make a quantum leap in consciousness, creating a new species: Homonoeticus. That UFO's will remove the people who have a lower consciousness, which according tho them are Christians.

Even if it were to occur this way it may not make such an impact. The church is made up of individuals collectively, the event of the rapture of the church is relative to everyone in the church at the same time. The news reports that there are 30,000 people a year  missing in the US and we do not blink an eye, I don’t think several million spread around the world will bring great concern. (I’m not of the opinion that it will be several hundred million people such as 600-900 million or a billion)

There is another explanation of how millions could be missing and it may not leave an impact on those left. Why? Because of the apostasy, it will be in a time where the majority of Christians are no longer looking for Him to come. Their focus will be on the things of the world or they will be too busy building what they believe is his kingdom, readying it for him to come back sometime in the future. So in a time while the world is being so called christianized this could take place. The fact is, a minority will be taken not the majority that claim to be the church.

 The New Age movement focuses on the Christians who hold to Bible doctrine as the divisive ones. So if you hear this kind of talk be aware. Those who did not want to bring the kingdom now were taken and the rest of what is called the church that will be left sets up the kingdom (or so they think). Christ warned His disciples that “the time comes, that whoever kills you will think that he doing God’s service” (Jn. 16:2). He couldn't be referring to the slaughter of Christians by dictators like Caesar, or in more modern times Mao, Stalin or Hitler, they did not believe they were serving God in killing Christians. So it is about some religion at the end of time that will slaughter people in the name of God. Right now the main religion killing Christians in great numbers is Islam. The book of Revelation tells us that in the tribulation another beast will cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed (Rev 13:7-15).

The Spirit being poured out on all flesh

Many believe we are seeing God's Spirit being poured out on all flesh now, that the great revival is at hand. One of the most misused scriptures in this modern restoration movement is Acts 3:18-21 “But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, “and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, “whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.”

The modern day dominionsts say that Jesus cannot come back until we restore everything that has been lost to the church. We need to take it back by force, they teach that we are to go to war in the heavenlies and make the demonic forces let go of their control. Do we see any apostle teach this or practice this? No, but does it matter to those who teach this? No! So they teach  money and authority are to be placed in the Churches hands. In fact many have removed Israel as part of God's plan for the end times and have transferred all the promises to the church.

Earl Paulk, one of the leaders in this movement, writes: “Some of the strongest fundamental churches still preach that Christ will return to gather national Israel unto Himself, and I say that is deception and will keep the Kingdom of God from coming to pass!”

“In almost any Christian bookstore, about 99% of the books will say that “God's time-clock is Israel” and that “God's covenant is still with Israel” ... [I say that] prophecies about Israel as a nation [are] now transferred to spiritual Israel, which is the people of God [i.e. the church]...” (Earl Paulk, the Handwriting on the Wall pp.17, 19-20) 

The 70 weeks of Daniel certainly seem to indicate there is a countdown for Israel as a nation.

Prior to Jesus leaving in Acts 1:6, the disciples asked Jesus will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? They anticipated His establishing the kingdom on earth. This word restoration is a technical medical term, meaning a “complete restoration of health; restoring a dislocated joint to its place,” or “to restore a thing to its former situation.” This is not about the restoration of the Church but about the worlds condition and the fall of man. The common belief of the Jews was, that once the Messiah appeared he would reign on the earth forever. They did not understand two comings (John 12:34). He died, He rose again-- so what’s the delay? The apostles were inquiring why He is not setting it all in order, after all He did what he told them He would do. Jesus’ last words before He ascends, is that they need to wait to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and they will have power to be witnesses. These apostles were the last to see Him and they (the majority of them) were appointed to die 1 Cor. 4:9 “For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.” As Paul whom was the very last apostle to see Christ, he said “Then last of all He was seen by me” (1 Cor.15:8) as light shown from heaven and Jesus spoke to Paul in his Hebrew language. 

