A Kind of Rapturing Talk
The Apostle’s Creed says that Jesus Christ will come again to judge the quick and the dead. I believe that is true and is supported by many scriptures. And, while I believe in the second coming of Christ, I have little or no interest in the idea of the rapture.
That will make me a heretic in some circles but hear me out before you condemn me.
My thought process is pretty simple. I don’t need to go into a lot of detail and make it complicated, as I find the dispensational theology to be.
First, when I get to those “pearly gates,” I do not believe that Peter is going to ask me, “Do you believe in the rapture?” I cannot find anywhere in scripture where believing in the rapture is a qualification for being justified by God or that it is the key to opening any of the gates into His kingdom. Let’s not lose sight that It is faith in Jesus Christ which justifies us.
Secondly, when Jesus talks about the end times in Matthew’s gospel (chapters 24 and 25), he says that “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (24:36). That tells me that I can know the ins and outs of rapture, but it won’t do me much good for knowing the end.
Jesus goes on to say that the end will come when we are doing our daily routines. Yes, we are to be vigilant and keep the end in mind and live our lives as though it could happen at any time, as Jesus’ parable of the Ten Virgins reminds us.
Jesus continues, saying, “Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left” (vv. 40 & 41).
Dispensationalists have convinced us that the one taken is the blessed one. My third point is, however, what if the one left behind is the blessed one? And, no, the word Matthew uses for “taken” is not the same Latin word from which we take our term rapture (as in 1 Thess. 4:17). In fact, in the parable of the Talents, which good exegesis would include as part and parcel of this section of scripture, the ones who are left behind are the ones who have used their talents to the master’s benefit. The one who is thrown into the “darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” is the one who is taken away; not raptured, but most definitely, thrown into the place where dispensationalists expect the left behind to be left behind to.
Finally, I would direct attention to Matthew 25:31 to the end of the chapter. This parable of the Sheep and the Goats is part of the inclusive passage that begins with chapter 24. And, I would argue that it is properly understood to be an expansion and conclusion, the apex, of Jesus’ discourse about the end times.
In these verses, Jesus is telling us what he expects us to do with our lives while we wait vigilantly for the end times to come. We are not to be fretting about when the rapture will occur as we cannot know, anyway. We are to be serving Jesus through our concern and care for “the least of these [his] brothers and sisters” (“sisters” as the Greek term adelphos implies).
Yes, I believe in Jesus’ second coming. But, no, I’m not caught up (so to speak) in the idea of the rapture. It is not important to me. In fact, I believe it can be a distraction to what Jesus expects of us.
In Closing I Say,
Lift High the Cross