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THE RAPTURE QUESTION
THE RAPTURE, what an intriguing subject! Scores of untold saints have wondered with great concern: "When will it happen? Will it be in my lifetime? Who of my loved ones will miss it and have to go through the tribulation, and then off to an eternal damnation of hellfire? Or will I myself miss it, and stand sadly below watching the few lucky ones fly away into the clouds when the trumpet sounds? Left behind? Dear God, what a horrible thought. Help!"
There are so many professing Christians who have their hope set in the rapture that it has become a tenant of faith for much of the church system, at least for those that consider themselves as fundamental believers. Some go as far as to say that you must believe in it to be saved. Such a thought places their hope of salvation on an exterior event, rather than the indwelling Christ who died so they could be saved. In this study, there are three primary purposes in mind: (1) To bring to light some truths the reader has possibly never considered. (2) To confirm and clarify what the Spirit has already been speaking to many. And (3), to shake, to pull down, and destroy, as Jeremiah wrote, a few man-made doctrines that are preventing people from progressing in their quest for life. We then hope to plant and build up from there. If any or all of these are accomplished, we will be satisfied.
Historical Account of The Rapture's Origin
Let us initiate this study with the words of one of today's most prolific and anointed writers, J. Preston Eby. Without his diligent research of these long forgotten facts, the exposé of the Rapture's Origin would be incomplete:
"It wasn't until the early or mid 1800's that there was any significant group of believers around the world that looked for a "rapture" of the Church prior to a seven-year tribulation period. It may come as a shock to some who read these lines, but it is a fact, nonetheless, that the "rapture" teaching was not taught by the early Church, it was not taught by Church of the first centuries, it was not taught by the Reformers, it was not taught by anyone (except a couple of Roman Catholic theologians) until about the year 1830. At the time of the Reformation, the early Protestants widely held and were convinced the Pope was the supreme individual embodiment and personification of the spirit of antichrist, and the Roman Church, the Harlot System of Revelation seventeen. This understanding was responsible for bringing millions of believers out of the Roman Catholic religious system. It therefore became expedient for certain Romish theologians to turn the attention of the people away from the Papacy, and this they endeavored to do by inventing a counter-interpretation to that held by the Protestants. This new scheme of prophetic interpretation became known as futurism. Rather than viewing the drama of the book of Revelation spiritually and historically, they would consign it all to a brief period of time at the end of the age. It was a Jesuit priest named Francisco Ribera who, in the days of the Reformation, first taught that all the events in the book of Revelation were to take place literally during the three and a half years reign of the antichrist way down at the end of the age. Thus, Ribera laid the foundation of a system of prophetic interpretation of which the secret rapture has now become an integral part.
"Later, Emmanuel Lacunza, also a Jesuit priest, built on Ribera's teachings, and spent much of his life writing a book titled "The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty." Lacunza, however, wrote under the assumed name of Rabbi Ben Ezra, supposedly a learned Jew who had accepted Christ as his Saviour. With Jesuit cunning, he thus conspired to get his book a hearing in the Protestant world they would not even permit it in their homes coming from a Jesuit pen but as the earnest work of the "converted Jew," they would consume it with avid interest! Within the pages of this elaborate forgery, Lacunza taught the novel notion that Jesus returns not once, but twice, and at the "first stage" of His return He "raptures" His Church so they can escape the reign of the "future antichrist." His book was first published in Spanish in the 1812 and soon found its way onto the shelves of the library of the Archbishop of Canterbury in London, England.
"Now, enter the name of Edward Irving. Born in Scotland in 1792, Irving became one of the most eloquent preachers of his time, and a leading figure of the Catholic Apostolic Church of England. In 1828 his open-air meetings in Scotland drew crowds of 10,000 people. His church in London seated one thousand people and was packed week after week with a congregation drawn from the most brilliant and influential circles of society. There were some among them who by prophetic declaration announced that the Lord was coming soon, and this idea became prominent in their prophetic utterances and teachings. Out of those prophetic declarations some began to study the scriptures in the light of a physical, literal coming of the Lord. Up until that time the coming of the Lord was understood as coming of the Lord TO His people, and IN His saints, and there was no sense of His fleshly coming. Irving discovered Lacunza's book and was deeply shaken by it, in fact, fell in love with it, translated it into English, and it was published in London in 1827. At this time Irving heard what he believed to be a voice from heaven commanding him to preach the Secret Rapture of the Saints. Irving then began to hold Bible conferences throughout Scotland, Emphasizing the coming of Jesus to rapture His Church.
"About this same time there began the emergence of a new movement which came to be known as the Plymouth Brethren. The Brethren movement had its beginning in Dublin in 1825 when a small group of earnest men, dissatisfied with the lethargic condition that prevailed in the Protestant Church in Ireland, met for prayer and fellowship. Soon others joined the fellowship and associated groups sprang up in various places. Though the movement had its beginning at Dublin, it was Plymouth, England that became the center of their vast literature outreach, thus the name Plymouth Brethren became attached. Although there was interest from the start in prophetic subjects, the center of interest was on the body of Christ as an organism and the spiritual unity of Christ of all believers in reaction to the deadness of formalism of the organized church systems and the ecclesiastical hierarchy. A man by the name of John Nelson Darby was the leading spirit among the Plymouth Brethren from 1830 onward. Darby was from a prosperous Irish family, was educated as a lawyer, took high honors at Dublin University, then turned aside, to his father's chagrin, to become a minister.
"Thus Irving and Darby were contemporaries, though associated with different spiritual movements. Another series of meetings were in progress at this time. A group of seeking Christians were meeting in the castle of Lady Powerscourt for the study of Bible prophecy. Many clergymen attended, and quite a few who were Irvingites. The Irvingites came to the meetings obsessed with the ideas of the "Secret Rapture" and the "future antichrist," imbibed from the Jesuit teaching of the Secret Rapture and the futurist interpretation of prophecy, as well as the famous book by Rabbi Ben-Ezra, or, actually, Jesuit priest Emmanuel Lacunza! Darby was himself a prolific writer and from the time a constant stream of propaganda came from his pen. His writings on biblical subjects number over 30 volumes of 600 pages each. Darby developed and organized "futurism" into a system of prophetic teaching called "dispensationalism." Darby's biographers refer to him as "the father of dispensationalism." And the crown jewel in the kingdom of dispensationalism is, of course, the so-called "secret rapture"!
