updated October “rapture” ahead, I think it would do Christians some good to examine what the bible says about the whole “left behind” theology.
I have several reasons for holding the position I do, but I’ll only comment on what I believe are the top-3 persuasive passages that do not support a secret rapture. Note: I call it “secret rapture” because that’s essentially what dispensationalists have deemed it to be…that a “thief in the night” will secretly whisk away Christians while the world is left in chaos. Not only that, but “secret rapture” is easier to write and understand than “dispensationalism.”
FIRST: Matthew 13:24-30 – The parable of the Weeds / Wheat & Tares
“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.”
A few points worth noting, and then we’ll add the second passage. First, the weeds and the wheat grow together (obviously) until the time of harvest. Second, come harvest time, BOTH the weeds AND the wheat are gathered; the timing is precisely together, not separate! Third, while harvesting both, it is the weeds that are bundled first, and there is no indication of a “whisking away” of the wheat (Church).
SECOND: John 5:28-29 – After speaking about life through Jesus Christ, Jesus moves on to teach about resurrection:
“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”
Now let’s connect this passage with the previous one and then add the 3rd and final passage. First, note that Jesus says a time is coming when ALL who are in their graves will rise. This applies not only to believers, but to unbelievers as well. Second, when connected with harvest time in Matthew, it is plain that ALL people will be harvested at one time, both the living AND the dead.
“I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will no all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.”
Finally, combining the three passages, we see there is one trumpet, one harvest, in these concluding thoughts. First, while Paul has believers in mind when he refers to the “perishable and imperishable”, we often limit the application to believers only. Other biblical passages comment that believers and unbelievers alike will exist eternally – either in eternal condemnation, or eternal life (see Revelation). Therefore, this passage about exchanging the perishable (bodies) for the imperishable (souls) not only applies to believers, but also to unbelievers. Second, these connections are critical because “left behinders” have narrowly applied the “moment / twinkling” statement to apply solely to a “secret rapture” of the Church. Instead, Paul connects the testimony of Jesus in Matthew and John with his own statements about judgment, that ALL – both dead AND alive, believers AND unbelievers – will be harvested and sorted, if I may.
CONCLUSION: Sadly, the notion of a secret rapture in the Christian Church in America is so prevalent that someone who professes not to believe it is considered a near-heretic. “What do you mean you don’t believe in the rapture? You don’t want Jesus to return for His bride?” I do, but it is fundamentally different than what many pastors teach today. I don’t know precisely what eschatology God has in mind, but I am convinced it is not the “left behind” version. I am more convinced that it will all happen at once, rather than a rapture followed by (or even in the midst of) a period of “tribulation.”
What say you?