We need a second thought on the Doctrine of the Rapture of the Church!
After many years of hearing about the Rapture of the Church but nothing happening, many have started thinking "Is there really going to be a Rapture of the Church or not?". Some even have gone a little further and are pondering "Maybe we need to re-think some scriptures!".
While the majority of Christians are following the prophecies of the End Times and the Rapture of the Church, many have remained silent, pondering upon many scriptures, waiting for the right time to share the truth.
Years go by and many prophesies (through major christian ministries) about the Second Coming of Jesus, the End of the World and the Rapture of the Church, have come to failure! Frankly speaking, it’s been around 2000 years since Jesus said "I am coming quickly" and somehow this 'quickly' hasn’t been that quick, it’s been a long 2000 years!
Maybe 'quickly' means quickly, and what He said was and is the truth and all we need to do is to re-define our understanding of His Coming!
When I cried out: "Lord, don't come!"
I remember we were introduced to teachings about the Rapture of the Church when my husband and I had just become Christians, back on February 2012!
Imagine, as Muslims, we had a radical life-changing encounter with Jesus when we read the Bible for the first time. We were astonished with the Love, Truth, Freedom and reality of Jesus!
The two verses that made us to bow down to Jesus, we later realized, that the majority of Christians don’t even believe! But that one verse had the power to separate Christianity from all other religions! It wasn't any more about dying and going to heaven and get some reward from God one day (as Muslims believe), but it was about being transformed to His image and live like a Son here and now!
These two verses are in Romans chapter 8 verse 29-30:
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined [to be] conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. [Rom 8:29-30 NKJV]
We had just found purpose in life. We were excited to live differently, experience Him daily, learning to overcome every challenges and grow in His knowledge. Not only that but we were also excited to introduce Jesus to every single member of our family and see them to experience His love and reality daily, as we did.
But then, we were introduced to the doctrine of the End Times and the Rapture of the Church! I remember fear gripped my heart! The joy seemed to be replaced with anxiety and fear as I was hearing the confidence in the voice of this famous end time preacher. He was shouting:
“September 2012 is going to be the Rapture of the Church, God will take away His people and destroy those who don’t believe on Him...”
I was terrified, ran to my room, went on my knees, devastated and fearful, cried out loud to the Lord:
"NO, PLEASE LORD, PLEASE NO! We have just come to know you, and our families Lord… our families, they don’t know You yet…PLEASE, PLEASE, DON’T COME JESUS, DON’T COME!"
You see, it’s been 8 years since then and the Rapture of the Church hasn’t happened! Year after year, they shout even louder, prophesying the Rapture and predict its time, and planting fear in the heart of people. Not only their prophecies never comes to fulfillment, but they leave us with the fear that quenches us daily!
Here's the thing: Fear is, and has always been, the greatest tool to control people!
But God is Love and Love edifies! Love builds up, Love casts out all fear! God never gives fear:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. [2Ti 1:7 NKJV]
September 2012 came and when nothing happened, no rapture of the church, no end time, Masoud and I began to study the scriptures in-depth to be able to find out the truth about this.
There is a place where you can be sure about it!
There is a place that you can be certain and confident about the Truth. Not guessing! Not Maybe! There is a place where you actually know when the Lord is coming!
That’s when we put aside what we 'think' the scriptures say, and start letting the scriptures interpret another scripture.
For years, we kept everything that we were learning to ourselves. Because we wanted to have a clearer understanding of the scriptures. We wanted to have assurance of heart and mind through the Spirit before we share what I am about to share.
But now the time has come!
Rapture vs. Caught-Up
So let’s take a look at some scriptures, as many as we could in one post, to understand the word "Rapture".
The word Rapture is not in the Bible! However, the word that is being used to elaborate the word Rapture is the word "Caught-Up". It is used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17:
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. [1Th 4:17 NKJV]
This is the major verse used in the Doctrine of the Rapture of the Church.
To understand this verse, we need to study the major words and let the scriptures define these words, mainly: caught up, cloud and air.
In this article my focus is on understanding the word "Caught up". By having a more accurate definition, we can then have a better understanding of what Paul is saying.
In the upcoming posts, I will talk about the cloud and the air and open up this verse deeper.
The Meaning of the Word “Caught-Up”
The word “caught up” is the word “harpazō” in the Greek and has been used 17 times in 13 verses in Strong's Concordance.
To understand this word, we need to study the context of every other verse this word is used in. Let's now look at some of these verse.
The first one is in the parable of the sower and the seed in Matthew chapter 13:
"When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand [it], then the wicked [one] comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. [Mat 13:19 NKJV]"
The word snatches away is the same word as caught up.
You can also find this word in the Gospel of John:
"But a hireling, [he who is] not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. [Jhn 10:12 NKJV]
The word catches is the same word is caught up.
Philip was raptured, as mentioned in the book of Acts:
Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. [Act 8:39 NKJV]
The word caught way is actually the word caught up.
And also Jude talks about it:
but others save with fear, pulling [them] out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. [Jde 1:23 NKJV]
The word pulling out is the exact same word as caught up.
As we can see in all these verses 'something' or 'someone' was caught up (raptured) - out of one thing into another!
By studying other verses we can come to the conclusion that:
The word “caught up” simply means out from somewhere into somewhere else.
Out from the heart, out from the flock, out from the fire, etc.
