The Rapture of the Church, Part 1

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The night our Lord was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, He encouraged the remaining 11 disciples with these words: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2).

Then the Savior made a spectacular promise: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3). The disciples could not have fully understood at that time what the Lord Jesus was referring to. Would it be resurrection from physical death? Yes, this will be part of the event, but every true Jew knew this already (cf. John 11:24—“Martha said to Him, ‘I know that (my brother) will rise again in the resurrection at the last day’ ”). Would it be entrance into the Kingdom at His second coming? No, for He will bring all glorified saints with Him from heaven on that great day (cf. Rev. 19:14).

What our Lord was referring to was much more than bodily resurrection, great though that will be. It will be the glorification of living Christians who will never experience physical death—a “blessed hope” for the true body and bride of Christ, the church, a hope which Israel never shared. It is born-again Christians who are “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Tit. 2:13).

Unique characteristics of the church

While still on the earth, our Lord announced: “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18; cf. 18:17). After His resurrection, the disciples asked Him: “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). He did not deny that the long-awaited Kingdom will come someday. But He did explain that, for now, a new program would begin: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). This would happen “not many days from now”—on the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 1:5,9; 2:1), precisely 10 days after His ascension to heaven. What was this new program? It was the church—the spiritual body and bride of Christ. What was the unique characteristic of this new body? It would consist of people—both Jews and Gentiles—who experience Spirit baptism. As He clearly explained, “John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5). From the beginning of the world people (including Adam and Eve) had been saved by grace through faith in God’s Word and were “born again” (cf. John 3:3). The Lord Jesus told Nicodemus that he, being a teacher in Israel, should have known this (John 3:10). But Spirit baptism had never been known, experienced or even predicted for both Jews and Gentiles in the Old Testament.

As the apostle Paul explained: “By revelation He made known to me the mystery…which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs (with Jewish believers), of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel” (Eph. 3:3-6).

The true church experienced a spectacular beginning—Spirit baptism on the day of Pentecost along with audible and visible sign-miracles. And it will experience a spectacular departure from the earth—physical transformation when Christ comes to receive us to Himself. This is the blessed hope—the glorification and rapture (i.e., catching up) of all living Christians to meet the Savior in the air just before the great tribulation begins on the earth.

[node:bio/john-c-whitcomb body]

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Steve Davis's picture

John C. Whitcomb wrote:
What our Lord was referring to was much more than bodily resurrection, great though that will be. It will be the glorification of living Christians who will never experience physical death--a "blessed hope" for the true body and bride of Christ, the church, a hope which Israel never shared. It is born-again Christians who are "looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Tit. 2:13)

I'm not sure I follow Whitcomb's point here. Even granting that John 14:3 teaches the Rapture (which is not a slam dunk), how can glorification of those from one period in church history be "much more than bodily resurrection?" The experience of which Whitcomb speaks - "Christians who will never experience physical death" - as important and glorious as this is in Whitcomb's understanding of the text, cannot be "much more" than the bodily resurrection of all saints from all ages. It might be much more for those who have the prospect of experiencing it but still this seems to be an exaggeration.

Am I missing something? How much does it matter that some Christians will not experience physical death? Most of us will. Those of the church who preceded us and who thought they would be part of that group weren't. Many who think they might be in our day won't. It will certainly be glorious for those who experience this if Whitcomb's view is correct but I fail to see how it can be much more than what God has prepared for all His people -- re-embodiment and restoration in the new heavens and earth.

Jeff Brown's picture

The point is simple, Steve, and wonderfully expressed by John Whitcomb. 1 Thess 4:15 says, " we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep." In 1 Cor 15:51 "Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed" This is the truth to which Whitcomb says, Jesus was alluding in John 14. It is a very special thought that some will Christians will not have to die. Paul used this truth as a basis to encourage other believers. Obviously Paul believed as he wrote the letter that he could have a future of not having to go through death. 1 Cor 15 says that death is our enemy. The idea of the Rapture obviously thrilled Paul. Wherever you want to put it on a prophecy scheme, the Rapture is that event to which the church looks forward. We ought, as Paul said, talk about it and encourage one another with this truth.

