By Pete Garcia
In a theological world bent on consensus and ecumenism, you have to wonder why some things in the Bible are the way they are. Some things seem so fantastical, that to hold to them in a literal manner would immediately draw derision and division from the world. A seven-day Creation, a world-wide Flood, the Tower of Babel, the Red Sea crossing, David and Goliath, resurrection from the dead, and the Rapture of the Church to name a few. Did they really happen, or were these biblical accounts simply subjective object-lessons on faith? If only lessons, where do they come from? What higher purpose do they serve?
Today there is a growing group of “clergy” who simply dismiss more and more of Scripture. Some claim to only follow what we would identify as the “red letters,” (or Jesus’s actual words) to build their theology around. These “red-letter” Christians, spend much of their time dismissing the rest of the Bible. They even dismiss the “red letters” if they don’t mesh with their culturally-declining consensus. These are they who routinely trade objective truth for subjective reasoning. As fantastical as some of the physical, global, and supernatural events were in the Old Testament, the New Testament offered the revelation of the mysteries of God.
It was to the apostle Paul, who God made known the mysteries revealed in the New Testament. Among the seven mysteries, we will primarily focus on one. But for an expansive and well-written view, see doctrine.org. Below are excerpts from that article.
- The Secret of the Gospel of the Grace of God (Romans 16.25-26)
- The Secret of the One Body (1 Corinthians 12.12-27; Ephesians 1.22-23; Colossians 1.18, 24) was His body and that its nature was that Jew and Gentile were equal in Christ (Galatians 3.26-29). The Lord did not reveal this truth to Peter or the Twelve. Search the Scriptures–one will find no word about the body of Christ from anyone but Paul.
- The Secret of Heavenly Citizenship (Ephesians 1.3; Ephesians 2.4-6; Philippians 3.20-21; 2 Corinthians 5.1-3)
- The Secret of the Blinding of Israel (Romans 11.25-27)
- The Secret of His Will (Ephesians 1.9-10; Colossians 1.19-20)
- The Secret of the Grace of God (1 Corinthians 15.1-4; Romans 8.29; Philippians 1.6;1 Timothy 1.15)
- The Secret of the Rapture or Resurrection of the Body of Christ
The “rapture” is the resurrection of the Church, the body of Christ. In this divine event, members of the body of Christ will receive resurrection bodies. When the body of Christ is complete, God will take His body unto Himself. Paul called this the “fullness of the Gentiles” (Romans 11.25) since the body of Christ is composed primarily of Gentiles. The word Paul used for the Rapture was ἁρπάζω which means “to seize” or “to snatch away.” Our English word “rapture” comes from the Latin “rapiemur” which is the word Jerome used in the Latin Vulgate to translate ἁρπάζω. Paul revealed the secret of the Rapture in 1 Corinthians 15.51-53:
51 Behold, I tell you a mystery [secret]; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
Paul elaborated on this event when he wrote the Thessalonians about the order of the resurrection of the body of Christ:
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4.13-18).
I’ve often wondered why God would choose being caught up in the blink of an eye as the mechanism of our delivery at that appointed time. Why aren’t we transformed in full view of a Christ-rejecting world like something out of a Disney princess movie? Why couldn’t God turn us all into super-human immortals and allow us to breeze through the Tribulation (Daniel’s 70th Week) unscathed? He could have if He wanted too for sure. But our physical absence speaks to our role in that final week of years. The mystery of the one body, is why the Church is physically not present on earth during the last seven years.
The Church is the bride of Christ. The Church is also the body of Christ, of whom Jesus said He would build (Matt. 16:18). Jesus is also the head of the body who is the Church. In piecing together the metaphors and symbolizing we see spelled out in various passages brings us back to the institution of marriage. In marriage, the husband and wife become one flesh which is what our marriage (hence our combining) then symbolizes.
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. Ephesians 5:30-32
Our marriage is what the Church is doing in heaven while the Tribulation is being poured out upon the earth. Various errant eschatological views have the Church being raptured either during or after the 70th Week. That is only possible by confusing who and what the Church is.
The Church (ekklesia) is called out assembly of believers that only exist between the resurrection of Christ and the Rapture. We couldn’t exist before Christ died on the cross because it takes the death of the testator in order for that New Testament (Covenant) to take effect.
