Do You Still Believe in the Rapture?
By Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon
Tom: You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
Dave Hunt’s book When Will Jesus Come? Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ is the topic for this segment of our program. And last week, before we ran out of time, we were discussing the historic rejection in Christianity of the Rapture of the church, which, if you’re not familiar with the biblical teaching, is the return of Jesus Christ to take His bride, His saints—all those who have put their faith in Him, past and present—to heaven. It involves the resurrection of the bodies of those who died in Christ and the instant translation of the bodies of living believers into new incorruptible bodies. The doctrine is given to us in 1 Corinthians 15 and 1 Thessalonians 4, John 14, and many other verses. Nevertheless, professing Christians, both Catholic and Protestants, regard the Rapture as unbiblical. Catholic teachings of purgatory and indulgences nullify the direct access to heaven that the Rapture promises. And, although one of the cries of the Reformers was Sola Scriptura—the Bible alone as one’s teaching authority—they held onto many practices and beliefs that were carry-overs from the Catholic church, such as infant baptism and the rejection of the Rapture.
And, Dave, last week we started to address the contemporary rejection of the Rapture among those who call themselves evangelicals, beginning with the erroneous teaching in 1948 of something called the Manifest Sons of God. This was in Canada, I believe, where this started.
Dave: Yeah. Tom, rejection of the Rapture by the Catholics reminds me: I was being interviewed on a program—I can’t even remember when or where—but it’s a call-in, and one fellow calling in said, “I’m a Catholic, and I want you to know I don’t agree with you!”
And I said, “Well, thank you very much, because there are an awful lot of people who call themselves evangelicals who claim Catholics and evangelicals agree together.”
He says, “Well, I certainly don’t believe in the Rapture.”
And, I said, “Well, of course! As a Catholic you couldn’t believe in the Rapture because you believe in purgatory, and people have to spend different lengths of time in purgatory. So I don’t know how you could have a Rapture, everybody at once. Some of them wouldn’t even have finished suffering in purgatory.”
So it just shows how unbiblical this doctrine is.
Tom: Right. Now, certainly, Catholics—there are exceptions, Dave. A Catholic can go directly to heaven, but…
Dave: I never met one who thought he would.
Tom: Well, no, because it’s only going to take place maybe moments after a Catholic is baptized as an infant.
Tom: So that would be one of the rare exceptions.
Dave: Well, they’ve been cleansed of all their sins through baptism.
Tom: That’s what baptism does according to the Catholic Church.
Dave: That doesn’t help you too much, does it?
Tom: Right, no.
Dave: Because what about the sins you commit later? Well, you’ve got to go to purgatory, because Christ’s suffering on the cross was not enough.
Tom: Right. Those are temporal sins. And for how long does a person have to suffer in purgatory? Nobody knows, according to the Church.
Dave: The Scripture says, “He suffered once for sin, He the just for us the unjust, that He might bring us to God.” So it sounds like we get to heaven, we come to God through the sufferings of Christ on the cross, not through our own sufferings.
And, Tom, this is such an evil doctrine because it says Christ did not suffer enough to pay the full penalty for our sins, and that is just a slap in the face to Christ. It’s a rejection of what the Bible says; it’s a rejection of what Christ said on the cross: “It is finished!” Tetelestai: Paid in full!
So that’s a tragedy, and as I often say, if the Catholics would just believe what the Bible says, the Catholic Church would be out of business, because the Catholic Church is in the business of doing what Christ didn’t fully accomplish. And if they believed He had accomplished it, the Catholic Church is out of business! That’s their main purpose. You know, the priests can turn the little wafer into the body and blood of Jesus, and so forth.
So anyway, sorry to take off at the Catholics, but I wish, if there are some Catholics listening, or people who have friends who are Catholics, that they would just check it out. That’s what this program is about: “Search the Scriptures.” The Bible is our authority, and as you said, Sola Scriptura was one of the cries of the Reformers. Unfortunately, they didn’t follow it themselves!
Tom: No. Amazing! Sola fide: certainly that was a cry of Luther, yet you look at the Small Catechism, the teachings of the Lutheran church, and you find much more than Sola fide—by faith alone.
Dave: The Small Catechism, Luther’s Small Catechism, is used by every Lutheran church of whatever Synod or whatever group that they’ve broken up into, which is a number of them, but they all use that. And it very clearly tells you that you are forgiven of your sins, made a child of God, become a member of the church through your infant baptism. In fact, when a Lutheran baby is baptized they get a baptismal certificate that says exactly that, whereas the Bible says baptism is for believers. It is symbolic of having received Christ, identified ourselves with Him, and been buried and risen again with Him in new life.
Tom, maybe somebody out there is saying, “These guys are splitting hairs. They’re so critical.”
Jesus said, “Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will in no wise enter into the kingdom of God.” And what was the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees? They claimed they kept the law, and if they didn’t, there was a sacrifice that was offered for them, supposedly, at the temple which was still going at that time. They fasted twice a week, prayed seven times a day. They tried to live above society…
Tom: Dave, they even added more laws to what God had instituted!
