(This message was given in the Czech Republic during our recent travel to Europe in May 2008.)

[For a printable version click here.]

You have all heard of the “rapture” doctrine. I would like to take you to the Word of God and see what it says about it. I trust you will have an open mind and that you will let the Word of God be the judge. I believe it is a very important end-time thing that we should understand.

First of all, let me say that this teaching is not more than 180 years old. I have found no real evidence that before 1830 the church actually believed or preached the rapture doctrine as it is believed and preached today. It originated when an eighteen year old girl (Margaret McDonald) in Scotland in the 1830’s had a vision where she saw what she believed to be the bride of Christ being caught up to meet the Lord. She was a member of Edward Irving’s congregation in Glasgow, Scotland. There were men like John Darby and C. I. Scoffield that got a hold of this vision, believing that it foretells of a literal physical catching up of the saints in a secret end-time “rapture” event;  and they began to preach this in all the churches that they were affiliated with. The doctrine soon spread very fast. It became very popular.

Now if you are really interested, I have obtained the full text of what this girl’s vision was in her own words, and will include it at the end of this article. When I finally read what she said concerning the vision that she had, I was quite surprised that it appears that she herself was not advocating that a rapture, easy escape doctrine was meant by what she saw. But instead what she saw was the judgment of God and the dealing of God in a dark and perilous time. She saw the need for repentance among the saints of God. She saw the bride of Christ, and His coming into His “spiritual” temple. She seemed to make it clear that she was seeing a “spiritual,” not a “natural” thing. For the life of me, on the basis of what I have read of her vision, I cannot figure out where these men came up with this doctrine. Let me explain what I believe to be the seven or eight things, which I have listed here, that are the tenets (the basics) of this doctrine. See if this is what you have also been taught as the rapture teaching:

1. That there will be a future physical removal of all Christians to some location in the sky.

2.  That it will be sudden, silent, secret and it is imminent.

3.  Basically it is taught as a “pre-tribulation” event although there are some who teach a seven year tribulation and that it will occur as a “mid-tribulation” event.

We need to understand that they are saying that the final seventieth week (the final seven years) of Daniel prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27 has not been fulfilled. But if I had the time I would take you to Daniel and I would show you the exact meaning of what Daniel wrote.[1]  I would show you that three and a half years of that last seven years has actually been fulfilled in the physical personal life of Jesus Christ when He was here on earth.  So we don’t have “seven” years of great tribulation as is taught by those who teach the rapture doctrine. The number 7 in Scripture is never a number of tribulation. Seven is always the number of fulness and completion. If anything, the number 40 is an appropriate number for tribulation. “Seven” is the fulness of the week. When you come to the seventh day, the week is finished. Number 8 is “new beginning”; you start a new week. These numbers also follow along in God’s timetable. God has a time plan as well.

4.  It is taught that the purpose of the rapture is for the people of God to avoid the time of the great tribulation and “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” There is a term in the Bible called Jacob’s trouble.[2] Apparently the interpretation of the term Jacob’s trouble (of which I would probably agree) is that there is coming a very difficult time for the Jewish people. So the proponents of this doctrine of the rapture are saying that we need to be removed from the earth so that Jacob can have his time of trouble and we will not have to be here at that time. So then God can deal with the un-accepting and rebellious Jews that did not receive Jesus as the Christ. (Now this is not at all what I believe; I am just telling you what the basics of this teaching is.)

5. The rapture doctrine teaches that the whole earth is going to be destroyed during the tribulation.

6.  And that this “rapture” is going to take us to the “wedding feast” of the Lamb of God as His bride.

So somewhere out here on some distant planet or wherever this is going to be (in the clouds, or in the sky, or somewhere) there is going to be a big table set up and there is going to be a big feast where Jesus is going to have His wedding with His bride.

Now I have read some of these books by those who are the contemporaries to writers like Hal Lindsay and Tim LaHaye (who wrote the “Left-Behind” Books). In the last twenty of thirty years there have been a lot of people that have been writing about these things. I actually remember somebody once saying that they believed that in the rapture we were going to be eating chicken at this table in or on the clouds, and that we were going to throw the bones over the side of the cloud. (You understand that this is a very carnal understanding of the Word of God.)

7.  The righteous are going to be removed and the unrighteous are going to be left here.

So it is taught that while the saints are removed, God is going to practically annihilate all of the wicked people.