Jeff Brown

Steve Davis's picture

You're starting to sound like Ted. It's all so simple. Yet from the text you quote in I Thessalonians it seems that Paul's encouragement was more than - "some of you might be alive when Jesus comes" - and none of them were. They were encouraged that those who already died would suffer no loss at the coming of Christ. I'm not arguing for or against the Rapture theory. My simple point is that the point that although some may experience not dying that has not nor will not be the experience of most Christians and is not "much more than bodily resurrection" which is for all the saints.

JobK's picture

All of those verses can also be used to refer to the day of the Lord, which incidentally is what Martha is referring to. On the day of the Lord, at the return of Jesus Christ, the Christians who are alive at that time will not die, but instead immediately return to be with Jesus Christ. As for the saints who return with Jesus Christ, what prevents them from being the Christians who have died from the time of Stephen of Acts onward? Nothing in Revelation 19:14 states that those saints must be those who were raptured. As a matter of fact, Revelation 6:9-11, the souls of martyred saints under the altar crying out for vengeance and judgment against the wicked, contradicts this thinking. Is the author taking the position that the martyred souls of Revelation 6:9-11 will not return with Jesus Christ? If so, what Bible text supports that position?

Also, the idea that Christians will be raptured before the tribulation is made problematic by Revelation. Revelation 13:7 says that the beast is given the power to make war against the saints and kill them. Which saints are these? Those who are converted during the tribulation? Well, if the church is gone, who will be converting unbelievers into believers? And where does the Bible say that this will happen? And if the blessed hope referred to in Titus 2:13 has already occurred with the rapture, what is the blessed hope of Christians who get saved after the rapture? If Jesus Christ went to prepare a place for the Christians that are raptured, if that verse applies to the rapture, then who prepares a place for the saints that the beast will overcome, and those who will survive the tribulation and witness the coming of Jesus Christ in the last day? And if 1 Thessalonians 4:15 refers to the rapture, then what verse applies to the Christians who survive the tribulation and are present when Jesus Christ returns?

For we know that Christians will survive the tribulation. Matthew 24:22 and Mark 13:20 state that the tribulation will be cut short specifically so that Christians can survive it. And why is it absolutely necessary for at least some Christians to not be killed by the beast (not to mention the wars, diseases, and natural disasters!) but instead survive tribulation? If the answer is not the promise given in 1 Thessalonians 4:15 that all Christians would not sleep, then what is the reason for cutting the tribulation short for the church's sake? If that is so, then does 1 Thessalonians 4:15 apply both to Christians who are raptured before the tribulation and to those who survive it? If so, why?

There are a multitude of questions about the rapture doctrine that require adequate responses based on the Bible text. Until they are, there is no way to take Bible verses that have for 2000 years been interpreted as applying to the last day (or at the very least the last day before the millennium for those inclined to historic premillennialism, or http://www.northforest.org/Eschatology/ecfChiliasm.html chiliasm ) and to dogmatically insist that they can only be applied to the rapture. Rapture adherents should not declare things to be "obvious" and "simple" when they were neither obvious or simple to any large or sustained group or movement of Christians before the Scofield Reference Bible.

Look, Elmer Towns' claimed in his "Theology For Today" systematic theology tome that the reason why the rapture doctrine was rarely - if ever - heard from or formulated before the 19th century was that the church never seriously studied eschatology before then because there hadn't been any great need to. I am not making this up ... this argument is proposed on page 758 of the copy that I have in my bookshelf, and several pages that follow are dedicated to justifying this argument. Need I remind you that this Towns is perhaps the leading theologian for the world's largest evangelical university, and this is the best explanation that he can provide for why so many Christians from the time of the early church until the Scofield Reference Bible (which Towns references extensively for his systematic theology book!) misinterpreted and misapplied so many key Bible texts for so long. With all due respect to Mr. Towns, his arguments are not persuasive, and I await someone who has better ones.

Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura
http://healtheland.wordpress.com

Ted Bigelow's picture

JobK wrote:
Nothing in Revelation 19:14 states that those saints [who return with Christ ] must be those who were raptured.

Job,

Jesus says in John 14:3 that he goes to prepare a place for us, next, that He will come again, and next, that He will receive us to Himself. That necessitates a rapture in which we go up to Him, not our coming down to earth in battle with Him, as Rev. 19:14 shows. Further, Jesus words in John 14 are all couched in words of comfort, not coming judgment on the ungodly.

