A belief that I hold dear has been rejected by many of my dear brothers and sisters in the church today. I grew up in the ministry listening to great preachers of yesteryear preaching on the rapture of the church. All of my heroes in the ministry from my younger days held the belief that the church would be raptured from the earth into the air when Jesus comes for the church. This belief has never been universal among Christians by any means but today many seem to loathe the idea of the rapture of the church. In this blog I want to answer a few of the criticisms against the rapture.
- SOME SAY THE BELIEF IN THE RAPTURE IS HURTING THE WORK OF THE CHURCH.
I read articles and hear sermons regularly that claim the church today is not effective in ministry or evangelism because of the belief in the rapture. Some critics say the rapture is “escapism,” that is Christians avoid all tribulation while the earth and its population go through hell on earth. They further contend that those who hold this escapism belief have several flaws in their belief system. Here are some accusations I have read.
A) Opponents of the rapture say believers in the rapture are missing the point of the New Testament that we are commissioned to transform this world into God’s Kingdom rather than looking for an escape from this world and its troubles.
B) They further hold that those who believe in the rapture of the church have a perverted view of the earth. Because it is not our home and we are looking for the return of Christ we will not be good stewards of the earth and her resources. Some claim we see the earth as a holding station until we get to go to heaven.
C) Some see those who believe in the rapture of the church as people who have thrown their hands up and quit and are accomplishing nothing while they wait on the return of Christ. I recently heard a very dear friend of mine claim that if Christians don’t quit looking for the rapture we are going to lose all the ground we have claimed for Christ.
D) Some argue that the descriptions of Christ’s return in the Bible are images of a returning victorious king to his capital. They view the return of Christ as a localized event and not a universal or worldwide event.
2. I HAVE AN ANSWER FOR ALL THESE ACCUSATIONS.
A and B above are just logically flawed. Simply because we are looking for the return of Christ does not mean we are not trying to transform this world into God’s Kingdom. The Apostle Paul made at least 3 missionary journeys in the face of many dangers in an attempt to share the Gospel of Christ with the entire world. No reasonable person will argue that Paul was not attempting to transform the world for Christ’s sake. However, listen to what Paul says in II Timothy 4:6-8, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
8 There is reserved for me in the future the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing.”
The crown of righteousness that Paul speaks of is for the person who lives a righteous life motivated by a love for the return of Christ. Some believers are so in love with Jesus that they long for His return and keep themselves righteous and productive until He returns. The Lord’s appearing is motivation for living out the Gospel and thus transforming this world.
Also, it is flawed logic to argue that because we do not believe this world to be our final home we will neglect it and fail to be good stewards of the resources planet earth provides. I have a couple of friends who have built and sold many houses in their lives. Often when they sell the house they are living in they will rent a house while building a new home. The rental home is not their final home so this logic dictates they will never cut their grass or sweep or vacuum. They will not take care of the house for it is not their final home. I can assure you that may be the case with some but not with my friends who kept up each rental home they have lived in very well. This reasoning is an attack on the rapture that is fabricated simply to bolster an argument. It has no merit.
In C above we see some say we who believe in the rapture have quit serving while waiting on Jesus to come get us. This argument is not valid. Read Acts 1:9-11, “After He had said this, He was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. 10 While He was going, they were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them.
11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven.”
The angels tell the disciples that the Lord is returning as He departed (seems reasonable to mean in the clouds) and the disciples should not be standing around gazing. The return of Christ is seen as motivation for faithful service in this passage.
Finally, in D above we see some argue that the return of Christ is a localized event. They see Him returning to one place, like Jerusalem, and His disciples there receive Him. This makes no logical sense whatsoever. Let’s say that Christ’s return is a localized event in Jerusalem, this would mean that those of us who are believers in other parts of the world would have to buy airline tickets or boat fare to come see our Lord. Some believers would get to see Him years earlier than others. Some believers might have to sell their homes or save for years to have enough money to travel to see Jesus.
I Thessalonians 4:13-18 is clear and offers a better thought. Look at verses 16 and 17, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord.”
The church in Thessalonica was concerned about Christians who have died before Christ’s return. Paul assures them that at the rapture they will be raised first. This statement is to comfort those believers who have seen loved ones die in Christ. Then we who are alive shall be caught up in the clouds with those who have been raised and then we will always be with the Lord. Localized event? That is just nonsense.
We may debate when the rapture takes place: before the tribulation, during the tribulation or after the tribulation. We may debate where believers go after the rapture: off to heaven for a season or immediately back to earth. However, I don’t see any reason for debating the rapture of the church. To be honest, I know why some hold to this view, they have a dislike for the nation of Israel and most of those who hold the view that the church will be raptured also embrace a pro-Israel theology. The replacement theologian believes that the church has replaced Israel in God’s heart and plans. For this reason some find it necessary to throw out the rapture because many who hold the belief in the rapture believe God removes the church in order to finish His business with Israel. I feel like a dinosaur sometimes but I still believe in the rapture and that Israel is God’s chosen people.