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Published on May 11th, 2011 | by Gary DeMar

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Rapture: Fact or Fiction?

Many pastors and modern prophecy writers teach that the Church will be raptured off the earth prior to a seven year tribulation. Where in the Bible is this found? Nowhere. Confused? Watch this edition of Vantage Point for an honest look at the “rapture”.

 

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About the Author

Gary is a graduate of Western Michigan University (1973) and earned his M.Div. at Reformed Theological Seminary in 1979. He is the author of countless essays, news articles, and more than 27 book titles, His most recent book is Exposing the Real Last Days Scoffers. Gary lives in Marietta, Georgia, with his wife, Carol. They have two married sons and four grandchildren, Gary and Carol are members of Midway Presbyterian Church (PCA).



63 Responses to Rapture: Fact or Fiction?

  1. frank says:

    I also see (and of course I cannot be dogmatic here) that the church (bride) once she is COMPLETED, will come down OUT OF HEAVEN (literally) to the promised renewed earth (Rom 8), along with the New City of Jerusalem (John 14:1-4; Rev 21-22). This will take place AFTER Satan has one final go at deceiving the nations and attacking Jerusalem (Rev 20:7-10). Isn’t is “coincidental” that the Muslim “nations” surrounding Jerusalem (“Gog and Magog”) are gearing up for war against Israel RIGHT NOW!! I can’t be CERTAIN of all of this – who is?? But it’s the best I can do after 30 years of studying this book.

  2. frank says:

    He did not marry an “incomplete” Bride – they were raptured to be with Him – John 14:1-3; 1 Thess 4:13-18; 1 Cor 15:54-56. You and I are followers of Jesus today and are warning other to come to Christ for salvation and Heaven, where WE will be ADDED to the growing Bride – Just like Paul says in Eph 2:19-22, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. Remember, the Israel of the OT was called Gods wife and there were new Jews being ADDED all the time – as they were BORN.

  3. Nanette says:

    We as believers should know what the saving grace of Jesus is about! reading the scriptures and asking for spiritual wisdom SHOULD be our first priority IF we indeed are sharing information with those that are not saved. Whether you believe post, mid or pre tribulation, you need to ask yourself this question. If the marriage supper of the Lamb takes place during the tribulation period, why would Christ marry an incomplete bride? Why would God leave a small portion of the bride of Christ to suffer on this earth during the tribulation period? 2 Timothy 1:12 ‘Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” What day? Is not Revelations for the Jew and the Gentile WHO do not believe? Are we not blessed as we look forward to His coming? Are we not to warn or “blow the horn of alarm” for non believers? God Bless all of those who believe and with wisdom of our Lord to share the truth always through being spirit led, not through our own conceit of intelligent superiority, but rather with humility for sharing the truth of salvation!

  4. frank says:

    The second post has my spelling errors corrected – apologies – I am no the greatest typesst! See what I mean! >

  5. frank says:

    I think Kerry hits it right on the head!! A plain reading of Scripture, without the injection of any preconceived eschatological system would lead to Kerry’s conclusions. If we asked a 15 year old kid to read those verses for the first time WHAT WOULD HE SAY THEY MEANT? It doesn’t matter one whit whether or not there is any HISTORICAL TESTIMONY for the rapture or not, besides, Paul says it would happen “in the twinkling of an eye”. Where is the HISTORICAL EVIDENCE of Mt 27:52-53: “…and the earth shook; and the rocks were split, and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many”. Where are the BOOKS written by those who saw these dead people come to life again? Where these LONG dead people or had the recently died? Did they die again right away or live out the rest of their lives? Did these resurrected saints get jobs, buy homes, get married and have children (like Lazarus)? Wouldn’t people have asked them, “Hey, what was it like being dead? Where were you? Were you in Hades/Abe’s Bosom? Who was there? Did you see God? Was it paradise? Did you see my mother there? Is this a your NEW body?” etc. Don’t you think these resurrected people would have WRITTEN their experiences down for posterity!!! Yet….THE BIBLE SAYS IT HAPPENED! So it’s true! Just because we may find it HARD TO BELIEVE that there is no historical record or eyewitness accounts of that literal “catching-up into the sky” of first century believers, doesn’t mean IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. Hey – it could have been an INVISIBLE happening , Paul says it would occur, “in the twinkling of an eye”. Did ANYONE besides the disciples see Jesus FLOAT UP into the clouds in Acts 1? Maybe it was for their eyes only – an angel appeared then too and spoke to them – did people nearby SEE or Hear what the 11 saw? Where are the BOOKS about that?

  6. frank says:

    I think Kerry hits it right on the head!! A plain reading of Scripture, without the injection of any preconceived eschatological system would lead to Kerry’s conclusions. If we asked a 15 year old kid to read those verses for the first time WHAT WOULD HE SAY THEY MEANT? It doesn’t matter one whit whether or not there is any HISTORICAL TESTIMONY to a rapture or not besides, Paul says it would happen “in the twinkling of an eye”. Where is the HISTORICAL EVIDENCE of Mt 27:52-53: “…and the earth shook; and the rocks were split, and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many”. Where are the BOOKS written by those who saw these dead people come to life again? Where these LONG dead people or had the recently died? Did they die again right away or live out the rest of their lives? Did they get jobs and buy homes and get married and have children (like Lazarus)? Wouldn’t people have asked them, “Hey, what was it like? Where were you? Where you in Hades/Abe’s Bosom? Who was there? Did you see God? Was it paradise? Did you see my mother there?Is this a NEW body? etc. Don’t you think these resurrected people would have WRITTEN their experiences down for posterity!!! Yet….THE BIBLE SAYS IT HAPPENED! So its true! Just because we may find it hard to believe that there is no historical record or eyewitness accounts of a literal “catching-up into the sky” of first century believers doesn’t mean IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. Hey – it could have been an INVISIBLE happening – leaving behind dead bodies – looking like a heart attack. Did ANYONE besides the disciples see Jesus FLOAT UP into the clouds in Acts 1? Maybe it was for their eyes only – the angel appeared then – did people nearby SEE what the 11 saw? Where are the BOOKS about that?

