Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Simple Way to Know that Rapture Stuff is off base

When people ask about the Rapture, there is a lot of fear and nervousness about it. Seriously, if you look at the popular ideas about the Rapture, there's fires and earthquakes and what if the pilot is raptured out of the plane and what if we are left behind...

These are all off base. If you want to get what the "Rapture" is - it's simple. Look at 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. The rapture is simple. When Christ returns, it's going to be big and obvious, and all the faithful from all times and places will be gathered around Christ. Anyone who is alive when Christ returns will be "raptured". It's a good thing.

But I'd recommend paying attention to how people talk about the "Rapture" and the End Times. Do they speak of it as a good thing? They ought, for Paul teaches us this so that we might not be concerned about those who have fallen asleep and that we might comfort one another.

Here is the simple way to know if someone is off base when talking about the Rapture. As St. Paul says, "Encourage one another with these words" when someone uses them to try to scare and terrify you, it's not being used rightly.

8 comments:

Revvin' Rev said...

I have heard Pastor John Hagee use the Rapture to encourage his hearers. There was no good news for his hearers until he brought the Rapture up. I wonder if, in their services and Bible study, the Rapture is viewed as a means of encouragement, but when evangelizing, it's used as a club.

Kathy said...

What about Luke Ch.21 and the other Gospels? Isn't that talking about the end times too?

As a woman in child-bearing age and still having & nursing babies. I can't help but be reminded of: "Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who nurse infants in those days! For there will be great distress in the land, and wrath to this people."

Mike Baker said...

As a child growing up with this teaching, I was horrified by the rapture. I stil have vivid memories of being terrified with sleepless nights even before my teenage years. Anytime I couldn't find my parents I would instantly become terrified that they had been called up to heaven and I had been "left behind".

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Kathy - This goes a touch deeper into this, but you'll note that all the ideas in the Gospels relate not just to some "end" in the future, but they always tie in with two other things - the Crucifixion and the Destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Now, during the Jewish Revolt of 66 which led to the destruction of the Temple - indeed, woe to women who are pregnant and nursing. It was a horrible siege, many reports of mothers who resorted to cannibalism. This is what Christ is referring to.

And of course, with Revelation - it's happened, it's on going, it's a picture of the Church. Might there be wickedness in the future? Sure. . . but we forget the very first verse of Hebrews.

"Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days He has spoken to us by(D) His Son."

These ARE the last day, for Christ has risen and ascended, the temple has been destroyed - He may return at any moment. All has been accomplished. The signs - well, there always are wars and rumors of wars and destruction on the earth - for we are still in a sinful, fallen world, and as long as we see these things we are reminded that we are yet to be rescued from this fallen world.

The end of the World is not a bad thing that we should dread in any fashion -- why would our Lord instruct us "Thy Kingdom Come" if the final coming of His kingdom would be a bad thing?

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Revvin' Rev,

Ah, I will amend. If you are taught that you might "miss" the rapture if you don't "X" then it is off. The rapture is simply the joy of the end of the world for Christian. We get to see Jesus. Great thing.

Dawn K said...

I think Pre-millennial rapture theology in conjunction with decision theology and pietism accounts for a lot of the fear/anxiety. My experience with this doctrine was identical to Mike's. I was never really sure I was REALLY saved as a child/teenager and so was in constant fear of missing the Rapture. The doctrine seemed to give the most joy to people who were convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were going to be Raptured because they had accepted Jesus as their personal Savior.

Mike Baker said...

Dawn,

Exactly! This is why the churches with this combination of beliefs are almost always very shallow. They don't water doctrine down for seekers. They water it down to protect themselves from the truth. Legalism is only fun as long as you don't dig too deeply so that you can remain prideful and secure. You have to distract yourself with practical teachings and emotional experiences so that you don't look beyond the superficial assumptions of pietism.

Once you examine any of it beyond a supperficial level, you instantly become terrified and insecure. The floods come and wash away the sandy foundation. If you examine yourself, you are instantly convicted and fearful of damnation. If you examine the Scriptures, the inconsistencies between God's Word and the teachings of the church will shake your belief system. If you examine your decision or your practices, you are exposed as a failure and a hypocrite.

The only firm foundation is the gospel of Christ cruicified for the sins of the world whereby sinners are saved by faith alone through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

The best prank I ever heard of was at a conservative Christian college that taught the rapture. One of the guys living in the house would often fall asleep in the afternoon... and one day, they faked the rapture. Left piles of clothing in front of unpaused video games and movies... had the sink running. . . left the house, and set one of the computers to send off this loud, ringing bang. Poor kid woke up and thought he had missed the rapture.

Cruel, but still, a wondrous prank.