Just simple.

Steve Davis's picture

Ted Bigelow wrote:
Jesus says in John 14:3 that he goes to prepare a place for us, next, that He will come again, and next, that He will receive us to Himself. That necessitates a rapture in which we go up to Him, not our coming down to earth in battle with Him, as Rev. 19:14 shows. Just simple.

Ted,

I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with your rapture position (at this point) but John 14:3 only necessitates the Second Coming and the elements specifically mentioned and "necessitates a rapture" - if by that you mean the first of a two phase Second Coming - only when you begin adding disputed pieces of the puzzle. Sure you get rapture in John 14:3 if you already hold to a pre-trib rapture. Otherwise it's not that simple.

Steve

Ted Bigelow's picture

Steve Davis wrote:
Ted,

I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with your rapture position (at this point) but John 14:3 only necessitates the Second Coming and the elements specifically mentioned and "necessitates a rapture" - if by that you mean the first of a two phase Second Coming - only when you begin adding disputed pieces of the puzzle. Sure you get rapture in John 14:3 if you already hold to a pre-trib rapture. Otherwise it's not that simple.

Steve

Steve,

The two phases are simply derived by taking the text at face value. John 14 is about being taken up, phase 1. Rev. 19 is about coming down, phase 2.

JobK's picture

Ted Bigelow wrote:
JobK wrote:
Nothing in Revelation 19:14 states that those saints [who return with Christ ] must be those who were raptured.

Job,

Jesus says in John 14:3 that he goes to prepare a place for us, next, that He will come again, and next, that He will receive us to Himself. That necessitates a rapture in which we go up to Him, not our coming down to earth in battle with Him, as Rev. 19:14 shows. Further, Jesus words in John 14 are all couched in words of comfort, not coming judgment on the ungodly.

Just simple.

First, I cross-referenced John 14 with Revelation 19:14 only because the author of this piece himself did, and it was to that piece that I was primarily responding to. Second, I am sorry, I was imprecise in what I wrote earlier. Yes, John 14:3 necessitates a rapture. 1 Thess 4:15-17 does too, especially when you intepret the harpazō of the latter with the principles of the former. But neither text necessitates a pre-tribulation rapture. That is the issue. There is nothing that prohibits Jesus Christ returning on the last day, the Christians that Jesus Christ in the Olivet discourse prophesied would survive the great tribulation being caught up first, and then the Christians that sleep being resurrected from the dead.

I do agree that the issue of the glorified saints who return with Jesus Christ poses a difficulty. That is a major reason why I cannot reject the rapture doctrine out of hand. (I should point out that some Christians have addressed some of these difficulties by proposing a "partial rapture" based on texts in Revelation 2 and 3, where only the most faithful and fruitful Christians are raptured before the tribulation, and the rest are left for that time of trial.) However, ways of resolving this issue while remaining true to the text exist, and do not require forced extrabiblical notions (that at times rise to the level of Catholic tradition) about such things as how 144,000 Jews who did not believe in Jesus Christ prior to the rapture are going to lead a massive worldwide evangelistic campaign that will win a multitude of converts (Elmer Towns in the Theology for Today book that I referenced earlier predicts that the church will fail to complete the Great Commission and that these Jewish tribulation evangelists will finish the job on our behalf) in an era when the Holy Spirit which works conversion has been taken from the earth (in spite of the promise that the Holy Spirit would never leave the earth while there are believers present) and God has sent a strong delusion precisely to hinder/prevent such conversions (the text in Revelation does not have this massive coming to God, but instead people cursing and blaspheming God despite the global turmoil and their personal misery).

For instance, we know from the Bible text that at least SOME saints are in heaven ... Elijah, Moses (who spoke with Jesus Christ at His transfiguration) and Enoch are examples. Also, based on Revelation 6:9-11 and other texts that give a special place to martyrs, it is very easy to propose that those who die for the faith (including but not limited to during the great tribulation ... please recall that the Christians who die in the great tribulation are seen in heaven with robes in Revelation 7:9-17) are under the altar of Revelation 6:9-11 and will return with Christ to play a part in their own vengeance against the wicked kosmos. So is it possible that those who die in the faith but not for the faith remain asleep waiting for their resurrection? Look at the text of Revelation 6:11 ... it states that those from the time of Stephen (and perhaps prior, as it would also likely include all righteous martyrs from the time of Abel) are given white robes and told to wait and be patient until the last saint to be martyred during the great tribulation dies. At that time Christ will return and avenge them, and it certainly does seem that martyred saints will be counted among those who accompany Him.