  7. Craig Ritsema says:

    It also says in the Bible not to be caught up in the things we can not control or to be consumed with those things which deal with the end times. Our duty here on earth is to present the “Good News to all mankind and what is that Good News? That Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died on the cross so that we might live”. It’s not about when or if there is a Rapture, or when Christ comes back again, those are important, but the most important thing is “Saving peoples souls, so that none should perish, no not one”. There is only one person who knows the date and time and that is my Heavenly Father, He is the only one who knows, not even the Son knows the day nor the hour thereof. Our priorities are to be saving souls, not blindly leading men and women astray by trying to GUESS a time when our Lord and Saviour will return. I sure hope God has a sense of humor because He has to be in Heaven laughing His head off at our feeble attempts to establish His return and sorry, but I feel those who do try and set a date are crack-pots. Do I believe the end is at hand? Yes, this year–maybe–maybe not, Am I caught up with it? No, it happens when it happens, however my mandate WILL NOT CHANGE, SAVE THE SOULS FIRST, THE REST FALLS IN LINE.

    • Brian Mumpower says:

      Craig
      I like your answer but keep in mind WE don’t save souls, only Jesus does.

  8. True seeker says:

    It’s interesting that you criticize Harold Camping. His church back ground is in the Reformed church just as yours is, a fact that no one seems to acknowledge. This the time to spread the good news of Jesus as our Savior not openly criticizing other people for their hope and belief for the coming of Jesus Our Lord and Savior. There is no way that the book of Revelation has happened already, otherwise we wouldn’t’ be here would we? I don’t think we would. Who in times past caused everyone to have a mark to buy and sell? The earth would be gone and we wouldn’t be here now. Maybe a study of First Thessalonians would be in order. Also Ezekiel and Revelation have many parallel meanings still to come.

  9. True seeker says:

    It’s interesting that you criticize Harold Camping. His church back ground is in the Reformed church just as yours is, a fact that no one seems to acknowledge. This the time to spread the good news of Jesus as our Savior not openly criticizing other people for their hope and belief for the coming of Jesus Our Lord and Savior. There is no way that the book of Revelation has happened already, otherwise we wouldn’t’ be here would we? I don’t think we would. Who in times past caused everyone to have a mark to buy and sell? The earth would be gone and we wouldn’t be her now. Maybe a study of First Thessalonians would be in order. Also Ezekiel and Revelation have many parallel meanings.

  10. True seeker says:

    It’s interesting that you criticize Harold Camping. His church back ground is in the Reformed church just as yours is, a fact that no one seems to acknowledge. This the time to spread the Good News of Jesus as our Savior not openly criticizing other people for their hope and belief for the coming of Jesus Our Lord and Savior. There is no way that the book of Revelation has happened already, otherwise we wouldn’t’ be here would we? I don’t think we would. Who in times past caused everyone to have a mark to buy and sell? The earth would be gone and we wouldn’t be her now. Maybe a study of First Thessalonians would be in order. Also Ezekiel and Revelation have many parallel meanings.

  11. Alan Good says:

    Dear Brother DeMar: Thank you for your love of our Lord, Jesus the Christ and the intimacy you seem to enjoy with him. We appreciate your comments on the rapture and your logic is seriously flawed as presented in this short clip. Although this style of logic is very historical and states “factual” information, when it is carried to its conclusion it places the Bible with all other documents and of little consequence today. If one only accepts that each book was written to a particular audience (a great argument for atheists) then it is truly irrelevant. The Reality is that technically the whole Bible is an “inference” especially for a historical today. Jesus was quite comfortable using “inference” as he spoke and taught. The Bible becomes Scripture as God Reveals Himself to the reader, as He did to the author, to the preserver and to the translator. Truth (the absolute Revelation of Reality) is ultimately expressed in the Bible as Scripture with the completeness of the picture being provided by God Himself (Revealed) as “between-the-lines” of the rhema. Keep up the “Good” work, do not fear certain “inferences” and keep your Theology consistent. All In Agape. Alan

  12. Don Stevens says:

    Dear Brothers and Sisters, maybe it is time now to set aside all OUR views, speculations and opinions and do a closer study of what the Word has to show us about the “Pre-tribulation Rapture”.

    I, as some other commenters, have not been trained in a Bible School or Seminary. Most of my training has been from studying God’s Word. HE is the one I trust.

    The following scriptures are simply what the Lord or Holy Spirit led me to when I was seeking His truth about the “Rapture”.

    “RAPTURE” …When does the Lord Jesus come for the gathering of his saints? ..After the tribulation. Matt 24:3-14, 29-31 (context: Matt 24:1-51; 2nd Thess 2:1-4)

    Are we told, in 1st Thess 4:13-17, or anywhere else in the Bible, that when we meet the Lord in the air, that He will turn around and take us to heaven to be there during the tribulation? No, as we just read in Matt 24:29-31, after the tribulation, as He is coming in the clouds, He will send angels to gather His elect who are still alive at that time.

    The Bible only speaks of two “comings of Christ”. Is it not possible that His saints who have died and those who are still alive at the end of the tribulation simply meet Him in the air on His way in on the Second Coming? (some context for 1st Thess 4:13-17 is 1st Thess 4:13 – 5:8)

    Note: Please study these other related scriptures and ask God to show you His Truth. We must trust God’s Word above the opinions, teachings and traditions of man. Matt 13:49, 16:27, 24:3-14,37,39; 2nd Pet 3:9-17; Mark 13:5-13,19,20,24-29; Matt 16:24-27; Rev 2:7,10,11,17,26, 3:5,12,21, 6:11, 7:13,14, 13:4-8; John 17:15; 1st Pet 1:5-7; I Cor 15:23-24; (Who is taken out first, the wicked or the just? Matt 13:27-30,41-43,47-50) ; Rev 3:5,12,21; Psalm 58:1-11; Prov 2:20-22. Consider Daniel 7:25 and Rev 13:7-9: “wear out the saints”? Isn’t it clear in these scriptures that this is happening DURING the tribulation ON THE EARTH ? Daniel 11:31-36, 12:1-3; Rom 8:35-39;
    Rev 12:11;

    Now, let us consider God’s ways through the context of the whole Bible.
    Does God usually help his people avoid difficult situations or does He usually provide a way through the difficult situations for those who will obey Him, and thus strengthen them to become overcomers as seems to be required in Revelations 2:7,11,17,26, 3:5,12,21 ? (See also “Come up hither”)

    “COME UP HITHER” …Rev 4:1; Rev 11:12; Some people, including at least one world famous television preacher, use the term “come up hither” as a part of their reason for teaching a “Pre-tribulation Rapture”. In Rev 4:1, this was John being called up to be shown things which are to come. In Rev 11:12, God’s two witnesses are being called up after being killed and raised from the dead after three and one half days. Read the context of Rev 11:1-12. These things had nothing to do with a “rapture of the Church”.

