The last days of history – Part 14
While there are differing views of the millennium (Rev20: 2-7) in relation to Christ’s second coming (e.g. premillennial, postmillennial, and amillennial), nevertheless, all evangelicals affirm a literal return of Christ to the earth preceding the eternal state. In premillennialism, however, the distinct event of the rapture is often emphasised.
The main biblical passage for the rapture (Gk. harpazo) of the church is 1Thess4: 15-17. Other texts often used to support the doctrine of the rapture are John 14:1-3 and 1 Cor15: 51-52. Here are three main approaches to understanding the rapture in premillennialism: (1) In the Pretribulational view Christ raptures the church before any part of the seven-year tribulation begins (Dan9:24-27; Matt24:3-28; Rev11:2; 12:14). Upon Christ’s coming in the air, which is distinct from and that precedes His coming to the earth, believers will be “caught up together… in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thess. 4:17).
In this view, believers are delivered “from the coming wrath” (1 Thess1: 10; Rev3: 10) by being taken out of the world. (2) A midtribulational view also sees the rapture as a distinct event that precedes Christ’s second coming and delivers believers from the last half of the seven-year period, the “great tribulation” (Matt24: 15-28; Rev16-18). (3) A posttribulational view holds that the rapture and the second coming occur at the same time. Therefore, the church remains on earth during “the time of Jacob’s distress” (Jer30:7). Unlike the world, however, believers who go through the tribulation will be protected from the devastating outpouring of God’s wrath and judgment (1 Thes5: 9).
10 Qualifications for the Rapture
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” (1 Thes 4:16)
(1) Be in Christ (1 Thes4: 14,16; 2 Cor5:17-18); (2) Be Christ’s (1 Cor15:23; Gal5:24); (3) Be blessed and holy (Rev20:4-6; Heb12:14); (4) Be good (Jn5:28-29); (5) Be worthy (Luke21:36); (6) Be in the Church (1 Cor12:13, Eph1:20-23; 4:4-6; 5:27; Col1:18, 24); (7) Be pure (1 Jn3:2-3); (8) Be without spot or wrinkle (Eph5: 27); (9) Live and walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:19-21); (10) Walk in the light (1 Jn 1:7; Col2:6). These 10 Qualifications shall be expounded in great details later on “How to prepare for the Rapture.”
Purposes of the Rapture
“Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thes4:17)
• To receive saints to Himself as promised (1 Thes 4:17; Jn 14:1-3; Eph5: 27)
• To resurrect the dead in Christ from among the wicked dead (1 Thes 4:14, 16-17; Phil 3:11; Rev20: 4-6)
• To take saints to heaven to live in the New Jerusalem and receive towards (1 Thes4: 17; 3:13; Jn14: 1-3; 2 Cor 5:10; Heb 12:22-23; Rev 19:1-10; 21:9-10)
• To change bodies of saints to immortality (1 Thes 4:16-17; 1 Cor 15:35-58; Phil3: 21)
• To present saints before God (1 Thes 4:17, 3:13; Jn 14:1-3; Jude 24; Rev19: 1-10)
• To make saints whole in body, soul, and spirit (1 Thes 4:16-17; 5:23; Phil 3:21)
• To receive the fruit of the early and latter rain (Jas 5:7; Jn 14:1-3)
• To cause the saints to escape the tribulation of Rev 6:1-19:21 (1 Thes 4:16-17; 5:9; Lk 21:36; Rev4:1)
• To remove the hinderer of lawlessness (2 Thes 2:7; Rev4:1)
• To permit the revelation of the Antichrist (2 Thes 2:7; Rev 4:1)
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