Saturday, July 4, 2009

Rapture Or Second Coming? A Sixth Distinction Refuted

Is there a Biblical difference between the "rapture" and the "second coming"? To show that such is the case, our brothers label the rapture "the blessed hope" , a term used by Paul in Titus 2:13, and then they assure us that the final coming could not be a "blessed hope" for the few Christians who live to survive the devastation of the Tribulation. Again here is the using of the conclusion as part of the proof. The pre-tribulationists are the ones who have divided Jesus' coming into two parts and assigned them names. The Bible nowhere does this.

But I fear there is even a greater lapse in logic by our esteemed brothers in this text. It would seem to me that the greater the tragedy, the greater the hope. As Jesus wipes away the tears of Tribulation saints in Revelation 7:13-17, He is truly received as a blessed sight. How much the saints will be affected by all that goes on during these dark years is not clear. We are called to be persecuted, but not judged. God will sort that out. But we will go through it. And we will be greeted by a loving Saviour who understands, because He went through earth's rejections. It seems inconceivable that believers snatched up before the suffering could receive a greeting that matches this one.

The mentality that our brothers echo here borders on that elitism that is prevalent among us in the Western Church. Why do we think we are not called to suffer when the Scriptures repeatedly say we are? Those that suffer with Jesus will reign with Him. But what of those who wish to be caught up before it all begins?

Bethel ministries says on this topic: "Persecution and martyrdom is, in fact, the New testament norm... Peter wrote, 'For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in his steps.' (I Peter 2:21) ...Some church leaders teach that believing in an imminent pre-trib rapture will influence Christians to live holy lives. But the Scriptures teach, referring to the heavens and earth being destroyed by fire [and not the catching up of the bride], 'Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?...' (II Peter 3:11-14)

"There has never been a time when so many Christians believed in an imminent pre-trib rapture and yet the twentieth-century church in America can be characterized by almost anything but holiness...Paul said, 'We glory in tribulations...tribulation worketh patience'... [Jesus said] 'In the world ye shall have tribulation...' (John 16:33) 'We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.' (Acts 4:22). 'Blessed are ye, when men shall ...persecute you.' "

Who has more of a "blessed hope" ? The one who looks forward to no tribulation, or the one who is in trouble now, but is assured that soon the troubles will be gone? The soldier who "hopes" to escape the draft or the one who hopes for the end of the conflict in which he has participated fully? The farmer who "hopes" no bad weather will destroy his crops, or the one who has bravely fought the elements and now sees the fruits of his labor about to blossom in spite of all of nature's blast?

Oh saints! When we sit in a dingy prison cell for our faith in Christ, when all of those whom we hold dear have been taken away, when our stomach is bloated from hunger and our body is mangled from beatings, what a blessed hope is ours! Christ shall come and release us! Christ shall come and restore our Heavenly family! Christ will come and feed us with His own manna, and wash our scars and heal our bodies and we will be with Him forever! Could anything be more of a blessed hope than that?

And is it not equally true that those least looking for that "blessed hope" today are those for whom life is comfortable and secure? Why "hope" if we have what we need already?

There simply is no distinction between the rapture and the second coming. Together, they are our blessed hope! is a website I put together a few months back to get the word out to believers that they need to pray for North Korea. Just about every day I'm writing a blog featuring some news, a book, or a story of North Korea. There's a live news feed on the site, lists of resources, picture essays, and ways to respond to the overwhelming need in North Korea. Let's love Chosun together!

And who am I? A man found of God over 50 years ago, called to the ministry, serving the Lord as needed in my world. Married, member of a local church in the Chicago area, with full time work in public education. Who are you? Would love to fellowship with believers who respond on my site.

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