The return of the Lord is a truly exciting idea for Christians. When the Lord returns again, His people will be glorified and redeemed. It will be the end of our sorrows and troubles here, as well as the beginning of being with the Lord forever. Paul prayed, “O Lord come!” (1 Cor. 16:22) and that is our prayer as well.
Regrettably, there are a number of false ideas circulating about Jesus’ return. For example, despite clear biblical admonitions which state that no one can set a date for Jesus’ return (1 Thess. 5:2), many try. Others believe that the Lord will come and rapture His people off this planet before a time of terrible tribulation (see chart 1). It doesn’t seem to matter what is going on in the news, someone interprets it to mean the rapture will happen soon. A few years ago the Persian Gulf War was seen as a harbinger of the end. Now it is obvious that it wasn’t, so people are making a fuss about Y2K and the Kosovo conflict. Rapture fever seems to be growing. This tract wishes to take the opposite tack, by arguing from scripture that the rapture cannot happen in 1999 or even 2000. Why? Because the rapture is simply not taught in scripture. It is simply not true. Here are three reasons why there will be no rapture ever.
<h2> The Rapture Cannot Happen Because There Will Only Be One Resurrection </h2> <p>An essential component of the doctrine of the rapture is that there will be two resurrections. The first will be just for the righteous dead. They will be raised along with all the living Christians who are raptured up before the time of tribulation. Then, there will be a second resurrection of the unrighteous dead (again note chart 1). The Bible simply does not teach this two resurrection theory. Hear Jesus in John 5:28-29: “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” Jesus knows nothing of two resurrections. He says that all, good and evil, come forth at one time. Paul echoes this thought in Acts 24:15: “I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.” Again, we see that the idea of two resurrections is simply unscriptural. Paul speaks of one resurrection, a resurrection of good and evil.</p> <h2> The Rapture Cannot Happen Because the Coming of the Lord Won’t Be Silent, Mysterious or Invisible </h2> <p>Rapture proponents love to talk about how Jesus will mysteriously snatch out all true believers, leaving a puzzled world behind. This is simply not the picture scripture paints. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). These are the very verses rapture believers turn to in order to bolster their beliefs. Yet, here we read of three different audible warnings (a shout, the voice of an archangel, and the trumpet of God) that Jesus is coming again. Does this match up with what the rapture folks tell us? 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 adds that Jesus’ return will include angels and flaming fire. Does this sound mysterious and invisible to you?</p> <h2> The Rapture Is Based on Perverting the Scriptures </h2> <p>Much rapture material is filled with scripture references that appear, at first, to back up the teaching of the rapture. A closer look at those passages finds that they are quoted out of context or their meaning is twisted. For example, much is made of Matthew 24’s prophecies about tribulation (v. 21) and one taken and another being left (vv. 40-41). Yet, if one reads the first three verses in this chapter, it becomes apparent that Jesus is talking about the destruction of the Temple. The most puzzling part of Matthew 24 is verse 15 and its reference to “the Abomination of Desolation.” What is that? Luke 21 contains the parallel passage to Matthew 24 and reveals that the Abomination of Desolation is Roman armies: “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near” (Luke 21:20). Note who is to see this. You and I? No, Jesus says when “you” see it, clearly meaning the people to whom He was then talking. The admonitions and warnings contained in Matthew 24 are for the people of Jesus’ time. To take the prophecy of Jerusalem’s destruction, fulfilled in AD 70, and twist it into something for today is a gross misuse of scripture. Notice that Jesus says that what He speaks of in Matthew 24 will take place within the lifetime of those who heard Him speak the prophecy: “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place” (Matthew 24:34). If Jesus is talking about the rapture in Matthew 24, then He lied for it did not happen in the first century!</p>
The same kind of abuse of scripture is often done with the book of Revelation. This book of signs and symbols is hard to understand. Therefore, when false teachers need a place to prop up their false doctrines they run to Revelation, knowing most people won’t be able to prove them wrong. But, read Revelation 1:1-4 and note two important keys to this book. First, whatever the book means it must have application to the seven Asian churches it was originally written to. Those churches were being persecuted (see Revelation 2:10) and needed encouragement. How would it encourage them to be told of the Y2K problem or Saddam Hussein? These are events hundreds of years in the future for first century readers! Whatever use is made of Revelation we must first realize we are reading someone else’s mail and the book’s primary application must be to its original readers. It is sheer arrogance to decide everything in the Bible must be written about us and for us! Second, do you notice the repeated use of “shortly come to pass” and “the time is near?” From beginning to end (note Revelation 22:10) the book speaks of events that would happen soon. These were events that its original first century readers needed to know about and prepare for. Any interpretation of Revelation that makes it out as a prophecy of today’s happenings violates the book’s own time frame. Once again we see the Bible holds no refuge for those who would teach the rapture.
<h2> Conclusion </h2> <p>The teaching of the rapture is just one part of a view of the end times known as premillenialism. Unfortunately, premillenialism is just as riddled with errors as the rapture. Look again at chart 1. Do you see that premillenialism teaches that Christ’s kingdom is not presently in existence? That means Jesus is not now King of kings and Lord of lords, He is not now reigning at God’s right hand. Yet the Bible teaches the very opposite! Jesus did not come to establish an earthly kingdom of any kind (John 18:36), He is presently reigning as King (1 Cor. 15:25; Hebrews 8:1; Acts 2:33), and His kingdom is firmly established (Col. 1:13) as a spiritual kingdom.</p>
Don’t be deceived by all the talk of the rapture. Jesus is not going to snatch up Christians suddenly and mysteriously. Instead, at a time when no one knows, the world will suddenly end and all will be ushered into judgment (see 2 Peter 3:10). Following false teaching will not help you then! We urge you to study these things further (see Acts 17:11). If you find the rapture to be out of step with New Testament teaching then give it up and seek the way of the Lord as revealed only in the scriptures.