"The Secret Rapture teaching was *introduced into the United States and Canada in the 1860's and 1870's though there is some indication that it may have been taught as early as the 1840's. Darby himself visited the United States six times. The new teaching was spreading. A Congregationalist preacher by the name of C.I. Scofield came under the influence of Darby and the Plymouth Brethren. The Scofield Reference Bible was destined to have a tremendous impact upon the beliefs of may, when, three million copies were published in the first 50 years. Through this Bible, Scofield carried the teaching of the Secret Rapture into the very heart of evangelism. Some ignorant souls look on the notes in this Bible as the Word of God itself. I do not doubt for one instant that many who read these lines have been influenced somewhere in their spiritual lives by the footnotes in the Scofield Bible. *[We recently found that there was a Baptist minister, Morgan Edwards, who wrote about the Rapture theory around 1772 in his essay, Two Academic Exercises on Subjects Bearing the following Titles; Millennium, Last-Novelties. Thanks to Evangelist John L. Bray who wrote in his newsletter, Biblical Perspectives, March 1, 2009 edition. ~ER]
"There is one final link in the chain of the development and spread of the rapture theory that should be mentioned in passing. I would draw your attention again to the source, the origin, of the rapture doctrine and the chain of contact by which it has been brought down to this day. It began as a Roman Catholic invention. The Jesuit priest Ribera's writings influenced the Jesuit priest Lacunza, Lacunza influenced Irving, Irving influenced Darby, Darby influenced Scofield, Scofield and Darby influenced D. L. Moody, and Moody influenced the Pentecostal Movement. How? you ask. The Assemblies of God is today by far the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world. When the Pentecostal movement began at the turn of the century, and the Assemblies of God held their first general council in 1914 in Hot Springs, Arkansas, they were a small movement and didn't have their own publishing house. They needed Sunday School and study materials for their churches so where do you suppose they got it? They bought it from Moody Press and had their own cover stitched on it! So what do you think the Assemblies of God people believed? They believed what Moody Bible Institute taught! This had its impact on Pentecostal theology, because in the early years there were practically no pre-millenialists in the Pentecostal movement. Most of the ministers in those early days came from Presbyterian, Methodist, or other historic denominations men who, being baptized in the Holy Spirit and leaving their denominations, joined themselves to the Assemblies of God or one of the other emerging Pentecostal denominations. That is how the Pentecostal movement became influenced and saturated with the 'Secret Rapture' doctrine by a direct chain right back to THE ROMAN CHURCH." —End quote.
The doctrine of the pre-trib rapture can also be credited to what began in Port Glasgow, Scotland in 1830. A young Scottish lass named Margaret MacDonald had a revelation of the coming of the Lord before the great tribulation. Several noted Bible teachers of that day picked up on this thought, but it was Edward Irving and John Darby who were responsible for it being popularized in Scotland and England. It is said of Darby that had borrowed from Margaret MacDonald's revelation, modified her views, and then taught them under his own name without giving her credit. He visited the U.S. at least five times, and his dispensationalism became part of the Scofield Reference Bible (1909). It was the notes in Scofield's Bible that caused this new teaching to find favor in this country.
The following is Margaret MacDonald's handwritten account of her 1830 revelation as it appears in Memoirs of James & George MacDonald, of Port-Glasgow (1840) by Robert Norton, pp. 171-176; The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets; In the Catholic Apostolic Church (1861) also by Norton, pp. 15-18; and The Incredible Cover Up by Dave MacPherson, (1980). The essence of the above paragraph were also taken from MacPherson's book:
"It was first the awful state of the land that was pressed upon me. I saw the blindness and infatuation of the people to be very great. I felt the cry of Liberty just to be the hiss of the serpent, to drown them in perdition. I repeated the words, 'Now there is distress of nations, with perplexity, the seas and the waves roaring, men's hearts failing them for fear -- now look out for the sign of the Son of man.' Here I was made to stop and cry out, 'O it is not known what the sign of the Son of man is; the people of God think they are waiting, but they know not what it is.' I felt this needed to be revealed, and that there was great darkness and error about it; but suddenly what it was burst upon me with a glorious light. I saw it was the Lord Himself descending from Heaven with a shout, the glorified man, even Jesus; but that all must, as Stephen was, be filled with the Holy Ghost, that they might look up, and see the brightness of the Father's glory. I saw the error to be, that men think that it will be something seen by the natural eye; but 'tis spiritual discernment that is needed, the eye of God in His people. Many passages were revealed, in a light in which I had not before seen them. I repeated, 'Now is the kingdom of Heaven like unto ten virgins, who went forth to meet the Bridegroom, five wise and five foolish; they that were foolish took their lamps, but took no oil with them; but they that were wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.' 'But be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is; and be not drunk with wine wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit.' This was the oil the wise virgins took in their vessels—this is the light to be kept burning—the light of God— that we may discern that which cometh not with observation to the natural eye. Only those who have the light of God within them will see the sign of His appearance. No need to follow them who say, see here, or see there, for His day shall be as the lightning to those in whom the living Christ is. 'Tis Christ in us that will lift us up -- He is the light—'tis only those that are alive in Him that will be caught up to meet Him in the air. I saw that we must be in the Spirit, that we might see spiritual things. John was in the Spirit, when he saw a throne set in Heaven. -- But I saw that the glory of the ministration of the Spirit had not been known....I said, Now shall the people of God have to do with realities—now shall the glorious mystery of God in our nature be known -- now shall it be known what it is for man to be glorified. I felt that the revelation of Jesus Christ had yet to be opened up—it is not knowledge about God that it contains, but it is an entering into God—I saw that there was a glorious breaking in of God to be. I felt as Elijah, surrounded with chariots of fire. I saw as it were, the spiritual temple reared, and the Head Stone brought forth with shoutings of grace, grace unto it. It was a glorious light above the brightness of the sun, that shone round about me. I felt that those who were filled with the Spirit could see spiritual things, and feel walking in the midst of them, while those who had not the Spirit could see nothing -- so that two shall be in one bed, the one taken and the other left, because the one has the light of God within while the other cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven. I saw the people of God in an awfully dangerous situation, surrounded by nets and entanglements, about to be tried, and many about to be deceived and fall. Now will THE WICKED be revealed, with all power and signs and lying wonders, so that if it were possible the very elect will be deceived. This is the fiery trial which is to try us. It will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus; but Oh it will be a fiery trial. Every soul will be shaken to the very centre. The enemy will try to shake every thing we have believed in—but the trial of real faith will be found to honour and praise and glory. Nothing but what is of God will stand. The stony-ground hearers will be made manifest—the love of many will wax cold. I frequently said that night, and often since, now shall the awful sight of a false Christ be seen on this earth, and nothing but the living Christ in us can detect this awful attempt of the enemy to deceive —for it is with all deceivableness of unrighteousness he will work—he will have a counterpart for every part of God's truth, and an imitation for every work of the Spirit. The Spirit must and will be poured out on the church, that she may be purified and filled with God -- and just in proportion as the Spirit of God works, so will he—when our Lord anoints men with power, so will he. This is particularly the nature of the trial through which those are to pass who will be counted worthy to stand before the Son of man. There will be outward trials too, but it is principally temptation. It is brought on by the outpouring of the Spirit, and will increase in proportion as the Spirit is poured out. The trial of the Church is from antichrist. It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept. I frequently said, Oh be filled with the Spirit—have the light of God in you, that you may detect satan—be full of eyes within -- be clay in the hands of the potter -- submit to be filled, filled with God. This will build the temple....Jesus wants His bride. His desire is toward us. He that shall come, will come, and will not tarry. Amen and Amen. Even so come Lord Jesus." —End quote.