When Jesus ascended He sat down as our high priest until the predictions of the prophets are completed. His absence is a necessary time element in God’s plan. In the interval the Church began with the period of grace, Old Testament Judaism under the Mosaic covenant has been put aside. The apostle is telling us that it was necessary for Jesus to ascend first. If He did not go away He could not send the Holy Spirit and we could not have the church age and the time of grace we are living in. This is all part of the prophetic plan of our God.

He promised to come again from heaven but will stay in heaven “until the times of restitution of all things.” Jesus made the point that the time for the restoration was “in the Father's hands,” He said to “Occupy till I come.” He will come again as promised -- in His glory, establish His Divine order, His government, eliminating all evil. This is speaking of the Millennium, where we will see a time where everything is changed similar to what was intended in the garden. But none of this can occur without HIM being here.

One who claims to be a modern day apostle/ prophet- Bill Hamon writes in his book, The Eternal Church, “Jesus is waiting on the church. All that the fall of man and sin has taken away from humanity, Jesus through His church shall restore” “When the church has put under it's feet all enemies of Christ...then Christ can be released from Heaven to return as the manifested head of His physically resurrected and translated church.” (Prophets and Personal Prophecy, Bill Hamon)

Hamon along with many other Latter Rain adherents belive the church will  develop into a powerful influence, perfect herself and come into glory and honor and power without the bodily return of Christ. There are many today who are looking for a presence of glory to descend on the church and infill us with power to do the work in the world that will eventually prepare  the church to rule. Eventually sometime in the  future a 2nd coming will occur. But Jesus told us he will come with glory, not a glory coming without Him. When you exchange the person of Christ to a visitation of the Spirit only, you can then teach his Spirit is coming into the church as the glory and have a different 2nd coming, one without the person  the glory is about.

John Bevere's book “The Fear of the Lord,”  “Come, let us return to the Lord; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; and on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight.” Hosea 6:1-2

“This passage is a prophetic Scripture describing God's refinement of His church in preparation for His glory. He has torn but He will heal. A day with the Lord is a thousand years (2 Pet.3:8). It has been two full days (two thousand years) since the resurrection of the Lord. We are on the verge of God's reviving and restoring His glory to His temple. The third day speaks of the thousand year reign of Christ when He will live and reign in our sight. Hosea gives further instruction about how to live and what to pursue as we prepare for His glory” (p.123)

Bevere has taken an idiom by Peter and given it a solid literal interpretation to prove a scripture that actually refers to Israel the nation and is not applied to the church. It really has to do with Israels national salvation as the Lord comes as both rainy seasons, in abundance v.3. It's common practice today to spiritualize the text and make the application to those who are not recipients. Ezekiel tells us there will be a literal millennium temple that is yet to be built. Latter Rain adherents spiritualize meaning and apply them to us today which certainly makes us feel like something greater then before is happening.

The phrase “the times of restitution of all things” does not in anyway imply that this “restitution” is up to the Church. Peter does not mean that “heaven must receive” Jesus, until the restoration of all things has been accomplished first. Christ remains in heaven until the time for the restoration, at the appointed time. It is His leaving heaven to earth that accomplishes this restoration. Christ does not return because all things have already been restored by the church, He comes in order to cause this restoration Himself. It is His physical presence which brings about the restoration- it is not the Church “restoring all things” that brings him back. Christ does not return to earth as a result of the restoration that was accomplished by a church, but to accomplish it. This restoration will include the redemption of nature (Rom 8:18-23) as well as peace instituted in human society, as God's will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

The great taking away- the Removal of the rapture

If we are watching for the Christ who raptures us to heaven we cannot be deceived by a counterfeit whom will rule on earth no matter what kind of power he exhibits. We are to be looking for the Christ who comes back the same way he left, in God's glory and from heaven. Just as the angels told the apostles (Acts 1:11).

