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July 30, 2012

Could there be a “partial” Rapture?


The simple answer is no. Some teach that only the perfect will be evacuated during the Rapture, but this is contrary to the teaching of God’s Word. Many base this teaching on Hebrews 9:28-“Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation“-saying that the Rapture is only for those who are watching. Such a premise is at odds with the rest of the Bible. We must always keep the study of the Rapture in biblical context. It’s been wisely said that one cannot take a text out of context without creating a pretext. Every verse on the subject must be considered before a valid conclusion can be reached regarding a doctrine.


First John 2:28 tells the other side of the story: “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” This verse begins with the terminology of His appearing and ends with the statement of His coming. It says that when He comes to snatch us into His presence in the twinkling of an eye, there will be many who are ashamed. The conclusion is if they were perfect, they would not be ashamed. So the idea that one must lead a sinless life to be accepted as part of the Body or Bride for the Rapture does not agree with the rest of the Bible.


So let me repeat this important statement. One is not ashamed if he is perfect. Therefore, the imperfect are raptured. The Bible also reveals that there are persons who are saved by fire standing before the Lord (see 1 Corinthians 3:15). They made heaven “by the skin of their teeth,” so to speak. The only way any of us can stand in a perfected state before Jesus Christ in that hour is through the merits of His shed blood. Second Corinthians 5:21 declares, “For [God] hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” This is our only perfection. In addition, the Bible states that every believer is a member of the body of Christ. Should only those who meet a certain standard of spirituality be taken, the body of Jesus Christ would be dismembered and disfigured. This is impossible. First Corinthians 15:51-52 states that “we shall ALL be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump” (emphasis added).


The partial Rapture view, by definition, denies the teaching on the unity of Christ’s body. First Corinthians 12:12-13 says, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” What is the message of this verse? All believers are united together to form the entire body of Christ, who is the head. Perhaps most disturbing, however, is that the partial rapturist must place a segment of the body of Christ in the Tribulation period. We’ve already indicated in several places that this cannot happen. The Body of Christ will have no limbs or organs missing on the glorious day the Rapture occurs.


What relationship exists between the Rapture, the Revelation, and prophetic signs?


What relationship exists between the Rapture, the Revelation, and prophetic signs? Where do they fit into the schedule of events described in God’s Word? Many believers think the signs point to phase one, the Rapture, because they identify the snatching away as the Second Coming of Christ. As we noted earlier, doctrinally speaking, this cannot be so. The actual Second Coming of Christ is the second phase, the Revelation, or the revealing of Christ to the inhabitants of earth. Since He came to earth at His first advent, He must come to earth at His second advent. The Rapture is not Christ’s appearance upon earth, but a meeting in the heavens-an intermediary evacuation of believers from earth before the storm. Seven years later, Christ comes to earth, touching down on the “mount of Olives” (Zechariah 14:4).


The prophetic signs, then, point to Christ’s return to earth with His saints at the close of the Tribulation Hour- not to the Rapture. Here is how you can be assured this interpretation is accurate. Take two Bibles and place them side by side. Open one to Revelation 6, where the signs begin to be fulfilled. Then open the other to Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 17 or 21, where Christ’s prophetic predictions are recorded. The inescapable conclusion is that the signs are identical. The Church is taken in Revelation 4, and the signs take place two chapters later. The signs of Revelation 6 are identical to the predictions of Christ in the four Gospels, proving that the signs Jesus gave point to His revelation, the second phase of the Second Coming. Even if there were not a sign yet in existence, we believers could be called home any moment. This is true because each of the signs could occur during the seven-year period following the believers’ departure. Remember, the signs point to Christ’s Second Coming to earth (Revelation 19).


I believe we may go to be with our Lord at any moment because Jesus said, “When ye shall see all these things [signs-not one, not two, but all the signs occurring simultaneously], know that it is near, even at the doors” (Matthew 24:33). What is near when a person sees all the signs occurring? Christ’s return to earth, the Revelation, phase two. When this happens, all believers will return with Him. All the signs pointing to the return of Christ with His saints- the return of the King with His armies-are already in their beginning stages. Thus, the signs say that we, too, are coming back with the Lord soon. How can this be as long as we are still present on earth? There is but one logical conclusion. We must be removed soon through phase one, the Rapture, to return with Christ, via phase two, the Revelation.


What differences are there between the Rapture And the Revelation?


