By pastor Mike Taylor
”These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
According to the publication of the “Word Christian Encyclopedia” which is a comparative survey of churches and religions, that from AD 30 to 2019 “There are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into 270 large religious groups, and many other smaller ones..
For eighteen of the world’s major religions and its 270 sub-divisions, the concept of the sudden and instantaneous translation of millions of adherents from one form of existence into the next is completely unheard of. It is even a controversial doctrine within Christianity. There are entire huge subdivisions, or denominations within Christianity that totally dismiss the concept of the Rapture or harpazo as spoken of by the Apostle Paul in his epistles.
I read on the internet a column which is appropriately named “Againstdispensationalism.com” that argues that the rapture is nothing more than the “arrogance of the West”. So we are the ones who came up with this theory of the instantaneous removal of the Church of the Living God and it was never spoken of until the 1880s by one, John Darby from the rantings of a mentally disturbed young girl, Margaret McDonald….I chose this article because it focuses on why the rapture is so controversial.
In another article, a one Jerry Johnson who is president of some so called Nicene Council, the rapture is nothing more than “paperback theology” and a recent concoction that was never taught by the historic church.
For context, the so called “historic church” is the one that embraces replacement theology and Anti-semitism and my bible is the paperback. Why do I say that? Because it can be easily proven that the 1st century church did indeed teach a sudden “catching away” of the Church of the Living God. I will address that momentarily.
Note this Johnson fellow lashes out that “one is hard pressed to link all of the great minds from St. Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Charles Spurgeon about the so-called coming rapture of the church. As each read 1st Thessalonians 4 and 1stCorinthians where Paul spoke of this “mystery” that had not been revealed to the OT prophets, Paul reveals a teaching that had not been taught, but was learned by revelation of Jesus Christ who taught Paul in the Arabian desert for 3 years after his conversion.
Reading the Gospels, Jesus did not teach it, nor any of the apostles, till Paul revealed this information, and modern “theologians” failed to understand the important teachings of a pre-millennial, pre-Tribulation rapture of the church, called the “Harpazo” in scripture when read in Greek.
It was Jesus our Lord and Savior’s revealing to Paul to tell the world how the redemption of mankind would be accomplished and our Lord coming for His bride at the rapture, before the Tribulation and the outpouring of His wrath on a rebellious world.
This Johnson fellow further denigrates the doctrine of the rapture, calling it “a foundation of conceited theology”. Amazing how those who fail to understand Bible prophecy lash out at things they do not understand. But he gave it his best “Sunday punch”.
3 ‘Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men’ (2nd Peter 3:3-7)
Looking at this Johnson fellow, his main objection, and frankly, the objection of many nay-sayers of the opponents of this doctrine, is the misconception that the rapture is nothing but a “Great Escape”. They reason why do Christians of this age get to escape the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation while others do not? They site that this is not fair, and this would make God unfair.
I wonder sometimes, if they find it equally unfair that some go to heaven and others go to hell. Not being a betting man, but I would wager that they find it totally unfair that God would send anyone to such an awful place, but all would agree that murdering dictators of this age, such as Hitler, or Pol Pot do not deserve to go to heaven. What they fail to realize, God does not send you to hell, you do by rejecting His offer at salvation through Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. God just gives you what you want because of that rejection. Oh, the conflict in their arguments as I go on will prove.
That’s why God is God and theologians are not.
LET US DISCUSS WHERE THIS DOCTRINE CAME FROM
As noted, no other religion has anything resembling a Rapture doctrine, including whatever ‘historic church’ Jerry Johnson was referring to. So where did it come from and why is it there?
The first thing nay-sayers will do is to hopelessly complicate the issue so that whatever they come up with, is practically impossible to decipher.
First let us address where the doctrine actually came from and it wasn’t by John Darby, but he did revive the belief that had been squashed during the Dark Ages by none other than the ruling theocracy of the Roman Catholic Church. It was the purpose of this ruling theocracy to blind the population and make them totally dependent on them, not God the Father, or Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
PROPONENTS OF THE HARPAZO
In the first Century, men like Irenaeus (130 A.D. – 202 AD) was a bishop of the church in Lyons, France. He was an eyewitness to the Apostle John (who wrote the Book of Revelation) and a disciple of Polycarp, the first of the Apostle John’s disciples. Irenaeus is most-known for his five-volume treatise, “Against Heresies” in which he exposed the false religions and cults of his day along with advice for how to share the Gospel with those who were a part of them.