Dave: Right. So you’re not going to get saved by your good works. You will never exceed what the Pharisees did. Well then, our righteousness—our righteousness has to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees. It’s not by works of righteousness, the Scripture says, that He has saved us, but by His mercy. And salvation is not by works, because we have already sinned. And as soon as you commit one sin you’re a sinner, and you can’t make up for sinning in the past by keeping the law perfectly in the future, even if you could.
Tom: Right. Separation from God forever—it’s an infinite penalty.
Dave: Right. So where does this righteousness come from? Christ is our righteousness. He paid the penalty for our sins. We are accepted in Him because of His sacrifice, not because of what we could possibly do by the way of righteousness. In fact, the Bible says, “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” So, as it’s often been said, biblical salvation is not about the good works that I must do, it’s about the sacrifice Christ has already made.
Tom: Dave, a friend of mine likes to put it this way—there are only two religions in the world: there is human achievement, and divine accomplishment.
Dave: Very good.
Tom: Only biblical Christianity fits into divine accomplishment. Everything else is human achievement.
Tom: Going to church, the sacraments, good works, whatever it might be, these are all things trying to obtain salvation, and it can never happen.
Dave: Well said.
Tom: Well, let’s get back to Southern Canada. Supposedly there was an outbreak of the Holy Spirit—I don’t know if I like that phrase—but anyway, the Holy Spirit supposedly moved on these people, and this was the beginning of a doctrine, false doctrine, called the Manifest Sons of God…supposedly biblical.
Dave: Now, Tom, unfortunately—and I have some dear friends who are charismatics or Pentecostals; they are not all unbiblical. But the whole “tongues movement,” we call it—they have become so enamored with prophetic utterances by people today in tongues to be interpreted (or whatever) that they neglect the Word of God, and this was a good example. This claimed that—supposedly it was citing Romans 8, where…let me read the scripture. It says, verse 18: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature [that is, all creation] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.”
And here comes a prophecy: “Everything is dependent upon our being able to manifest ourselves in perfection as the sons of God, to have achieved this status as sons of God, then we can take over the world. We will be able to do miracles, and we will establish the kingdom, and then Christ will return to rule all over the kingdom we’ve established.”
Now, let me just read what Romans says. If they would just understand the Bible and read it…verse 23—it’s talking about the whole creation is groaning and waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God: “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”
Now, when did that take place? At the Rapture, at the resurrection, when we will be resurrected from the dead! “These bodies will be transformed, and those who are alive and remain will be transformed also.”
And this is what Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 15:51: “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [that is, we won’t all die] but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” So that’s when this will take place then, what God has planned for us. It says, “He will bring many sons into glory in His image.”
1 John 3 says, “When we see Him, we will be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And every one that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” So obviously, the transformation and the manifestation of the sons of God, it doesn’t take place until the Rapture, the resurrection and the Rapture. And because someone stood up and gives this prophetic utterance, which is utterly unbiblical, which rejects the teaching of Scripture… “Ah, but this is a prophetic utterance for today. Wow! We are in the vanguard of this movement. And look: we have revelations from God! We don’t just sit down and read that Bible, but we get direct revelations from God himself!”
Tom: Well, Dave, they add another heresy to that heresy. One is that they try to make a distinction between rhema and logos, saying that logos is the written word, and rhema is just as important, maybe even more important. It means hearing from God, and that’s where they get, supposedly, their personal prophecies.
Dave: Kenneth Hagin’s Rhema school, right. Well, to the credit of the Assemblies of God, at least at that time, they denounced this. The Assemblies of God put out a white paper opposing this difference between logos and rhema. You can look through the Bible, they’re used interchangeably. But it’s like Benny Hinn [said] one Sunday morning at his church in Orlando, when he was still there: “You don’t come here to hear what you’d hear everywhere else. you come here to get new truth! There is not three of them—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—there’s nine of them! God the Father has a body, soul and spirit, the Holy Spirit has a body, soul and spirit, just as Christ has a body, soul and spirit. There’s nine!”
So it’s a desire, Tom, to have their ears tickled with some “advanced truths” that other people don’t know, which, of course, is not in the Bible. You’re getting new revelations, supposedly, but they contradict the Bible, and God does not change. His Word does not change; it’s settled forever in heaven.
Tom: Dave, some decades later, from the Saskatchewan Manifestation, so-called, many came on the scene to really pick this up. This was in the early ’80s particularly. You have a man out of Atlanta, Pastor Earl Paulk—made himself a bishop, by the way; wore clerical garb. He was standing on the corner one day and he saw a priest come by, and he thought he would pay homage to the Catholic Church by wearing a clerical collar. But anyway, he became one of the leaders in this movement within the TBN crowd, the charismatic movement, and so on. And this is what he writes…he says—twisting the Scriptures, Dave—he writes: “We who are alive and remain are left here for one ultimate purpose: to conquer the last enemy, which is death. God has left us here to take dominion over death.”
Dave: Yeah. Tom, I get angry. I shouldn’t say that. I keep saying, “I shouldn’t say that,” but I can’t help myself, because I do get angry. He starts to quote Scripture; that’s very good…
Tom: Which draws people in, Dave; that’s the problem.
