Question: We have a rare difference of opinion concerning your assertion that Old Testament saints are a part of the Church resurrected at the time of the Rapture. Certainly, they are saved by faith alone in the shed blood of Christ…. However, they are, as John the Baptist described himself, “friends of the Bridegroom” (John:3:29). The Church, Christ’s Bride, was born on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). At the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, He will have many “friends” in attendance.
Answer: I appreciate your position, but there are serious problems with it. Old Testament saints could only be resurrected at the Rapture:
1) We know that their souls and spirits were in “Abraham’s bosom” (Lk 16:22), or “paradise” (Lk 23:43), until Christ took them to heaven (Ps:68:18; Eph:4:8; Heb:6:20). They will still be there when Christ resurrects the dead saints at the Rapture. I find no basis for thinking that Christ will leave their souls and spirits unclothed in heaven (2 Cor:5:1-9)and not bring them with Him to rejoin their resurrected bodies. The Bible makes no such distinction between Old and New Testament saints. At the Rapture, “them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (1 Thes:4:14). I can’t imagine that Abraham, who, Christ said, “rejoiced to see my day...and was glad” (Jn:8:56), or John the Baptist, who declared Him to be “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Jn:1:29), did not die with faith in Christ, looking forward to redemption through Him.
2) Thus they must be among “them which sleep in Jesus,” whose bodies Christ will resurrect at the Rapture. If not, they would never be resurrected, because the only other persons who are resurrected are those who died as martyrs at the hands of Antichrist (Rv 20:5,6).
3) The only time the bodies of those whose souls and spirits are now in heaven could be resurrected is at the Rapture of the church, caught up to heaven with them. Then why wouldn’t they be part of the church?
I don’t think that John’s describing himself as the friend of the bridegroom was intended to distinguish between himself and the church, but between him and Christ. As for “he that is least in the kingdom of heaven/God” being greater than John the Baptist (Mt 11:11; Lk 7:27, 28), surely that can’t mean that John (and the other prophets) are not in the kingdom of heaven/God. Rather, it refers to the difference between Old Testament prophets and saints (while they lived upon earth) upon whom the Holy Spirit came but could also leave—and the simplest believer since the Cross, who is permanently indwelt with and empowered by the Holy Spirit and Christ.