    Some questions:

    If the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” position IS correct, what would a true Christian who does not believe that be likely to do? Give up on God or, seek more diligently to be prepared for the difficult times? …I believe the TRUE believer would seek to be MORE PREPARED for WHATEVER plan God has for him.

    If the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” position is NOT correct, will Christians who believe that it IS correct be PREPARED to go through the tribulation and to allow God to use them for whatever plan HE has for them? Of course not, they would have no incentive to be prepared. They would likely be in great panic and would probably be angry at those who deceived them.

    • Brett Ryan says:

      I think when the rapture dose not happen it will cause the great falling away. Also praise YHVH . Hypberbaric cleans the temple in a sick world

  13. Robert Beech says:

    It is absolutely untrue that the book of Revelation was written to just a specific set of seven churches. Revelation had direct application the those churches and direct application to the church today.

    These are all scripture promises to all believers throughout history.
    2:7
    He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” ‘

    Rev. 2:11
    He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” ‘

    Rev. 2:17
    He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.” ‘

    Rev. 2:29
    He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ‘

    Rev. 3:6
    He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ‘

    Rev. 3:13
    He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ‘

    Rev. 3:21-22
    To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. [22] He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ‘ ”

    Tell me when did that “hour of trial” happen? When did God “test those that dwell on the earth” ? When this trial came were only the believers in the church at Philadelphia kept from that trial?
    Rev. 3:10
    Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

  14. Sharon Bolling says:

    Dr. DeMar, I watched your discourse on YouTube last week. I decided I would keep my thoughts and beliefs to myself since I, unlike you, had no formal training in the Bible. But, the Holy Spirit has given me no rest since I made that decision. My spirit cried out and my mind was appalled. I could not believe that you flatly stated there would be no “rapture” of the Church (better known as the body of Christ). You challenged anyone to show you where that concept was in the Bible, and I believe several good folks have already done that here by listing 1 Thess 4:13-17, 1 Corin. 15:51-52, then Rev. 3:10-11.
    Instead of asking US to show you where this concept is in the Bible, you should have asked God to direct your study. It sounds like you used your “book learning” instead of your spirit and heart to determine your position here.
    This program, seen by millions, has done a great service for Satan and possibly condemned a multitude of nonbelievers to eternity in Hell. I guess we’ll see who is right one of these days, and I will not rejoice if you are wrong. I’ll be sad for all those you influenced who dismissed Christianity and the saving grace of Jesus Christ because you added to their doubt of Christian beliefs.
    One other thing I would say to you in regards to your position on this subject. All Christians know (or should know) that God has withheld “mysteries” from mankind from the beginning. Only when it suited HIS purposes did He reveal the concept of “grace” taught by Jesus and Paul, or that there was only one way to the Father, or that the technology would be developed so everyone all over the world could witness an event happening live as those still living will actually “see” the two witnesses who will testify in Jerusalem during the tribulation. If this particular technology hadn’t been used by CNN to show the world Operation Desert Storm live, the only way most people could believe this part of John’s revelation would be “by faith in the Word of God.” Maybe the people who lived before the 18th Century didn’t have a “need to know” the particular mystery of the rapture, huh?
    I will be praying for you Dr. DeMar.

    • Michael Keene says:

      Sharon, lighten up! Dr. DeMar doesn’t need prayer b/c he doesn’t agree with you.

      You come across as a “holier than thou.” You have obviously not given any credence to Gary’s arguments, but you do not have the intellectual acumen (“book learning”) to back that up. Like the vast majority of people who have responded, you are relying on emotions and having a knee-jerk reaction to an opposing point of view.

      Further, by saying that because of the preterist POV that American Vision teaches that a “great service for Satan” has been done and a “multitude of nonbelievers” are “possibly condemned” to an “eternity in Hell” you are displaying your extreme lack of knowledge of the basics of the Christian faith.

      Salvation, if you would take the time to read the Word (since you state “I had no formal training in the Bible”, is NOT based upon one’s belief in “The Rapture.” To imply that the many credible interpretations (of which preterism is but ONE) of eschatology are the key deciding factors as to whether or not a person is “saved” shows a tremendous amount of ignorance on your part.

      Gary’s point, and he has done this quite well, was to show that date-setting and end-times madness only serve to make us look like fools, and in fact THAT is what will cause people to turn away from God and end up in Hell. If we can’t be taken seriously in terms of “the end of the world” then how on earth is Christianity to be taken seriously about anything else?

      No, it is Gary who is helping people understand that just b/c Harold Camping (or Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsey, John Hagee, etc. ad nauseum) say something does NOT make it true. In doing so, he is helping them to focus not on “The Rapture” but instead on the Author and Finisher of Our Faith.

      If you wish to reply, I first suggest you answer this question: how do YOU interpret “soon”?

      • Rhonda says:

        How to I interpret “soon”? Imminent… the doctrine of imminence. That means, to be ready at any time, because it could happen at any time. There are those who study the Bible, and the Holy Spirit puts it in their hearts that what they read is Truth. We don’t know the the day, or hour, or year, of the Rapture… and for ANYONE to guess and date-set is wrong. The concept of what Gary is doing, warning people not to date-set, is applaudable. But to also state that we are going to go THROUGH the tribulation, when we have been promised that we would NOT, through the Word, is not applaudable. However, Jesus gave us the conditions that the world would be in, when the season was right, in Matthew 24. There are several other supporting verses in other books/authors of the Bible to support that. Everything that was prophesied in the Bible has come true, and that is enough for me to trust in it to believe that those prophecies that have not come true yet, are yet to be.