The Rapture


We referred to this earlier, but because it remains one of the most misunderstood areas of end-time teaching, I want to deal with it in depth, buttressed by key passages of scripture, to give you a clear distinction between the two events. Many believers are unaware that there are two stages or phases within the process of the Second Coming-the Rapture and the Revelation-and that these events are separated by a seven-year period. I believe the Rapture is the next occurrence on God’s calendar. This Rapture is the literal, visible, and bodily return of Christ in the heavens. Acts 1:9-11 states: “And when he [Jesus] had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”


Has Christ already returned? Some cultists declare that He came in 1914 or 1918 as an invisible spirit. This is nonsense! The Bible declares that Jesus shall return as He left. A person can easily know how He left by studying Luke 24:39. Christ, in His new, resurrected body, said, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” He adds in verse 41, “Have ye here any meat?” The disciples gave Christ a piece of broiled fish and honeycomb, which He took and ate before them (w. 42-43). The risen Savior had a body of flesh and bones-a body that could be seen, touched, and fed. This same Christ, in the same body, shall come in like manner from heaven. When He returns in the heavens, all believers, dead and living, will also be taken bodily to meet Him in the clouds. One day soon, the people of God will disappear from the earth in a blaze of glory.


As a new Christian, I painted a message on the glove compartment of my automobile. It said, “The driver of this car is awaiting the return of Christ. At His coming, Christians will disappear bodily from the earth. Should I suddenly vanish, take over the steering wheel!” I can still remember the look on the faces of hitchhikers as they read my startling message. Some of them declared, “Hey, buddy, the next corner is as far as I go!” It was true then, and it is true today: The unsaved world has great difficulty accepting the glorious teaching of the Rapture. The Christian accepts by faith the declarations of the Word of God concerning this glorious subject. First Thessalonians 4:16-18 states, “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 shall 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.”


Verse 14 declares that when Christ comes at the time of the Rapture, He will bring those who sleep (the dead) with Him. At this point, someone may state, “Look here, I’ve found my first contradiction in the Bible. How can Christ bring the dead with Him (v. 14) and come after the dead (v. 16)?” There are no contradictions in the Word of God. Instead, it is the finite, limited intellect of human beings who are unable to grasp the infinite, unlimited mind of the omniscient God. If one is led by the Holy Spirit and studies under His direction, the so-called contradictions fade into obscurity.


How can Christ bring the dead with Him in verse 14 and come after the dead in verse 16? Here is the solution: When a believer dies, his spirit and soul enter the presence of God, but the body goes into the grave. “To be absent from the body [is] to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). This soul, absent from the body, is with Christ until the great day when body, soul, and spirit are reunited at the coming of Jesus. So, Christ brings the dead (the soul and spirit) with Him in verse 14 to come after the dead (the body) in verse 16. When “the dead rise first,” it is the body-only the body-that comes out of the grave to be reunited with the soul and spirit descending with Christ from heaven.


If the Lord comes to receive the bodies of the dead in Christ, will He leave the bodies of the living in Christ behind? If this were the case, the wisest thing to do at the sound of the trumpet would be to commit suicide. This, however, is not the case. The Bible declares, “The dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them [the dead] in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (w. 16-17). Thus, we see that the Rapture is a bodily resurrection for the dead and living who are in Christ, or who are born again.


The entire occurrence is going to take place in half a blink: “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [be dead], 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 shall be changed. For this corruptible [the dead] must put on incorruption, and this mortal [the living] must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53). In this moment of time, we take upon ourselves immortality and are transformed to be like Jesus. First John 3:2 reports, “[When we see Jesus] we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” Philippians 3:21 verifies that our bodies will be changed as we enter into God’s presence in whirlwind style. These verses remind us our citizenship is in heaven, where we also look for our Savior, the One who shall change our vile body and fashion it like unto His own glorious body.


There are still those who say, “I don’t believe in the Rapture, because the word rapture cannot be found in the Bible.” Matter of fact, the word Bible cannot be found in the Bible either, but this does not disprove the Book’s existence. Terms are coined regularly to portray the experiences they picture, and, to review, the word rapture comes from the Latin word rapturo or rapio, which means “a snatching away.” The passages above offer proof enough that the Bible teaches a snatching away. Thus, since God tells us there shall be a snatching away, and since rapturo translated from Latin to English means “a snatching away,” only the willfully ignorant reject such a clear-cut term to describe the first phase of the Second Coming of Christ. Here is an interesting sideline. Jerome, when creating the Catholic Latin Vulgate version, was the first to use the term rapturo for the snatching away of 1 Corinthians 15:52. Hence, the Catholic Church is literally responsible for this glorious term.