In a time when we are getting close to the event hoped of we find many abandoning the idea it can happen. The idea of the Lord returning to remove His saints from the earth is to kingdom reconstructionists and dominionists a retreating and defeatist attitude. While many propose the idea that the Church will be preserved through the tribulation just as Israel was preserved in Egypt through the plagues, I see several flaws in this. Israel all lived in a separate area in Egypt, Goshen, which was given to only the Israelites. Revelation tells us that the believers everywhere are to be overcome by the beast, and lose their lives being killed in the tribulation; they are not supernaturally protected (except for the 144,000 who we are told will be supernaturally protected). One can look at chapters 6-7,11-14,17-18 and see the saints are consistently being killed. There is no safety for the saints IN THE TRIBULATION. This is not to say that some will survive, we know they do as they are the sheep who are in the judgement at the end of the tribulation in Mt.25. But for those who go through this time of desolation on earth a rapture would be more than welcomed.

One of the promoters of the original Latter Rain movement of the 40’s stated Bill Britton states “It will be as in the days of Noah. How was it in Noah’s day? The flood of judgement came and took all the wicked away, and the righteous were left to inherit the earth. The wicked had been taken away - yet man has devised a theology in which it is just the opposite; they claim the righteous will be taken away. The Bible, my friend does not teach any such thing. Proverbs 3:26 - for the Lord shall be they confidence and shall keep thy foot from being taken - it is plain here that the righteous are not taken. Well, if someone is to be taken, who is it? Proverbs 11:6 says - the transgressors shall be taken. Think of it - the transgressors shall be taken. That is not what man has taught us, is it?” (Bill Britton, “A Closer Look At the Rapture,” George Warnock, “Feast of Tabernacles” 1951)

Here is kingdom dominion teaching that is becoming prevalent today, this is what was introduced by the Latter Rain. No rapture but the righteous left on the earth. Everytime there is a significant judgement God removes his people away from it. While he did not lift them above the earth each time the principle should be apparent. The fact is, in Noah's flood the righteous were not left on the earth but removed away by the ark above the waters of judgment. The unrighteous were left on the earth to be judged. Just in the rapture the righteous will be removed and return again with the Lord to the earth.

So how does the church belive itself to be triumphant on earth? The first thing to go is the view of a pre-mill rapture. Now I’m not concentrating about arguing on a pre or mid or post trib rapture of the church, but  of those who are against any rapture. Arnold Murray of the Shepherds Chapel claims the doctrine of the rapture is “cultic” and condemns anyone who believes in it, and says those who believe in it do not have God's seal upon them. The Jehovah’s Witnesses say that there will be only 144,000 in heaven and they will get there by death, they too deny the rapture. The Catholic church does not hold a position of the church being taken to heaven but are for the most part Amillennialist. The 7th Day Adventists deny a rapture that has anyone go to heaven (even when they die, they believe you soul sleeps as you body does). Some deny a rapture for no reason except to deny what the Scripture says as a promise and uphold their own belief; others have a more purposeful reason to do this. They want to promote a new view because they have decided the old view is hindering us from doing God’s work, they have an agenda to promote.

In his 1989 /1990 booklet the Harvest Joyner who is supposed to be a visionary prophet stated “the doctrine of the Rapture was a great and effective ruse of the enemy to implant in the Church a retreat mentality ... already this yoke has been cast off by the majority in the advancing church, and will soon be cast off by all.” (THE HARVEST, Rick Joyner (1989 /1990 revised booklet on pg.121)

Is this a good thing? The rapture is a promise from Jesus (John 14) to take us to where He is; it is not a deception it is promise. Joyner promotes what is called-kingdom dominionism. When he updated book the Harvest in 1993 Joyner further qualified this statement further as, “The doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture has been effective in developing a retreat mentality in the church.” He changed his revelation that supposedly came from God from rapture to pre-trib rapture, but continued to hold the position of it being a retreat mentality a yoke to be cast off. Why? Because he and others see the Church in the end times as rising up and become a militant miracle working army taking over the land. It is already beginning. From what I have read in their teachings, there are many who desire to be in leaders in God’s new government on earth. Not all have these wrong motives, but they have adopted a wrong belief that can change their motives and certainly their view of end time events.

