IS THE "RAPTURE" BIBLICAL?
By Rev. Ted Pike
20 Jun 12
Last week, while sleeping, I heard my departed wife’s voice calling my name as loudly and clearly as if she were in the room trying to wake me. I awoke and reflexively replied, “Yes, honey!” Several days later in a dream Alynn appeared before me and our group. She walked before us, exuding joy. Clad in a long, elegant, dark gown, her face and figure were of the 24-year old woman I first met 31 years ago, full of stately and lyrical life. God told Moses He would communicate to believers through dreams. I make no claim to divine inspiration behind these experiences. But they filled me with joy. Every day I anticipate being with my beloved for eternity. (See Ted Pike: My Wife Died a Martyr for God and Freedom )
Just how will we recognize our loved ones in heaven? People have long wondered whether we will be warm and embodied or cold and ethereal. This introduces an important promise of God to all Christians. As Christ was bodily resurrected, so will we be.
Scripture says the physical bodies of Christ’s saints, though perhaps obliterated in death, are so important to Jesus that He will reconstitute them at His second coming. Those saints who are still alive will ascend, following the resurrected dead, to meet Jesus as He comes to judge the nations. This "first resurrection of the dead" is often called the “rapture.” We will exist, both in the heavens with Christ and with Him on earth during the millennium, as physical beings, undoubtedly with angelic powers.
There are, however, two very different conceptions of the rapture prevalent among evangelical Christians. The first, which has become an indispensable part of Scofield Dispensationalism, says the rapture could occur at any time and will coincide with the first of Christ’s two second comings. The second viewpoint, which I hold, says it occurs only at the single climactic return of Christ at the end of the Church Age.
Biblical truth stirs hope, not apathy. No doctrinal error has done more to neutralize resistance to all manifestations of the Jewish world revolutionary movement than has the doctrine of the imminent rapture. The “Great Snatch” as Hal Lindsey describes it could occur at any moment. Millions believe that it will happen in the lifetime of the generation born after 1948.
Countless evangelicals believe resistance to social evils such as abortion, pornography, and homosexuality is a waste of time. They are transfixed by anticipating divine release not only from coming “great tribulation” but also useless civic and moral duties to an unredeemable world.
Scripture Teaches the Rapture
The truly biblical doctrine of the “first resurrection” of dead and living Christians at His single second coming not only gives great hope to Christians but is abundantly taught in the Bible.
The first and one of the most powerful Biblical affirmations occurs in one of the oldest books of Scripture, the Book of Job. Job prophesies the coming of Jesus as His foot touches down on the Mount of Olives: “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” (Job 19:25) Job then describes the reconstitution of his body at Christ’s appearing, “And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” (Job 19:26)
Jesus confirms Job’s words:
And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:31)
Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. (Matthew 24:40-41)
Paul elaborates in 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17:
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 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. 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.
And in 1 Corinthians 15:51-55:
Behold, I show 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall 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 shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
Paul does say in 1 Corinthians 15:50 that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. What we will possess, just as Christ did after His resurrection, is a tangible body but of a very different kind than one simply made of flesh and blood. Christ’s resurrected body was visible when He wanted it to be yet very capable of disappearing and passing through walls. During the millennium Revelation 20:6 says the saints, after the first resurrection, will reign as kings and priests with Christ. We will doubtless possess the same material reality as Christ did, as we, like He, will be instructors of the nations. But, also like Christ, we will be able to dematerialize and perform miracles. We will also, like demons and angels (as Alynn and I witnessed many times), probably be able to project ourselves anywhere at will. Scripture says: "We shall be like Him." (I John 3:2) Surely, Christ's glorified saints will have more creative powers than craven demons!
Alynn’s body is quickly returning to the elements. Yet I rejoice that someday, at Christ’s second coming, the earth will give up her body to the One who created it. The woman of my bachelor dreams, and of my dreams last week, will be united again with the body and face and physical mind and personality of the woman I will always love—a woman infinitely precious to me and even more precious to God.
*This article is from my latest Bible study with much more comment by me and members of our group at the Biblical Answers page at Truthtellers.org.