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12 - Four Views of the Rapture

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Four Views of the Rapture

Joh 14:1-3  Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  (2)  In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  (3)  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

These verses give us the first explicit description of the rapture. Later, the apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Spirit wrote to the Thessalonians and said this…

1Th 4:15-18  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  (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:  (17)  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.  (18)  Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

The word rapture does not occur in our Bible, nor does it occur in our text. But it is from this text that we have derived the word rapture.  When Jerome translated the New Testament into the Latin language, which became the Vulgate, the Bible of the Roman Catholic Church, he used the verb “rapair” to translate the words “caught up together”. “Rapair” means to seize and carry off. From this Latin word, we derived the English word “rapture”.

  1. Predicted by our Lord
  2. Confirmed by the apostles
  3. Expected by the Christian church for centuries

There is no question concerning the fact of the rapture, the big question today concerns the “when” of the rapture. There are four major views concerning the rapture of the church. It is these four views, we'd like to study this morning. These four views will prepare the way for our exposition of Revelation Chapter 4. Revelation Chapter 4 begins the last and the third division of Revelation. We have already seen that which was, that which is, and now we will begin to study that, which shall be.

The question that is before us today is this, “When will the rapture take place?”

  1. The Expectation
    1. Act 1:2  Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
    2. Act 1:9-11  And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.  (10)  And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;  (11)  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.
    3. From Pentecost  - Acts 2 when the church began until now the church has been living with the expectation that Christ will return.
    4. But when?
    5. Scripture indicates that following the church age, there will be a seven-year period known as the tribulation period.
    6. Following that the Lord Jesus will literally return to Earth.  He will establish a kingdom, where he will reign from Jerusalem, as he sits on the throne of David.
    7. He will reign for 1000 years in what we call the millennial kingdom.  We get the word millennial from the Latin word, which means 1000.

  1. The Specifics
    1. When will the Rapture Occur?

                                                               i.      At the end of the tribulation - Post tribulation view

                                                             ii.      In the middle of the tribulation - Mid tribulation view

                                                            iii.      At the beginning of the tribulation - Pre tribulation view

                                                           iv.      Multiple raptures taking place during the tribulation - Partial rapture view

    1. The Post-tribulation View

                                                               i.      This view teaches the church goes through the tribulation, is raptured at the end of the tribulation, and immediately returns with Christ.

                                                             ii.      This position is the most popular view, all amillenialist hold this view.

                                                            iii.      Four reasons, this position is held

1.       The Logical Argument - the book of the Revelation would have no logical value to the church, if we are raptured before the tribulation occurs.

2.      The Historical Argument – Christians in the second and third centuries believed they were in the tribulation, and were awaiting the Lord to return. Their experience told them that they were living through the tribulation.

3.       The Linguistic Argument – The words in the Greek text, which referred to the coming of the Lord applies to both phases of Christ return.

4.      The Exegetical Argument –

a.       Rev 20:4-7 - the argument is that the resurrection occurs at the end of the tribulation.

b.      Mat 24:31 – Not the rapture the gathering together of the elect (Israel).

c.       Mat 24:36 – 38 –

    1. The Mid Tribulation Rapture                                                                i.      1 Cor 15:51-53 – At the last trump, and we shall be changed. This obviously is the rapture our text says this shall occur at the last trump.

                                                             ii.      Revelation 11: 15 -  The last angel sounds his trumpet during the middle of the tribulation so the rapture must occur during the middle of the tribulation.

1.       The middle of the tribulation occurs after the fourth seal is broken.  

2.      Mat 24:4-8 the first half of the tribulation (the beginning of sorrows) is described. There is a parallel between Mat 24 and Rev 6-7.

3.       There are many trumpets that will be sounded. The question is when shall the last trump pf 1 Cor 15 be sounded?

4.      The Roman army used trumpets to signal their orders. One trumpet=break camp, second trumpet= prepare to move, last trumpet= move out.

    1. The Pre Tribulation View                                                                i.      Church caught up prior to the tribulation.

                                                             ii.      Three arguments support this view.

1.       The Nature of the Tribulation Indicates it.

a.       Daniel 9: 24 – Seventy weeks designed for Israel and Jerusalem.

b.      The tribulation is the seventieth week of Daniels prophecy.

c.       It is Jacob’s trouble.

d.      Deut. 4: 29 – Tribulation is designed to bring Israel back to God.

e.       The church will not be in this tribulation.

2.       The Structure of the Book of Revelation

a.      Rev 1

b.      Rev 4:1 – After these things , future events

c.       After chapter 3 the church is no longer on earth through chapter 19.

d.      The rapture takes place after chapter 3.

3.       The Promises of the Bible

a.       Rev 3:10 –

b.      1 Thes .1:9-10

c.       1 Thes.5:1-9

                                                            iii.      The Partial Rapture View

1.       The faithful will be raptured initially, the others will follow.

2.      Luke 21:36- Be ready, be worthy,

3.       Hebrews 9:28 – If you are not looking you will not be saved.

Closing: Optimism abounds in the Christian who is looking for his coming. Why? Because our hope in the future is in Christ abilities not our own.  

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