Actually to believe in the rapture, that we can be taken to heaven at any time should make one more persistent in their labor in the Lord.  If we see ourselves having a small amount of time to do it in, one would usually work more vigorously not relax.

Gerald Coates, one of the heads of March For Jesus explains his view “The Rapture idea is ridiculous...One has to conclude that the secret rapture theory may be evangelical, but is nonetheless unbiblical. It is a grotesque idea - the rapture may be a most agreeable doctrine for cowards, but it is nothing better than wishful thinking and must be relegated to the area of myth and fantasy” (Gerald Coates, What On Earth Is This Kingdom p. 36)

Can one call what the Word of God states a myth and fantasy, a grotesque idea, a doctrine for cowards? Yes there is great opposition coming from those who want to make the kingdom on earth and be leaders in it. Coates sees the March for Jesus as “a prophetic act” which claims the ground for God “by shifting the spiritual powers that have been allocated in the structures of the nations.” (Gerald Coates, March For Jesus, p. 131) That's his unbiblical doctrine and agenda.

In 2 Tim. 2:17-18 Paul was forced to write about some saying that the resurrection is already past; they overthrew the faith of some. Not all entertained this but some did. Paul mentions two names removed from the truth and blasphemed, “Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.” Here Paul calls this false teaching of the rapture/resurrection already taken place as profane (blasphemous) idle babblings. He adds another name to Hymenaeus and Philetus later -- Alexander. 1 Tim 1:19-20 “concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” He did this by cutting them off from fellowship of the believers and participating in the church.

It is no less serious to say there is no rapture and that the saints do not go to heaven but establish God’s kingdom on earth. Jesus gave His word in Jn.14 He would go to prepare a place for us that where He is we would be also. Where is Jesus today? Is this not where we want to be? Our Names are registered in heaven -- Not on earth. We are pilgrims headed for the celestial city. The scripture states For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil 3:20)

The BIBLICAL teaching of the RAPTURE

In a time when the event can actually take place we see more and more people abandoning it. Obviously Paul had taught the Thessalonians previously that the rapture is the same event as the resurrection. In 1 Thess. 4 Paul previously comforted the bereaved believers with the truth that dead believers would not miss out on the benefits of the Rapture; they instead will be first to receive the benefits. He doesn’t want them to be ignorant of the correlation of the dead believer to the living believer. Paul uses the term “sleep.” Which means a suspension of physical activity of the body. This term when used as a synonym for death, it is used exclusively of believers, it is never applied to unbelievers.

Only those who are “in Christ” will be part of this Rapture. Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum points out those in Christ  is a technical term used by Paul of those baptized into the body, that being the Church; those who received the Holy Spirit (Spirit baptism) which began in Acts two and lasts throughout the Church age.

In 1 Thess. 4:14 “ God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” Jesus comes with his saints (those who have died come with Him), their bodies awakened out of their sleep and rise to meet them in the air to receive their glorified bodies as their bodies are changed. There is a coming of Christ with His saints that have died - There is also a coming of Christ for His saints that are alive, 1 Thess. 4:15-17 “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.”

At the rapture, the Lord comes with those who have already fallen asleep whose spirits has been living in heaven. Both the the living and the dead believers bodies will be caught up (raptured- caught up) to meet Jesus Christ in the air. The Greek word is harpazo which means caught away, it is a taking away by force (1 Thess. 4:16; 1 Cor.15:50-52). Whether one believes in the different timing of this event,   proceding the tribulation or occuring in it, the point is that those who are living are taken up off the earth to be transformed. This happens right as the resurrection occurs, as the dead rise first. These are synonomously the same event.

Most of the church has already passed to God’s glorious presence by way of death, (unless we endure for another 1,000 years) but there is a certain group of people who will still be in the faith at the time of apostasy that will not see death. It is this group that will be taken to heaven and united with those who have died in Christ beforehand. It is this group that will have to be faithful enduring more hardship than probably any other time in Church history. It will be there privilege out of all the generations to not see death.