        Tell me… in Isaiah 17, Syria is to be destroyed (Damascus). Has that happened yet? No, never has she been taken off the face of the earth. But now, the conditions are right for that to happen. There are many conditions that are coming together, to culminate in the Rapture of the church (and no, the word “Rapture” is not in the Bible. It’s an English word translating “harpazo”, which is Greek, a language used in the New Testament, meaning “to snatch out or away” (online Greek lexicon). I’d say that’s a pretty good description of what is going to happen in the Rapture “The transporting of a person from one place to another, especially to heaven”, as provided by the Online Dictionary website).

        Sharon brought up another point… no where, prior to the 20th century, and now the 21st century, has technology been to the point, in history, to be able to broadcast live images around the world. Knowledge has increased existentially, just in the 20th century, prior to any other time. We existed for over 5,500 years, basically in the stone age… up until 120 years ago, we were still riding horses, something that we have been doing since time began here on earth. Electricity is another relatively new invention, compared to the rest of the history. We have come SO far in technology, travel, etc, just like Jesus said we would, in the end times. Also, the book of Ezekiel said that Israel would arise out of the valley of bones in the end times. She did, in 1948. That turned on the clock for His return. His return to physically touch the earth does not happen until the end of the 7-year tribulation/Great tribulation (3-1/2 year split between the two periods). That is where everyone gets confused… when, exactly, does Jesus return? Well, He doesn’t return, to physically step on the earth again, until after the Great tribulation. He DOES return to snatch His followers away into the clouds, where He will be waiting for us. Why do you think He says “Come UP here” for the Rapture, but not for the time when He returns, riding His horse, to end the war of all wars, at the end of the Great tribulation?

        • Michael Keene says:

          @Rhonda, if you are going to post Pre-Trib talking points almost verbatim, then you need to include your source material. From which Tim LaHaye book did you take this?

          plagiarism – n. the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work – http://www.dictionary.com

  15. claude kaz says:

    none of the events that john wrote about have happened yet.. so how can you say ..he was writing to the churches of that day

  16. Travis Steele says:

    Here is a question for the Pre-Millenists. Why weren’t the first century martyrs raptured?

    • Rhonda says:

      Were the conditions right for them to be so? Was travel (going to and fro like we do today, traveling from country to country, across vast expanses of water, in one day) capable, as per Matthew 24? Look at Matthew 24, and tell me what the conditions were like in the 1st Century, compared to now? Only NOW are those conditions right. Jesus gave us the signs. Read them. Apply them. He told the Pharisees that they failed to read the signs concerning His own appearance, as a baby. He called them hypocrites, as well.

    • John Hunter NC says:

      Before answering the question “why weren’t the first century martyrs raptured?”
      Let me ask: Why weren’t the missionaries murdered by the Auca Indians in the
      mid 50′s in Ecuador not raptured? Answer: because God’s time clock didn’t
      allow for the Rapture yet. It wasn’t time for the anti-Christ to be revealed yet.
      The Restrainer must be removed before the Anti-Christ is revealed. The church
      saints through which the Holy Spirit restrains evil must be taken out before the
      Anti-Christ is revealed. The Holy Spirit will still be here, but He will not be
      working through church saints.
      It wasn’t time for the wrath of God to be poured on a Christ rejecting earth yet.
      It wasn’t time for the Great Tribulation yet. We (believing remnant) are not
      appointed unto wrath . I Thess. 5:9. Jesus is sensible, He isn’t going to allow
      His Beloved Bride to go through a war zone.

  17. seanmom says:

    Question: If Jesus returned in 70 AD, why are we here now?

  18. David Davis says:

    It seems we have wolves among the sheep who have no idea what they are talking about. Scripture interprets scripture.

    Da 12:1 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.

    1Th 4:14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
    1Th 4:15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.
    1Th 4:16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
    1Th 4:17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

    A person who denies the catching up of the saints is a heretic.

    • Mitch says:

      Amen

    • Deborah says:

      Exactly! This fellow picks out a couple of verses from revelation, and then pretends as those these verses are the basis for the teaching. I have NEVER heard that. He completely ignores the passages which you posted. Then, he acts as though there is some reason to think that Jesus actually came back in 70 AD, yet offers NO EVIDENCE, not one single verse, to back this up. According to him, we should all just lay down and die, because, based on what he is saying, there is no hope for anyone since 70 AD. This man is spreading false teaching, that could undermine the faith of many, and I truly hope he realizes that he is in error, so that he doesn’t suffer the consequences of such action.

    • Michael Keene says:

      Again, for the uneducated:

      “The Rapture” is NOT an essential of the Christian faith. The burden of proof is on those who say otherwise. Until then, eschatology is an open subject for debate.

      For David Davis:
      heretic – n. a professed believer who maintains religious opinions contrary to those accepted by his or her church or rejects doctrines prescribed by that church (www.dictionary.com),

      Using that definition, and since Gary has proven its fallaciousness (as will any casual study of church history and doctrine), YOU are the heretic for believing what is itself a very heretical doctrine when examined under the light of historical and Reformed Christian orthodoxy. If the shoe fits…..

      Honestly, Gary, I don’t know how you deal with this sometimes.

      • Rhonda says:

        No, “The Rapture” is NOT an essential of the Christian faith. The essential of the Christian faith is Jesus Christ, Himself. Born of a virgin birth, and died on the cross for the sins of mankind, and arose on the 3rd day to reign in heaven, at the right-hand throne of the Father. THOSE are the essentials of the Christian faith… nothing more, nothing less.

        However, David Davis is NOT a heretic. If so, than the Roman Catholic Church persecuted those like Martin Luther as heretics. Yet, he was responsible for the “Reformed Christian” orthodoxy you so call claimed. He was the one that discovered what the Roman Catholic Church wanted to keep suppressed, so that they could keep the masses contained, plying their pocketbooks, illegally. And that was that there was hope for us, in the Rapture. He was the one that took upon himself to push the issue, and opened the door for the Bible to be published in English (thank you, King James!), so that the masses could read it and understand it, themselves.

