THE RAPTURE QUESTION
SO SHALL WE EVER BE WITH THE LORD
"Then we...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." 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
If the catching up into the clouds of the air is to be a literal event, then we might find ourselves in a peculiar situation. Note the word ever comes from the Greek word pantote which means always. It is telling us where we will be forever, which will be with the Lord (this is good) but that locality is not so good, for literally speaking, it would be in the cold clouds of earths atmosphere, to never leave. This would definitely produce some problems — not only would we become very damp and bored after awhile; but there are some scriptures we would have to ignore or remove entirely from our Bibles. Three come to mind: "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." "And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations...." "And He...showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem (the bride), descending out of heaven...." Revelation 5:10, 12:5 & 21:10.
If we are to always remain in the sky, never to return, then there would be no way for us to ever reign on the earth; the nations which are upon the earth would never be righteously ruled by the sons of God; nor would the bride of Christ ever descend, that is, be revealed and manifest God's glory. But since 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 is not speaking of natural things, we will not be eternally locked in the natural cloudy skies from which our rain comes! We will, however, be forever in His company with His body which is His great cloud of witnesses, those who are as He is. We will be eternally in the conscious presence of our wonderful Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Now that, dear ones, is something to comfort one another with, as we are told to do in the concluding verse of this promise to the saints. 1Thessalonians 4:18.
IN THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE
Let us notice something Paul said that has been used to support the rapture teaching: "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." 1 Corinthians 15:52.
With this, we will also note the expertise of J. Preston Eby:
"...'Twinkling' is from the Greek word RHIPE meaning `a jerk' of the eyes. RHIPE is from the root RHIPTO, a word which indicates a sudden motion; to hurl with a rapid movement; a stroke; to toss; to fling. The twinkling of an eye relates not so much to time as it does to the ACTION and MOTION involved. It is not a question of how quickly the eyelids flutter, but the fact of a movement, a jerk, a change of direction, a SUDDEN REFOCUSING OR LOOKING AWAY. If I were reading a book and I heard the door open, I would swiftly dart my eyes in the direction of the door to see who is entering. I would LOOK AWAY from the book and quickly REFOCUS my sight on the person coming through the door. This abrupt motion, this sudden refocusing of vision, this rapid change of eye contact is what is indicated by the Greek word RHIPE.
"When our attention is unexpectedly attracted by a sudden burst of revelation and spiritual understanding there is that instantaneous `turning away' from our former concepts, beliefs, actions and ways, to behold and embrace the truth and glory of God disclosed by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This sudden change in perspective, this immediate transformation of consciousness satisfies precisely the meaning of the Greek phrase — `in the twinkling of an eye.' It bespeaks vision, illumination, understanding, perception and perspective. Furthermore, it has absolutely nothing to do with a so called `rapture of the saints,' or the `second coming of Jesus.' Plainly and unquestionably it concerns O-U-R CHANGE, O-U-R TRANSFORMATION into the image of Christ. It says nothing about us being 'raptured' in the twinkling of an eye; what it does say is that 'W-E SHALL BE CHANGED in a moment (in atoms), in the twinkling (re-focused vision) of an eye.' Yet the preachers loudly proclaim on the basis of this verse that Jesus will return in a split second, and the saints will in a flash of time travel a trillion miles of miracle at the Rapture. It is as pure a myth as ever entered the brain of man!" — End quote.
You see, we will not be whisked off the earth to be changed. There will be no bursting open of our graves some glad day beyond the ages that will produce the change. Neither will our change come as a result of simply believing the teachings of the rapture. However, Paul tells us how this glorious change comes: "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2.
GOD’S PURPOSE OF THIS GREAT PLAN
Not only are we transformed by the renewing of our minds, another dear friend, Robert D. Torango, opens the window to some grand vistas in this arena of thought:
"What is God's purpose in instituting this great Plan of the Ages? What was His intent in forming man from the dust of the earth and making him a living soul? Why did He make man a little lower than the angels, yet visits him with an intimate relationship not given to angels and heavenly creatures? Why did He subject this creature to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him that has subjected the same in hope? Why was man made in such duality, having been given two seeds, one of corruption and the other of incorruption, made of both light and darkness, earthly elements and heavenly elements, bearing the image of the earthly and also the image of the heavenly? Why was man lowered out from God Substance into the dark and musty world of his humanity, shaped in iniquity and given the capacity to sin against God and mankind? What was in God's mind before the disruption of the ages concerning this lowly creature called man? What was it about this creature that caused such an act of love and sacrifice to be acted out in the Creator, giving His own Son for the supreme gift of salvation to this dusty amalgamation?