The rapture is not just a New Testament teaching, the Bible has recorded many raptures. Some of which we have exceptional detail on. This is a consistent concept throughout the pages of the scripture; God removing the faithful before catastrophes. The doctrine of the pre-millennial return of Christ to institute a literal kingdom comes from the use of a literal method of interpretation of the Old Testament promises and prophecies. Preterism, Amillenialism and even some post-tribulationist’s interpret the book of Revelation in a narrow historical viewpoint, often spiritualizing texts which remove them from a historical and literal context. They spiritualize literal events in an attempt to harmonize these with other Scriptures, such as the Old Testament prophecies regarding the future Millennial reign of the Messiah. On the other side we find futurists interpreting the Scripture as left only to a future fulfillment. and there are also extremists in the view. The fact is that the book of Revelation has all the prophetic views used in it. We find that prophecy often has patterns repeating itself until its ultimate fulfillment. For example it was done 160 years before Chriist with Antiochus Epiphanes who defiled the temple. Then Israel was ransacked in 70 AD. and the temple defiled a second time, this still is only a type of the ultimate fulfillment in the future, but each time it gives some insight into what it will be like.

One of the clearest passages of the New Testament rapture is found in 1 Thess 4:15-17   “... 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.”

The rapture- the taking away means by force; which can be attribute to Jesus who described “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live”(John 5:25).  

The Bible says will meet the Lord with the other saints who are resurrected. The whole body of Christ from all the ages will be brought together.  Now we should take note because it specifically says in the air.  It appears to be somewhere within the earth's atmosphere which is also called the first heaven.

The first order is raising those who died in Christ and then those who are living in Christ are transformed. At the rapture, the Lord comes only for believers. The rapture is a translation for the living and a resurrection for the dead. It is an event where the Lord takes believers “to his  Father's house” in heaven (John 14:3).

The phrase “caught up” NT:726 This the Greek word harpazo which means to sieze (in various applications): KJV-catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by force). (New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary)

It is from the derivative of NT:138; haireomai; probably akin to NT:142; to take for oneself, i.e. to prefer: airo; a primary root; to lift up; by implication, to take up or away; it does have figurative meanings which have nothing to do with this event. KJV-away with, bear (up), carry, lift up, loose, make to doubt, put away, remove, take (away, up).

This is an event that happens to both the living and dead Christians alike at the same approximate time.

Paul describes a translation from mortality to immortality. Concentrating on those who have died he writes of a mystery that was not known in the Old Testament. In 1 Cor 15:51-54 “Behold, I tell 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 trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will 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 has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” We need to remember “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.”

Our bodies will be made fit to inherit the kingdom of God, which flesh and blood in its present state are not capable of. This will occur in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, which is about 1/10 of a second; it will be that quick.

 Raptures in the Bible

What God has done before He will do again.There are many physical raptures mentioned in the Bible. The first one to experience this type of event was ENOCH “Gen. 5:24: “And Enoch walked with God and was not for God TOOK HIM” (alive).  In other words he was found  no more among people; he was removed from the earth. 

He had been taken by God to himself, or had been removed in an extraordinary manner from the earth. 

That is, he was not in the land of the living--Paul keeps the word used in the Septuagint. Hebrews 11:5 “By faith Enoch was TRANSLATED (taken away) that he should not see death and was not because God had taken (TRANSLATED) him for before (his death), he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”

The reason that Enoch pleased God, is that he had a righteous testimony. The writer of Hebrews states next that we please God by our faith. When we walk in the Spirit and truth we are pleasing to God.  Jesus was told He pleased the Father like no other man.

The only other instance in which laaqach (OT: 3947) is used in relation to a removal from this world, it occurs in the statement respecting the translation of Elijah. “And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel, came forth to Elisha, and said to him, Knowest thou that the Lord “will take away” laaqach (OT:3947) thy master from thy head today?” (2 Kings 2:3,5; Heb 11:5)

Targum of Onkelos also supports that Enoch was transported without dying. In the Targum the passage in Gen 5:24 is rendered, “And Enoch walked in the fear of the Lord, and was not, for the Lord did not put him to death.”