8.  Finally, they say that the Holy Spirit will also be removed. And I cannot understand how in the absence of the Holy Spirit all of these “rebellious” Jews who are left here on earth are now going to get saved during the tribulation, when they couldn’t get saved in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Now brethren, we need to understand the ways of God. If we believe that God has to remove the righteous people, or that He has to take them off somewhere into the sky before He can bring judgment to unrighteous people, then we seem to be mis-reading most of the Bible. Let us look into this; we can start with Noah and the flood.

Noah was not raptured. Some say, “Oh, well, he was lifted up above the earth.” Well, that was because the earth was flooded. Wouldn’t it have been so much simpler if God would have just raptured Noah and a few animals then? I mean it took Noah 120 years to build the ark. A lot of effort went into all of this construction and gathering. Amen. Noah was not “raptured,” but he was there when the flood came on the earth and it was the flood waters that took the ark up above the earth, not by Noah being removed away from the experience of the flood. He remained here on the flooded earth, and at the same time was shut in with God.

Maybe we should look also at the children of Israel in the time when they were coming out of Egypt? There were ten plagues. Now in the first three plagues the children of Israel also suffered with the Egyptians.[3] The first three plagues were not that devastating, but they were miserable, they were not pleasant.  However, when we get to the fourth plague, God said to Moses, “I am going to make a division between the Egyptians and the Israelites.”[4] Now they didn’t live very far apart. God was able to somehow direct His judgment (and shall we say, His wrath) against the Egyptians without afflicting the Israelites. The plague of “darkness” (I believe that it was the ninth plague) was only in Egypt and not in Goshen where the Israelites lived.[5] For three days it was so dark in Egypt that no man arose from his place. Now that is some pretty serious darkness. I don’t think we have any comprehension of what this was all about. Yet it says that in Goshen (where the children of Israel lived) that it was light.

So we could go on—the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth plagues only affected Egypt. The tenth plague, of course, was the most terrifying of all. It wasn’t just crops being destroyed. It wasn’t just hailstones, but firstborns were being slain all over Egypt; and yet God made provision for the children of Israel. The provision was that they would be under the blood of the lamb. So God is well able to put us under the blood of the Lamb Jesus Christ while He purges the unrighteousness and brings down the kingdoms of this wicked world, and while He brings in the eternal kingdom of God? Amen.

Well, let us look now at a few verses concerning “the destruction of the earth,” for I do not believe that the Scriptures speak that there will be a destruction of the natural earth as is taught in the rapture doctrine. 

2 Peter 3

10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

Now brethren, there is much here in the language of this verse. I understand that your Czech Bible does not say that the works will be burned, but the King James Bible does say that the works of the earth will be burned:

“…and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

Now let us look at what is meant by “elements” here in the verse? You see, in our English language we have a certain understanding of “elements.” When we sat in Chemistry class they had a chart of the elements. Do you understand? Well there is Helium, there is Hydrogen, there is Oxygen, and they go on. There is Iron, there is Copper, there is Zinc—there are more than a hundred of them. If we were to interpret this in the natural sense by our understanding of chemical elements, we would say that everything that the earth is made up of is just going to be fried and burned to a crisp.

I looked this word up in the Concordance; and by the way, I have several other word studies that I have made where it seems that Strong’s just does not give an adequate definition. This word “elements[6] is the Greek word “stoicheion,” and it comes from the word “stoicheo.” It means: “to conform to a line; to keep rank or step, like a military march.” It means: “an orderly arrangement; a serial of fundamental elementary, rudimentary things.”

Now when you understand the rank and file of a military step, you understand Satan’s hold upon this world. He has put his people where he wants them to rule in this world. You can have all the Democracy you want and it is still not going to be the Kingdom of God. Satan is still in charge of any democracy where men vote for their leaders, whether in politics or in the church organizations. So this marching lock-step is where Satan has everything in line and in order obeying him. You see, he is the commander of a very big army and he has rank and file under him: fallen angels, powers, principalities, and lesser demons (of lust, anger, rebellion, addiction, and this type of thing). Satan keeps them in line.

In 2 Peter, it says that this whole arrangement is coming down with a crash. In fact, the word “dissolved[7] is used here, which means: “to melt and to loosen; to break up; destroy; dissolve; and to release.” The hold that Satan has is going to be loosened in the day of the Lord.

Now let me go back to some of the verses in the Bible that say that the natural earth is not going to be destroyed. Let us first look at what God said to Noah.

Genesis 8

22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

Isaiah 66

22For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.

Deuteronomy 4

40 Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever.

Psalms 78

69 And he built his sanctuary like high palaces, like the earth which he hath established for ever.

Psalms 104

5 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.

