According to most popular teachers of eschatology, Christians will be raptured out of the world before a "great tribulation" comes. The word rapt means to "be caught away". It is said that all true believers will be snatched up into the air to be with the Lord in a secret rapture. The people of the world will suddenly realise that a lot of people have gone. In this way, the Lord's people would escape the terrible time of tribulation. This is a nice idea, but there are a number of reasons why it is incorrect.

  1. The rapture teaching gives Christians a false hope. Christians should not be looking for escape from their troubles. They are a normal part of the Christian life, and the Lord uses them for our good. The Lord has promised to give us strength for our trials, he did not promise to take us out of them. The scriptures encourage the Lord's people to persevere, and not to look for an escape.

    Many Christians in China had been given this false teaching. When the communists took over and began to persecute the church, it was thought that the tribulation had come. Many Christians expected to be raptured out by the Lord. When escape did not come, many were disillusioned, and they were totally unprepared for the difficult times that followed. This false teaching had given them a false hope.

  2. The idea that the church will be taken out of the world prior to a time of tribulation has no basis in the Bible. Numerous passages speak of a time of troubles on the earth, but none of these mentions an escape from these troubles for Christians. A few passages do speak of Christians being caught up into the air to be with the Lord, but they all relate to the second coming at the end of the age. For example, 1 Corinthians 15 which describes the rapture in detail, ends by saying that "Death has been swallowed up in victory" (1 Cor 15:54). Death will only cease at the end of the age.

  3. The idea of a pre-tribulation rapture is actually a recent addition to theology. Originally, it was not based on the Bible, but on a prophecy given in 1830 by a young Scottish woman called Margaret McDonald. The rapture theory was adopted by J. N. Darby as part of his dispensational scheme, and then popularised in the Schofield Reference Bible. It has now become part of the conventional wisdom. This prophecy was contrary to the Bible, so it is not a sound basis for a doctrine.

  4. This teaching requires two second comings. Jesus comes the first time to receive the church, and then again at the end of the age. However, Jesus himself gave no hint that he would come twice. Nor does the New Testament teach that Jesus will come twice. Jesus taught that his second coming would be a very public event, seen by the whole world. This just does not fit with the idea of a secret rapture.

  5. The rapture rescue hope has made the church defeatist. Instead of working to bring in the Kingdom, Christians have tended to sit around and wait for the rapture.  As the world has got worse and worse, they have been almost glad, because they take this as a sign that the rapture is near. They have not realised that their retreat from the world is really the cause of the increase in evil.

  6. If we are going to be caught out of the world at any time, there is not much point in trying to build the Kingdom, yet this is what Jesus commanded us to do. Expecting to be raptured out of the world as soon as things get tough is disobedience to Jesus.

  7. It is sometimes said that the church is totally absent from Revelation 6-19, because the church has been taken up out of the world. It is also said that in Revelation 4-5, the church is in heaven. This is simply not true. The vision of Revelation 4-5 includes the whole of creation. The four living creatures represent the whole of the created world, and are not literally in heaven. The intention of the vision is to show that God is sovereign over even the natural order. The fact that the church is represented by the twenty-four elders does not mean it is heaven.

    There are numerous places in Revelation 6-19 where the church is mentioned. When the fifth seal is opened, the church is persecuted on the earth. In Revelation 14:12 the saints are told to persevere. These are just two examples. Anyone who reads the book of Revelation carefully will find numerous references to the church. It is ridiculous to suggest that the church is absent from the world.

  8. Those who hold the rapture rescue believe that the Jews will evangelise the world during a period tribulation. This is based on Revelation 7:1-4, which describes 144,000 Jews being sealed by an angel. This is hardly a picture of the Jews evangelising the world. Anyway, it is ridiculous to suggest that the Jews, without the benefit of Christian teaching, and without the Holy Spirit would be able to do in seven years, what the church has been unable to do in 2000 years with the Spirit's help.

  9. The rapture rescue teaching is a denial of Holy Spirit. He is usually said to be taken out of the world when the church is raptured. If this is true then he is a failure. While he has been present, the world has gone from bad to worse. Once he is gone, God is able to do greater things in the world. This is an absurd thing to teach about the Spirit of God. The Bible teaches that the church will be victorious in the world through the mighty presence of the Spirit.

The rapture occurs at the end of history when Jesus appears.  It is not an early escape for Christians.

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