Now, Contending for the Faith. In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here’s this week’s question: “Dear Tom and Dave, I used to think that there were only two different views related to the Rapture of the church: the Pre-tribulation and Post-tribulation beliefs. Now I’ve learned that some teach a Pre-wrath Rapture, a Partial Rapture, and no Rapture. This is starting to get pretty confusing. Is the Bible not clear on this subject?”
Tom: Dave, the issue of the Rapture—this isn’t an issue which has to do with fellowship, I don’t believe. On the other hand, there are some pretty aggressive views out there about this.
Dave: Yeah. We don’t break fellowship with people over this, but sometimes it could be difficult to have consistent fellowship with someone who is pushing a contradictory view and it is causing division. They are becoming aggressive and unreasonable…I’m trying to think of another word…unpleasant about it. It certainly does not involve our salvation. The gospel is very clearly stated how that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, was buried, rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures—you believe that, you are saved, and it has nothing to do with the Rapture.
On the other hand, it is an important teaching of the Bible, and we must stand firm on everything the Bible teaches. Is it clear? I think it’s quite clear! Jesus, in John 14, said, “I am going to go away and prepare a place for you, and if I go away I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” And He told them He was going to His Father’s house of many mansions, and that would be where He would be preparing a place from them, okay? So that certainly sounds as though He is going to take His own.
Tom: Now, the term, Rapture, you don’t find it in the Bible.
Dave: Yeah, you do, in the Latin.
Tom: But we don’t read the Latin Vulgate.
Dave: It simply means an ecstatic catching away. But look, Jesus said, “I am going to come, take you to my Father’s house,” okay? Paul, in 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4, beginning at verse 13—and we can’t go into all the verses, but—well, he says, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep, [that means they died)] that ye sorrow not, even as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so those who sleep in Jesus [those who have died in faith in Christ] God will bring with him.” They must be in heaven—“absent from the body, present with the Lord, which is far better.” He’s going to bring the souls and spirits with Him. “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; Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Tom: So, this “caught up”—that’s the meaning of the term “Rapture.”
Dave: Right. That’s where you have the Latin term, Raptus Repere. I don’t remember which is the infinitive and which is the verb and so forth, and so forth, and the Bible clearly teaches this. This is the hope—“looking for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of the great God, our savior Jesus Christ.”
Tom: Dave, how is this split up then—pre-wrath, partial Rapture?
Dave: Well, people try to find some basis. Some people say, “Well, it’s going to be at the end of the Great Tribulation”—that’s Post-trib. But Jesus said, “As it was in the days of Noah, the days of Lot. They are buying, selling, building, planting, partying, and marrying. That’s how it will be in the day when the Son of Man appears,” okay? That doesn’t sound like the end of the Great Tribulation.
Furthermore, Matthew:24:44, Jesus said, “At such an hour as you think not, the Son of man cometh.” Well, we know he is coming at the end of the Great Tribulation because He comes in the midst of Armageddon to rescue Israel and to stop the destruction: “Except those days be shortened, no flesh would survive.”
But if He’s coming also at a time when no one would expect Him, that must be something else. That could only be before the Great Tribulation, a time of peace, prosperity, and not expecting Him: “when you think not.”
Now, the very fact that the early church expected Him, was looking for Him: “unto them that look for him shall he appear. You turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God, wait for his Son from heaven,” and so forth. The very fact that the Bible ends “Even so, come, Lord Jesus”—if He can’t come until after Antichrist has been revealed (that’s the pre-wrath position—that when the Antichrist has been revealed, then God is going to pour out His wrath; we’ve got to face the Antichrist, and then God will take us). If He can’t come until after the Antichrist or after the Great Tribulation or until some certain event happens, then we’ve lost imminency, and you couldn’t say that He could come at any moment. Then, it wouldn’t be right for us to say, “Come Lord Jesus!” That’s quite simple. So, people have come up with various views.
Tom: Dave, last one—we’ve got about a minute. Partial Rapture—must be based on works, I guess.
Dave: Well, if you’re not living for Jesus—I guess they would get that from Hebrews:9:27-28: “Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” However, Tom, there is no partial taking of…well, look, my parents are with the Lord, I believe; the Apostle Paul is with the Lord. Millions of Christians have died, they are absent from the body, present with the Lord. Never does it say some of them didn’t make it because they weren’t living a good enough life. If that didn’t happen to them when they died, then it’s not going to happen to those of us who are alive. Do we have to live a better life than they did in order to meet those who are already in heaven—who were all taken upon death? All will be taken at the Rapture. There is no basis for a Partial Rapture in the Bible.