Now of course as I stated, this scenario is not without its difficulties, which is why I cannot in good conscience reject rapture doctrines, especially the "partial rapture" one. However, those who adhere to rapture doctrines must use the Bible texts to address the many questions posed by their doctrines, and these answers cannot violate core Christian beliefs (i.e. conversions occurring during the great tribulation without the Holy Spirit).

I think that a major problem is the term "great tribulation" itself. When those Christians who adhere to the rapture deal with the term, it is presented as a time of judgment on the wicked. But that isn't what the word means, at least as it is used in the Bible. When the Bible uses the term "tribulation" it means "trial" or "test." The great tribulation cannot be a trial or test for the world, because it is already known that they are wicked. Instead, the great tribulation will be the period of final trial, temptation, testing, sifting, refining, purifying etc. for the church. Look at what Jesus Christ says to Smyrna in Revelation 2:8-11, and to what He says to the church at Philadelphia in Revelation 3:7-10. (Incidentally, Revelation 3:7-10 is used as a key text by those who teach a partial rapture of the church). Yet how can that be a time of great tribulation for the church if the entire church is raptured out of it, and replaced by this group of believers that can neither be the church (according to the closing portion of the writer's presentation above) or Old Testament Israel? So if the entire church is gone, taken to heaven by the rapture, who is being tested by great tribulation, and what is the purpose of the test? And what body of Bible scripture texts exists that answers these questions.

Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura
http://healtheland.wordpress.com

JobK's picture

Ted Bigelow wrote:
Steve Davis wrote:
Ted,

I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with your rapture position (at this point) but John 14:3 only necessitates the Second Coming and the elements specifically mentioned and "necessitates a rapture" - if by that you mean the first of a two phase Second Coming - only when you begin adding disputed pieces of the puzzle. Sure you get rapture in John 14:3 if you already hold to a pre-trib rapture. Otherwise it's not that simple.

Steve

Steve,

The two phases are simply derived by taking the text at face value. John 14 is about being taken up, phase 1. Rev. 19 is about coming down, phase 2.

As I mentioned earlier, Jesus Christ stated in the Olivet discourse that Christians would survive the great tribulation; that the tribulation would be cut short so that they would survive. So, how does being taken up in John 14 apply to them? The Christians who survive the great tribulation, which will take place after the proposed rapture, will certainly be taken up. But the ideas and the logic being advocated in Mr. Whitcomb's piece does not take the Christians who will endure and survive the great tribulation into account. In tying John 14 to the rapture, he does not take those Christians into account. And if John 14, the 1 Thessalonians text, and similar apply to the rapture, what text does? Because the Christians who survive the tribulation will not be dead, so on the last day, they will not be resurrected.

One is only able to "simply take the text at face value" when the issue of the Christians who will survive the great tribulation are excluded. We can't take the position that the tribulation saints aren't Christians (members of the church) - which is what Whitcomb's piece certainly does seem to imply, particularly in his second section and especially in the final paragraph - because that is at odds with what is said of the believers during the tribulation in Revelation and in the Olivet discourse.

Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura
http://healtheland.wordpress.com

Ted Bigelow's picture

JobK wrote:
First, I cross-referenced John 14 with Revelation 19:14 only because the author of this piece himself did, and it was to that piece that I was primarily responding to. Second, I am sorry, I was imprecise in what I wrote earlier. Yes, John 14:3 necessitates a rapture. 1 Thess 4:15-17 does too, especially when you intepret the harpazō of the latter with the principles of the former. But neither text necessitates a pre-tribulation rapture. That is the issue.

JobK,

You are right, of course, that neither John 14, nor 1 Thess. 4:15-17 necessitate a pre-trib rapture.

However, when you add in 1 Thess 5:1-4, the latter most certainly does, and when you compare John 14 to Rev. 19, it does there as well.