        • Michael Keene says:

          Boy, these comments just get worse and worse. Let’s see if I understand you: Luther was a “heretic” acc. to Rome. But he wasn’t really, since he largely ignited the Protestant Reformation, which called for a return to Christian Orthodoxy and disavowed allegiance to the Pope. “The Rapture” is not part of that package. In doing so, he proved the Rome itself was heretical (again, use the definition of heretic above that I so kindly provided to you).

          David Davis, acc. to you, is NOT a heretic, for he believes in something that has only largely been a part of Christian doctrine for the last 100 years or so.

          Gary DeMar, however, IS a heretic, since he subscribes to historic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Reformed Christianity, which has never included as part of its canon the doctrine of “The Rapture.”

          ????????

  19. Mitch says:

    I beg to differ. Your analysis omits so many Scriptural references to the sound of the trumpet, all believers being called to meet Christ in the air, the dead in Christ rising first, etc. Although, the pretrib people don’t get it right, you don’t get it right when you fail to consider ALL of Scripture when considering prophecy. In many senses, you are guilty of picking and choosing Scriptures just as the pretrib people. Scripture interprets Scriptures in whole, not just in part.

    We all should remain beholden to the Scriptures rather than suggest that you, or he or they got it right. The only certitude we can have is testing what you or anyone says against the perfect light of Scripture–in its totality.

    Your in Christ.

    • Rhonda says:

      Amen, Mitch. I tend to side with the pre-Tribulation theory, and that’s all these all are… theories. They are NOT essential to the faith in Jesus Christ, and God, Christianity, that we should have. But I am open-minded enough to listen to ALL arguments… prove to me enough that I come to your side, but if I disagree, then let it go at that. I have not dismissed any of the options that might come. I am prepared to go before, but I am also preparing to go through the tribulation, as well, not knowing for sure when He will return for His Church, His Bride, His followers here on earth.

  20. Kerry says:

    Can flesh and blood inherit the Kingdom of God? No. Are we mortal? Yes. When we die physically (mortality) as believers today do we immediately go to be with the Lord? Yes. Do we put on immortality and have eternal life in Jesus Christ at that time? Yes. Is the Lord the Resurrection and the Life? Yes. Did Jesus Christ complete that work for us? Yes. Does the Gospel of Christ have an end? No. Does the Kingdom of God have an end? No. Does the Church age end? No. Is the law and all its jots and tittles still in effect today? No. Is there going to be a 3rd temple built and animal sacrifices started again? No.

    Were there any disciples or Apostles that were promised not to face death until they saw the Lord come in His Kingdom? Yes, Matt 16:27,28. Are any of them who were standing there with the Lord and heard Him say this in Matt 16:27,28 still alive on planet earth today? No. Could they inherit the Kingdom of God while in the flesh? No, they had to be changed, and Paul talks about this is 1 Cor 15:50-54. Would they rise to meet the Lord in the air? Yes, in 1 Thess 4:13-18 Paul talks about this, and it is the same event as promised in Matt 16:27,28 and 1 Cor 15:50,54. Those who were still alive and remained of that specific group of Matt 16:28 were caught up to meet the Lord as promised by the Lord, and they would not face physical death until that happened. That is what is commonly referred to today as the “Rapture”. The Lord kept His promise and some of those who were with Him did not face death, but were changed in the twinkling of an eye and put on immortality.

    • I got lost on the last part of your explanation. Can you elaborate some more?

      • Kerry says:

        Matt 16:27-28 tells us “who” the specific group is that would not taste of death. This same specific group in Matt 16:27-28 , is also the specific group of “we” that will be changed in 1 Cor 15:51-52 and the same group in Matt:16:27-28 is the same specific group 1 Thess 4:13-18 that is the “we” who will be alive and remain. Paul in 1 Cor 15 tells us “why” the “some” who were standing with the Lord and were alive and remain had to be changed. Since flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, therefore their mortal bodies must put on immortality, and their corruptible bodies had to put on incorruptible bodies so they could be caught away to meet the Lord in the air.

        Matt 16:27-28, 1 Thess 4:13-8, 1 Cor 15:51-52 tells us the who, when, why, and how of the “Rapture” and the Resurrection.

    • Sharon Bolling says:

      @Kerry, posted May 15 @ 11:25 a.m. I agree with all you have posted except the part about the third temple being built and animal sacrifices being resumed. That will take place. It is documented that the Jews in Israel already have reinstituted the Sanhedrin and that the vestments and equipment are already made and ready for the temple that will be built after the peace treaty spoken of in Revelation is signed. God Bless You.