The Revelation


The second phase of the Second Coming, described as “the Revelation,” will take place seven years after the Rapture. Again, the term revelation is a coined word, picturing the truth it depicts. Revelation comes from the word revealing. When Christ returns to earth, He will reveal Himself to all inhabitants of the globe. Hence, this event is called the Revelation or revealing of Christ. Revelation 4:1 describes phase one of the return of Christ, while Revelation 19:11 depicts phase two. Fix these two chapters firmly in your mind, and prophecy will become a stabilized blessing in your life. The “come up hither” of Revelation 4:1 is the Rapture, the meeting in the air. The appearance of the rider on the white horse and His armies in Revelation 19:11 is the revelation of Jesus Christ. Chapter 4 removes the believer from the judgments described in chapters 6-18, while chapter 19 restores him to his earthly sojourn after the judgments are completed. Chapter 4, depicting the Rapture, occurs before the seven years of tribulation described in chapters 6-18, and chapter 19 describes the return of the King and His people, after the horrendous catastrophes of chapters 6-18 occur. We know this to be true because the Book of Revelation is written chronologically, with the Tribulation Hour taking place in chapters 6-18. Four precedes six, and nineteen follows eighteen. It’s that simple. The Church is removed in chapter 4, and the Tribulation follows in chapters 6-18. Then the saints return at the conclusion of the Tribulation Hour in chapter 19.


In addition. Revelation 3:10 states, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from [not through (preservation) but from (the Greek-ek-OUT of)] the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” This will be the world’s most terrifying hour. All the wars of the past will look like Sunday school picnics in comparison. Jeremiah 30:7 says, “Alas, for that day is great, [there is none] like it.” Daniel 12:1: “There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time.” Joel 2:1-2: “Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness … there hath [never] been … the like.” Jesus said in Matthew 24:21, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” When it occurs, fiery incineration will engulf the globe: “The lord will come with fire” (Isaiah 66:15). “The flaming flame shall not be quenched” (Ezekiel 20:47). “A fire devoureth before them” (Joel 2:3). “The whole land shall be devoured by the fire of his jealousy” (Zephaniah 1:18). “Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth” (Zechariah 14:12). “The third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up” (Revelation 8:7). “By these three was the third part of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone” (Revelation 9:18).


The Tribulation Hour lies just ahead for the human race. The saved will be removed before it begins. They are described as taken in Revelation 4:1, and they experience the judgment seat of Christ before the chapter ends. In fact, we find them placing crowns (their rewards) at the feet of the Savior in verses 10 and 11-two chapters before the Tribulation period begins. This is proof that the saved are safe and secure when the judgments begin in chapter 6. Then, when the blitzkrieg ends in chapter 18, the saved return with Christ as He appears to the inhabitants of the earth and becomes their King.


Revelation 19:11-16 gives us a glimpse of the momentous event: “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”


This is the revealing of Christ to the nations. At His revelation, every eye will see His glory. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him” (Revelation 1:7). The armies following Him from heaven to earth are the saints who were removed from the earth in Revelation 4:1. They were evacuated before the great holocaust began. They are the same crowd mentioned in Jude, verse 14: “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.” The Hebrews and Greeks had no terminology to describe millions, billions, trillions, quadrillions, etc. They simply said, “ten thousands.” Thus, the innumerable company of saints following the Lord to earth are the redeemed.



FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE

We want to continue this week looking and the remaining two truths from Psalm 139.


Cooperating with the Designer


A second truth from Psalm 139 is that God knows us. In fact, He knows everything that can be known about us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. The psalmist wrote:


O Lord, thou has searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou has beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it (verses 1-6).


One reason we, as human beings, are so concerned with externals is that much of what we can see of others is what shows from the outside. God, however is not so limited. The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Yes, God knows all the secrets of our hearts, all our thoughts, all our desires, and all our feelings. He knows some terrible things, doesn’t He? In addition, if we understand that God is holy and hates sin, the fact that He knows everything about us can become even more frightening, for all of us are guilty of sin. We cannot keep the deepest secrets of our hearts hidden from God-He knows them.


Nevertheless, despite our secret sins, God reaches out to us in love. The corruption of our hearts does not change His compassion and care for us. The wonderful truth is that He offers His forgiveness, continuing love, and salvation unconditionally to all those who will trust Him. He could deal with us as enemies, but He chooses to love us.