Quote:
I think that a major problem is the term "great tribulation" itself. When those Christians who adhere to the rapture deal with the term, it is presented as a time of judgment on the wicked. But that isn't what the word means, at least as it is used in the Bible. When the Bible uses the term "tribulation" it means "trial" or "test." The great tribulation cannot be a trial or test for the world, because it is already known that they are wicked. Instead, the great tribulation will be the period of final trial, temptation, testing, sifting, refining, purifying etc. for the church.

Job, "testing" can apply to more than the godly. It can refer to the ungodly as well: Psalm 11:4-5, Luke 8:13, Heb. 3:8.

Kevin Miller's picture

JobK wrote:
There is nothing that prohibits Jesus Christ returning on the last day, the Christians that Jesus Christ in the Olivet discourse prophesied would survive the great tribulation being caught up first, and then the Christians that sleep being resurrected from the dead.
So would this view have every single believer being caught up and given a glorified body at the time Christ returns to earth and destroys the unbelievers at the battle of Armageddon? If every single believer has been raptured at this point and been given a glorified body, then who populates the earth during the Millenium? Who rebels at the end of the Millenium? The Pre-trib view has people being saved during the Tribulation and then going alive into the Millenium without glorified bodies, and they have kids during the thousand years. Some of the people born during the Millenium rebel at the end of the Millenium, but if everyone is raptured right before the Millenium, there would be no one to rebel at the end of the Millenium, since everyone would be incorruptible.

Quote:
and these answers cannot violate core Christian beliefs (i.e. conversions occurring during the great tribulation without the Holy Spirit).

Didn't conversions happen in the Old Testament without the indwelling Holy Spirit?

James K's picture

Yes Kevin that is correct. However, the Holy Spirit was still active in the OT times bringing about conversion.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Ted Bigelow's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:
Didn't conversions happen in the Old Testament without the indwelling Holy Spirit?

You might be thinking of John 14:17, "You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you."

The word "you" is plural, and probably refers to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit corporately - in them collectively, i.e., the Church. The indwelling concept is indeed a NT concept, but did occur in the OT, but only with individuals.

James K's picture

The indwelling did indeed occur with certain individuals in the OT.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Jeff Brown's picture

Steve Davis wrote:
You're starting to sound like Ted. It's all so simple. Yet from the text you quote in I Thessalonians it seems that Paul's encouragement was more than - "some of you might be alive when Jesus comes" - and none of them were. They were encouraged that those who already died would suffer no loss at the coming of Christ. I'm not arguing for or against the Rapture theory. My simple point is that the point that although some may experience not dying that has not nor will not be the experience of most Christians and is not "much more than bodily resurrection" which is for all the saints.

Well, Steve, if I sound like Ted I guess it is OK. We don't know each other, but he seems like a decent guy

You sound like you think that never having to die isn't all that significant. I rather doubt that is what you think. But frankly, the idea excites me. The possibility certainly excited Paul and was a significant part of his hope. He calls the appearing of Christ "the blessed hope" (Titus 2:13). Seeing the Lord's return while alive is a part of that hope. I agree with you that Paul was encouraging the Thessalonian believers about those who had died. And that is not to be diminished. The resurrection is the encouraging word to be shared at the death of any believer (and frankly I always do). But Paul also was not saying, "You have to die first to have hope." He was repeating a truth that he had already taught, that when the Lord returned, the dead would rise to meet Him first (i.e. their dead bodies would rise, not their spirits), then those who are alive would rise to meet Christ. This is the great event to which the Church looks forward. We have the hope that if we die, our bodies will be resurrected. But we have more hope than that. We have the hope that the Lord may come before we die. Our great expectation is the return of Christ and seeing Him, which could happen at any time. The resurrection actually happens on the basis of the return of Christ. When Jesus comes, John tells us, "we shall see him" (1 John 2:28-3:3).

"The Rapture" is not a theory. It is very much part and parcel of New Testament eschatology. When exactly it occurs may be a theory, but the Rapture itself is not one. If you want to call it by another name, you may. And John 14:3 is indeed a slam dunk for the Rapture (or whatever name you prefer for the event), which is simply that when the Lord returns, He is coming just for believers, and will recieve them to himself (and yes, of course He will come to judge and to reign, but He says no word of that in John 14:1-6). You and I need to be encouraging other believers with this truth, just as Dr. Whitcomb has done. Paul and John wanted us to do it.