This young Scottish lass was not only maligned and called a heretic by the church and the news media in her day; but her credibility has also been attacked from all sides today. Those who believe in a literal post-trib rapture as well as those who see it more as an inward catching away, have brought her under fire. Those who embrace the teaching a rapture after the tribulation have tried to discredit her, because she had said one has to be filled with the Spirit of Christ to see the Lord coming in glory and for saying His coming to His church will be without observation—only those with an eye (spiritual eye) to see will see Him when He appears.
The people who have the understanding that it is an inner catching away have used her name in a negative way as well; for it has sounded to them as if she believed the saints would at that time meet Jesus in the literal air. Due to ignoring the spiritual reality of being caught away, her vision was one of the things that helped to enforce the concept Ribera and Lacunza founded earlier. Both factions, the post-tribbers, so called, and the spiritual minded, have undermined the authenticity of her vision because it did not line up with their views, and being a female, a young one at that, did not help.
After reading her account of the vision, as well as other letters she had written and what others in her day wrote about her, we can see she had a very close walk with her Lord, and what she had seen could have very well been by the Spirit. The problem appears to lie with what Darby, Irving, and Scofield did with her vision and with her own apparent lack of understanding in what she was seeing; namely that, the soon appearing of the Lord was speaking of His appearing in them, for in the prophecies that came through them almost always ended with, "Behold He cometh, Jesus cometh." This would indicate He was already coming to them at that time. Jesus comes, which is a present, continuing action; but they had failed to see the spiritual reality of Him that comes, they too, it seems, were looking for that which was outward rather than inward.
As The Days Of Noah Were
When the words of this heading are heard or read, a lot of people's minds form images of what they think it says rather than what it says. To them it is generally a picture of the evacuation of the saints from the earth, that is, the rapture. But let me encourage all who embrace that thought to read these verses, in context, and hear as they plainly speak:
"But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage...and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And...there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 24:37-40 & 51.
Please consider the following parallels:
Who were eating and drinking in Noah's day before the flood came? The wicked!
Who were eating and drinking before Titus came and besieged Jerusalem? The wicked!
Who were taken away by the flood in Noah's day? The wicked!
Who were taken away by the flood, the army, of Titus in his day? The wicked!
Who were weeping and grinding their teeth in sorrow in Noah's day when the flood came? The wicked!
Who were weeping and grinding their teeth in sorrow in Titus' day when his flood of soldiers came? The wicked!
Now, who were left, who were spared in the days of Noah when the flood came? The righteous!
And who were left, who were spared in the day of Titus when his flood came? The righteous!
Indeed, it was as the days of Noah were!
Let us set the record straight. The righteous were not taken in 70 A.D., and they will not be taken in a future snatching away. These verses do not remotely suggest such a thing. But rather, Jesus was very clearly drawing a comparison between the two events of the flood and the destruction of Jerusalem. He was speaking plainly that in the same manner the wicked were taken by the flood, so it would be with the wicked in 70 A.D. And so it was! The wicked of that day were taken in judgment, while the righteous were left. They were spared the judgment of the son of man coming in the authority and power of God.
As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be, and the passage of scriptures following that verse is used as a foundation for substantiating the rapture teachings. Many horrid sermons and stories have been fostered from the words that Jesus spoke, and we could expose them as having been being untrue. However, we don't have the time, nor does space allow us to go into the sum of what has been taught concerning this subject. Suffice it to say, the precepts of the rapture were birthed out of the minds of two Jesuit priests; namely, Francisco Ribera and Emmanuel Lacunza, and popularized by Edward Irving, John Nelson Darby, and C.I. Scofield in the notes of his Scofield Reference Bible. That which began as a Roman Catholic invention was then nurtured by the students and parishioners who set under that teaching until it grew into the flood we see today. Nevertheless, in due season, and perhaps this is the season, truth will push back those overflowing waters and open the vistas of reality to those who seek it.
Let me say again, as it was in the days of Noah, so it was with Jerusalem. During the days of Noah, he went into the ark, closed the door, and the flood came. After this the wicked merrymakers were taken away—not, and we repeat, not Noah! When the flood had run its course the man of righteousness set up a new kingdom (new beginnings). It was a new world, a new age never seen before upon the earth.
Therefore, when we read, "As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be," we should be able to come to the same conclusion as any rational minded person and see that the ones taken at the end of the age were the wicked, and not the righteous. And as it also was in his days, after the end of that came, the new Kingdom was set in the earth, and it was given into the hands of those who were not taken.
Two are in the field and one is taken and the other is left, and when two are grinding at the mill and one is taken and the other is left (verses 40-41). Never let it enter our impressionable minds that the ones taken are the righteous of God. The written word doesn't suggest that God's plan for His mighty army of overcomers is to sound the retreat when the Lord Himself trumpets the charging, battle cry within the heavens of our transformed souls.
