Vol. 31, No. 3 March, 2007
THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH
By Pastor George Mills
“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 will rise first. 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1Thess 4:16-18)
Years ago, when I first entered into Law enforcement at the University of Georgia, my Instructor in Report Writing Class emphasized over and over again, “A good report will always answer, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHO, WHY, and HOW.” Today, in dealing with the subject of the RAPTURE I borrow from my Instructor’s teaching.
1.WHAT IS THE RAPTURE? This Publication reaches into many different places. It is obvious from questions and statements that some do not know much about the Rapture, some have never been told, and there are many different views. I shall try to cover some of the things that seem to trouble some.
If you search your Bible (KJV) you will not find the word Rapture. So, why do we use this word? The word “rapture” means, “A state or the experience of being carried away.” That is exactly what will happen one day. According to our text we (the Church) will be caught up or “carried away ” into the presence of Christ. So let us find the Church in our Bible. The word RAPTURE is associated with the CHURCH ONLY.
If you search the Old Testament you will find over and over again that Messiah will one day come to earth and reign on the Throne of David for a thousand years. But there is no such thing as being carried away or, “caught up” in the Old Testament. In the New Testament when John the Baptist came on the scene he preached to the Nation, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Mt. 3:1-17). The nation was to be ready for their King. Jesus came on the scene and preached, “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Your King has come. He has all the credentials of Messiah. He heals the sick, He raises the dead, He feeds the multitudes. Nature, the animal kingdom all yield to His voice. Jesus sent out His 12 Disciples to preach “The Gospel of the Kingdom.” Jesus then sent out 70 disciples to preach the “Gospel of the Kingdom.” The nation said very clearly, “We will not have this man to reign over us.” The nation rejected, and crucified the Messiah. The Kingdom was here, but they refused. Now, so far, there is no “catching away” in the Old Testament, and there was no “catching away” when Jesus came to earth as the Messiah. Now, you will NOT find the Church in The Old Testament. It is NOT there. You will NOT find the Church in the Gospels. I know that many will not agree with”Church” appears in the Gospel of Matthew 16:18, 18:17. The mention of Church in Mt. 18:17 does not refer to the New Testament Church we have known since Acts 9, Gal. 1:11-24, Eph 3:1-8. When Jesus said, “I WILL BUILD My Church,” (Mt 16:18) the New Testament Church was FUTURE. The New Testament Church is a MYSTERY, a family secret, hidden through the ages, but revealed to Paul. Even the Apostle Peter stated that some of Paul’s preaching was hard for him to understand. (2 Pet 3:10-18). Even though the word “church” (called out assembly) is found in the first 7 chapters of the Book of Acts, this is still NOT the New Testament Church we have known since Acts. 9. The message in Acts 1-7 is a KINGDOM message, (Repent and be baptized) with a KINGDOM economy. In that text, The Messiah is ready to come to earth and set up His Kingdom IF the nation repents, (see Acts 3:19-26). There was no “catching away,” mentioned. This was the message of John the Baptist, and of the disciples. Jesus said, “I WILL BUILD My Church.” (future). After the stoning of Stephen, (Acts 7), Jesus began calling from all nations a people for His Name. A people without hope, and without God. This people, who have said “Yes” to the message of the Gospel of Grace. This people who have believed in the Virgin Birth, Sinless life, Sacrificial death, Bodily Resurrection from the dead, Ascension of Jesus Christ as our Eternal High Priest, and His coming again to receive us to be with Him, This people are called “The New Testament Church. The Rapture is the “Catching away” of this people, The New Testament Church.
2. WHEN IS THE RAPTURE? Again, there are many theories, issues, and ideas about the when of the Rapture. First, I do not believe that we are to be looking for signs of the rapture. Every sign given concerning the coming of Christ are signs that point to His coming back to earth to set up His Kingdom and rule for a thousand years, and not the rapture of the Church. The said thousand years creates many groups, cliques, and even denominations. Among the various groups, let me point out just a few..
(A) Preterist. Meaning past. These believe that Jesus came back in the year 70AD. They believe that Nero was the antichrist, that Christ returned to witness the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. Armageddon happened in 70AD, and that God replaced Israel with the N.T. Church. They believe that Matthew 24 was fulfilled in 70AD. Of course we do NOT agree with any of this doctrine.
