Church of God, New World Ministries

The Secret Rapture - Fact Or Fiction?

Will Jesus Christ return invisibly, to secretly "rapture" or take away the Church to heaven BEFORE the coming great tribulation?

A common idea today among fundamentalists is that Christ may return invisibly, secretly, "at any moment" to "rapture" or "catch away" the Church before the great tribulation and the appearance of a superhuman "Antichrist." This secret return of Christ they call "the first phase" of Christ's second coming.

Jesus, we are asked to believe, may suddenly descend from heaven this very night! But He will stop in mid-air.

Immediately, the righteous dead will be raised and all true Christians who are alive will be "translated." Then Christ returns to heaven-- some say for 31/2 year-- others say for seven (7) years.

During this period, according to this teaching, God will vent His wrath upon the world by permitting an Antichrist to deceive the nations and torture all who won't submit to Him. This time of torture they call indiscriminately the "tribulation" and "Day of the Lord."

Then, they say, the "second phase” of Christ's coming will occur. Jesus will come visibly, in power and glory, with the saints, to conquer Antichrist.

But is this what the Bible really teaches? Are there "two phases" to the second coming of Jesus Christ? Will He return secretly? Why is the word "rapture" not mentioned once in the entire Bible if this theory is true? Isn’t it time you learned the truth?

Jesus Christ has given us a time sequence of events soon to occur. This sequence you will find in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. These three chapters contain the order of events at the close of this age of man's rule. Notice what Jesus told His disciples.

Following false teachers proclaiming a false gospel, yet coming in the name of Christ, would be wars, famines and pestilences, occurring in that order. Then there would be what? The secret return of Christ to take away the Church in a secret rapture immediately before the tribulation? No! Just the opposite! Here are Jesus' own words: (Matt. 24:6-9) "And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My names' sake."

Did you notice that? Jesus' own disciples, those who follow Him, "YOU”, are to be delivered up to tribulation! The disciples of Jesus could not be in tribulation if they were secretly raptured to heaven before the tribulation and if only unbelievers remained on earth. Besides, Jesus said that it is "for His name's sake" that the nations would hate you. This obviously must be referring to believers, not nonbelievers.

Mark records the same statement of Jesus: "And ye shall be hated of all for my name's sake" (Mark 13:13). A martyrdom of Christians! Luke records the same (Luke 21:12, 17).

Is the tribulation the time of God's wrath? This is another great mistake that all who believe in the rapture theory have carelessly taken for granted without proof. Some believe that the "tribulation" and the "Day of the Lord" represent the same period of time.

The Bible reveals that the tribulation is the wrath of Satan, the wicked spirit ruler of this present age. You can read of that in Revelation the 12th chapter.

Notice! The devil is angry. He is responsible for the persecution of the Christians. Satan hates God's way. So does this world. It is Satan's world. Little wonder that it hates the good news of the Kingdom of God.

What did Jesus say would immediately happen after Satan's wrath, the tribulation? The rapturists would have you believe that the "second phase" of Jesus' return would immediately occur. This is not what Jesus said. Notice: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken" (Matt. 24:29).

Now turn to (Joel 2:31) "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood BEFORE the great and terrible day of the Lord comes." The "day of the Lord" is the time God steps in to world af- fairs directly. It is the time of His wrath against the nations! Read I Thessalonians 5:2. This is not speaking of the rapture, but of the time of God’s intervention in world affairs very shortly before Jesus returns.

Compare this with Revelation 6:12-13, 16-17: "The sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the whole moon became as blood; and the stars of the heaven fell to earth, And they said to the mountains and to the rocks, 'Fall upon us, and hide us from the face of the one sitting on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: because the great day of their wrath is come; and who can stand? “This day of God's wrath comes unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. The tribulation, however, occurs before the "day of the Lord's wrath"!

Notice that during this "day of the Lord" the trumpets begin to sound (Rev. 8:6). "And the seven angels that had the seven trumps { trumpets } prepared themselves to sound." Trumpets are a symbol of war. This is the time when God's restraint over the nations is loosed, when the nations war upon one another with horrifying new weapons till they learn that God alone can bring peace and that His Laws make life worth living.

Notice, now, an amazing fact which very few have grasped! What happens when the seventh and last of these trumpets is sounded? "And the seventh angel sounded; and the great voices in heaven came saying, 'The Kingdom of the world is become our Lord's and His Christ's, and He shall reign unto the ages of ages,. We thank thee, Lord God, the Almighty, who is and who was, because thou hast taken thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were wroth, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldst give reward unto thy servants the pro- phets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great: and shouldst destroy them which destroy the earth' " (Rev. 11:15, 17-18).

Notice that this is the time for the prophets to receive their reward. It is the time of the resurrection! And this, remember, occurs at the seventh or last trump!

Now compare this with ( I Cor. 15: 51-52 ) " Lo, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet" the seventh and last trumpet ... "shall sound, and the dead" ... and that includes the prophets ( Rev. 11:18) ... "shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."

