Thursday, 14 May 2015

Does the bible teach a 'rapture' of the saints? Part 4

What has been termed ‘rapture’ is actually the resurrection and the book of Revelation calls this the ‘First Resurrection’. After the antichrist’s time is up, Christ shall descend and the dead in Christ shall rise first. This word ‘rise’ seems to suggest some sort of levitation but it actually means coming back to life. It has been translated form the Greek word ‘anistēmi’ which means to rise from the dead. 1 Thessalonians 4: 16. This also echoes Paul exhortation in 1 Corinthians 15

51 But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. 53 For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. 54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? 1 Corinthians 15

Another set of words that seems to lean weight to the notion that there is a rapture are the words ‘clouds’,  ‘caught up’ and ‘air’ in 1 Thessalonians 4. Even though it never mentions anything about believers being taken into heaven people just assume it does.

15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.[g] 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.

The word ‘cloud’ here is used figuratively to refer to the Old Testament witnesses. Hebrews 11 also mentions them. The dead in Christ will come to life and be transformed and those who are alive will also be transformed and both shall join the ‘clouds’ of Old Testament witnesses and all shall meet the Lord in the ‘air’. This word ‘air’ refers to inhabited part of the earth that contains the air we breathe and does not refer to the sky. It has been translated from the Greek word ‘aēr’ which means ‘the air, particularly the lower and denser air as distinguished from the higher and rarer air’.

The word ‘caught up’ has been translated form a Greek word ‘harpazō’ which means ‘to seize, carry off by force’. This same word was used by Jesus to describe how people gain access to God’s kingdom.

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. Matthew 11: 12

It is different from the word ‘taken’ in Matthew 24 which I mentioned earlier refers to ‘associating with’

Satan will then be bound for 1000 years while Christ and the church rule during that time.

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit[a] and a heavy chain in his hand. 2 He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for a thousand years. 3 The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while. 4 Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.) 6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years. Revelation 20

After the 1000 years is over Satan will be released again and shall lead his armies in a fight against God but will eventually be bound and thrown into the lake of fire. And those who were not part of the first resurrection will come to life and be judged according to all they’ve done. Death and hell will be thrown into the lake of fire which is the second death as well as those whose names are not found in the book of life.
7 When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. 8 He will go out to deceive the nations—called Gog and Magog—in every corner of the earth. He will gather them together for battle—a mighty army, as numberless as sand along the seashore. 9 And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God’s people and the beloved city. But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them. 10 Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.11 And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. 12 I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave[b] gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. 14 Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. 15 And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20

After this we will have a new heaven and a new earth.

I wouldn’t claim to know the fine detail of events that will happen prior to Christ’s return such as the rise of the ‘one world government’ or who is the antichrist. I’ve often notice that those who claim to ‘know’ such granularity, then to always provide a date for His return and are always wrong.

However, in my opinion rather than try to finger out who is likely to be the antichrist and which countries will spearhead this and so on why not just focus on Christ. Why not be like Paul who decided to press on for the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let’s press on to know God more and become more like Christ as this will enable us identify any false christs however subtle.

We are currently being bombarded by false teachings anyway and it will take a discerning mind to identify them. That is enough trouble in itself.

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