(B) Pre-tribulation. These believe that according to the Book of Daniel, ch 9, there are 70 weeks (weeks of years, or 70 x 7= 490 years) concerning ISRAEL and fulfillment of various covenants. 69 of those weeks, or 483 of those years were fulfilled from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem unto the cutting off of Messiah, at Calvary. (Dan 9:20-27). There is a gap between the 69th and 70th week. This gap, an undetermined period of time, includes the age of the Church, and God moving the nations of the world. There remains one more week, or, seven years. This seven years is known as the Great tribulation period. You can find this period spoken of by Christ in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21. Jesus gives the JEWS signs and warnings about this coming period. The Church is NOT included. The Church is NOT on earth at that time. Those of us (including me) who hold to the Pre-tribulation doctrine believe that the Church will be raptured BEFORE the judgment of the tribulation falls upon this earth. I know that some of you do not agree, but that’s alright, you have the right to be wrong.
(C) Mid-tribulation Rapture. These believe that the Church will go through the first half, (three and one half years) of the tribulation. Jesus warned us that no man knows the day or hour. Mid tribulation can be pinpointed almost to the minute. Of course, I do not agree with this view.
(D) Post-tribulation Rapture. These believe that the Rapture of the Church will take place AFTER the tribulation. And I do not agree with any of this view. I believe that you could count Christians left alive at the end of the Tribulation on one hand.
(E) There are those who believe that Jesus will rapture ONLY the ones who are fully prepared and who are looking for His coming.
(F) There are some who simply dismiss the Rapture and call it a “Fly Away”theory. They base their idea on Old Testament passages such as Eze 13:20 which have absolutely nothing to do with the New Testament Church.
The list of ideas, ideologies go on and on. Each of us need to settle this issue, along with all of the great promises of God.
WHEN THE RAPTURE? Any day, any time. Nothing prevents His coming for His Church. There is nothing down here to be fulfilled. He could have come at any time in history. He could come today. That is all in His time, and on His schedule. “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”
3. WHY THE RAPTURE? The Church is NOT in the Old Testament. God made certain promises, covenants He will fulfill in the future. These have nothing to do with the Church. The Church is NOT in the Gospels. The fact that the Rapture of the Church is NOT in these references is due to the fact that the Church was NOT in existence at that time. The Church was future; “I WILL build My Church.” The promises of the Rapture are in the Epistles, or letters to the Church. In those great Epistles are PROMISES. “Behold I shew you a MYSTERY, we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, for the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we (Christians) shall be changed.” (1Cor 15:51) “And to wait for His Son from Heaven, whom He raised from the dead, which delivered us from the WRATH to come.” (1Thess 1:10). “For God hath NOT appointed us to wrath, but to obtain Salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1Thess 5:10) If you read First Thessalonians, you will find that each chapter ends with a Promise of His coming for the Church. WHY THE RAPTURE? Because He PROMISED this to the Church. “Faithful is He that promised.”
I love to study Church history. My heart is moved and melted when I read about the suffering of the saints down through the ages. Countless helpless Christians were burned at the stake for their faith in Christ. John Wycliffe died in 1384 before they could imprison him, but they dug up his bones and burned them. John Hus was burned in 1415. In 1536 William Tyndale was burned alive, as he cried out, “God, open the eyes of the King of England.” John Rogers burned in 1555, John Bradford burned in1556, John Philpot burned in 1557. So many, many more suffered and died to get the Bible to us. As I study those dark days, and the way God preserved His Word for the English speaking people of the world, I cannot help but wonder why so many have forsaken the PRESERVED RECEIVED TEXT and have fallen for this “CRITICAL TEXT” and the so-called need to correct the Bible, (You know, the GREEK says…) All of the old Schools, and Colleges that I know of, that once stood firm on the Fundamentals have gone that way. I thank God for the many new Christian Colleges being built today who boldly state their stand on the Authorized Version, (KJV). I also read recently about Baptist History. Countless thousands were drowned to death simply because they were baptized by immersion. They were called ANABAPTISTS. Millions of saints were drowned, slaughtered, burned, for their faith in Christ. I am speechless as I think about the suffering in Church History. Now the reason why I bring some of these things up is because some think that because they suffered so in the dark ages, so must the Church of the end time suffer. But Jesus said, “For then shall there be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, nor ever shall be.” (Mt 24:21). The judgments of the tribulation will be far worse than anything in the past. God promised to save us from that hour, 1Thess. 5:9. The tribulation period is a “Time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble.” The Church has had 2000 years of tribulation. Just because the Church in our homeland has had relative safety since the founding of this nation, do not overlook the fact that many of our brothers and sisters in foreign lands die for their faith every day.