It is very common, however, to read of the victorious events that have transpired throughout all the past ages when humble men of God were endowed with His holy spirit; and everyone of them conquered by advancing into the camp and face of their enemies. They did not overcome by running and hiding or flying away somewhere in the sky. Even the four lepers that set the Syrian army to flight did it by advancing toward and into their camp. When they did so, "...the Lord had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and noise of horses, even the noise of a great host, and they fled for their life." 2 Kings 6:24-33 & 7:1-8 (rf. Diet of Asses' Heads, Doves' Dung & Babies #52.93, free upon request).
It is the same today, we conquer by advancing when we hear the battle cry of our Lord, the Captain of our salvation. But never, and we repeat, NEVER do we pack our bags and withdraw from the enemy that we are called to destroy. When adversities come, terrible circumstances can overwhelm us, or sickness and death may hit our families like tidal waves—we may take timeout to rest, refresh, and gain strength—but we do not retreat!
If we should read Matthew 24:36-51, and read it very carefully, we would soon see that those taken were the same ones who were cut asunder and the ones who were not taken were the faithful: "Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath made ruler over His household, to give them meat in due season." (verse 45). Moreover, there is no reason to believe it is not the same today; for it is the same Kingdom as it was after the end of that world in 70 A.D. The faithful and wise servant stand to rule over His household. The faithful ones are overcomers who have no desire to leave, but rather, to remain right here on this great planet and rule over it in righteousness, peace and joy in the holy ghost, and according to Romans 14:17, that is the Kingdom of God!
I WILL KEEP THEM FROM THE HOUR OF TEMPTATION
"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth." (Rev. 3:10).
This has been one of the primary verses used to support a physical flying away into the heavens. Let us examine it and see if this should be.
There are four words in this verse that merit attention -- word, keep, temptation and dwell:
Word...in this verse is translated from the Greek word logos. It is a spoken word that carries the thought and intent of the speaker, a divine expression of the substance of God (Heb. 1:3), clarification or explanation of something. The sacred Logos connects humanity with deity, it brings forth truth and reality. Logos can be equated with God.
Keep...comes from the Greek word teros, and the Latin word for teros is terracea from which we get our English word terrace. The principle word (teros) has the meaning of to watch over, to attend to carefully, to protect, to keep in view, to guard, to apply oneself to.
Temptation...comes from peirasmos which means to try, to test, to scrutinize, to discipline, to prove.
Dwell...simply means to reside, to cohabit, to occupy a house permanently, and it comes from the Greek word katoikeo.
(Definitions are from Strong's Exhaustive Conc., Theological Dictionary of The New Testament by Kittle and Friedrich, and Thayer's Greek - English Lexicon of The New Testament.)
Let us now take the liberty and translate Rev. 3:10 from what we have learned about the above words: Because when My Word of patience, the enduring Logos, the very essence of myself became a reality to you, you watched over, protected and applied yourself wholly to it and never faltered while it was being tested and proven with fire. likewise, in the same manner I will watch over, protect and apply myself wholly to you in the hour when all those whose dwelling places are that of the earth are tested with the fires and shakings that I will send.
That Word, the Logos of God, is the very thing that brings us to such a place of peace. It is not the letter that killeth which we are to keep but the reality of His substance. It is this Word, THE LOGOS, that the Bible speaks of concerning Jesus. It tells us, "In the beginning was the Word (the Logos)...and the Word (the Logos) was God...and the Word (the Logos) was made flesh...." (Jn. 1:1 & 14). We are also told that He was "...The brightness of His glory, and the express image of his person (expression of his substance (Grk)." (Heb. 1:3). And let us not forget, those who overcame the dragon and his angels in that heavenly war of Revelation twelve done so "...by the Word (the Logos) of their testimony." (Rev. 12:11). We will notice one more verse -- "If a man keep (teros) my saying (logos), he shall never see death." (Jn. 8:51).
The key to being not hurt by the wrath of God (Rev. 19:15), the wrath of the devil (Rev. 12:12), or any other wrath or calamity that might befall the world, is not getting out of the mess but by awakening to the reality of the logos of God within and becoming one with Him. When we know who and what we are, that selfsame word ("...as He is so are we in this world") (I Jn. 4:17), we can then let the storms rage and the waves roll, for in such peaceful assurance we can lie down in the midst of it all and go to sleep, even as our Lord had done when He was with the twelve. And if need be, we will be able to say peace be still and the winds will obey our voice. Go ahead, you fearful, and fly away, but for me and my house, our desire is to remain and be part of the answer to creations cry (Rom. 8:19-21).
The context and words are clear in Revelation 3:10. We were not being told of a plan God has devised to remove His people from the face of hard times. What He has related to us is how those who had already gone through His proving fires would be immune to them when they came upon the whole world. He was telling us of a spiritual condition or realm the faithful ones would be dwelling in during those days rather than being in a particular location. When we have the King of kings and the Lord of lords residing within, and we are ruling with Him from the heavens, from the mind of the anointing, no matter where we might be or where we geographically go, we will be in paradise, and we will take it with us.
It is basic but very essential to understand what it means to dwell in the earth or to dwell in the heavens. From what we have personally noticed, the number is very great who haven't the foggiest notion that one can have their feet on the earth but yet be living in heaven. Jesus made this evident when he told Nicodemus that "...No man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven." (Jn. 3:13). He also said, "And now I am no more in the world...." (Jn. 17:11). He had His feet planted firmly upon the earth, but in reality His place of habitation was IN HEAVEN. Beloved, that was where He lived! His home was in the Father whose living quarters are in the realms of heaven!
If Jesus dwelled in the heavens with His Father, then what about us? Can we likewise live in such a place today, while our feet walk life's dusty avenues? The written word says yes: "God...hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath RAISED US UP together, and made us SIT TOGETHER IN HEAVENLY PLACES (in the heavens, Grk) IN CHRIST JESUS." (Eph. 2:4-6). And, "If ye then BE RISEN WITH CHRIST...WHERE CHRIST SITTETH ON THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, set your affection on things ABOVE, not on things on the earth (i.e. DWELL in the heavens and not on the earth). For ye are dead, and your life IS HID WITH CHRIST IN GOD. Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and HATH TRANSLATED US INTO THE KINGDOM OF HIS DEAR SON." (Col. 3:1-3 & 1:13). (Parenthesis my own). Therefore, in the light of this, can we not conclude, since we are IN CHRIST who IS IN GOD and DWELLS IN THE HEAVENS, that when our affections are on those heavenly things, we LIKEWISE ARE DWELLING IN THE HEAVENS and not the earth? Yes indeed we can and emphatically should come to such a conclusion! For if we don't, we will forever be dragging our lower lips in the dirt and becoming progressively despondent, because it looks like we are destined to live all our lives in this cruel old world and then die before the "blessed hope" of the rapture comes. What a sad state of being to be in, but there are untold thousands who are graphically existing in that very thing.