In the day Christ comes for His Church if you have a testimony that pleases God you too will be taken to Him. If you are spiritually reborn and following Him you have the assurance of being removed. It was Jude (Jude 14-15), that quoted Enoch  “he prophesied, saying, Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints,” it would appear that he was a preacher who predicted the coming of the Lord to judge the earth, in the age of wickedness reproving the sinful generation at the end of time.  How fitting for the one to be taken by God (raptured) and not see death is the first to predict the Lord returning to the earth with the saints from heaven. After Enoch was taken, Noah, Enoch's great-grandson, was raised up as a preacher of righteousness to reprove the exceedingly sinful generation before the judgment of the flood.

 The prophet ELIJAH experienced a rapture “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire and separated them, and Elijah WENT UP by a whirlwind into Heaven. (2 Kings 2:1-11) Here we have a picture of God’s glory as fire with a whirlwind transporting Elijah up, in a similar manner the Holy Spirit was sent to the disciples in the upper room on the day of Pentecost.

In the Hebrew it tells us he ascended by the power of a great wind carried in a vehicle with horse type creatures (angels) in glory like fire. The prophet who called down fire upon the false priests of Baal was now taken up in a fire. This fire could be the glory of God or Seraphim which are fiery angels. God is said to make them a flame of fire, Ps. 104:4 or Cherubim as they are called the chariots of God (Ps. 68:17).

In Antiquities, b. ix., ch. ii., sec. 2) it says that `Elijah disappeared from among men, and no one knows of his death to this very day. (from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary)

Elijah, who was taken up from the earth, like Enoch. Elijah  prefigured our ascension as a glimpse of immortality, and the glory reserved for the saints. If Enoch and Elijah were removed without dying, there is no reason not to believe that we too will experience the same when the scripture refers to being taken up.

Even JESUS was raptured, slowly  “And when Jesus had spoken these things, while they beheld, Jesus was TAKEN UP and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”  Acts 1:9-11 So then after the Lord had spoken, He was RECEIVED UP into Heaven and sat on the right hand of God.” The term to lift up in Greek is epeirthei it is in the passive state showing us that the Son was taken to heaven by God the Father. He was received up to Him and sat down next to Him, (Mark 16:19). This is also described in Revelation 12:5 “And she (the woman who is Israel) brought forth a male child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron and her child was CAUGHT UP unto God and to His throne.” 
All these were taken to heaven alive. As Christ was taken up so will the saints in Christ.

THE TWO WITNESSES to Israel in Rev. 11:3. “And I will give [power] unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. The two witnesses will speak their message dressed in sackcloth.” They will give a message of repentance and salvation and the sackcloth is always a sign of repentance. John the Baptist wore sackcloth when he came to Israel, Jonah gave his message of repentance to the people of Nineveh and the people dressed in sackcloth to repent.

These two witnesses are temporarily made invulnerable for God’s purpose, Rev. 11:5 “And if anyone wants to harm them, fire proceeds from their mouth and devours their enemies. And if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner.” They are unharmed until a specific time when God decides they have completed their mission. Rev. 11:7 “Now when they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them.”

After three and a half days they are resurrected and raptured in front of everyone “And I heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them COME UP HERE and they ASCENDED UP to heaven in a cloud and their enemies beheld them”  (Revelation 11:3-12). 

So we have several examples of people going to heaven, two by not seeing death and the others by dying and being resurrected.

Revelation Chapter 4 begins with the Greek phrase, meta tauta, “after these things.” The question naturally arises, “After what things?” The obvious answer is, “After the things of chapters 2 and 3 transpired.” What are the things of chapters 2 and 3? The things pertaining to the Church, as Jesus commends and rebukes each of them. To begin Revelation 4:1, “After these things, I saw a door open in Heaven, and the first voice I heard was a trumpet saying to me, COME UP HERE, and I will show you things which must be [then another repetition of meta tauta] after this.” Here John represents in typology the church that is alive, the rapture of the church. These same words are used for the two witnesses, certainly John is making a point of similarity here even though he may not have been caught up physically to heaven. John was the last remaining apostle living a type of those who are alive and remain. And IMMEDIATELY John the apostle, was in heaven and he was not the only one, for he saw the twenty-four elders who represent all the redeemed ones of the church and Israel all there as well.

