Monday, March 12, 2018

Is the Rapture Imminent?

The word "imminent" is an adjective that is used to indicate something is about to happen. The biblical expression is "at hand," which means it is near (e.g. Jer. 23:23). When we say that the rapture of the Body of Christ is imminent, we are saying that it could happen at any moment. Although the words "imminent" and "rapture" are not in the Bible, the doctrine which they signify certainly is. 

Our rapture was a mystery revealed through the apostle Paul (1 Cor. 15:51). When we compare all the scripture given through Paul on the rapture with what the scripture says concerning the second coming of Christ, it is clear that they are two different events. Jesus Christ gave many signs that must be fulfilled before His return to the earth (Matt. 24). Paul did not give us any signs that must be fulfilled before the rapture can take place, but simply exhorted us to look for that blessed hope (Phil. 3:20-21; Titus 2:13). We don't know when Christ is coming for us, but we know that He could come today. 

False teachers tried to convince the church at Thessalonica that the day of the Lord was at hand (which would mean they were in the tribulation period). That the church was facing great persecution made them more susceptible to believing that lie. Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians to correct this false teaching. In chapter 2 he shows how that the day of Christ (same as the day of the Lord in this context) was NOT at hand (2 Thess. 2:1-2). They were not seeing the events described in vs.3-12, nor would they. The Body of Christ has been "chosen to salvation" (vs.13-14) from the wrath to come. The prophesied events that will be fulfilled in the 70th week of Daniel do not concern the mystery of the Body of Christ. They cannot be fulfilled until we are "taken out of the way" (v.7). The mystery of this present age is withholding the Antichrist from being revealed (v.6). 

Paul taught the Body of Christ that the second coming of Christ is NOT at hand. However, there are passages in which Paul taught that our rapture is "at hand." This proves that the rapture and second coming are two different events. 

Romans 13:11-14
11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. 

Philippians 4:5
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 

That Paul is referring to rapture in v.5 is clear from the context (3:20-21). 

That the rapture is at hand does not mean we should not make any plans for tomorrow. Paul made plans (1 Cor. 16:1-8), but he was careful to add, "if the Lord permit" (v.7). Some claim that believing the rapture is imminent has a negative effect on believers. I don't know what they are talking about! Believing that the Lord could come today is a great source of comfort to me (1 Thess. 4:18; 5:11). It is also a great motivation in Christian service (1 Thess. 2:19-20; Titus 2:11-14). To wait for Christ from heaven (1 Thess. 1:10) means that we are serving Him (1 Thess. 1:9) as we wait for Him to catch us up to meet Him in the air.


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