Dave: This is biblical scripture: “We who are alive and remain.” But then what does the Bible say? “Unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede those who are asleep, for the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout—voice of the archangel, trumpet of God. The dead in Christ will rise first, and we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air.”
He says, “We who are alive and remain are left here for a purpose.”
Tom: So somebody sitting in his congregation, Dave, and he’s quoting this, all they need to do is be a Berean, search the Scripture, and say, “Wait a minute, pastor, time out! You just contradicted what the scripture said.” That’s what we need, Dave—not that somebody is going to disrupt a service, but we need to be Bereans. Our pastors would be benefited greatly if we would be Bereans. They would love that, most of them.
Dave: And sadly, when you divert from Scripture, you’re going to get involved in all kinds of other things. And Earl Paulk has been discredited in many different ways.
Tom: Well, he’s got more trouble today than anybody would want.
Dave: Let me quote another leader in this movement: “You can study books about going to heaven in a so-called ‘Rapture’ if that turns you on. We want to study the Bible to learn to live and to love and to bring heaven to earth.” Now, if he studies the Bible and gets that out of there, he’s got a different Bible than I have. But, Tom, look, they twist the Scriptures and they make the Bible say what it doesn’t say.
Tom: Well, that’s a concern that we have, Dave. I’ve been working with you for almost three decades now, and at least I’ve been able to observe the church over three decades to see different things—trends, ideas, teachings, and all those that have come along. And, Dave, this teaching is not only contradictory, but you’re surprised that many people haven’t picked up on it, which tells me that the church is really being dumbed-down. We’re being weaned off the Word of God; we’re not being Bereans. For example, if what he says is true, and forget about the Second Coming of Christ, why would Jesus come? Certainly not to rescue Israel, because the church is in charge.
Dave: Well, but they say He comes to reign over the kingdom they have established, okay?
Tom: Well, that’s not what the Scripture says!
Dave: Of course not! Now we have a serious problem, a lot of serious problems. There are people, Tom, today who are working to establish the kingdom. Now, if you’re working to establish a kingdom for a Christ, who, when you meet him, your feet are planted on planet earth, and he comes to rule over the kingdom you’ve established for him, you’ve been working for Antichrist! Indeed, there will be a kingdom established before the Second Coming, the Antichrist kingdom, and Christ returns to destroy that kingdom. But before Antichrist even comes, the true Christ will catch us up. It says, “We who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air.” So if the real Jesus Christ is going to catch us up and meet Him in the air, and you’re looking for a Christ who is going to come to this earth—your feet are planted on planet earth—you’ve obviously been working for the Antichrist.
Now, Tom, some of these people say, “Well, wait a minute, this pre-Trib Rapture stuff—you’re not expecting the Antichrist, you think you’re going to be taken away before the Antichrist, you could be deceived. You don’t think Antichrist is coming, but supposing he does? Supposing this pre-Trib isn’t true; you could be deceived by Antichrist!” No, I could not be deceived by Antichrist, because Antichrist cannot catch me up to meet him in the air! The Jesus that I’m looking for will catch me up to meet Him in the air! Anybody that can’t do that is not Jesus Christ. And that’s why in Matthew 24, and elsewhere, Christ said, “When they say, ‘He’s in the secret place,’ don’t go for it. When they say, ‘Oh, He is in the desert! Come on out, I’ll show you Jesus!’” No, no, no—He will catch us up to meet Him in the air, and there will be absolutely no question about it because no one else can do that.
Tom: Dave, today—we’ve talked about the ’80s, we’ve talked about the late ’40s, and so on—but today it’s a concern that I have: Rick Warren has a Global PEACE Plan. It began as 40 Days of Purpose, then 40 Days of Community, and now we’re into a Global PEACE Plan. And according to a man who he calls his mentor, Peter Drucker, the idea is that countries, governments can’t solve the world’s problems, corporations can’t solve the world’s problems, but the church can, and this is certainly a ride that Rick is on to develop. Now, where is he going to take us? When I say “take us,” where is he going to take the church in this, and do you have some concerns about it?
Dave: Well, on the one hand, Tom, you have to say, “Well, we agree it would be good if we could do away with hunger, if we could do away with disease and AIDS and so forth. Let’s work for it.”
On the other hand, Christ’s Great Commission—He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” The only hope for this world is the gospel of Jesus Christ, for people to be born again through faith in Christ. Now, do we do good works? Yes, we do good works. Many of the missionaries establish hospitals and schools and so forth all over the world. But that’s not our primary purpose. But it seems that Rick—and I love Rick Warren; I believe he loves the Lord, but I think he’s gone astray on this point, because his focus now is on making this world a better place, rescuing this world, whereas the focus in the Scripture of Christ’s command is to take us out of this world to heaven. Now, can we do both? Perhaps we can, but I don’t hear Rick talking about the Rapture and preparing us for that.
Tom: Dave, there’s one other problem, and I think it’s a major problem, and that is if you are going to bring all the churches together to solve the world’s problems, then ecumenism rises and doctrine has to go by the board, and so you’re setting yourself for, I think, a big problem—a big fall.
Dave: Absolutely. I agree 100 percent.
Program Number: 2004