I reject the “rapture” theory as posed by dispensationalists / “left behind” theologians, but instead support a once-and-for-all final second coming of the Messiah to judge the world.  With May 21, 2011 firmly behind us, and the 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.

THIRD: 1Cor15:50-53

“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?


  1. Wow, never saw it light that! Excellent points!!!! Wow, thanks! Something to study further for sure.

  2. This was one of those topics I was long in changing my mind over. I had grown up in a church that only preached a secret rapture, and had never heard any other view except that they were all "evil" The church I now attend has a similar outlook. It's troubling to me that so many Christians (especially pastors) are not very willing to consider other views on secondary issues like eschatology. We need to be hard and fast on the core doctrines, but open to dialogue on these secondaries. I recommend "End Times Fiction", by Gary Demar, if you'd like to study it in depth. He also has a website called, "American Vision"...I have a link on the sidebar of my blog for ease of access.

    God bless you!

  3. Certainly towing the party line. I know this is the thought of the Reformers and reformed.

    They really aren't excellent points and really do not need any thinking upon.

    As much as I love and respect you brother and value your friendship, this is an area we will have to I hope have grace in our disagreement. I am not a dispensationalist, but I took believe that a literal reading of scripture in this area leads one to conclude, as the early church did in an immenent catching away of the bride.

    I won't break fellowship over this issue. Sorry for the spelling.

  4. Gregg,

    I always appreciate your feedback. I have a couple responses to your email.

    1) I'm not towing any particular "party line", believe it or not. I once believed as you do, up until about 4 or 5 years ago. After much research into the many eschatological views, a secret pre-trib rapture just doesn't seem to fit. I study and read from MacArthur's study bible, and he preaches a rapture. But I completely disagree with him, and you and I know MacArthur is just about as reformed as they come. That's one of the nice things about not needing to fit into a particular (denominational) system...I can carefully weigh all views and not be painted into a corner on the peripheries!

    2) I understand you may not think they are "excellent points", and I'm ok with that. I was in your position once, but I was indifferent about wanting to learn anything else. Is it possible you feel the need to keep hoping for the secret rapture because that's the way you've always known it to be taught? I came to acknowledge that I read the rapture into the pages of scripture, but I had to admit I just didn't see it there. I finally gave up fighting what I could no longer defend. You will see the light one day, my brother! hahahaha

    3)You and I can disagree and not divide on this because you and I each know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is not a core doctrinal issue. Sadly, the church I attend has this very view as a core issue (which is partly why I posted it, given the "Judgement Day" conversation). If a person disagrees with the "secret rapture", that person is not eligible for "membership" at this body (but you already know my position about the "membership" issue). I personally choose not to divide over it because I love my brothers and sisters there. I simply hope to open peoples' eyes and minds to other possibilities. Wouldn't you think it is incredibly divisive to command "towing the line" on a peripheral issue such as this? It basically says, "You must agree with us even on the peripheral issues, or you cannot belong with us." I say, "If you really desire unity, you will present other positions and their possibilities -- along with each position's pro's and con's -- and allow people to possess different views -- but only in regards to these peripheral issues and not the core issues."

    4) I, too, look forward to that great day of the coming of my Lord to finally take me home. I just don't see in scripture that that timeframe includes a rapture followed by a tribulation followed by another coming followed by followed by followed by. I see the events coming together all at once.

  5. Yes, I will not die on this hill nor will I break fellowship over this. Nor will I make it a criteria for membership. That is sad. I can see the Elders needing to be on the same page, but a member?

  6. Thought provoking to say the least. Most importantly, I love the way you and Gregg will not let this divide true fellowship. That, more than anything else blesses my soul. Thank you both. For at times like this, when we damage one another over issues so complex, so often "unknowable", we damage the body of Christ. It is like cutting our own flesh back and forth and your gentleness, and obvious live for one another inspires. Great blogs guys. Keep it up.

  7. Alan,

    Thank you for your feedback. I agree with you completely! It is a good thing when we can sharpen our swords together on issues that need not divide us. Gregg is a brother whose opinion and position I admire. Sadly, in my younger days, issues like these were sources of much consternation for me. I have grown much after having hurt others much, and I have grown to enjoy the dialogue even more now!

    Thank you again!

  8. This comment box doesnt lend itself to HTML links. Here's the above link

  9. Anonymous12:00 AM

    [wonderful blog, Mike. saw this goodie on the net. Keith]


    How can the “rapture” be “imminent”? Acts 3:21 says that Jesus “must” stay in heaven (He's now there with the Father) “until the times of restitution of all things” which includes, says Scofield, “the restoration of the theocracy under David’s Son” which obviously can’t begin before or during Antichrist’s reign. ("The Rapture Question," by the long time No. 1 pretrib authority John Walvoord, didn't dare to even list, in its scripture index, the too-hot-to-handle Acts 3:21!) Since Jesus can’t even leave heaven before the tribulation ends (Acts 2:34, 35 echo this), the rapture therefore can't take place before the end of the trib! (The above verses from Acts were also too hot for John Darby - the so-called "father of dispensationalism" - to list in the scripture index in his "Letters"!)
    Paul explains the “times and the seasons” (I Thess. 5:1) of the catching up (I Thess. 4:17) as the “day of the Lord” (5:2) which FOLLOWS the posttrib sun/moon darkening (Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20) WHEN “sudden destruction” (5:3) of the wicked occurs! The "rest" for "all them that believe" is tied to such destruction in II Thess. 1:6-10! (If the wicked are destroyed before or during the trib, who'd be left alive to serve the Antichrist?) Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the posttrib end of “death” (15:54). (Will death be ended before or during the trib? Of course not! And vs. 54 is also tied to Isa. 25:8 which is Israel's posttrib resurrection!)
    Many are unaware that before 1830 all Christians had always viewed I Thess. 4’s “catching up” as an integral part of the final second coming to earth. In 1830 this "rapture" was stretched forward and turned into a separate coming of Christ. To further strengthen their novel view, which the mass of evangelical scholars rejected throughout the 1800s, pretrib teachers in the early 1900s began to stretch forward the “day of the Lord” (what Darby and Scofield never dared to do) and hook it up with their already-stretched-forward “rapture.” Many leading evangelical scholars still weren’t convinced of pretrib, so pretrib teachers then began teaching that the “falling away” of II Thess. 2:3 is really a pretrib rapture (the same as saying that the “rapture” in 2:3 must happen before the “rapture” ["gathering"] in 2:1 can happen – the height of desperation!).
    Other Google articles on the 181-year-old pretrib rapture view include “Famous Rapture Watchers,” "Pretrib Rapture Diehards," “X-Raying Margaret,” "Edward Irving is Unnerving," “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” "Walvoord Melts Ice," “Wily Jeffrey,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism,” “Scholars Weigh My Research,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy," “Deceiving and Being Deceived,” and "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty" – all by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” (see Armageddon Books).