"Such questions may not be very uplifting to consider and some of us may rather not even address such thoughts, preferring to keep ourselves safe and secure in our ignorance concerning such disturbing realities, but for us that are truly seekers of truth, we must come to terms with such questions in order for us to come to true and relevant answers. Of course, someone will always fall back on old clichés when addressing such questions, such as the standard quote, 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him, all the while failing to read the next verse that follows this often misused verse, 'But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.' I Corinthians 2:8-9. Ah yes, the deep things of God, those things that mere mortal man does not even bother to consider when contemplating his place in God's Plan of the Ages. After all, who are we to come to such spiritual conclusions about our origins and our endings? Well, my dear friend, we are the chosen generation of the Lord, the heirs of His salvation, the election of grace, the priesthood that is called after the order of Melchizedek, and if we do not ask these questions, then no one will.
"Certainly, the present religious systems of men will not ask these questions. For the religious world, questions are dangerous to the health and security of the system that they have instituted. They demand unquestioned loyalty to their doctrines and concepts about God, shrouding themselves in schools of higher learning and theological positioning that demand years of brain washing at the hands of the indoctrinated teachers and leaders. The present church system of religion has lost its way and has left the original, designed plan of God for man and has replaced that plan with their own carnal plan of man-made design. The main-line, fundamental church system has left the path of God's truth and instituted their own version of the so-called end time and impending doom for mankind. Today, the standard doctrinal statement found in almost every statement of belief in this system of religion includes a belief that has come to be termed, 'the rapture of the church', or 'the second coming of Christ'. Sadly, the only hope left to the modern day 'church' to come into the presence of the fullness of God is to be whisked off to heaven via a bodily flight through the air into the sky, in a desperate, last minute escape from the clutches of evil. Sad as it may sound, the 'church' of today has rested all of it's hope on a rapture theory that no one can agree on exactly when it is supposed to happen, since the church system of higher learning has also drawn up a millennial chart of events that are supposed to take place on the earth, based upon a carnal viewpoint of scriptures that deal with so-called 'end time' events, most notably the book of Revelation. So, the problem is to figure out just where exactly in these sequences of events the supposed rapture of the church is to take place. One thing that almost all of the theologians of the church system agree upon is the occurrence of the so-called 'Great Tribulation', which is generally taught by these systems as a time of God pouring out His wrath upon all the earth in a fit of rage and anger. This Great Tribulation is a central part of the chart of the end time sequences of events, so the theory for the rapture of the church has to either take place pre-tribulation, or mid-tribulation, or post-tribulation and the funny part is that no one agrees on the correct timing for this event to take place, although they all use the same scriptures and references for each rapture position that is taken, pre-trib, mid-trib or post-trib. This is what the 'church' has come to, a confused, uncertain, body of believers without consensus on what they would term as the single most important event to transpire in the history of God's plan, the 'rapture of the church' into the presence of Jesus. As you might have surmised by now, I do not believe in a 'physical rapture' of the church into the blue yonder, but I believe that there is something much more grand and momentous that is to take place in the heart of the believer, an event that will indeed cause a people to rise into the presence of the Lord, but not in bodily flight through the air, but an ascension that will translate us out from the kingdom of darkness and despair into the light of the Kingdom of God. In my viewpoint, this is not an external event, but an internal experience in the hearts of believers.
"Please understand that my intent is not to try to prove to you that there will be no rapture, although I myself have come to that conclusion. Real Truth does not rely on our scholastic abilities to prove its true validity, but absolute Truth will simply make all other part-truths irrelevant in the light of its glorious reality. I did not come to the reality of the present, abiding kingdom of God and the present, indwelling of the Son of God in my life by reading a newsletter or hearing a taped teaching discoursing on such a possibility. The fact is, I arrived at this conclusion the same way a person would arrive at a location in the far distance, finding myself arriving at such a conclusion in a natural and fluent progression and in looking back at that journey, I realized that during that whole journey I was given no other recourse or direction, since all other roads were cut off for me. The wonderful thing about Truth is that when it is revealed in it's entirety, all other shadows and symbols of that Truth disappear and are made of no effect. For this reason, I truly do not try to change someone's doctrinal belief, but I do speak of the Truth that has been revealed to my heart, and in so doing, if it truly is absolute Truth, it will automatically do away with all lesser viewpoints that we may have conjured up on our journey to that Truth. One day, as I continued to walk into the Truth of God, I looked for the rapture theory, and it was no where to be found! It was swallowed up into the greater Truth of the abiding presence of Jesus Christ in my life, so there was no longer a need in my mind to look further down the road for something intangible and out of reach, for the Lord had come to my house and made His presence known. Why should I look for Him in the sky or in a city or out in the desert when He was standing up in His temple declaring Himself as present and available? I came to this Truth just as sure as if I were to get in my car and drive to the local market, that which I sought after in past days, I have come to and arrived at by the grace of God. So, for me, the focus of this present time in God is not in trying to get ready for the supposed event of the rapture of the church, but I do believe we are getting prepared for something to take place! After all, God is going to get that which He has been after from the genesis of His plan. It just isn't going to be accomplished by a mass exit of the overcoming Church from planet earth!