For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives. Hebrews 9:16-17
Now there have been believers since the days of Genesis. Being a believer in and of itself does not mean that one is in the Church. Just as God divided people up by sex, ethnicity, and other distinctive traits and just as there are separate classes of the angelic hosts, so too will believers fall into different categories. There were Old Testament believers (believing in the One who would come), and there are New Testament believers (who were redeemed because of the death, burial, and resurrection of the One).
The OT saints were not saved by the redeeming power of the cross, because the Christ had not yet come. But they were justified as we are, by grace through faith in God. In other words, the object of our faith is different, but the result is the same-in that we are ultimately redeemed by God. The idea that the Christ had to die on a cross and be raised again was unknown to those who lived before that time.
However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 1 Cor. 2:6-8
When OT believers died, they went to a holding place known as Abraham’s Bosom or Paradise (Luke 16:22-23, 23:43). Unlike the Church who is resurrected/translated into our immortal bodies before the 70th Week, they (OT saints) will be resurrected into their immortal, glorified bodies after the 70th Week along with those believers who are martyred during the 70th Week (Daniel 12:1-3, Matt. 24:31, Lk. 11:24, Rev. 6:9-11, 20:4). So this resurrection is divided only by seven years (or so). This depends on whether or not a gap of time exists between the Rapture and the start of the 70th Week of Daniel.
We know currently that those believers (since Pentecost) who have physically died, are spiritually alive and in the presence of God (2 Cor. 5:6-8). These are they who come WITH Christ at the Rapture to meet those still alive, in the air. As I’ve stated in previous articles, why we meet in the air is in my opinion, a triumphal procession through the midst of enemy territory (Eph. 2:2). This is where Christ parades His trophy (the Church-1 Peter 2:9) before His defeated enemies on our way to the bema judgment and marriage ceremony in Heaven.
Some argue that God’s judgment doesn’t begin with the Seal Judgments, but with the Trumpets. This seems unlikely seeing as Christ is the only One found worthy to take and open the sealed scroll, thus initiating the subsequent entire chain of events (Revelation 5:1-7). If Christ’s judgment only begins at the Trumpet Judgments, then shouldn’t Christ blow the first Trumpet? Since He was the ONLY one worthy to open the sealed scroll, if the judgments aren’t from Him, then to whom do they belong? It likewise seems counter-intuitive for Him to pour out His judgments upon Himself (since His body the Church).
In God’s providential wisdom, He chose the Rapture as the manner of delivery because it both serves the purpose of removing His body from the earth prior to His judgment and because of the necessary timing required for the bema and marriage to occur. It also reinforces the strong delusion that will come upon the earth after the Rapture occurs (2 Thess. 2:9-11). Lastly, because the world mocks at the very notion of a Rapture, God will use it to destroy the “wise.”
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 1 Cor. 1:18-20
If the Rapture seems too fantastical to believe, then what do these “wise” pastors do with the world-wide flood? Or Moses crossing the Red Sea? Or Samson killing a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass? It seems to me, that God loves to specialize in the fantastical simply because He can. Besides we have seen other instances where God supernaturally (well, for Him it would be natural) move people about at will. He took up Enoch (Heb. 11:5), Elijah (2 Kings 2:11), Paul (2 Cor. 12:2-5), and John (Rev. 4:1-2) as well as moved Ezekiel (Ez. 8:3) and Philip (Acts 8:39).
We live in a world that is continually trying to reinvent and redefine what truth is. The problem the world keeps running into, is that when it promotes one anti-Biblical thing as truth (i.e.…Darwinian Evolution, Big Bang theory, Manmade global warming, gender dysphoria, atheism, communism, etc., ad nausea), it continually runs into the brick wall of another opposing humanistic ideology that contradicts it. The same can be said for liberal or progressive “Christian” pastors who deny some, most, or all of the Bible, to include the Rapture.
I believe that the Rapture has come back into our biblical understanding, because of the nearness of its proximity. It wasn’t relative to know this back in the 15th century from God’s perspective. It is relative now. If we believe that God reveals things progressively to man, then He does so when it is pertinent for that particular generation. That’s why we don’t hear any cautionary sermons today warning people about a world-wide flood. That’s why we don’t hear sermons today warning about an imminent Assyrian invasion. It was relative to Noah, Isaiah and Jeremiah’s audience, but not to us today. Today we warn of the coming Rapture of the Church, and the subsequent hellish vacuum that will fill the earth in our absence.
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief…For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 1 Thess. 5:1-4, 9-10