Christians are wanting to fly away and escape the wrath of Satan so badly that they think God wants the same thing. They have had such a misconception of who or what the devil is and who they and God are not, it is a wonder we don't hear them proclaiming, "The Lord Satan Almighty." Well, in reality, this is what we keep hearing their imaginations declare even if it is not the exact words coming from their lips. Christendom has not only swung into the lethargic ebbs of despondency but also of fearfulness, and they have created doctrines to fit their fears as well as their fantasies.
While the preachers and students of the rapture are promoting their beliefs, the written word and God's Spirit of reality are resounding something much differently. Along with Rev. 3:10, "...I will also KEEP THEE FROM THE HOUR OF TEMPTATION, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth," we also have Jesus saying, "I PRAY NOT THAT THOU SHOULDEST TAKE THEM OUT OF THE WORLD, but that THOU SHOULDEST KEEP (teros) THEM FROM THE EVIL." (Jn. 17:15). We read also in this same chapter of John that Jesus had KEPT (teros) the disciples from perishing, and it was IN THE NAME OF GOD that He kept them. (Verses 11 & 12). And he said in verses 14 and 17 His WORD (THE LOGOS -- the substance of God) was what had set them apart from the world. By the very NATURE (NAME) and ESSENCE (LOGOS) of God through Jesus were they protected (kept) and sanctified from the drawing influence of the world. However, after He had left the visible realm of the physical, He sent back the selfsame Spirit and Word that had formerly protected them outwardly which was in the form of Jesus. Upon returning, and this time into the depths of their hearts, He performed a much greater work, for now their authority and power was not from without but from within. Likewise, with His Spirit and word dwelling within every believer they will also be guarded and kept, but this will not be until they have first kept that patient, enduring Word of Himself -- THE LOGOS, the very essence and reality of God. When such a Word has been nurtured (kept) unto maturity, there will then be something of substance that will in reality be able to carry one through the most fierce storm or raging furnace of affliction. Without it, they will be consumed like the wood, hay, and stubble that they are.
I THESSALONIANS 4:16-17
"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." (I Thes. 4:16-17).
When the above verses are read without understanding, it would appear Ribera, Lacunza, Darby, Irving, and Scofield were right in their teachings of the rapture. We know, however, this concept came from carnal minds dealing with things pertaining to the Spirit. Coupled with this teaching came the heavenly Jerusalem coming down to earth (Rev. 21:10), assuming it was speaking of a literal city. To get the true meaning of what is being said here, it is a must to see that it is speaking of SPIRITUAL things and not natural. For instance, how can the heavenly Jerusalem be a natural city when Hebrews 12:22 makes it clear that we have "...N-O-W COME...UNTO THE CITY of the living God, THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM." It seems fairly clear that this city is not one of the natural elements, and neither is it somewhere in the natural heavens. We are presently abiding in it, yet without manifestation from the heavens.
We are now in this heavenly city; but it is hidden from view of the natural eye, for the natural eye sees only that with is of the earth. When that which is of the heavens descends to the earth, then the natural eye is opened to see it. Until then, it remains hidden in the realm of the spirit. And likewise with the Lord who descends from heaven.
Isn't it true that He abide in us? Is He not in our own heavens? And don't we know He is abiding in the Holy of holies of His temple, which we are? Of course. And when He descends from that realm within, and makes Himself known in the air of our minds, we see Him. More is said about this later.
THE RAPTURE is a term that is never used in the Bible, although, there are many words and scriptures that do mean the same thing, and CAUGHT UP (HARPAZO) is one of those words. The World Book Dictionary gives us this definition of the word: "rapture, A strong feeling that absorbs the mind; very great joy. A feeling of being lifted high in mind and spirit; being filled with and completely taken up in feeling or delight or bliss." With this, I believe we would be justified in teaching about being "raptured" (in mind and spirit as the word implies), but we would err if we taught it contrary to what the scriptures and the Spirit have to say about it.
Let us read again I Thes. 4:16-17, but incorporating the Greek and see what might lay beneath the surface: "Because Himself the Lord IN a command, IN a voice of a Chief Messenger, and IN a trumpet of God will come down from heaven, and the dead ones in anointed will be raised first; afterwards we the living ones, those being left over, at the same time with them shall be seized in clouds into a meeting of the Lord into air; and so in this manner with Lord shall we always be."
IN a command, IN a voice, and IN a trumpet speak of THE LORD HIMSELF as being IN that which is spoken; and in this incident we have THREE (indicating completeness) words (command, voice, and trumpet) that denotes a word spoken. What then, would this signify, especially since the Lord Himself is IN each of them? We are familiar with the word LOGOS -- the very ESSENCE, THOUGHT, and INTENT OF GOD IN MANIFESTATION. Therefore, being that the Lord is IN these three words that convey a message, we conclude that it is THE LOGOS WHICH IS SPOKEN here -- the expression of the very substance of God Himself. It is the very thing which Jesus was declared to be! (Heb. 1:3). In other words, Jesus in the pure and complete form of the living God is descending from the highest realm of our heavens and into the conscious realm of our soul to give us something that will cause us to rise beyond our wildest imaginations! What a COMMAND, what a VOICE, what a TRUMPET! Praise God, it is THE LOGOS OF HIMSELF that our mighty Lord and chief messenger is and will be descending with and INTO those who are his ministers of flaming fire. First, into the firstfruits and then Christ into the world through the firstfruits. Not only does He come into His elect with the voice of a trumpeting commander, but when they are caught up to this place of the high calling of God, they will become that resounding trumpet of the Lord -- THE LOGOS REVEALING THE FATHER OF US ALL! IN A SHOUT -- A COMMAND!