4. WHO IS THE RAPTURE FOR? The coming of Christ in the air at the Rapture is for His Church. These are they who have believed with the heart the Message of the gospel of Grace. These are the ones whom the Holy Spirit has sealed unto the day of redemption, (Eph 1:13, 4:30). These have defied all human reasoning, and have said, “YES, I believe, I receive Christ.” Isn’t that great! I believe the Bible teaches the imminent return of Christ. Any day, any time He may come for His Church. Again; “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”
5. WHERE IS THE RAPTURE? Where will it take place. Will we have to be in a certain place, will He come while we are in Church? The Rapture is a World Wide event. Believers all over the world, in a moment, will suddenly be changed, and caught up to be with our Lord. Millions all over the world missing. Now, think about this. The antichrist will tell the world a lie, (2Thess 2:9,11). Did it ever occur to you that the lie he tells in order to gain much of his power will be a lie about what happened to the millions of missing people at the rapture. He’s been in the lying business for a long time.
6. THE HOW OF THE RAPTURE. The Bible is very clear. It is done by the Power of God at the Voice of Christ. The worlds were created by His spoken Word, (Gen.1-2) Christ is the very God of Creation, (Col 1:15-19, Heb 1:1-3). And at His voice, the Rapture will take place. “For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout” That shout will penetrate every grave, marked, or unmarked where the body of a saint rests. That shout will echo through this universe. That shout will call His Church home. The arguments pro and con are endless, but check your Bible. What does the Bible (KJV) say? Now, are you ready for the glorious event? If not, you can be. Right now, in your own words, tell Christ, (He is there in the person of the Holy Spirit) tell Him that you believe with all your heart that He died on the Cross for your sin, that you believe that He was buried, and that you believe that He arose from the dead. Tell Him that you, right now, Receive Him as your Personal Saviour. “But as many as received Him to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name.” (Jn 1:12). You can begin TODAY to live FOREVER! May God bless you!
I send Christian greetings to all of our friends out there. Thank you so much for your prayers, your calls, your letters, and of course for every gift. I cannot say thank you enough. I thank God for this Publication Ministry, Born in June, 1976. “Brethren, pray for us.”
WE DO NOT DO DOUBT
Some have a problem with doubt. Some doubt all the time. Most doubt some of the time. If you have a problem with doubt, you are not alone. John the Baptist made the great statement concerning Christ, ” Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” (Jn 1:29) And later on when John was in prison he evidently had doubts, for he sent messengers to ask Christ, “Art Thou He that should come, or do we look for another?” (Mt 11:1-3). Elijah had doubts as he ran from Jezebel. “I even I only am left.” (1Kings 19). Elijah felt that he was all alone. Sometimes doubt makes us feel like that. Some of the disciples doubted at the Resurrection. Jesus said to them , “Oh fools and slow of heart to believe..” (Lk 24:25) And of course who could ever forget our old friend, “Doubting Thomas?”(Jn 20:24-29)
What causes doubt? Of course we have an enemy. We have opposing forces that oppose us every way they can.
SATAN. “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2Cor 2:11) One of the devices or roadblocks Satan casts before us is DOUBT.
Sometimes we doubt the SCRIPTURES. In Genesis 3:1 Satan said to Eve, “Yea, hath God said?” (Gen 3:1). He cast DOUBT on the Word of God. (He’s been doing that for a long time).
Sometimes we doubt our SALVATION. Did God save me? Did I say the right words? Am I worthy to be saved? How can I know for sure? The answer goes back to “What does the Bible say?” If you have asked Christ in to save you, the Holy Spirit will not let you doubt very long.
We doubt SUPPLICATION. Does God really hear my prayer? He always hears the prayer of faith. He does not always answer in the way or time we think He should, but He listens as we pray. He delights in our prayers.
We Doubt the SECOND COMING. Sometimes I am afraid that we are like the ones Peter wrote about; “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days, scoffers walking after their own lusts, and saying where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2Pet 3:3).
On and on the list could go about doubt and it’s causes. SIN causes doubt, Remember David in Psalm 51. Sometimes SICKNESS causes doubt. Believers do get sick. We praise God for good health.
Doubt is the opposite of faith. We get faith from the SCRIPTURES, “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” (Ro 10:17).
God gave us our emotional make-up. All of us are bothered from time to time with FEAR, WORRY, GUILT, TEMPTATION, DEPRESSION, JEALOUSY, etc. These are given FOR us. Just imagine what the world would be like if we did not have these. We would be like emotionless zombies. Or emotional make-up is FOR us. The problem is, none of these are to rule us. When our emotions rule us, the results are tragic.