In 2 Thess.2 we find another description by Paul of this event. the words, our gathering together unto Him are more faithful translated to 'our being gathered up into Him.'  The Greek word for 'gathering together' is EPI-SUNAGOGES.  The prefix, EPI- means “above”, and SUNAGOGES means “housed, or gathered.”  This is not a reference to gathering together to Jesus after he descends upon the earth in his 2nd coming; but to our being gathered together upward. We are SUMMONED FROM ABOVE by the Lord Himself. This happens to his whole body (the Church) at the same time not to individuals. Paul tells us we will be carried up to meet the Lord in the air (eis apanteôsin tou Kuriou eis aera).  

This is what he meant that we meet Him to go back up just as he said in scripture in Jn.14 I go to prepare a place for you so that we will be where he is. The New Jerusalem in heaven is where the wedding of the lamb takes place. So to say the rapture is not a Biblical doctrine shows one has not look at the Scripture carefully or has another agenda to promote.

Biblically we advance the kingdom by bringing people to the saving knowledge of Christ. This is quite different than building His kingdom here on earth, and taking over and ruling the planet for Christ while we are yet sinners.

We are to be ready at any time for His coming but if we are not giving up the things of this world how can we look forward to the things of the next. Jesus is separating the people that want to go to heaven to be with Him and those who want to build what they think is His (or their) kingdom on earth.

There is such a thing as patience just as Jesus told the disciples in Acts 1:4 not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father.” The promise could not be fulfilled by anything they would do, not by unity or prayer--it was done in God’s perfect timing. The difference, the disciples did not know exactly what they were waiting for at this time, we do. Rom. 8:23-25 “Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”

We today are to wait for Him to come again as we his church are his bride waiting to be made His wife. What did Jesus say: He comes at an hour no one expects. Well if people do not believe in a rapture is this not what Jesus said?

Heb. 9:28 “Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” This salvation is a deliverance, the end result of what we first believed. Deliverance from what you may ask? From sin and also the wrath that is to come upon the whole world. A period of tribulation on earth unlike anything we have ever seen or experienced. A period of time that will extend to the point that if it wasn’t for Jesus coming back no flesh would survive (Mt.24). Anyone would be glad to be rescued before all this breaks out, certainly during its course. Paul writes in 1 Thess.1:10 “to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” The Thessalonians were already experiencing persecution yet Paul is pointing to something else he thought was in the near future that they needed endurance for. We need that same endurance today. Its coming full steam ahead, and unless we see this we will not prepare for it and be caught unaware.

Who is ruling what when? Some things to think about before getting involved in kingdom dominionsm- resorationism.

Both John the baptizer and Jesus began their preaching with the proclamation: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”(Matt 4:17). Scripture tells us the kingdom had in some way become present on earth demonstrated by Christ’s ability to cast our demons (Mt.12:28), to heal and save.These weer glimpses of what his kingdom reign would eventually bring. “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people” (Matt 4:23). 

At the same time there was a struggle “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force (Matt 11:12). The Pharisees who were in control wanted to keep control. But Since John came on the scene he announced the true kingdom and how one was to enter, through repentance and belief in Christ (Mt.3:11-12).

As Jesus trained the disciples to spread his message he gave them authority while he was on earth” “And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”(Matt 10:7-8)

With all this taking place something changed in his ministry. Jesus takes away the offering of the kingdom when Israel rejected him as the Messiah (Mt.12). Its offering is now gone only to be established on his return. It has a condition, Israel, not the church must repent and call for him to come back to save them (Mt.23:39; Zech.12:10). Now the kingdom is in the believer's heart in a spiritual manner. One day it will be here in a physical, literal way when Christ returns. An important part of this plan is Israel; it has a vital part of God's plan for dealing with mankind. Until the church realizes this we will not be as effective as we would like to be.