  21. Michael Day says:

    The Rapture, Fact or Fiction?
    The rapture teaching was not part of the Apostle’s Creed, nor
    was it an accepted teaching within Orthodox Christianity for the first
    1,800 years of Church History. Within the last 100 years this wind of
    doctrine has blown through the church and gained significant
    acceptance, but is the rapture doctrine Biblical?
    The Old Testament is written in Hebrew, and the New
    Testament is written in Greek. So why is this one word, rapture,
    singled out to be translated into English from Latin? Why not remain
    consistent, and employ the Greek? The Greek word is harpazo, which
    means “to seize.”
    To begin with, we will conduct a word study. Within this word
    study we will examine all 14 instances where the word harpazo is
    employed. If the harpazo is a physical teleportation of believers from
    the earth to Heaven, then it follows logically there will be 14 such
    events recorded in the Bible. Let’s examine the Holy Scriptures and
    see what position the preponderance of the Biblical evidence
    supports.
    The NAS Strong’s Version – 3 Verses
    Mt 11:12
    “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers
    violence, and violent men take it by force.
    Mt 12:29 -
    “Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless
    he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.
    Mt 13:19 -
    “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil
    one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on
    whom seed was sown beside the road.
    After looking at the first three verses in the Gospel of Matthew,
    do any of them illustrate a physical teleportation from earth to
    Heaven?
    The NAS Strong’s Version – 4 Verses
    John 6:15 So Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force
    to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.
    John 10:12
    “He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep,
    sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them
    and scatters them.”
    John 10:28
    “And I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch
    them out of My hand.”
    John 10:29
    “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to
    snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”
    After looking at the next four verses in the Gospel of John, do
    any of them illustrate a physical teleportation from Earth to Heaven?
    The NAS Strong’s Version – 2 Verses
    Ac 8:39
    When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away;
    and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.
    Ac 23:10
    And as a great dissension was developing, the commander was afraid Paul would be
    torn to pieces by them and ordered the troops to go down and take him away from
    them by force, and bring him into the barracks.
    The first Scripture in Acts 8:30 could be interpreted as a
    physical teleportation from point A to point B on the earth, but it can
    also be equally interpreted as a re-direction from the Holy Spirit. To
    expound, Phillip received new instructions from the Holy Spirit, went
    diligently east, for example, as the Eunuch went west. Perhaps some
    buildings or landscape blocked their line of sight to each other. Thus,
    this Scripture does not necessarily illustrate a “mini-rapture.”
    . If we were in a court of law the evidence thus far would be
    one maybe for the current popular rapture doctrine, and eight
    opposed. Shall we continue? The next passages in Acts may, or may
    not, illustrate a physical teleportation from earth to Heaven
    The NAS Strong’s Version – 2 Verses
    2Co 12:2 [
    I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago –whether in the body I do not know,
    or out of the body I do not know, God knows –such a man was caught up to the
    third heaven.
    2Co 12:4
    was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not
    permitted to speak.
    These two Scripture are fascinating. Many theologians believe
    the Apostle Paul is speaking of himself in the first passage. The first
    Heaven being the sky, the second space, and the third Heaven as we
    commonly perceive Heaven to be. Note the Apostle Paul admits he is
    not sure if this man experienced a bodily teleportation to Heaven
    from earth, or if it was a spiritual seizure from earth to Heaven. Since
    the Apostle Paul is 50-50 about it, shouldn’t we exercise the same
    restraint? How many rapture teachers admit there is a 50% chance
    they are wrong? Do you know of any?
    The Apostle Paul was frequently stoned and left for dead, is it
    possible his spirit was raptured at that time?
    The NAS Strong’s Version – 1 Verse
    1Th 4:17
    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.
    This is the primary verse rapture proponents use to support
    their position. Let’s take a good hard look at it.
    First, the Apostle Paul employs the word “we.” If this were
    referring to us in the 21st century today the inspired Word of God
    would have used the word “they.” That is, “They who will be alive in
    the future,” rather than, “…we who are alive and remain.” Clearly,
    the literal time indicators of “we” and “are alive” can not be
    dismissed without doing violence to the clear and plain meaning.
    Second, Exodus 19:4 employs similar language:
    “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you
    on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”
    Did the Hebrews ride on giant eagles like in the movie The Lord
    of the Rings? Did they physically fly up into Heaven and meet God
    the Father? This is common Old Covenant language for God’s
    protection. Likewise, this is what 1 Thes 4:17 references.
    Third, the word air is not referring to the air where planes fly,
    and the physical clouds exist. A word study on air in the Greek
    reveals it is referring to the air immediately around us. It is the air we
    inhale. That is how close God’s protection around the church at
    Thessalonia was during the Great Tribulation in the 1st Century .
    Fourth, Jesus Himself prays against a rapture in John 17:15:
    “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but
    that you should keep them from the evil one.”
    The NAS Strong’s Version – 1 Verse
    Jude 1:23
    save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear,
    hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.
    After looking at the second to last verse in Jude, does the Word
    illustrate a physical teleportation from Earth to Heaven?
    The NAS Strong’s Version – 1 Verse
    Re 12:5
    And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod
    of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.
    Again, the word in the Greek is harpazo; to seize. Like 1 Thes
    4:17, the word up is added into the text in the English. It does not
    exist in the Greek. While on that subject, the word “for” does not
    exist in the Hebrew in Daniel 9:27 either. It is inserted into the text.
    Verses 3 and 4 expound about a red dragon with seven heads
    and ten horns, and about its’ tail sweeping 1/3rd of the stars to the
    land. In context, the Book of Revelation employs highly symbolic
    language. This language in verse 5 illustrates God’s protection.
    So, if you were the judge in a court of law, what would the
    preponderance of the evidence suggest? 5 of the 14 passages are in
    the maybe column; while 9 of the 14 passages do not lend their
    support. Is the current popular rapture teaching a fact, or is it fiction?
    Apply Acts 17:11. How do you rule?
    There are also two additional passages rapture enthusiasts
    promote to support their position. The first is Matt 24:38-41. Go
    ahead and read those verses in context. Note that in verse 39 the
    wicked are taken away (killed) by the floodwaters, and Noah and his
    family are left alive in the Ark. Likewise, the people in the field and at
    the mill would either be taken (killed during the Roman-Judeo War),
    or left alive. No rapture here.
    Matt 24:31 is the yet another so-called rapture passage. Go
    ahead and read that verse in context as well. The angels can either
    be human messengers or angelic beings in the Greek. I believe they
    are the 1st century disciples / apostles who turned the Roman world
    “upside down.” The sound of a trumpet means to loudly proclaim,
    like in Matt 6:2. The gathering is a spiritual gathering into Christ, not
    a physical gathering. Last, the four winds are the four directions of a
    compass; north, south, east, and west. Again, no rapture here.
    After studying the rapture doctrine, I believe it is not a factual
    Biblical teaching. I believe it an emotionally comforting fictional
    doctrine, a la Star Trek, that is being exposed according to the Acts
    17:11 principle. What do you believe God’s Word says?
    Michael E. Day

    • Howard Lindsey says:

      With all respect, I disagree with you. I have shared this scripture with several more learned pastors and they all say “Hummm?” But no one commits on thier concept of the intrepretation. The scripture is in the Beaitudes. “You are the salt of the earth. What if the earth looses it flavor?” To me the implication is clear. Many time, many pastors charge the believer as the ‘glue’ that holds our society together. I do not believe that Jesus would leave the faithful here to endure the temptation and wrath of the anti-christ.