In a SHOUT (verse 16) comes from the Greek word keleuma which means, "a cry of incitement," and it comes from the word keleuo which means, "to urge on; hail; to incite by word, i.e. order." (Strong's Exh. Conc.). Therefore, a COMMAND TO BATTLE or A WAR CRY is what the Lord is appearing in. Let our minds be stirred at this time with a question: If we are escaping from the enemy by-way-of a massive air-lift, just before Satan's wrath is turned loose on the world, then why would a war cry be given to us? When an army is incited to charge forward into battle they do not conquer by leaving the fury of the enemy, but they win by attacking and overcoming him with superior forces. The Holy Spirit of God tells us eight different times in the book of Revelation what the inheritance will be to the ones who OVERCOME...not to those who run! There is a war to be won, dear saints, and the battle fields are in the regions of our own souls. We might as well face it, until we are apprehended by our Lord and we trumpet the victory on every front, we will never possess the kingdom of the heavens or the earth.
IN A VOICE OF THE ARCHANGEL -- A CHIEF MESSENGER
There are many voices in the land today, but there is only one voice whose is the LOGOS OF GOD, and it is the voice of THE CHIEF MESSENGER of the living God. Many are hearing the voices of the sages of ancient times, others have their ears tuned to the prophets of old, and some are hearing the voices from extraterrestrial beings; a few are communing with the familiar spirits of the dead, numerous others think their own voice is that of Christ's, but the multitudes are simply hearing the clamoring voices of men. However, there is only One voice that will cause one to be lifted in his soul from the realms of dust and ascend into the heavens of Christ -- the voice of JESUS. All other voices are facades that masquerade as messengers of God. They are nothing but influential winds that move and toss the insecure waves of the troubled sea.
IN A TRUMPET
TRUMPETS in scripture speak of a particular message of God that is being conveyed to His people through chosen vessels of Himself. When the various notes were heard, the people understood what they were to do. The command was through musical instruments. Such a message was more clear than when one was speaking audible words. The notes were more austere and carried much farther (miles) than mere words alone. Today, it is the same -- we can speak words from the intellect, as men, which is not all bad, but when the word is spoken by the Spirit it is tremendous, it is overwhelming, it is life. It is then that we resonate from Zion the high calling of our God as we become His polished silver trumpets of salvation.
In the Old Testament we see the trumpets as types of a living reality that find their fulfillment in the Melchisedec priests of today. For example, it was the priests who were commissioned to blow the trumpets of silver on various occasions. They were blown to assemble the people together for solemn days as well as for occasions of gladness. They were also blown over offerings and sacrifices. The primary thing we want to notice here, however, is the majority of the recordings concerning the sounding of trumpets in the Bible were when the people were praising God for giving them a new king, praising God for being victorious in battle, or they were blown JUST PRIOR TO GOING INTO BATTLE. The latter was a covenant of the Lord to Israel, declaring that, if they would blow the trumpets before going to war, He would remember them and give them power to destroy all their enemies. It is no different today, for the covenant still stands; and as we trumpet the victory praise of the voice of the archangel (Jesus the Chief Messenger) we will see it as it was in times past. The priest blew the trumpets for Joshua at Jericho (Josh. 6) and the defended walls fell, and Gideon's army of 300 trumpeted at Moreh and destroyed the armies of the Midionites, the Amalekites, and all the armies of the east (Judges 7). When that seventh and last trumpet begins to sound in our own hearts (it should already be sounding, for the message has been going forth for some time), remember, it is a VICTORY CRY OF PRAISE TO OUR GOD for the great war to be won once and for all. This praise, as it reaches its high crescendo and is in perfect harmony with the preceding six trumpets that have already been blowing, will be the blast, the final LOGOS of TRUTH, KNOWLEDGE, UNDERSTANDING, and PRAISE that will put Satan under our feet once and for all. When the victory of God's elect is secure they will sound the message of this great triumph which will cause the whole world to be shaken off its feeble foundations of iron mingled with clay! -- But praise God, this is O.K., let it be, for there must be a shaking and removing before there can be a planting and rebuilding! (Jer. 1:10 & Heb. 12:25-29). This is the purpose of the sons of God -- that of setting the groaning creation (ALL CREATION) into the glorious liberty of being BORN OF GOD (Rom. 8:19-21)!
Can we not agree that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation (II Cor. 5:18-19) in order to set creation free (Rom. 8:19-21)? This being the case, then our cry should be one with the prayer of our Lord Jesus: "I PRAY NOT that thou shouldest take them OUT OF THE WORLD, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil." (Jn. 17:15). Therefore, sons of God, if ye be sons and not bastards (Heb. 12:7-8), let us not look for a way out of tribulation; but rather, let us LOOK UNTO HIM who will give us VICTORY OVER THE EVIL, and thereby, bring an end to tribulation for ALL MANKIND.
CAUGHT UP -- SEIZED
The Greek word CAUGHT UP, as it is rendered in the King James version is harpazo, which means, TO SEIZE and is a derivative of haireomai and its meaning is TO TAKE FOR ONESELF. The following are the scriptures where this word HARPAZO is used: "...and the violent TAKE IT BY FORCE (SEIZES IT)." (Mt. 11:12). "...then cometh the wicked one, and CATCHETH AWAY (SEIZES) that which was sown in his heart." (Mt. 13:19). "...and the wolf CATCHETH (SEIZES) them, and scattereth the sheep." (Jn. 10:12). "...neither shall any man PLUCK (SEIZE) them out of my hand...and no man is able to PLUCK (SEIZE) them out of My Father's hand." (Jn. 10:28 & 29). "...with fear, PULLING (SEIZING) them out of the fire. (Jude 23). "I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God Knoweth:) such an one CAUGHT UP (SEIZED) to the third heaven." (II Cor. 12:3). "...and her child was CAUGHT UP (SEIZED) unto God...." (Rev. 12:5). And also, "Then we which are alive and remain shall be CAUGHT UP (SEIZED) together with them...." (I Thes. 4:17).