Paul was caught up
But a very well-known portion of the scriptures that uses the word caught up is 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, where Paul makes an statement that he had a rapture experience:
Let’s read this verse:
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago--whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows--such a one was caught up to the third heaven. [2Co 12:2 NKJV]
How he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. [2Co 12:4 NKJV]
So Paul had a Rapture experience!
We need to consider a few things when reading these verses:
Paul had a Personal Rapture Experience
First off, If Paul was raptured then we can say the “Rapture Experience" is something “personal” and can happen to anyone, at any time and on any days! Paul was “personally” caught up and after the experience he comes and writes to the church of Corinth about His experience.
Therefore, the theology of waiting for a day when everyone is raptured together cannot be accurate.
Paul continued his ministry on earth, after the Rapture Experience
Secondly, we need to consider that after Paul had the “rapture” experience, he was still on earth and continued the ministry, going around and preaching the gospel.
So, Rapture can’t be the end of the world nor the end of evil on earth, nor does it have anything to do with the coming of Jesus as preached by majority!
Paul's Rapture to Paradise
When Paul is sharing his experience to the church of Corinth, he tells about the place he was raptured to:
...such a one was caught up to the third heaven. [2Co 12:2 NKJV]
how he was caught up into Paradise... [2Co 12:4 NKJV]
First he says he was caught up to the third heaven, then he says he was actually caught up to Paradise! So we can simply conclude that he wasn't caught up to two different places in this story. But He was actually caught up to one place. He is just using two different names to explain where He was caught up to!
Where is Paradise?
Let’s understand where Paradise is, so that we can understand what Rapture actually is.
The word Paradise is also used in Rev 2:7 where Jesus tells one of the churches to overcome and to eat from the Tree of Life that is in the midst of the Paradise:
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." ' [Rev 2:7 NKJV]
So here we can see that this church wasn’t eating from the tree of life and they still needed to overcome something and eat from the tree of life that is in Paradise!
And, if we go to the end of the Book of Revelation, we can once again see the tree of life, with fruits. But this time the tree of life is in the midst of a city that is called the Holy Jerusalem or the New Jerusalem.
In Chapter 21 of the book of Revelation, John has a vision of New Jerusalem, the Holy City of God that comes down from Heaven on Earth and in verse 22 of chapter 21, He sees no temple and no light in the city because the Lamb is it’s temple and it’s light:
But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb [is] its light. [Rev 21:22-23 NKJV]
And then he sees the tree of life that is being planted by the water of life and this water is coming from the temple, the throne of Lamb, and this temple was in the New Jerusalem:
And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, [was] the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each [tree] yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree [were] for the healing of the nations. [Rev 22:1-2 NKJV]
So here is the picture:
There is a city which the throne of the lamb is in the midst of it. Out of the throne comes out the river of the water of life and on either side of this river is the tree of life.
So the tree of life is in the midst of the Holy Jerusalem!
Therefore the Paradise of God is the Holy Jerusalem, the City of God, that has come down from Heaven and has the glory of God!
So we can see here that Paul was actually caught up to the New Jerusalem!
What is the New Jerusalem?
Let's go a little deeper and understand with more details what New Jerusalem is:
Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, [Rev 21:9-10 NKJV]
If you have been a Christian exposed to some trustworthy doctrines, you'll know that the Lamb of God is the symbolic language of the Spirit. It refers to the Lord Jesus Christ who was offered up as the sacrificial Lamb for forgiveness of sin for everyone! Therefore the Lamb refers to Christ!
The symbolism helps us to understand the great Mystery of Christ deeper. If the "Lamb" is not referring to an actual Lamb but the "Christ", then the Holy Jerusalem can not be referring to an actual earthly city and must be a symbolic representation of a certain Truth. These verses don’t refer to a lamb and a city but to Christ and the Church!
Church, the Bride of Christ
We can read about husband and wife in Ephesians chapter 5 where Paul is revealing a great mystery, the mystery of Christ and the church:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her. [Eph 5:25 NKJV]
For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. [Eph 5:30-32 NKJV]
Therefore according to these scriptures, the Lamb’s wife, the Bride, is the church. Therefore the Holy Jerusalem is the Church which has become one with her Husband and that is why she has the Glory of her Husband the Lamb of God!
The Holy Jerusalem is where we, as the church, the bride, the wife of Christ, are being one with our head, the husband once again! We become the flesh of His flesh and the bone of His bone. Where once again we, us and Him together, as the body and head, will create one NEW MAN, the PERFECT MAN!
You can Experience Rapture Daily
So going back to our Rapture of the Church doctrine that we are trying to understand, Paul was raptured to a place where he could see the perfection of mankind! That's why He started by saying: “I KNOW A MAN IN CHRIST” and “OF SUCH A ONE I BOAST”!
So if we even believe the word “caught up” is the same word as “Rapture” that tells us that we can be in a state in our daily life that we can be caught up to the Paradise of God and see the Perfect Man in Christ! A place where many revelations of who He is can be made known to us and reveal who we really are in Him.
We can be caught up to our true identity, A MAN IN CHRIST, and start living and experiencing this reality on earth!
This can happen every day, any time and to anyone!
The place where you see who you are, and once your eyes are open to the mystery of oneness with Christ, then you'll start living victorious with Him here and now! That is the Rapture of the Church!