Please don’t misunderstand me. I do not believe that self-acceptance is the same as self-indulgence. True self-acceptance does not mean that we abandon ourselves to our faults or that we blind ourselves to our character flaws. Rather, it means that we recognize them for what they are-sin-confess them, and determine to cooperate with God’s work in conforming us to His image. Does that sound difficult? Then remember Dee Jepson’s statement that when we do this the responsibility transfers to God.


Notice the promise of 2 Corinthians 5:17-Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [or creation]; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. What a blessed truth. We can be like the Lord because of His work within us!


Companionship that satisfies


A final truth from Psalm 139 is that God is with us. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee (verses 7-12).


How marvelous to know that God, having made us, did not simply abandon us to ourselves! What assurance there is in knowing that He didn’t just create the universe, set things in motion, then walk off and leave it to whatever fate lay ahead! God wants to be with us, fellowship with us, commune with us, know us, and have us know Him intimately. This, apart from anything else we say or do or become, gives each of us tremendous value.


Nothing gives me more confidence than the knowledge that God is with me. I could not have sung before thousands, travel as I have done, or appeared in front of the television cameras for an international weekly program without the knowledge that God is with me and that He has called me and is empowering me to do what I am doing.


Each of us, you see, is a bit like Moses, who had a definite self-image problem. Perhaps he had it because his first attempt to lead the Israelites ended in incredible failure-he killed a man, was publicly humiliated, had to give up his position of status and wealth, and spent forty years on the back side of the desert thinking about it. Talk about being baffled, bewildered, and befuddled! How miserable he must have been. Then God appeared to him in a burning bush and called him to confront Pharoah on behalf of the children of Israel.


Moses, his ego wounded from his previous failures, didn’t think he had what it would take to speak for the Lord. He protested, I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue (Exodus 4:10). God answered him, I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say (verse 12). What an incentive to service that must have been! God himself promised not only to be with Moses but to give him guidance and instruction as well. He promises the same to you and me.


Yes, the God who made us and knows all about us wants us to know Him in His fullness. That is why He has revealed himself through His Word. He wants us to walk with Him, to enjoy His presence, to draw on His strength, and to lean on Him in times of uncertainty and pain. His promise is, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Hebrews 13:5).


In the early days of our ministry, there were times when I was very sick and weak. I can remember getting out of bed to sing in meetings and then, later, returning to bed with heavy medication. Sometimes the pain was so excruciating that I did not feel I could sing another note. Yet, when I was weak, the Lord sustained me. When I was tired, He strengthened me. When I hurt, He comforted me. I could never have done it in my own strength. Through those experiences, I learned the same truths Paul discovered during his ministry-God’s grace is sufficient. His strength is most powerful in the midst of our weaknesses.


Most of all, I learned that God made me the way He did for a purpose. If I had been given the opportunity to choose my characteristics as a minister’s wife, I probably would have asked for a tremendous amount of stamina and physical strength. I would have requested perfect health and unlimited abilities. God, in His infinite wisdom, did not make me that way. Instead, He has used my weaknesses to amplify His strength.


My heart aches for those who are not satisfied with themselves. I wish they knew the satisfaction of resting in the confidence that God made us, He knows everything about us, and He is with us. Ultimately, you see, the person who rejects himself is really rejecting the God who made him the way he is. For such a person, there is no hope of true satisfaction, but instead he will remain baffled, bewildered and befuddled.



CHANGED LIVES-one at a time

Jack and Rexella,


I had strayed away from God, and yet I watched your problem every week. And as I watched your problem and after the Holy Spirit spoke to me. I would think about what you said, and what I knew. Two weeks ago I asked God to forgive me of my sins and to take control of my life. Immediately Satan began to begin his attack on me to keep living the way I had been living, but I said get the behind me Satan, God is in control. I’m 50 years ago, and I remember when I was growing up that my pastor said not to believe what he said unless it was in the Bible. You are true to God’s word. I thank God for you and what He is doing through you.


G. M.

 


I just want to express to you, how much i enjoy your TV show; even though I see it more often on my computer. You both make such great contributions in teaching and explaining the Word of God to all of us. And it is so refreshing to hear a Pastor actually make a stand and “tell it like it is” even when it is not "politically correct” or any other man-made garbage to justify the arrogance of man.


Just know that there are lots of us who listen to and learn from you Jack. It amazes me how you have memorized the Bible. You both are wonderful!!!


Praying that God keeps you safe and in good health.


Sincerely,


G. M. B.



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