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What Are Some Misconceptions About the Rapture?

What are some misconceptions about the Rapture?

The best example of getting it all wrong about the Rapture is a video made by YouTube “poet” Jefferson Bethke, who was made popular by his awesome video “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” Jeff’s done some good work furthering the Gospel, and I commend him for it, but when it comes to his understanding of the Rapture, I have to ask…

How is Jefferson Bethke wrong about the Rapture?

Jeff makes the following eight common misconceptions people have about the Rapture.

But first, what do I mean by the Rapture? I’m referring to that biblical teaching that Jesus is going to return one day soon to catch up, snatch away, rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:17 — English “catch up” from Latin “rapio” = Rapture), believers in Christ — called the Church — off this earth and up to Heaven to live with Him forever (John 14:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The Apostle Paul comforted the Thessalonians by teaching them that the Rapture is meant to encourage believers living in this difficult age of persecution. Christians, though, will not have to endure the worst time that is yet to come — the wrath of God over a seven-year Tribulation time period (Daniel 9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9; 4:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2; Romans 5:9; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:4).

Paul explained that the Rapture is meant to give Christians comfort and hope. Jeff disagrees. His thesis:

1. The Rapture is problematic when it comes to hope as a Christian believer.

How can the teaching of the Rapture be “problematic” when Jesus Himself even promised, “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth” (Revelation 3:10)?

As a Christian I find it highly comforting to know that God doesn’t beat up on His children when He brings judgment on the world, a judgment that will destroy much of the world’s population and ecology. Jesus even compares His Church to a bride (2 Corinthians 11:2), and no man beats up on his fiancé, especially for seven years, and still expects she will marry him. God’s loving protection provides great comfort and hope!

2. The Rapture teaching is too new to be true.

Jeff trots out that well-disproven claim that the Rapture teaching was popularized in 1830 by a crazed teenager named Margaret MacDonald, and then a cult leader named John Darby promoted her view. This is an historical fallacy, for not only was Darby teaching about the Rapture well back in the 1820s, but many others had since the Puritans 200 years earlier:

Joseph Mede (1586-1638), Increase Mather (1639-1723), Pierre Jurieu (1687), Philip Doddridge (1738), John Gill (1748), James Macknight (1763), Thomas Scott (1792), Morgan Edwards (1722-1795), William Witherby (1818). For more examples, read Dispensationalism Before Darby by Professor William C. Watson, an expert on historical literature from the 1600s-1700s.

Bible prophecy stopped being taught in the Church in the 400s AD when Augustine began spiritualizing everything in the Bible, and until the Renaissance you could be killed for disagreeing with his teachings. When the Reformation in the 1400-1500s began bringing back the literal interpretation of the Bible, Bible prophecy was once again taken seriously.

Anyway, biblical truth is determined by Scripture alone, and not how that teaching has been perceived at different times during history. And, Scripture teaches about the Rapture of the Church. Christianity is now understanding the Rapture better because of what the Prophet Daniel was told — that end time prophecy will not be fully understood until the time comes for it to be fulfilled.

3. Raptured people live as disembodied spirits.

Jeff goes as far as calling the Rapture teaching a Gnostic heresy! He’s right that Gnosticism is a heretical teaching that material is bad and spirit is good, which the Apostles kept refuting. But, the Rapture passages never teach that after we die we live as disembodied spirits. The Apostle Paul explained when raptured our corrupted human bodies are transformed and changed into our new glorified bodies (1 Corinthians 15:50-58). The Bible teaches that these glorified bodies are tangible, recognizable, and eternal, just like Jesus’ body at His resurrection.

4. The Tribulation is for destroying those God doesn’t want.

Jeff doesn’t seem to understand what the Tribulation is all about. The Tribulation isn’t all about judgment, but about salvation. The Church is raptured because God has promised His Bride will never have to endure His wrath, but for those people left behind, this is God’s big push to get them on their knees and bring them to salvation. While the focus is on bringing the Jewish people to accept Jesus as Messiah, Gentiles will also come to know Christ. And God uses all sorts of amazing methods to share the Gospel such as the Rapture (Revelation 7:9-14), the Two Witnesses in Jerusalem (Revelation 11), 144,000 Jewish Evangelists (Revelation 7), Judgments of God (Isaiah 26:9), and the Gospel Angel (Revelation 14:6) to share the Gospel.

The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), and multitudes will come out of the Tribulation saved.

5. Christians are worried they’ll be left behind.

No Christian today should have any fear that they’ll be left behind. If you’ve accepted Jesus as your Savior, then you’re secure in God’s promise: “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:4).

6. The Rapture is about ushering in Jesus at the end of time.

To make such a statement, Jeff’s likely bought into the once dead but now resurrected view called Dominionism, also Kingdom Now, or Post-Millennialism. This view spiritualizes the biblical prophecies concerning the Rapture, Tribulation, Second Coming, Millennial Kingdom and Eternal State and throws them all into a blender. The result is that prophecy is all in the past and that the Church will evangelize the world until it gets better and better, until eventually the Church reigns over a golden age. Jesus then returns and the Church hands a restored world over to Him.

But, is the world getting better and more Christian?

No, not really. Post-Millennialism is an exciting concept, but not realistic. Only Jesus Himself personally can restore all things.