      I am a teacher, but not of the Bible. Many times I use the technique of asking a question to point to my meaning. I believe that is what is done in the beatitudes.

      Either way, pre or post, I am not worried because I know that my Redeamer has a plan for me and I trust him to make provision for me and my family.

  22. Roger Davies says:

    Folks! Please!!! If the rapture happens before the 7 years of tribulation, GREAT!! If it happens in the middle, GREAT!!! If it happens after, GREAT!!! It will all “pan out in the end”!

    The questions we need to ask are, “Are you a Christian?”, and “What makes you a Christian?”. ALL this other stuff is just about meaningless. Of course, I’m talking big picture.

    • BILL says:

      IT WILL HAPPEN BEFORE THE SEVEN YEARS. I AM A CHRISTIAN THAT ACCEPTED CHRIST AS LORD AND SAVIOUR. I BELIEVE IN THE CRUCIFICTION AND THE RESURECTION. WE NEED TO STUDY THE WORD DAILY AND TAKE CLASSES WITH PREACHERS THAT HAS STUDIED FOR YEARS. JACK VAN IMPE HAS STUDIED THIS ISSUE FOR OVER 60 YEARS. I WOULD NOT WANT TO BE HERE FOR THE LAST THREE YEARS AND A HALF. I KNOW FOR A FACT THAT ALL BELIEVERS WILL BE GONE BEFORE THE SEVEN YEARS AND REMEMBER NEVER TO AGREE WITH ATHEIST. GOD BLESS.

    • Yes, after all Jesus knew what He was talking about.

    • Julie says:

      Good Reply Roger….I’m not sure who is right or wrong here however; I do know that the signs are happening all around us and we better be ready! God will see us through but we have to do our part!

    • Bartholemew Cubbins says:

      If the difficulty in understanding the scriptures becomes apparent to anyone, then it is incumbent upon all to study and “be approved of God.” Study it for yourselves, be open to the interpretation given herein, as it should challenge everyone of us. That’s how one learns to defend the faith. Too often, the scriptures are taught by well meaning, but rather ignorant folks, ignorant of mideast history and culture, certainly ignorant of the languages employed (Hebrew/Aramaic and Koinae Greek), and all the hermeneutics employed in a good study. If the substance of these raptures passages is of no import to you, are we to gather that “other passages” are also of no import? Can we twist and contrive other meanings from them as well? That’s a rhetorical statement folks, for we all know the answer is yes. I “used to” believe a lot of different patterns, but no longer believe in the rapture, nor do I believe in “once saved, always saved.” Neither makes me less of a Christian, and in fact, I believe acknowledging these latter points shows that I’ve studied it better than in the past. I applaud what McDurmott has done in this work and encourage everyone to study harder. Cheers.

    • Michael Keene says:

      @Roger – your second paragraph says it all. Bravo!

  23. Mike says:

    Gary, I read your book, “End Times Fiction”, and later studied it section-by-section a couple years later. It was truly a helpful book for understanding scripture more correctly. I plan to make it a regular read every now and again. Great work!

  24. Curtis says:

    Yawn.

    Are there any other doctrines of the church that are implicit? I suppose we need a verse explicitly stating a doctrine for Gary Demar to consider it.

    By the way why is the rapture the fundamental doctrine of dispensational premillienialism? From what I’ve read it is more of a consequence of other doctrines, not the foundational doctrine.

    Seems these are old debates among old people. Hal Lindsey? Tim LaHaye? John MacAurther? These are who you are arguing against? Yawn. Give it up already, Left Behind is over a decade old! It was fiction! Hal Lindsey’s book is over 20 years old. They both had more serious doctrinal errors than the rapture.

    • Michael Keene says:

      Curtis, I would encourage you to set foot in any pre-trib dispensational mega-church (or even a smaller one). The “Statement(s) of Faith” of many of these churches includes something to the effect of the belief in a “Rapture of the saints.” You are right if you are implying that eschatology is not an essential of Christian doctrine; however, many of these types of churches (including my own) have made it such. It is in fact a “foundation” of dispensational belief. Remove the “Rapture” and everything else in this belief system falls apart. The “Rapture” is foremost on everybody’s mind, especially today, b/c whenever someone sneezes in the Middle East, there is a severe storm somewhere, the stock market takes a dive, gas prices climb, crime is up, etc. ad infinitum, it feeds into the “Rapture frenzy.” No, the “debate” in dispensational churches is non-existent. The “Rapture” is accepted as fact, Tim LaHaye still sells books and commands a small fortune whenever/wherever he is invited to speak, Hal Lindsey is still talking doom and gloom (and passing himself off as a “prophecy expert”), and Harold Camping’s group has taken out billboards throughout my region announcing that the “Rapture” will occur – oh, sorry, he calls it “Judgment Day” – on May 21. The tagline on said billboards is “The Bible guarantees it.”

      • Curtis says:

        @Keene

        There have always been crackpots making millions from ignorant Christians. Woop-di-doo. When has popular Christianity ever been right.

        Date setting or end of world predictions are not special to dispensational theology. They are common in all cultures among people who are ignorant of Bible truth. Even some covenantalists/reconstructionists have set dates. So what.

        Last I checked dispensational theology primarily concerned the nature of the church and not eschatological details. Even though people make eschatology their hobby horse, doesn’t mean dispensational theology is dependent on the eschatology.

        It just seems Gary is attacking the symptoms of a problem and not the problem itself. Even dispensationalists disagree with Harold Camping.