Not only from the meaning of this word do we see that IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH DIRECTION, such as being caught UPWARDLY into the air, but by taking note of how the original writers of the New Testament used the word also gives us definition of the word. Therefore, seeing that the word simply is telling us of a particular STATE OF BEING one might find himself -- namely, in the disposition of being SEIZED, then it would be good for us to get our minds off of where we thought we might be GOING and on to WHAT WE ARE DEFINITELY BECOMING. What it boils down to, brethren, is this: When we hear the LOGOS OF GOD we will find ourselves so completely SEIZED OF OUR LORD, and with such resurrection power, that we will never fall to the pulling gravity of the flesh again.
Flying away into the cloudy skies would no doubt be an exciting experience, but in comparison to what is happening inwardly (being "raptured" into and by the Spirit of the living God) causes every thing else to pale to the paltry naturalisms they are. If being physically raptured is our hope, oh, dear saints of God, how miserably we have robbed ourselves, for there is something greater, yes, MUCH, M-U-C-H GREATER! Therefore, never let it be said that we are trying to rob anyone of anything, for our desire is to give. Hopefully, however, the myth of becoming human missiles will be removed from people's minds. If this is accomplished, we do hope some realities will take the place of what some would consider a great loss. But how could it be a loss if it is replaced with the reality of the king of glory Himself? -- Jesus Christ!
At a glance there does not seem to be anything very significant in this term "IN (the) CLOUDS" other than the Greek omits the definite article THE. There is no apparent, hidden Greek word here to draw from that would change or enhance the meaning of this thought (I Thes. 4:17). However, there are times when it is proper to look at the spiritual meaning of various statements recorded in the Bible to see what is really being said. We believe this is one of those times and areas of scripture, especially when we consider the other thoughts contained in these verses that are associated with the clouds. We can also take note of some other scriptures that should help us in seeing what clouds in the Bible are so often referring to: "For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto THE CLOUDS." (Ps. 57:10); "Ascribe ye strength unto God: His excellence is over Israel, and His strength is in THE CLOUDS...The God of Israel is He that giveth strength and power unto HIS PEOPLE." (Ps. 68:34 & 35); and "Who maketh the CLOUDS HIS CHARIOT." (Ps. 104:3).
It has been made clear that our citizenship is IN THE HEAVENS (Heb. 12:22-24), and looking at the above verses, can we not say that THE SAINTS are in fact those clouds? We should be able to, for God's truths are given to PEOPLE rather than to natural clouds. His strength and power is also ascribed to PEOPLE and not literal clouds (there is indeed power in natural clouds, but the context of Ps. 68:35 is referring to people). And most certainly, THE SAINTS OF THE MOST HIGH make up the chariot in which God rides and manifests His power and majesty to the world, rather than by the clouds of the blue skies above. The clouds spoken of in I Thes. 4:17 are no less the same. When it speaks of being seized in clouds, it is not speaking of the natural water clouds from which our rain comes, but it is referring to God's people who make up the heavenly host. Isaiah 55:10-13 attests to this by saying that WE shall be as the rain that comes down out of heaven (rain is condensed clouds) to water the earth which causes the whole world to come alive and to break forth into joyous singing. Hebrews 11:40 and 12:1 also speaks of people being clouds, i.e. all the patriarchs who have died in faith are called a CLOUD OF WITNESSES.
When we read of things in heaven -- clouds, rain, lightning, hail, thunder, or even a city -- it is generally speaking of those with specific characteristics who are abiding in Christ rather than having their minds wrapped up in the soiled garments of the earth. When considering the clouds, we should be able to see that it is alluding to people in the same manner as when we read, "Ye are come unto...the CITY OF THE LIVING GOD, THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM...." (Heb. 12:22). This is a statement about PEOPLE and not buildings. This city is mentioned again in Rev. 21:9-10, and before it is called THE GREAT CITY it is said to be THE BRIDE, THE LAMBS WIFE (again -- PEOPLE -- not buildings). This city was then seen descending out of heaven from God, like the rain of Isaiah 55:10, which is manifested on the lower realm to bless the earth. Until there is a descending from the realm of the heavens of Christ's habitation, the inhabitants of the earth will never see the glory of God and be set into the liberty of being His offspring. It will be from the descending rains of God that every eye of all flesh shall see His glory and be drawn to this holy city to worship the One they sought after and came to love. (Acts 17:27, Isa. 55:10-13, 40 3-5. 66:23, Rev. 15:4, etc.). Therefore, brethren, as it is seen by us, we will remain right here with our feet upon the earth, yet residing in the heavens, as did Jesus (Jn. 3:13), and become rain to a parched and thirsty world of humanity. Regardless of whether we are clouds or the city, which we should be both and even more, it speaks somewhat of the same thing. With either, we first win our heavenly wars and are established in the heavens of Christ, then we are made known to those of the dust and will minister life so they might also overcome and live. However, if we should really be lifted into the literal clouds, as it has been supposed, how could we ever be of any good to the creation who awaits our appearing so they can be liberated and set free from the bondage of corruption (Rom. 8:19-21)? Needless to say, we would be of no value at all, but it is a different story to those who are CAUGHT UP (SEIZED -- HARPAZO) as was Paul in II Cor. 12:2 -- they will ultimately bring total deliverance to the groaning creation.
IN THE AIR -- INTO AIR
"Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air" (I Thes. 4:17). This sounds fairly emphatic, that is, when we look at it in the literal sense; but let us take time and examine a couple of tiny words, prepositions, in the Greek and see if some beneficial light can be shed to illumine our minds. Note the underlined prepositions of the following: "We the living ones...shall be seized IN CLOUDS INTO A MEETING of the Lord INTO AIR." Prepositions may not seem to be important enough to even consider, but they play a major roll in languages by showing the relationship between a noun or pronoun and some other word in the sentence. In this case, the word ones of the living ones is the noun, and the preposition in tells the reader what position the living ones are in with reference to the clouds. Namely, they are right in the very midst of or compassed about with clouds. There is no movement or direction involved at all, they are simply inside clouds. On the other hand, the word into lets us know that the living ones relationship to a meeting and air is. Into has something to do with movement, direction, and destination. In other words, we the living ones, those who are within and make up the cloud of witnesses right now, when the trumpet is blown, will be seized by the spirit and taken into an instructional meeting with the Lord of lords which takes place in the realm of the conscious soul (spiritually called air).