7. Christians are hiding out waiting for the Rapture instead of evangelizing.

One merely has to leave the confines of their Reformed churches and actually get to know a person who believes in the Rapture of the Church to understand that we Premillennialists take the Great Commission very seriously. Because we always live with the “30,000 foot level” view — that being, Jesus is returning soon — we’re always excited by three things: 1) evangelism, 2) holy living, and 3) the return of Christ in victory. The greatest missions’ movements ever were pioneered by those who lived with the hope of the Rapture.

8. Paul’s reference to hope was about the Eternal State.

That Jesus rules over a restored and united Heaven and Earth in the Eternal State is exciting, and does provide great hope for the Christian, I agree. But, that’s like watching the Super Bowl game alone and missing all the games that led up to it. There are so many other victories our team has before that final game. It’s a great stretch to claim Paul’s reference to hope was just about the end game, especially since the context of his comforting the Thessalonians was about not living through the Tribulation.

The hope God gives us isn’t limited to the Eternal State, but in all of Christ’s other victories as well, and that includes the Rapture.

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Nathan Jones

Nathan Jones

Assoc. Evangelist and Web Minister for Lamb & Lion Ministries, reaching out to the nearly three billion people accessible over the Internet with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

12 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • I believe evil is getting out of control, people can see the total lawlessness of our government, and bureaucrats in America and in the E.U. How long before the Antichrist comes on the scene Dr. Reagan, and Nathan? Watch out that you are not deceived….that’s all its been is deception and lies, one of the things Jesus said to look for in Matthew 24:3-15. Look at all the earthquakes in various places, and the plagues, Zika virus, Aids, Ebola, wars and rumors of wars, man turning against his brother. What is your opinions?

  • A couple scripture verses to consider regarding the body of Christ being gathered unto the Lord.
    Revelation 10:7 KJVS
    [7] But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.
    The mystery of God is Christ in you the hope of glory, Col 1:27. The word sound in Re 10:7 has this definition-Thayer’s Definition to sound a trumpet.
    Notice it also mentions the voice of the seventh angel.
    1 Thessalonians 4:16 KJVS
    [16] 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:
    And the following verse adds additional information.
    1 Corinthians 15:52 KJVS
    [52] 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.
    At the last trump. There are only seven trumpets in the book of Revelation. So the seventh trumpet is when the mystery of God is finished. When the members of the body of Christ receive glorified bodies. It is just a simple matter of reading and connecting scripture.

  • It doesn’t seem that God’s wrath is poured out for the full 7 years… In fact, a time of ‘false peace’ will preside over the first half of this time. We need to be VERY careful not to be dogmatic about timing for this rapture event, as we Christians might be here for longer than planned (by us). We mustn’t lose hope if that happens… He WILL snatch us away before His wrath is poured out – His people are not destined to suffer His wrath… but we should be prepared to suffer the wrath of man, and possibly the ‘6 seals’ in the meantime (Rev 6). We don’t want to be caught unaware of this possibility.

    • From the very breaking of the First Seal Judgment, the Tribulation will know no peace. The world leader, known to believers in Jesus as the Antichrist, is anything but peaceful. He will plunge the planet into nuclear world war, resulting in terrible famines, pestilence and mass death. Violence, disease and starvation will be a way of life. A quarter of the world population — almost 2 billion people — will die from this war (Revelation 6). And that’s before the world even approaches the mid-point.

    • To DMH,
      The prewrath theory has it all wrong. Sure there is wrath in the 2nd half of the Tribulation and its directed against the beast and his followers but half of world population is wiped out (at least) in the 1st half. God uses men to execute His judgments and He will use Islam and Russia in the first half plus He will send 4 environmental judgments that wipe out one third of the earth’s environment. In addition, God will release the demons bound in the bottomless pit – all before the mid-point of the 7 years. If that is not the wrath of God What is?
      Israel gets saved in the first half of the Tribulation and they finish their testimony by the mid-point of the 7 years – after that an angel preaches the everlasting Gospel so if the church is raptured half way through the seven years Israel would be a part of the Church and be raptured also. Then there would be no Jews here for the 2nd half or to welcome Christ at His return in glory. The prewrath theory is so unBiblical and only breeds confusion.

  • Nathan,
    This is very good and clearly thought out. I agree with you 100 percent. I also believe tha our brother is misinterpreting persecution vs the Great Tribulation. It is the wrath of God and the wrath of the Lamb. We are not God’s wrath(John 3:17). It also sounds like the preterist view which is not scriptural. I do believe our Lord is coming like a thief in the night. I have seen people the rapture be mean and nasty even mocking. This reminds me of 2 Peter 3:15. They do not even see it. Proverbs 6 states thay one of the things that God hates is one who spreads strife. We can disagree but we must do what Jesus says and that is love one another. We need to pray for one another. Jesus is coming soon for His church and we must be like the wise virgins who were ready. The fooliish ones were not. See Matt. 25. If you trust Jesus you will go.

  • Besides the general ignorance, illiteracy and dogma of the Roman Catholics… That’s why it’s referred to as the dark ages. The full revelation isn’t done.

  • Dear Nathan, and Dr. Reagan: Could it be the last election means God will give us a reprive to renew our nation? Perhaps we are in a revolution and revival and we must never forget that our sovereign Lord controls all things, man, and governments. We must as Christians continue to stand up for God’s word and laws and not falter to bring others to his truth.

    • We hope that the intercessory prayers of Christians in America were answered by God and that we’ll experience a reprieve from persecution. The Church then needs to be even more diligent in sharing the Gospel while we’re able.

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