Ecclesiastes 1

4 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

Revelation 20:4 says that the overcomer will rule and reign with Christ for one thousand years on the earth. Now this is after the tribulation. Can there be seedtime and harvest in a pile of ashes? Are we going to rule and reign with Christ over a pile of nuclear waste? By the way, I am not saying that Satan would never try to break out some nuclear bombs. He would like nothing better than to totally destroy the earth, but God is not going to allow it, and I believe that He is going to use the human living sons of God to take authority over the attempted destruction and put a stop to it.

Okay, let us look at a few more verses. Let us talk about this rapture teaching concerning a coming “wedding feast of the Lamb” up in the clouds. Let us look at the wedding feast as it is mentioned in Scripture.

Matthew 22

2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,

The rest of the verses that follow go into the invitation that he made and how so many made excuses that they didn’t want to come to the wedding feast. So they finally brought many, many people into the feast and,

11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:

12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

Many will desire to enter therein but shall not be able. Now if this is the wedding of the Lamb out in the clouds of the sky somewhere and they have been raptured into this wedding feast, what happened that this fellow without a wedding garment happened to be there? Could God have made a mistake and raptured the wrong man? No! That cannot be. Do you want me to tell you something brethren? The wedding feast of the Lamb of God (which is Jesus Christ) is happening right now. But we are not feeding on chicken. We are feeding on the Life of Jesus Christ, and you can do that now. You can come into the wedding feast now. Hallelujah!

Okay, what are some other verses that we need to look at here?

2 Thessalonians 2

1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,

Now, it is the Greek word “parousia[8] that is translated “coming” in this verse. It is not an English word and it is not a Czech word. It is a Greek word and I am going to define that word for you. It means that when Jesus comes, He is staying.  “It implies the continual, abiding, permanent presence of the one who is coming from that time on.”[9] You see, there is a difference in the meaning of these words. Does it mean that somebody just comes and flies by and snatches you as he goes by to take you somewhere else? Or is he going to take hold of you and stay with you in your place? This word “parousia” means that He is coming and He is staying. He is not flying us off into the outer atmosphere somewhere.

Keep in mind the meaning of these words. When God gave the Holy Spirit to the apostles to write these words He knew precisely what He was saying. The apostle Paul was not a stupid ignorant man. He was a highly educated man who had command of much vocabulary, but the translators into English have given us an unclear meaning to some of these things.

Let me go on to the third verse:

3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

Do you have a better word than “falling away” in your Czech Bible? KJV has “…except there come a falling away first.  [The Czech Bible has “stepping away.”]

Well it should be an even stronger word than either “falling away” or “stepping away.” The word in the Greek is “apostasia,” and it actually means “a rebellion; apostasy; defection from the truth.”[10] Now if a soldier was in a battle and he decided to defect (which is the meaning of this word) he was going to run away from his duty. He wasn’t going to fight. Do you know that they could give him a court martial and he could be executed.

My brother was in the Korean War in the early 1950’s. Rita’s father was in that war too. He said that there were some soldiers that were told to advance into the heat of the battle and they turned and they fled. The Commander told the men that were on the machine gun, “Cut them down! I told them to advance, I did not say retreat!”

You can believe this account if you want, but I heard it straight from my brother’s lips. Defection, apostasy, rebellion is more serious in the eyes of God than in the military. In order to fall away from something, you have to have been there and the only one that has once been there in the knowledge of the Lord and is capable of defecting is the church.

3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

So the Lord is saying that before the day of the Lord comes there are two things that have to happen:

1) The church has to go into a rebellion and fall away;

2) The man of sin, the antichrist, has to be revealed for who he is.

Now we already have a rebellion among the church, so that condition has already been met. And if you believe in the pre-tribulation rapture, then you would say, “Well the day of the Lord can’t come because we haven’t been raptured yet.” Am I right? If Paul believed in a pre-tribulation rapture this would be the place he should have said it. It would have been his third pre-condition for the coming of the day of the Lord

Now let’s go to Verse 4, where we are talking about the man of sin, the son of perdition:

4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

Now brethren, we also need to understand the New Testament definition of “temple,” especially as given to us by the apostle Paul. What did Paul say is the “temple” of God?

1 Corinthians 3

16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

So people who believe in the rapture doctrine will say, “Well there has to be the temple of the Jews over in Israel; and they haven’t built their temple, so this can’t happen yet. Therefore we are not ready for the appearance of the antichrist yet.”

But brethren, the Jews do not have to build a temple in order for Jesus Christ to come. Satan is already invading the church of God (the temple of God). He is invading and inviting himself in. He is already polluting the temple of God’s people. He already has the Christians worshipping something that is not God. The Bible says that it is Satan who wants to be in that temple, and that he wants to be worshipped. By the way, did you know that Satan is very religious? He loves religion and he loves worship, as long as it is he who is being worshipped. He however, does not like us worshipping the Lord Jesus Christ.