Picture your emotional make-up as “Caution Lights” When you see a caution light, you automatically slow down and proceed with caution. The light is there to help you. If we begin to mistake a caution light for a red light, then everything stops. So, if doubts are troubling you…
(1). ADMIT YOUR DOUBTS. I mentioned Thomas before. Thomas said very plainly, “I don?t believe it.”
(2). BRING EVERY DOUBT TO GOD. Deal with doubt as you would deal with any sin.
(3). RELY UPON THE POWER OF GOD. “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His Glory with exceeding joy.” (Jude 24) He has power to deliver you from anything that troubles your life. Trust Him.
(4). REST UPON THE PROMISES OF GOD. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” According to the text, every test is a common test everyone faces from time to time. God’s promises are for every believer.
(5). REMEMBER THE PRODUCTS OF GOD. Doubting Thomas was allowed to see Jesus in person simply because he had doubts concerning the Resurrection. Sometimes in our doubts, God does special things for us that our faith is increased. We are not blind to the destructive nature of doubts, but it is not unlike God to use doubt to strengthen our faith. He came to His disciples on the Sea of Galilee in the midst of a great storm (Jn 6:15-21) in the midst of their doubts.
WE DON’T DO DOUBTS, BUT GOD DOES.
“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”James 1:8
By Pastor George Mills
Here I am, between Faith and doubt,
With no way in and no way out,
I must be the man James wrote about,
Always here, between Faith and doubt.
Here I am between yes and no,
Should I stay, or should I go?
Why do I have to worry so,
Always here between yes and no.
My mind’s made up, it’s clear to me,
But perhaps I should wait, until I see,
The way I take, will it be doubt free?
Well, maybe it’s not so clear to me.
I’m in, I’m out, it’s yes, then no,
These doubts just keep me feeling low,
Now I know which way to go!
But then my doubt just tells me no.
Yes, I’m the one James wrote about,
Always there between faith and doubt,
But can it be there is a way out,
Oh yes, I see, I think I’ll shout.
Shout the praise, for One does care,
The One who hears our weakest prayer,
Yes, every doubt I’ll leave just there,
For every doubt does Jesus bear.
I’ll take them to the Throne of Grace,
My doubt to leave at that sacred place,
There with One who has won this race,
My doubt is gone when I seek His face.
THINK ABOUT IT…A Divine Person lives in the body of every believer. Can we do less than live a Holy life for Him? Shouldn’t we give Him our best?
FROM MY HEART
By Mildred Mills
The song says, “Tears Are A Language That God Understands.” I believe that, but I don’t like to cry! I had much rather laugh, and have laughed many times to keep from crying. Nothing wrong with tears, but I don’t like to cry! I love the song; “He Washed My Eyes With Tears,” but I still don?t like to cry.
Whether I like it or not, the Bible says much about tears, and our Dear Lord Jesus wept, so let’s talk about tears for a few minutes.
What brings tears to our eyes? Why do we cry? Number one on our list should be lost souls. We should care enough to shed tears over people that are lost and on their way to hell. The reality of real people on their way to a real hell to burn for eternity should cause us to weep.
We see the results of broken homes, with Dad in one place, and Mom in another place, and the kids all over the place. How sad this is to see, and to shed tears.
Loved ones that refuse to live for the Lord bring us to tears. We watch them flounder around in their own strength and we weep for them. If only they would surrender to the One who is waiting so patiently to help them. The One who is saying, “Come unto Me and I will give you rest. My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” We pray and shed tears for these.
When we see someone hurting physically or emotionally, we are touched and become teary eyed.
We weep over the lack of morals in our homeland.
I think of Godly Pastors as they weep over their flocks as they try to teach, guide, and protect them.
Whatever the case may be, you can be sure of this one thing; our tears do not go unnoticed by our Heavenly Father. “Put Thou my tears into Thy bottle, are they not in Thy Book?”(Ps 56:8)
Regardless of the circumstance,
Regardless of the fear,
Regardless of the pain we bear,
Regardless of the tear.
Our God is ever in control,
Performing as He should,
And He has promised in His Word,
To work things for our good.
But as a loving Father would,
He sometimes lets us cry,
To cleanse the hurt out of our heart,
To wash it from our eye.
Yet gently gathers He the tears,
Within in Hands to stay,
Until He turns them into pearls,
And gives them back someday.
…Glenda Fulton Davis
(The WILDERNESS, October 1998)
AND THE WORLD IS A WILDERNESS,
It is no friend to the Christian. What the world offers is not real. What Heaven offers lasts for Eternity!
THINK ABOUT IT… The WORTHY One came to earth to save Worthless ones, in order that Worthless ones might become WORTHY ones. (Rev 3:4).