"If Christ IS come in the flesh, if He HAS come to His temple and seated Himself in that temple in heavenly places, if He HAS filled us with the fullness of His Self, if we are indeed the house of God, the dwelling place of the Most High, the city of God, if we are indeed the house not made with hands, the New Jerusalem, if we are His gates of praise, walls of salvation, the everlasting doors through which the King of glory shall appear, then why would we be looking for some kind of external, physical kingdom or city to be set up on earth? The answer is that we are still carnal and our understanding is still dark. All of the doctrines of the modern 'church' that have put God afar off into the wild, blue yonder, and that have portrayed the devil as equal to Him in power and strength, all of this comes out of the darkened understanding of the natural, religious mind. When Jesus reveals Himself to any person, that person will never again look for Him in some far off place, but will walk with Him and talk with Him and live in Him. The King is here! He has not been exiled to some far off planet, lurking out in outer space waiting to come to break through the stratosphere of earth's atmosphere and call His chosen to the sky. The King is here! He has always been here, and He has never been away from His Body, but has filled it with Himself and is revealing Himself from glory to glory to those that are looking for Him. Every day I see and hear Jesus and we have beautiful communion together.
"Right now, even as I type these words, He is with me and speaking to me words of life. When I lay down in bed tonight, He will be with me and when I wake up in the morning, He will be with me, for He is my eternal, abiding friend that I will always have at my disposal. I know some may think these are the words of a fool, but since He revealed Himself to me, I have never been out of His presence! The Truth is, He has always been with me, I just didn't know it. I wasn't looking for Him, because the church system had taught me that He was way up there and I was way down here and someday I would get to go to Him either when I died or when I was 'raptured', but one day I found the courage to believe God's word instead of the words and thoughts of men, and I saw Him! Right here, with me, in me, through me, and everywhere I looked, I saw Him, O glory to His name! This One that I loved with all of my heart, longed after to look upon Him, to see His visage, to bask in His presence, one glad and glorious Day the scales of my eyes fell off and I saw Him, not with the eyes of flesh, but with greater eyes, that tell no lies, I saw Him, nay, I knew Him, I smelled Him, I felt Him, in all truth, I was made AWARE of Him. It is truly difficult to find the words to express this excruciatingly personal relationship with Him, but any one that reads these words and has come to KNOW Him in this way, will have a Yea and an Amen in them at my words. This is how far off the path of life the 'church' has come, to where Jesus has become a disembodied spirit floating around somewhere, waiting to take us to a floating city in the sky. God help us! We must get back to the true plan of God for mankind! That plan is not for an escape out of this world, but the true Plan of the Ages deals with the transformation of mankind from a creature of the dust into a creature of spirit life.
"The only hope for all creation, natural and spiritual, is the transforming power of the life of God. The Good News is that God is not far off from His creation! He fills all things and gives life to all things. He is the true Source for all things to exist by and He has infused all things with Himself! The plan isn't to pray to be taken off this dying and sinful planet and escape into outer space. The plan is for a people to come into the fullness of Christ. It is to have that infused life within them to rise up and fill the house with its glory, and consequently, for the people to become the agents of a Greater Life, the Life of God, and to begin to sound forth in earth and heaven the glorious sound of the New Man, not angel, not man, but a New Species of God-Substance, filled with the fullness of the Father. We are not here to live out a miserable life and then pray we can get to heaven someday, but we are here to be changed from corruption into incorruption, from mortal into immortal, from earthiness into godliness. We are here to be changed and then to have the power to change everything else. That is the true plan, as Paul wrote in his epistles to the elect of God. Now, to those that are held captive to the five senses of the natural man, these words may seem like a story of fiction, but to those that have had the scales removed from their eyes, to those that have had a visitation from the Spirit of Christ, this will ring true and will enlarge the vision of their purpose in this life.