Okay, now we are going to go down to Verse 7. Now here is the most difficult verse in the whole chapter. I will read it in the original King James and then I am going to change it and read it in the Literal Translation in J. Green’s Interlinear Bible, because in the KJV this has been poorly translated.

7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

So here is the teaching where people get the understanding that the Holy Spirit is holding back (and I do believe He is) the mystery of iniquity. He is holding back Satan from making his big move. This word “letteth” tells us that we can know that something is restraining him (the devil) “until he be taken out of the way.” “Letteth” means restraining or holding back (“…he who now letteth). I don’t know what your Czech Bible says here in this verse.

However there is still a problem in this verse. It is in the phrase, “until he be taken out of the way.” I do not know what your Bible has? Maybe you have a better translation? Our KJV Bible says that the mystery of iniquity is already working and that it will work until it comes to a certain point.  The KJV says that Satan is in the way, and that at some point he is going to be taken out of the way.  So some would take this to mean that Satan is in the middle of the “way” (highway or road), and that he needs to come out of the way. But that is not what the Bible actually says in the Greek text. Here is what the Interlinear Bible says:

“For the mystery of lawlessness already is working, only he is holding back now, until it comes out of the midst.”

“Out of the midst the antichrist  is going to come.” The Holy Spirit is holding him back until this antichrist is manifest right in the middle of the church. It seems to be saying that the spirit of the antichrist comes out of the midst of the church, out of the midst of the (way), process, practice, or customs of religion. Amen.

Now let’s talk about the “removal” of the Holy Spirit, as is believed by many who teach the rapture doctrine. This passage that in the KJV speaks of the Holy Spirit removing His restraint on the devil in no way implies that the Holy Spirit Himself will be removed from the earth. God is in no way going to simply remove Himself from the earth and turn it completely over to the unrestrained desires of Satan and allow him to completely annihilate all of God’s creation. No!  We, the sons of God, are going to be right here during the great tribulation and the Holy Spirit is going to be here too.

Well, I have probably read enough in 2 Thessalonians. We talked about the “elect” last night in our meeting, so we don’t need to go over the elect again. But let me just touch on it here again briefly. We will go back to Matthew 24.

24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

Go through the rest of the New Testament and look up the word “elect.” It is talking about the “born-again” people of God. Some of the preachers are believing that it is just talking about the Jews, even the Jews that don’t follow Jesus. But that is not the New Testament definition of the “elect”. These verses above pertain to us.  We are of “the elect,” therefore we are going to be here during this time of great tribulation. This is why I am saying that it behooves you to prepare yourself spiritually for what is coming.

Now go back a few verses here in Matthew 24.

15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

16  Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

Now this “abomination of desolation” is Satan. Jesus says here that when we see him “stand in the holy place,”then we are to “flee into the mountains.”It does not mean to run to the natural mountains. It means that we are to come up higher in the Lord; to come up to a higher place than we have ever been, to begin to call upon the name of the Lord for all your needs. Amen.

So what about this temple, this holy place? You see, the Jews today do not have a temple with a holy place over in Jerusalem. Frankly, I don’t believe they are going to have an opportunity to rebuild a temple there. They can’t remove the Dome of the Rock which was built long ago in the place of the temple upon the temple mount, for it is a Muslim mosque and a very important place to the Muslims. So once again we are saying that we believers, we are the temple of God.[11] Amen! As an individual, I am a temple of God.  I have an “outer court” which is my body, I have a “holy place” which is my soul, and I have a “holy of holies” which is the spirit within me connected to and communing with the Spirit of God.

Now Satan can’t get into the spirit, but he can have a lot of influence on our soul (our holy place). Our soul includes our minds; it includes our emotions, our will and our desires. So you see, he has polluted the church again, he has polluted the saints of God in their souls so that they want to live like the world. There is not much talk anymore about living in holiness.

Let me take you to another couple of verses concerning who is going to be removed from the earth? Will it be the saints or will it be the unrighteous? Now remember that we are talking about the coming of the “fulness” of the kingdom of God in which there will be no unrighteousness in this world. Let us go again to Matthew 24, and to Verse 29.  Now this is at the very end of the tribulation.