In his writings on Bible prophecy, he acknowledged the phrase “a time, times and dividing of times” in Daniel 7 to signify the 3 ½ year reign of the Antichrist as ruler of the world before the Second Coming of Christ. He also believed in a literal Millennial reign of Christ on earth following the Second Coming and the resurrection of the just. In his writings noted above. Irenaeus writes:
““Those nations however, who did not of themselves raise up their eyes unto heaven, nor returned thanks to their Maker, nor wished to behold the light of truth, but who were like blind mice concealed in the depths of ignorance, the word justly reckons “as waste water from a sink, and as the turning-weight of a balance — in fact, as nothing;”
(1) so far useful and serviceable to the just, as stubble conduces towards the growth of the wheat, and its straw, by means of combustion, serves for working gold. And therefore, when in the end the Church shall be suddenly caught up from this, it is said, “There shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning, neither shall be.”
(2) For this is the last contest of the righteous, in which, when they overcome they are crowned with incorruption.”
Irenaeus in this passage describes the church leaving the sinful world just before unprecedented disasters. Note his use of the term “caught up” which is Rapture terminology as that is the meaning of harpazo, the term for “caught up” in the King James Bible describing the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4. He then quotes Matthew 24:21 where The Lord Jesus Christ says: “
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
And it is during this time that those who convert to Christianity during the final years will receive the incorruptible crown mentioned by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:25. In Irenaeus’ belief, the Rapture took place prior to the end times Great Tribulation. (beginningandtheend.com)
This is but one of the early church fathers who believed in the doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture or “catching away” of the Church, as others such as Cyprian and Ephraim the Syrian which wrote:
“With a sense of urgency and strong warning, Ephraim writes that the end times are upon this world and could start at any moment. This text very clearly states the saints and elect of God, all born again believers in The Lord Jesus Christ, will be “taken to the Lord” before the Great Tribulation. Ephraim also identifies the Old Testament “Day of The Lord” and the end times Great tribulation as the same event (in line with the teachings of the Beginning and End Rapture Series). Ephraim quotes Amos 5:18 which says: “
”Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.”
TWISTING SCRIPTURE TO YOUR OWN END
But if you ignore these early church fathers, that some say was not taught during this period, and their writings disprove this absurd position of the church going through the Tribulation, you can take enough verses from the different places throughout the bible, and taking them out of context, make a case for Rapture, against a Rapture, for Pre-Tribulation, Mid-Tribulation, Post-Trib, amillennial, premillenial, or post millennial, with or without the 1000 year reign of Jesus Christ.
If you do enough research, you will find that there are scholars that adhere to each and every position I have quoted and they have names for them, and I refuse to believe that they hold these varied views without hanging some sort of scripture to hang from them. But of course, they must take them out of context, and twist them to fit their preconceived notions that their position is the true one.
If one disbelieves in the rapture of the Church and believes that it is some kind of “Great Escape,” then it is easy to take verses from all over the Bible to refute it. Not because the Rapture is false doctrine, but because that isn’t the purpose of the Rapture and knowing why provides valuable clues to when and how.
THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL NEVER LEAVE US
Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ promised His disciples that when He ascended into Heaven, the Holy Spirit would come upon them and indwell them and empower them. That indwelling Power would come upon and indwell all who believed.
16 “ And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”
Jesus promised that “the Comforter” would be with me and those He indwells forever and would never leave us.
SO DID JESUS TELL A WHOPPER? NO!
Let’s examine the simplest questions first.
What does it mean when Jesus Christ makes a promise to the Church?
Is it reliable? What does “forever” mean?
Is there a time constraint on forever? When would forever run out?
Does abide forever mean “abide forever for every generation but one?” Meaning our generation as the tribulation begins?
Houston, we have a problem. According to my paperback theology, the Comforter is:
“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” (John 14:7)
So the Comforter, known as the Holy Spirit of God is the Spirit of Truth and He indwells me. That’s what the Bible, my “paperback” theology teaches me which is part one of that promise. Part two of that promises is again in the Gospel of John repeated here:
“I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you.” (John 14:18)
Jesus plainly told the Apostle John in Revelation 3:
10 “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Revelation 3:10-11)
As I have spoken time and time again, the phrase in that preceding verses is the phrase “KEEP THEE FROM the hour of temptation”…which in Greek is the small, descriptive word “EK”…which if you do a Google search of that word, you will find this definition:
That is a long definition that was taken from a secular publication, but it gives the thought of being separated from the time and place of an event, even as “Harpazo” means being taken by force as Paul spoke of in 1st Corinthians 15 and 1st Thessalonians chp. 4 and ….Jesus told us plainly that we will be removed from the time and place of His coming wrath.
Do you as you read this message, see a contradiction in scripture from what the main stream religions spue out as their version of the Truth? So how do we resolve this obvious contradition? There is only one way. First one way, is the Holy Spirit indwells me throughout the Tribulation period. Therefore, by the authority of God’s Holy Spirit and the Word of God, specifically 1st John that covers that authority:
4 “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.
6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” (1st John 4:4-6)