"How do I know this? Because the whole company of the First Fruits of Christ is hungering after it at the same time! I must tell you that I have been ministering about this Transformation for about 45 years now, and it has been ministered for much longer than that by the early trail blazers of Truth, but something is different in my being as I write about it in this article. I am not writing this in a desperate act of trying to 'name it so I can claim it', or in a 'mind over matter' display of trying to wrestle something out of the heavens, but my spirit knows something that is exciting it to a fever pitch! My inner man is jumping up and down inside of me, my heart is singing a song of victory and salvation, and it is not coming from a doctrinal aspect, but from an expectation that goes beyond what I know and what I can comprehend right now. I don't care if it happens in my own life, as I am aware that many have gone before me that have been great men and women of faith and purpose and I do not hold any aspirations of grandeur for my own part in this great Journey for creation, but something is HAPPENING dear ones, and all that I know is that we must have our focus and attention upon this momentous occasion, the transformation and transfiguration of the sons of God in this earth. It is not out of fear of the grave that we are ministering this wonderful truth, but out of the pure joy of seeing Christ appear in His saints and to see every man awakened unto this great Gift of Life that Jesus has won for us.
"I long for the song of victory to be sung on every hill and mountain top, the sound of it going down into the valleys and filling the pastures with the sound of Redemptive Victory! I yearn for pain to be cast off the children of God and to see the nature of the Lamb manifest in every life. I thrill to the sound of the marching of the army of the Lord that I hear in my spirit, as the heavens declare the approaching hour of God establishing His kingdom in the hearts of men. Can you hear them, dear saints of the Lord? Do you hear the innumerable company of those that are singing the new song of the Redeemed of the Lord? Is it resonating in your being, filling you with the glorious harmony of such a host that are being gathered together in Christ, a heavenly choir of ascension and victory drowning out the doubt of our minds, filling us with a dangerous faith in the power of our Christ and our Lord? Oh yes, we are a very dangerous people! We have nothing to lose and everything to gain! Woe to the darkness, woe to the corruption of sin and death, woe to the walled cities of despair and sorrow, for we are gathered this Day against those principalities and powers to bring them down and to free the captives from their deadly chains. We are a people that are being made ONE, with God and with each other, and nothing will stand against this army of priests and kings, as their Supreme Lord and King leads them on. Hell and Death are on shaky ground, sickness and disease are on notice, agony and defeat are on our hit list, and we will bring to this earth the visitation of our King, having a great resolve within us to bring this final act to it's long ago purposed end. Such a Day we have come to and such a Day have we been born unto. Now, rise up and take the land!" Metamorphosis -- Our Transformation, Part Two. — End quote.
It is not inconceivable to assume that many will still hold strongly to the doctrine of the rapture, that they may continue to believe they are the ones taken to escape the terrors of the antichrist, while the less fortunate are left. But we know also that God does not have such in mind, He is not like the scenario our friend, John Clark, shared about a mad dentist who gives his patient the sad news: "Indeed, Mr. Smith, as you had suspected, you are in dire need of my professional help. You have several bad teeth, some are so infected and have decayed to the point of non-repair, and they will eventually contaminate and destroy the others. Therefore, to prevent this, I will pull all the good ones to keep them from being infected by the bad ones. They have to be taken while the rotten ones are left, and he begins his task of rapturing the man’s pearly whites from his mouth."
Such an unreal way of dealing with bad teeth; but really, is it more unreal than the misinterpretation of Matthew 24:37-40 & 51 and saying that it means the exact opposite of what Jesus was saying? Not in the least! But it seems perfectly logical to those who may not think for themselves, those who are comfortable in being led by a man or woman. Or it could be that they have no vision or desire to be overcomers in this great battle between life and death.
Those called of God, however, do not follow religious leaders regardless of their high esteem or rank among men. And unlike many of the religiously correct, they are not afraid to take a stand and face the loss of their lives or reputations if need be. They have been proven at every turn over the ages, and it hasn’t changed. They have always been the same yesterday, today, and forever. Except for ascending higher in the Spirit, they are not preparing to go anywhere.
They are men and women of the high calling of God — the ones creation is waiting for, else they will not be delivered from the bondage of corruption. Therefore, let us wake up and stop listening to the brokers of religion. Let us put ironic theories and prevarications to rest. While doing this, let us also put them to the acid test of common sense, of scripture, and especially of Holy inspiration and revelation.
If it can be documented in the scriptures, then by all means we should be encouraged to embrace it; but if it comes up short, forget it! Drop it! Do not be led astray by the winds of such doctrines that serve no godly purpose.
We can have no part with man’s presumptions or misguidance; for we have a heart that yearns for the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Another’s voice we will not hear. And it is only HIM in whom we are caught up together as His great cloud of witnesses! This is a true saying! THIS IS THE TRUE RAPTURE! Believe it, my friends. Rejoice and shout the victory!
Elwin R. Roach
The Pathfinder • PO Box 4004 • Alamogordo NM 88311