Matthew 24

29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

This is spiritual language. Brethren, you know what stars are. You have football “stars”; you have Hollywood “stars” and movie “stars.” This is the kind of stars that are going to fall, and in particular the stars are going to be what we would call well known or popular “godly” men. In America we have already seen that many of the stars of the church have already fallen. One popular television evangelist was caught with a prostitute. Another pastor of a big mega church was caught in a homosexual relationship; likewise a well-known “prophet.”  Do you see that this is the meaning of the falling of stars, and apparently there are still many more of them that are going to fall. And remember that this will be seen immediately after the tribulation of those days.

30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

31And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Now He isn’t just going to go out and gather Jews, it will be the “elect(all the saints). There is to be a great ingathering at that time.

Now let us go over to Matthew 13. Now this is the parable of the sower. Remember now, the sower sowed the wheat and the devil planted the tares which grew among them? So the servants said, “Do you want us to go pull up the tares?” He said, “No, don’t pull them up, because if you pull them up you are going to uproot the wheat.” Let’s read it, beginning with Verse 29,

29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

I want you in particular to note here, that the Lord says that the tares are to be gathered first, to be bound and burned, and then the wheat is gathered.  Now He gave the interpretation of this parable beginning over in Verse 37.

37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man;

38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children (sons)of the kingdom; but the tares are the children (sons) of the wicked one;

The good ones are the sons (the literal word here is “sons,” not “children”) of the kingdom and the tares are the sons of the wicked one. Who is going to be gathered first? The wicked, of course!

39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels.

40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.

41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

42  And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Now, let’s go to Luke 17, beginning with Verse 34, which is talking about the Lord’s second coming.

34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left:

35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, the other left.

36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Have you seen the Christian movie, “Left Behind”? It is a movie about the rapture.  Are they showing that here in Czech? Okay, so briefly here is the way that the movie goes: A good godly woman with her stubborn rebellious husband are sleeping in the same bed. He wakes up in the morning, “She is gone! She got raptured!”

Now we have already read what the Word says in Matthew 13, that the “wicked” will be removed and brought unto destruction “first.” Note then also in these verses in Luke that it says, “…one shall be taken, the other left.” And the Lord was asked a question here in Luke that wasn’t recorded in Matthew.

37 And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.

What were they asking when they said, “Where, Lord?”  It can’t be, “Where are the ones going to go that are left,” because they are still where they were. It is referring to the ones that are taken. “Where will they be taken, Lord?”

…And he said unto them, Wheresoever the bodyis, thither will the eagles be gathered together.

Now the meaning of the word “body” here is a “dead carcass.[12] So the Lord’s answer was,

“Wherever the dead rotting carcass is, that is where the eagles (vultures)[13] will gather.”

They are not the nice kind of eagles. They eat dead flesh.

Do you have vultures here in the Czech Republic? They have a big red featherless head and the wingspan of a great eagle; they soar around looking for anything dead to feed upon. Now is that where you want to be taken – to a place of death and destruction? That is not where I want to be taken.

By the way, who was really taken in judgment in the days of Noah? Who was really left? The wicked were taken, and Noah (who found grace in the sight of the Lord) was left to inherit the earth. The righteous men were then left to inherit the earth, and so will it be this next time. Amen.

Well there is a whole lot more here. We will now go to the verses in 1 Thessalonians 4 where we find the “key.” This is the prime passage that the rapture doctrine is based on.

I want to tell you, brethren, that in order to support this false doctrine you have to take the Scripture and give it enough of a twist so that it will fit where you want it to fit. If you take it straight at face value in the correct meaning of what God is really saying, you cannot support this teaching.  But before this, let us just look at the last verse of Chapter 3 of 1 Thessalonians:

13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

This verse goes with the verses we will be looking at in Chapter 4. The word “coming” here is the word “parousia”in the Greek. As we already pointed out, it means “the arrival and the consequent presence of the one who is coming.” That means in this verse that at the Lord’s coming, He remains here with us; He does not remove us or take us away from where we are here. Okay? Now move down into the next chapter.

1 Thessalonians 4

15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (come ahead of) them which are asleep.

“…prevent” here means that our being changed is not going to come ahead of them that have already died in Christ.

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

We need to define these words again. “…caught up” is the Greek word “harpazo[14]; it means “to be forcibly taken.” Now there are several other places where this word is used. I do not believe that in any of these instances were the people removed from the earth. You can write down these next few scriptures, in each case we are focusing upon the word “harpazo”:

2 Corinthians 12

2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Paul is talking about an experience that he had when he had a vision of the third heaven. He doesn’t know whether he was in his body or whether he was out of his body. The Bible scholars seem to believe that this was in the Book of Acts, when they stoned Paul and left him for dead.[15] So he said he was “caught up” and he had these visions of heaven. But he really never left the earth! He was still here. Okay?