Do most Christians die before the Lord's return? That is an interesting thought. At first glance it seems this must be true. But I am not as quick as you to say this is so. There are multiplied millions coming to personal faith in Christ in S. America, Africa, and Asia these days. If Jesus returned today would there be more dead Christians than living ones? I really can't answer that one. Perhaps a scholar who has statisitics on all genuine believers world wide in the last 2000 years plus a good survey of how many evangelical believers there are today world wide would know. And he would probably need a good mathematecian to help him.

I wish you and anyone else reading this a very blessed New Year in the Lord.

Jeff Brown

Kevin Miller's picture

James K wrote:
Yes Kevin that is correct. However, the Holy Spirit was still active in the OT times bringing about conversion.

Do you have any verses that tell us the Holy Spirit brought about conversions in the Old Testament? I know the Holy Spirit indwelled certain individuals, but I don't remember seeing anything about His role in OT conversions.

James K's picture

In John 3 Jesus rebuked Nicodemus for not understanding how the Holy Spirit brings about conversion. The NC was not yet cut.

Deut 30:6 speaks of being circumcised in heart.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Steve Davis's picture

Jeff Brown wrote:
Well, Steve, if I sound like Ted I guess it is OK. We don't know each other, but he seems like a decent guy

You sound like you think that never having to die isn't all that significant. I rather doubt that is what you think. But frankly, the idea excites me. The possibility certainly excited Paul and was a significant part of his hope. He calls the appearing of Christ "the blessed hope" (Titus 2:13). Seeing the Lord's return while alive is a part of that hope. I agree with you that Paul was encouraging the Thessalonian believers about those who had died. And that is not to be diminished.

"The Rapture" is not a theory. It is very much part and parcel of New Testament eschatology. When exactly it occurs may be a theory, but the Rapture itself is not one. If you want to call it by another name, you may. And John 14:3 is indeed a slam dunk for the Rapture (or whatever name you prefer for the event), which is simply that when the Lord returns, He is coming just for believers, and will recieve them to himself (and yes, of course He will come to judge and to reign, but He says no word of that in John 14:1-6). You and I need to be encouraging other believers with this truth, just as Dr. Whitcomb has done. Paul and John wanted us to do it.

Do most Christians die before the Lord's return? That is an interesting thought. At first glance it seems this must be true. But I am not as quick as you to say this is so. There are multiplied millions coming to personal faith in Christ in S. America, Africa, and Asia these days. If Jesus returned today would there be more dead Christians than living ones? I really can't answer that one. Perhaps a scholar who has statisitics on all genuine believers world wide in the last 2000 years plus a good survey of how many evangelical believers there are today world wide would know. And he would probably need a good mathematecian to help him.

I wish you and anyone else reading this a very blessed New Year in the Lord.

Hi Jeff:

I forgot my smiley when I said you sound like Ted. It was in connection with the "simple." I don't know Ted either but I'm sure he's a good guy. Take it as a compliment Smile

I do think that not having to die is significant just not more than the bodily resurrection. I fully expect to either die or be alive at the Lord's coming. The latter would be preferred. The former possible. I do not live with a daily excitement that I might not have to die. I'd rather live with a daily excitement that I'm alive to serve God at His peasure until the appointed time.

I should've said "pre-trib Rapture" when I spoke of "theory." There are good but not conclusive arguments for a pre-trib Rapture. In most people’s minds Rapture in popular usage is used in connection with the pre-trib position although of course there’s pre-wrath, mid-trib, post-trib, etc. At the point where the Rapture is the first of two phases of the Second Coming it becomes a theory. The Second Coming itself which all Christians affirm is clearly taught in Scripture. The pretrib Rapture may be the hope of many Christians today particularly in North America and among Latin American Pentecostals. It is not the hope of the church worldwide in any sense nor has it been historically. The firm hope of the church is Jesus is coming again.

Don’t know the statistics. It may be that there are more Christians alive today than have lived in the past until now.

Have a blessed New Year and keep looking up. Our redemption draws near.

Steve

Jeff Brown's picture

Please forgive my delayed reply. It took me a while to get back. Your admonition is as good as one could give. I often received it from an older brother in the Lord when I was an undergrad at a state university. So it has a special meaning. I want to encourage you in the same way.

Jeff Brown

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