Rapture versus Resurrection
The idea that the church will be raptured out of this world at the end of this age was first introduced into Christian teaching in the latter part of the nineteenth century by John Nelson Darby (18 November 1800 – 29 April 1882), an Anglo-Irish evangelist, and an influential figure among the original Plymouth Brethren. This teaching then gained wide acceptance through the teachings of Dr C I Scofield. This doctrine was not taught by any of the early church fathers; as a matter of fact, the word rapture is not even in the Bible.
The idea of rapture, however, has great appeal, for such is to be preferred over the idea of one being able to enter the Kingdom of God only through much tribulation!
The fact that early apostles of the church understood that it is through much tribulation, is clearly seen in Acts 14:21,22:
And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”
A popular teaching is that the Gentile church will be raptured out, and that a Jewish remnant will remain here on earth to usher in the one thousand year reign of Christ over the nations. The Scripture plainly states, however, that the church is neither Jewish nor Gentile, but that God in Christ has broken down the middle wall of partition, for to make in Himself of the twain one new man! He did this that He might reconcile both unto God in one body (Eph. 2:14-16)! Therefore there is not a Jewish church and a Gentile church! There are not two bodies of believers; there is only one! This is plainly seen as well in Eph. 4:4, There is one body, and one spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling. We read in Galatians 3:27,28:
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, their is neither bond nor free, their is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
From the prayer of Jesus in John 17:15 we can also see that it is not God’s intention to rapture the church out of the world: I pray not that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from evil one.
The church is sown in corruption (ie, this world, for as 1 John 5:19 states: …the whole world lies in wickedness…) that it might be raised in incorruption (1 Cor. 15:41). We can see therefore that the way up or out is not rapture, but resurrection! What the church need to bring it up into incorruptibility and out of mortality into immortality is not a geographical change from earth to heaven, but rather a change of what we are. A change from being mortal, corruptible, earthy, to being immortal, incorruptible, heavenly! That this change takes place in resurrection is clearly taught in 1 Cor. 15:49-54:
And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God: neither does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkle 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 must put on incorruption, this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory.
The last enemy of the church to be destroyed is death (1 Cor. 15:26). We can see that it is only by the means of resurrection that death is overcome!
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