Now in Acts 8:

39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Philip was preaching and God told him to go out in the desert. That is where he met the Ethiopian eunuch and after he baptized him he was caught away and found in a city called Azotus.  So God didn’t take him anywhere off the earth, He just moved him from one place to another and he was caught away.

The other example that I want to give is in Revelation 12:

5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

This is the manchild church that is coming forth from the woman church. The devil is waiting to destroy him as soon as he is born and God caught him up to the throne of God. Now again, this is spiritual language. The “throne of God” means a place of authority. So he (the manchild church, the sons of God) was immediately caught up to a place of authority in Christ. Amen.

I didn’t define all these words here, did I? Let me finish defining these words. In these verses, what are these “clouds”?

1 Thessalonians 4

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Hebrews 12

1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

We are surrounded by “a cloud of witnesses.” There is a catching up “in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.” These are not natural rain clouds.  They are clouds of saints.

17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Let us look at the two words “meet” and “air” in this verse.  Once again the Greek vocabulary has at least two different words for air. The Greek word for “air” here in this verse is “aer,”[16] and it speaks of the lower atmosphere surrounding the earth, the air that we breathe.   The Greek definition of this air is from the top of Mount Olympus all the way down to sea level. This word “air” is for right here. Yes! So from this verse, our meeting with the Lord is going to be here, in the place where we live and breathe. Not out in the stratosphere or the troposphere or anywhere in outer space.

Finally, let us take the word “meet” (#528, “apantesis”). There is a very good definition that really speaks more to this situation than the good one in the Greek Dictionary of Strong’s Concordance. The best definition that I have read for apantesis is that it means for a person to go out from their place and meet with another that is coming from an opposite direction; then to take that person that they have met and to go back to the place where you came from when you went out to meet him.[17] 

Now this same Greek word for “meet” is used in other passages, as in the parable of the virgins in Matthew 25.

6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

The virgins were preparing to “meet” the Lord. But the best verse to show this definition is in Acts 28.

15 And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.

Paul was on his way to Rome. Do you remember how in the previous chapter in Acts that he had gotten shipwrecked? Now he has finally landed on the shores of Italy, and the word got to the saints who were living at Rome that Paul was coming. So they sent out a delegation to “meet” him. The places that they met in are mentioned, and how they then escorted Paul back into Rome. You see, Paul didn’t come to catch them away to Jerusalem or any other place. They met Paul and he came to Rome with them and then he continued to dwell with them there. Okay.

Well, what hasn’t been taken up yet? The sudden, silent, “secret” and imminence of this expected rapture coming of Christ. I just want to touch on it lightly. Let us go back to 1 Thessalonians 4 for a minute:

16  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

17  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

There are two completely different descriptions of the coming of the Lord and they have to be reconciled.  One description says that He will come as “athief in the night.”[18] The other description, as given in these verses above, talks about the shout of an archangel and blaring trumpets. How do we reconcile these two descriptions? It is because there are two comings! This passage above is referring to something that occurs at the very end of the tribulation, at the time of the resurrection of the dead and there is nothing secret about it. Every eye shall behold it: no one is going to miss it.[19]

Now by the way, there has already been a coming of Jesus, hasn’t there? It was about 2,000 years ago. He came as Jesus, the Christ. He came as the King. He came as the High Priest. Most of the religious people of His day completely missed it. So what is his “secret” coming in our day, “as a thief in the night,” which will be sudden, imminent (anytime), unannounced, and secret?

Malachi 3

1 Behold… the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple…  behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”

Malachi 3

3  And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi , and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. 

Now brethren, we know that prophecy is fulfilled on more than one level. Often, when it is only fulfilled in the natural level, then undiscerning people say, “Oh, the coming of Jesus to cleanse His temple has already been fulfilled. It can’t happen again.” In the New Testament Jesus did come to His temple and He came to clean His temple. What was the main thing that He was purging out of the temple? Money dealing! Unrighteous money dealing was going on in the house of God (and it is going on in His church today). He drove it out of there.

Now in our day, Jesus is coming again to His temple, and he is coming “secretly” (without telling us when) to His temple.  And again, what is His “temple” in the New Testament? It is His people,[20] His true church. Amen! So he is coming into His temple in His fulness. Hallelujah! You know that when He does this, it is a secret coming, “as a thief in the night,” and the world probably isn’t going to know it happened. The sons of God are going to be given power from God, and other people won’t understand what happened. So you see what they (the rapture believing churches) are doing with some of these Scriptures is that they are mixing these two different events together in their description of the “rapture”.