Many want kingdom authority now. But the kingdom comes with Christ’s physical second coming to earth, then He will establish it and the church will co-rule and co-reign under Him. They instead want to rule and reign without him. Dominion theology makes it our responsibility to take dominion and to establish the kingdom without His personal presence. Even if we were to implement Christian principles for people to live by in every nation as kingdom dominionism teach, this still does not give people forgiveness of sin and the hope of heaven. One can try to obey the law of God but they will not have salvation from it, it cannot change mans heart. The gospel is still the means to get people to be citizens of the kingdom as we wait for the literal kingdom with its king to come to earth.

There is no Church government commissioned to rule over the earth now, nor will it in the future. This fits in perfectly with the kingdom now scenario promoted by dominionists, kingdom now and even the new agers. Those who want to set up a kingdom to rule over the nations without Christ.   It is not until Jesus comes back to earth that we possess the kingdom. This is not talking about his first coming but second. The kingdom now scenario has the kingdom set up in Christ’s name. Jesus tells us in Mt.24 that many false prophets will arise, they will display wonders at the same time the elect is here. The purpose is to deceive the elect. One needs power and authority to do this.

None of this is new, and similarities can be found in the mid 2nd Century with a Movement started by Montanus who believed prophetic revelation continued and he and his prophetess’ spoke in the first person of the paraclete (much like the Rhema word today). Prophets and Prophetesses of the Montanist movement predicted that Jesus would return during their lifetime, that New Jerusalem was going to descend from heaven and fix itself in Phrygeria and the Millennium would begin.

The dominionists take Scriptures pertaining to the 2nd coming and the Millennium and apply them to themselves in the present age. They just don't fit if one studies Scripture carefully. They expect all the blessings of the Millennium being applied to us today by the restoration movement. So Jesus is not really needed to come back if we have it already. Then the body becomes the head the head is not controlling the body.

The Pentecostal dominion restorationists teaching is that the wicked are taken out, all sin and rebellion is removed from earth, creation is restored and the earth is cleansed. One of the promoters of the latter rain movement states, “Often, the rapture is thought to involve a bodily removal of the saints. However, the Bible refers to a removal, not of the saints from among the wicked, but of the wicked from among the saints at the time of Christ's coming...” 

 The restorationists allegorize/ spiritualize plain teachings. When Jesus comes back to rule on earth (the Millennium) then the wicked are removed in judgment (Mt.25).  Because of this the literal event and the sequence becomes confused. It is the harlot church who unites with other religions, it is interfaith. What starts off with ecumenism leads to interfaith. The only organized church ever mentioned in the tribulation period is the harlot system (Revelation 17 and 18) which is not the focus of attack but one who persecutes the saints during the tribulation period.

The new view that has replaced the rapture tells the church the kingdom is set up and exercised through his people over the nations before Christ comes back. The Biblical view is that there is no kingdom without the king physically being present. But to them, anything less than the church taking over the world before the return of Jesus is looked upon as defeat. But Jesus never said we would win the world, but instead through the gospel transfer people from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Whatever kingdom is established by man, even if it is by the church, when Christ comes it will be destroyed. For he sets up his kingdom when He comes. Ps. 22: 28 “For the kingdom is the LORD'S, and He rules over the nations.” As we can see the Church does not rule the nations but Jesus. We may co-rule and reign but it certainly will not happen without His being present. When the kingdom comes Christ is present and we serve him. Dan. 7:27 “Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High.”  It takes the ancient of days to come for the saints to possess the kingdom. The saints needed to be rescued, they were not ruling.

The only real hope is the Biblical model; Jesus physically returning being on earth to rule,  we as saints have undergone a spiritual/physical change, where we become uncorrupted, transformed people and help rule under His leadership. Anything less than this has sinful man, in a sinful condition, leading other sinful people. It would be no different than what we already have today. No so-called church government can do better than what has already been tried. Our hope is Christ to come and rule justly.



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