Do you grasp the significance of this scripture? After the tribulation, after the intervening heavenly signs, during the DAY of the Lord, at the sounding of the seventh trump the dead are resurrected and those alive, who believe and practice the truth, are changed from mortal to immortal.

There is no secret rapture before the tribulation. The dead are not resurrected twice! Those who are still living are not changed to immortality twice! There is not the slightest indication of a "Secret Rapture" and a resurrection of the saints before the tribulation.

But this is not all! Now open your Bible to ( Matt. 24:30) "And then after the heavenly signs which follow the tribulation, (not before), but after the tribulation and during the Day of the Lord, "Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of the heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send forth His angels with a great trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."

This verse pictures the second coming of Christ, at the seventh and last trump, the great trump. And it is the time of the resurrection! The ELECT are gathered together. Who are the "elect" or chosen ones?

Luke 18:7 tell us: "And shall not God avenge His elect, that cry to Him day and night?" Any concordance will provide you with scriptures (I Peter 1:1-2; Col. 3:12; Rom. 8:33, etc.) proving that true Christians are the ELECT. These are the ones to be gathered when Jesus returns with the sound of a great trump!

Paul also mentions the same tremendous noise of the 7th trumpet that will rend the air at Christ's return. "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with an archangel's voice, and with the trump of God: AND THE DEAD IN Christ shall rise first; then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air" ( IThes 4:16-17).

Did you notice that this is the time of the resurrection? It is the time of the LAST TRUMP, according to I Cor. 15:52. Again, in Revelation 11:15, 17-18 the seventh or last trumpet is also the time of the resur- rection. And the time order of Jesus' Mount Olivet prophecy and of the book of Revelation places the sounding of the 7th trumpet and the resurrection after the tribulation, at the very climax of the "day of the Lord"! These verses describe the same trumpet, not different ones.

There is no possible room for a "secret rapture."

One famous text used to contradict these plain passages of scripture is the 14th verse of I Thessalonians 4, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, even so them also that are fallen asleep"…. the dead are asleep in their grave, not awake in heaven-- according to Paul, “will God through Jesus bring with Him." This verse is supposed to teach that 31/2 or 7 years before Christ returns a "secret rapture" occurs; the dead are secretly taken to heaven and now they return with Jesus from heaven.

But is this what the scripture says? How is Jesus going to bring those who are asleep in death with Him? Notice: "For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the presence (or coming) of the Lord, shall in no wise precede the them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven." With the saints? NO! "... And the dead in Christ shall rise first" (verses 15-16).

Notice, that Jesus, with the angels from heaven, descends toward the earth, not with the saints, but in order to resurrect the saints! "The Lord shall descend... and the dead shall rise"!

After Jesus descends toward earth the dead rise first! They meet Christ in the air. Now the dead are with Christ in the air, the atmosphere surrounding this earth. "Then we that are alive and remain shall together with them be caught up in the clouds" (verse 17). We, too, shall be together in the air with those who have just been raised, those whom Jesus is bringing with Him to this earth. Notice that being "caught up"..... Paul does not say "raptured up" .... occurs after the tribulation, at the last trump when Jesus descends visibly in power and glory.

How did Jesus leave this earth? "He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight"... the disciples were looking at Him, and while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, "Be- hold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, 'Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet" (Acts 1:9-12).

Were there two phases of Jesus' ascension? NO! Then there will not be two phases to His return, He will come in the same manner in which He left.

Notice the prophecy concerning the fulfillment of this very promise: "Behold, the day of the Lord cometh ... His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives" (Zech. 14: 1-4).

There is no secret rapture before the tribulation or at any other time! The resurrection is at the mighty sound of the 7th trump in the day of God's wrath which follows the tribulation. The tribulation is not the Day of the Lord. There are two separate and distinct periods of time. Christ does not return in two phases, one secret, the other visible. He returns in the same manner as He ascended, and that was no secret rapture! He ascended visible, He will descend visible.

Some, of course, seize on minor scriptures and misinterpret them to attempt to prove their theory. Take Rev. 4:1-2, for example. This, we are told, represents the rapture. But these two verses do not say that! John saw the prophecy in the Book of Revelation unfolded in heaven because that is where Jesus is, not because of a secret rapture!

One prominent writer attempts to prove that II Thessalonians 2:7-8 refers to the rapture. His theory is that this prophecy has not yet begun to be fulfilled, that Christ must come first "to rapture the Church before the tribulation."

But notice the first part of verse 7: "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work"-- even in Paul's day! Notice the time sequence! An apostasy shall have come first and the man of sin shall have been revealed before the day of Christ.

Will you be deceived into believing the false doctrine of a rapture? Will you go on blindly believing in the traditions of men and the theories they have advanced without proof? Read your Bible! Check carefully! "Prove all things (IThess. 5:21). Your very life is at stake!

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