If you go to 1 Thessalonians 4, from which we have just quoted, the context of this is the resurrection of the dead.

16  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

Now I understand from Revelation 20 that the resurrection of the dead is the last thing, and it occurs at the actual, physical, personal coming of Jesus Christ. This is the last thing of the last trumpet. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15,

52 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.

He says here that “at the last trump” we shall raise from the dead. Now that is not a description of an event that occurs before the tribulation starts. It is an event that occurs after the tribulation is over, immediately after the tribulation is over.

So the word of the Lord to us today brethren is: Prepare for the coming of the Lord!

He is coming into His temple. He wants His temple clean. He wants to live and dwell in this temple. This is why He is calling for repentance of the saints of God in this day and in this hour. Amen.

I have to leave it here for now. I hope I didn’t overwhelm you? I urge you to go over these things, chew on it and digest what has been said. Compare this doctrine of the Rapture with what the Bible actually says.

You can believe what you want, but I believe that this is a doctrine of drunkenness and seduction that will dull my senses or lull me to sleep. I want to believe a doctrine that will prepare me for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. I don’t want a doctrine that says, “Oh, you can live any way that you want and the Lord will just come and snatch you away, and you don’t have to worry about a thing.”

I know that many, many of the churches believe this rapture teaching. I used to believe it. Then I began to question some things that did not add up.  I have to have it all add up. It has to add up completely and totally line up with the scriptures before I can believe it. From what I can see, this rapture doctrine does not line up. If you want to learn more and get into a lot more detail about this I refer you to two of the other books that I have written:  

The Coming of the Son of Man

Seven Letters to Seven Churches

There are a lot more references and footnotes available there in these writings. Ask me if you do not have one available.

Also, a good article on this subject is the booklet by Brother Tommy Cook, Who Said Rapture.

God bless you.  


{What follows is the version of Margaret Macdonald’s revelation as published in

The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets In the Catholic Apostolic Church (1861).}


“It was first the awful state of the land that was pressed upon me. I saw the blindness and infatuation of the people to be very great. I felt the cry of Liberty just to be the hiss of the serpent, to drown them in perdition. It was just ‘no God.’ I repeated the words, Now there is distress of nations, with perplexity, the seas and the waves roaring, men’s hearts failing them for fear. Now look out for the sign of the Son of Man. Here I was made to stop and cry out, O it is not known what the sign of the Son of Man is; the people of God think they are waiting, but they know not what it is. I felt this needed to be revealed, and that there was great darkness and error about it; but suddenly what it was burst upon me with a glorious light. I saw it was just the Lord himself descending from Heaven with a shout, just the glorified man, even Jesus; but that all must, as Stephen was, be filled with the Holy Ghost, that they might look up, and see the brightness of the Father’s glory. I saw the error to be, that men think that it will be something seen by the natural eye; but ’tis spiritual discernment that is needed, the eye of God in his people. Many passages were revealed, in a light in which I had not before seen them. I repeated,

‘Now is the kingdom of Heaven like unto ten virgins, who went forth to meet the Bridegroom, five wise and five foolish; they that were foolish took their lamps, but took no oil with them; but they that were wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.’[21]

‘But be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is; and be not drunk with wine wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit.’[22]

This was the oil the wise virgins took in their vessels – this is the light to be kept burning – the light of God – that we may discern that which cometh not with observation to the natural eye. Only those who have the light of God within them will see the sign of his appearance. No need to follow them who say, see here, or see there, for his day shall be as the lightning to those in whom the living Christ is. ‘Tis Christ in us that will lift us up – he is the light – ’tis only those that are alive in him that will be caught up to meet him in the air. I saw that we must be in the Spirit, that we might see spiritual things. John was in the Spirit, when he saw a throne set in Heaven. But I saw that the glory of the ministration of the Spirit had not been known. I repeated frequently, but the spiritual temple must and shall be reared, and the fullness of Christ be poured into his body, and then shall we be caught up to meet him. Oh none will be counted worthy of this calling but his body, which is the church, and which must be a candlestick all of gold. I often said, Oh the glorious inbreaking of God which is now about to burst on this earth; Oh the glorious temple which is now about to be reared, the bride adorned for her husband; and Oh what a holy, holy bride she must he, to be prepared for such a glorious bridegroom. I said, Now shall the people of God have to do with realities – now shall the glorious mystery of God in our nature be known – now shall it be known what it is for man to be glorified. I felt that the revelation of Jesus Christ had yet to be opened up – it is not knowledge about God that it contains, but it is an entering into God – I saw that there was a glorious breaking in of God to be. I felt as Elijah, surrounded with chariots of fire. I saw as it were, the spiritual temple reared, and the Head Stone brought forth with shoutings of grace, grace, unto it. It was a glorious light above the brightness of the sun that shone round about me. I felt that those who were filled with the Spirit could see spiritual things, and feel walking in the midst of them, while those who had not the Spirit could see nothing – so that two shall be in one bed, the one taken and the other left, because the one has the light of God within while the other cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven. I saw the people of God in an awfully dangerous situation, surrounded by nets and entanglements, about to be tried, and many about to be deceived and fall. Now will THE WICKED be revealed, with all power and signs and lying wonders, so that if it were possible the very elect will be deceived – This is the fiery trial which is to try us. – It will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus; but Oh it will be a fiery trial. Every soul will he shaken to the very centre. The enemy will try to shake in every thing we have believed – but the trial of real faith will be found to honour and praise and glory. Nothing but what is of God will stand. The stony-ground hearers will be made manifest – the love of many will wax cold.

