"..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."
– 1Thessalonians 4:17
THE TRADITIONAL VIEW:
The traditional Church view of the doctrine called ‘The Rapture’ is:
At the end time of this world, The Lord Jesus Christ will return from heaven and hover over the earth in the air.
He will cause the immortal souls of saved dead saints of all ages to also return from heaven to be joined again to their bodies for resurrection.
The living saints will be snatched away from the earth along with the now resurrected dead saints and together they will have a rapturous meeting with the Lord in the air.
The Lord will take them all to heaven to live with Him eternally.
HOW THE DOCTRINE CAME:
This doctrine is based partly on traditional church teachings of the supposed ‘Immortality of the human soul’ and of ‘heaven or hell going’, and partly on a literal interpretation of the above Bible reference, 1 Thessalonians
4:17. As we show in other studies (see ‘The Truth About The Immortality of the Soul’, and ‘The Truth About Heaven and Hell’), these traditional church teachings have their origin in the religions of the ancient pagan Egyptians, Romans and Greeks.
In the second and third centuries, The Christian Church set out to evangelise the pagan world. But it found that the only way it could gain many converts from paganism was to compromise the clear teaching of scripture to accommodate pagan views, so making ‘Christianity’ much more acceptable. Offered the choice of paganised ‘Christianity’ or the sword, the pagans saw they did not have to change their basic views about death and the hereafter (see study, ‘The Truth About Death and the Hereafter’). They only had to accommodate the new teaching with their own. They could live with paganised Christianity, but to remain wholly pagan they would die. Most people would rather live with compromise than die with inflexible religious ideas.
In this way the so-called ‘Christian Church’ compromised Biblical Christianity and the pagans compromised paganism. The result is what we have largely all around us even to day, a mixture of paganism and Christianity, or, paganised Christianity. This, with the fear of death, helped along by the Crusades and The Inquisition, brought wholesale national conversions. Europe, which had been wholly pagan, became a little less pagan in accepting Catholicism rather than the sword. It became mainly Catholic and called ‘Christian’. Religious doctrines and customs remained largely the same – only the names of things were changed!
The doctrine of the Rapture outlined above will be found upon a careful study to be partly from Church tradition and partly biblical.
IS PART OF THE DOCTRINE TRUE?
Obviously, that part of the teaching which is based upon the correct meaning of 1 Thessalonians
4:7 must be true, for The Bible is God’s wholly inspired, infallible Word.
It is true that the dead in Christ will be raised to life again at His coming; that the living saints will be conveyed with them to meet the Lord, and that, assuming approval at the
judgement, all will thereafter ever be with the Lord , as "kings and priests" on the earth. (Revelation
What is not true, for it is not taught in The Bible, is immortal souls re-entering bodies, going into the air to meet the Lord, then going to heaven to ever be with Him.
WE MUST BEWARE OF CHURCH TRADITION:
The main-stream churches claim to be the church of Christ, yet they have adopted into their theology pagan teachings not taught by Christ - such as
immortal-soulism, heaven, or hell-going, a supernatural Devil and Satan, substitution, God a trinity, and so on. Their claim is therefore a false claim, or, at best, a half-truth (always more dangerous than a blatant lie). Their claim is false because many of their traditions find no support whatever from the Bible, God’s Word. Their claim is a half-truth in that the full truth is that they are false Christianity, having a little of The Bible and a lot of paganism in Bible-dress.
That is why Jesus Himself calls the so-called ‘Christian Church’ "MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH", (Revelation
17:5). It is why He symbolises it as "the great whore that sitteth upon many waters", v.1, as "the false prophet"
ch.16:13, and as a "beast coming up out of the earth" with "two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon",
Because 20th century Christianity is not 1st century Christianity and has corrupted truth we must be very wary of church teachings, for we may not get the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth on such important a matter as what God wants us to believe for salvation.
THE DANGER OF INCORRECT BELIEFS:
"The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going", (Proverbs
14:15). When we believe something without checking its truth then we are gullible and naive, and sure to be "blind led by the blind". On matters of money (which affects our daily life-style) and of religion (which affects our eternal life-style) we must take the utmost care what we accept as ‘gospel-truth’. If we believe a lie it is still a lie no matter how catholic (universally) believed. God wants worshippers "in spirit and in truth" – who both believe and do what He considers is right.
THE TRUTH OF THE SUBJECT:
The truth about the doctrine called ‘The Rapture’ is:
At a set time in the future, which only God knows, Jesus will return to earth both visibly and bodily – Psalm
102:16, Matthew 24:36, Acts 1:11.
He will raise from their graves all of every age since Adam who have known His Truth and obeyed it and all those "in Christ" – 1 Corinthians
They, with the responsible now alive, will be transported to the Judgement Seat of Christ, the location of which is a subject of some difference of opinion among Bible Students, some thinking it might be at Sinai, whilst others feel the exact location has not been revealed. – 1 Thessalonians
4:17, Romans 14:10.
Faithful believers will be given immortality and a place in the restored kingdom of David which will be the kingdom of God on earth – Acts
1:3,6, Daniel 2:44, Luke 1:31-33.
The kingdom of God on earth, under Christ, will last 1,000 years, after which it will remain God’s kingdom forever. Sin, disease and death having been entirely removed, fellowship with God and man will have been restored – 1Corinthians
15:24-28, Revelation ch. 20, 21:1-7.
WHAT WE MUST DO TO PREPARE FOR HIS COMING:
It is a great truth that Jesus Christ will come again. He came first as a Prophet of God, is now God’s High Priest in heaven, and at His coming again will be "king of kings and Lord of lords", John
18:33-38, Revelation 19:16.
It is a very great privilege to know the truth of the Scriptures, for it makes one free – free from the bondage of Church error, personal sin, and eternal death. John
8:32. To be free we must believe what God would have us believe and do what He would have us do – see Mark