The word MEETING (apantesin, Grk.) appears four times in the New testament (Mt. 25:1 & 6, Acts 28:15, and I Thes. 4:17), and it carries the thought of a CONFERENCE, an ASSEMBLY, or a CONVOCATION. It means much more than just merely coming in contact with our Lord and standing in His presence. In essence, we are called a HOLY CONVOCATION to when the voice of His trumpet is heard. This HOLY ASSEMBLY, if we will notice, has a certain "AIR" about it, and that air is certainly not that of the sky where jet airliners fly but is speaking of a spiritual spectrum of life. All through the Bible, it is very common to find natural elements of the earth that refers to spiritual realities in people's lives, especially with God's people. This is what we have here — an analogy.
Air, as it is rendered in our study passage, comes from the Greek word AER, and according to Dr. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance it means, "TO BREATHE unconsciously, i.e. respire; by analogy to blow; ‘air’ (as natural circumambient)." The same word is used in Ephesians 2:1-2 which speaks of Satan: "And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the AIR, the SPIRIT that now worketh in the children of disobedience." When we look closely, we can see THE COURSE (spirit) OF THE WORLD (soul) is synonymous with THE PRINCE (spirit) OF THE AIR (soul); therefore, the more we know about the world (the susceptible soul of man) and its course (its ruling spirit) the more we will know about this infamous prince and will be able to deal appropriately with him.
The air, according to the above verse, is the realm from which Satan has dominion. Does this then mean that the only place he has any power or authority is where there is BREATHABLE AIR? If this is the case, all one would have to do in order to escape the tempting influence of this lying ruler of darkness is to find someplace where there is no air, like the moon, for instance. We would, however, have to take along some air tanks in order to live; and being that he supposedly resides in "the air," does this mean he would be contained in the air tanks and every time we took a breath of air he would be inhaled into our lungs? Or let us think about this: The next time we get infuriated with someone and hatred builds up to the point we might feel like killing them, why don't we just go jump in the lake with all the air expelled from our lungs and lay submerged about six feet below the surface for awhile? This is sure to get us over our anger in a hurry, because in this location there would be no air around us or in us for the devil to exercise his power through. Therefore, all our evil thoughts would vanish in a flash; that is, until we came up for a breath of "fresh" AIR, and the tempter entered back into our bodies. Silly and foolish thoughts, aren't they? But this type of thinking is what we could come up with when we insist on looking at all these things only in the literal sense rather than in the spirit and truth of the matter.
It is good that Paul wrote Eph. 2:2 the way he did — "according to the COURSE OF THIS WORLD, according to the PRINCE OF THE AIR — for it makes it much easier to determine what THE AIR is referring to; namely, the SOULISH LUSTS OF THE WORLD.
The unregenerated soul moves and has its being in THE WORLD, and it is from this air of the soul that Satan was able to gain the title, "...THE PRINCE OF THIS WORLD." (Jn. 12:31, 14:30 & 16:11). The fact is, whoever sits upon the throne of the soul makes the earth his footstool and becomes its prince, whether it is Christ or Satan. Although Satan was destroyed by Jesus (Heb. 2:12), he is still sitting as a great dragon in some form or another (probably more like an illusion) on the throne of most people's minds, and they believe that this monster they have magnified so greatly is much too awesome to ever be conquered. Therefore, in order to escape such an awesome, unconquerable foe, another magnified illusion has been created called the rapture. However, those who have truly been "raptured" (seized) out of earthy lusts and temptations are able to overcome all the imaginations of the mind and cast them down to establish God's kingdom in and upon the earth. This victory over the enemy, rather real or imagined, is seen when the Lord of lords descends from the third heaven of the holy of holies and into the second heaven of the holy place of the air of our minds. In this descent He makes Himself known with a war cry which causes the sons of God to be SEIZED INTO HIS LORDSHIP. It is at this time that Satan is to be removed from the throne of our souls, and the apprehended ones of Christ, those who make up the clouds of heaven, will possess that throne and rule the kingdom within forever.
We see an example of this in Revelation 12:5-11, where the "man child" (MALE SON, Grk.) is CAUGHT UP (SEIZED, harpazo) unto God and His throne, and as a result the war in heaven ensues and ends in glory for those who love not their lives unto the death .
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." (I Thes. 4:17). If the catching up, rather, being seized 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: It 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 it is in THE COLD CLOUDS OF THE SKY....Think about it, F-O-R-E-V-E-R in the CLOUDS OF THE ATMOSPHERE OVER THE EARTH...to NEVER, N-E-V-E-R 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 rip entirely from our Bibles. Three comes to mind at the moment: "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...." (Rev. 5:10, Rev. 12:5 & Rev. 21:10).
If we are to remain in the sky always, never to return, then there is no way for us to EVER reign on the earth; the nations which are upon the earth will NEVER be righteously ruled by the sons of God; nor would the bride of Christ EVER descend and manifest God's glory to the world which is to be displayed by her radiant beauty. But praise God, we are here to tell you, dear saints, since I Thes. 4:16-17 is not speaking of natural things, WE WILL NOT BE ETERNALLY LOCKED IN THE NATURAL, CLOUDY SKIES OUR RAIN COMES FROM! We will, however, be forever in His company with His body which is His CLOUD OF WITNESSES, those who are as He is. We will be eternally in the CONSCIOUS PRESENCE of our wonderful Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! Now that, dear ones, is something we can comfort one another with, as we are told to do in the concluding verse of this promise to the saints. (II Thes. 4:18)TWINKLE OF THE EYE
We will briefly touch upon 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 Cor 15:52)
We will borrow once again from 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.
No Brethren, we will not be whisked off the earth and 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, or any other doctrine, for that matter. And when God gets ready, He will not be snapping His fingers and saying, "Be mature, transfigured sons of glory." There are, however, some verses that do tell us how this glorious change comes. One such verse is, "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye TRANSFORMED by the RENEWING of your mind." (Rom 12:2). The change comes, dear ones, due to the renewing of our minds, as our attention is refocused!
Let us close this article with some timely words from Robert Torango in his "Metamorphosis -- Our Transformation, Part Two":
"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 it’s 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 it’s true validity, but absolute Truth will simply make all other part-truths irrelevant in the light of it’s 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 this is 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 have 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, to have that infused life within them rise up and fill the house with its glory and consequently for that 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 full counsel 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 heavenliness, 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 will 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 invisible spirit of Christ, this will ring true and will enlarge our vision of our 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 35 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! " —End quote.
Elwin R. Roach
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