I frequently said that night, and often since, now shall the awful sight of a false Christ be seen on this earth, and nothing but the living Christ in us can detect this awful attempt of the enemy to deceive – for it is with all deceivableness of unrighteousness he will work – he will have a counterpart for every part of God’s truth, and an imitation for every work of the Spirit. The Spirit must and will be poured out on the church, that she may be purified and filled with God – and just in proportion as the Spirit of God works, so will he – when our Lord anoints men with power, so will he. This is particularly the nature of the trial, through which those are to pass who will be counted worthy to stand before the Son of man. There will he outward trial too, but ’tis principally temptation. It is brought on by the outpouring of the Spirit, and will just increase in proportion as the Spirit is poured out. The trial of the Church is from Antichrist. It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept. I frequently said, Oh be filled with the Spirit – have the light of God in you, that you may detect Satan – be full of eyes within -be clay in the hands of the potter -submit to be filled, filled with God. This will build the temple. It is not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord. This will fit us to enter into the marriage supper of the Lamb. I saw it to be the will of God that all should be filled. But what hindered the real life of God from being received by his people, was their turning from Jesus, who is the way to the Father. They were not entering in by the door. For he is faithful who hath said, by me if any man enters in he shall find pasture. They were bypassing the cross, through which every drop of the Spirit of God flows to us. All power that comes not through the blood of Christ is not of God.

When I say, they are looking from the cross, I feel that there is much in it – they turn from the blood of the Lamb, by which we overcome, and in which our robes are washed and made white. There are low views of God’s holiness, and a ceasing to condemn sin in the flesh, and a looking from him who humbled himself, and made himself of no reputation. Oh! it is needed, much needed at present, a leading back to the cross. I saw that night, and often since, that there will be an outpouring of the Spirit on the body, such as has not been, a baptism of fire, that all the dross may be put away. Oh there must and will be such an indwelling of the living God as has not been – the servants of God sealed in their foreheads – great conformity to Jesus – his holy holy image seen in his people – just the bride made comely by his comeliness put upon her. This is what we are at present made to pray much for, that speedily we may all be made ready to meet our Lord in the air – and it will be. Jesus wants his bride. His desire is toward us. He that shall come, will come, and will not tarry. Amen and Amen Even so come Lord Jesus.”

[1] For a better discussion of this subject please refer to my book, The Coming Of The Son Of Man, Chapter 4, beginning on Page 82.

[2] See Jeremiah 30:7

[3] See Exodus 7 & 8

[4] Ref. Exodus 8:21-23

[5] Ref. Exodus 10:21-23

[6] #4747 in the Greek Dictionary of the Strong’s Concordance

[7] #3089 in the Greek Dictionary of the Strong’s Concordance

[8] #3952 in the Greek Dictionary of the Strong’s Concordance

[9] Bullinger, E. W., A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, Page 169.

[10] #646 in the Greek Dictionary of the Strong’s Concordance

[11] Refs. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 2 Corinthians 6:16

[12] See “body” (“soma,” #5943, in the Greek Dictionary of the Strong’s Concordance)

[13] See “eagles” (“aetos,” 105, in the Greek Strong’s Concordance)

[14] #726 in the Greek Dictionary of the Strong’s Concordance

[15] Ref.  Acts 14:18, 19

[16] #109 in the Greek Dictionary of the Strong’s Concordance

[17] Bullinger, OP.Cit., Page 493

[18] Refs. 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Peter 3:10

[19] Ref. Revelation 1:7

[20] Refs. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17,  2 Corinthians 6:16

[21] Matthew 25:1-4

[22] Ephesians 5:17-18