        • Michael Keene says:

          Curtis, your comment is confusing. Actually, Gary IS attacking the problem. Gary has made it clear what the problem is – a misinterpretation of Biblical prophecy, esp. as it is applied to pop-culture Christianity today. What is the problem in your view? The fact that other religions have set dates is irrelevant to the topic at hand. I’m not concerned with other religions’ date-setting (e.g. the Mayan calendar and 2012 “Doomsday”). Gary is talking about the vast ignorance of proper Biblical exegesis and scholasticism as pertaining to the largely dispensational population of Christians who buy into the whole “Left Behind” machine. While it is true that dispy. theology does include a discussion of the “nature of the church,” it is also true that you will find this pop-culture end-times madness exists largely and primarily in these types of churches. The two do in fact seem to go hand in hand; look at how many people will respond, and have responded, to AV’s posts on the topic by saying that the authors are “not Christian.” To partially refute your assertion, dispensation (as many understand it) is in fact largely concerned with eschatology. My point was that a vast majority in my own church and similar circles will live or die by the concept of “The Rapture,” to the point where other ESSENTIAL doctrines of Christianity are given less importance. It has become a cancer infecting the church, which reinforces AV’s general assertion that, instead of advancing the Kingdom on Earth, Christians are simply checking out and waiting to be whisked away at any moment. What do you suggest be done about the situation? I infer from your posts that it should be simply ignored, and that perhaps you feel there are bigger fish to fry within the church. Are you suggesting that people remain ignorant about this non-essential topic which has, unfortunately, become an essential to many? You say, “When has popular Christianity ever been right?” Yet you seem to imply that all of this discussion about proper exegetical discussion of eschatology seems to be a waste. So what is your goal? In your mind, since popular Christianity has never “been right”, does that mean that we should all just give up and remain ignorant? I for one am glad for the education that AV and many Reformed authors have given me, b/c having grown up a Dispy/Baptist, lemme tell ya that other points of view were NEVER introduced, and the debate was always “settled.”

        • Mike says:

          MK, I like what you had to say at the end of this comment that other points of view were never introduced, but that the “debate” was settled.

          The church I attend has the “rapture” as one of it’s primary issues in its statement of faith. It’s written in such a way that one who does not believe in the secret rapture (or even eternal security), that person cannot be a member. It seems they have chosen to major on the minors, and minor on the majors.

          Anyway, the elders have explained to me their rationale for including the rapture in their statement of faith: “It’s biblical, and if someone comes in and teaches other than what we teach, it fosters division within the church.”

          My reply: “No, exluding believers simply because they disagree on peripheral issues/doctrines actually divides the body, rather than unifies. (By the way, they don’t like it that I call this doctrine “peripheral”.) What unifies believers is presenting the various views on peripheral issues — including their pro’s and con’s — and informing the people…and when those people can hold a view and disagree lovingly and still worship God together, THAT fosters unity.”

          It seems churches/pastors are so afraid to present the many different angles because they are afraid their own belief systems — and God forbid, their congregation’s as well — might be challenged and rocked off it’s foundation.

          I enjoyed your responses to Curtis.

        • Michael Keene says:

          Thank you!

        • seanmom says:

          Why do you go to that church, if you do not believe the doctrine they have chosen to make a key point of membership? There are plenty of churches that don’t believe in the Rapture? Why stay only to attack?

        • RSandman says:

          “Why stay only to attack?”
          You’re kidding, right?
          Nothing in his loving and biblical approach, privately, to elders of that congregation to challenge them to get back to biblical priorities sounds at all like an attack…just the opposite. He is correcting them in love.

          “There are plenty of churches that don’t believe in the Rapture” Yes, and the ones that are making a CENTRAL POINT of a FRAUD need some loving guidance to help them see the problem of forcing all visitors to the ‘theater of their sanctuary’ to dump artificial butter on their popcorn before entering as a prerequisite, rather than concentrating their efforts on the content of what’s being presented on stage.

          “Why do you go to that church, if you do not believe the doctrine they have chosen to make a key point of membership?”
          Because that is where the salt and light is most needed.

          I’m not speaking for him, but just thought I’d share my own response, as it applies to several places I have lived and worshiped, as well as generally to the tenor of your emotional response. We are not called to ignore untruth in the church and let it go so that we can find comfortable islands of those that already believe as we do. Some are called to share the truth, in a mature and loving way, with those to whom God has called them to do so.

        • E Harris says:

          Curtis, I am sympathetic to your impatience with ‘tired old arguments.’ Most pentecostals that I am acquainted with have placed any mention of the ‘rapture’ WAY, WAY, WAY on the back-burner. It never comes up in sermons, or conversation. Preachers are cautious (even ashamed) to mention it. Many of our preachers are shifting the conversation toward the same stuff that most of the mega-churches are talking about: affecting the culture, etc. etc. They have now recognized how foolish the ‘rapture doctrine’ makes them seem when it doesn’t come true, and many of them are TRULY understanding how the rapture doctrine has made many of us socially irrelevant to the world. Even those that still believe in the rapture (but place it AFTER the tribulation, like Irvin Baxter does) are not talking about the rapture hardly at all anymore.

          The awakening has begun. Pentecostals, Charismatics, Evangelicals are trying to be socially relevant (whatever that means). It’s only a matter of HOW we should best impact the culture, and THAT question boils down to: WHO ARE WE? WHAT IS THE CHURCH?

          This is why I believe HISTORICISM has a lot to offer, today. Historicism tends to be very malleable, flexible, and not as rigidly defined as the other camps. Yet, historicism was the outlook of the original protestants. And historicism is becoming (socially) the dominant outlook of American culture, when it looks at the church and how the church should function. Many christians don’t know about historicism at all… but we are definately shifting in an historicist direction and attitude… toward church, historical interpretation, and culture. My way out of dispensationalism was reading: “End Time Delusions”, followed by “Postmillenialism: An Eschatology of Hope”. …and then my thinking was revolutionized yet again when I read: Pagan Christianity, and The Normal Christian Church Life. These are must-reads, to understand what many in American culture are FEELING when it comes to the church and “organized religion.”

          I believe it’s time to advance the argument forward. Many of the topics we harp on, are getting old. Most have already learned, and are moving on. (But that’s just me. Every man has his own fight.)

          Historicism is definately up-and-coming… though probably not by that ‘name.’ Most people who are becoming ‘historicists’ don’t know the direction that they are headed toward. Those who are beginning to live from an historical perspective, and a perspective that fits the TREND of decentralization, personalization, and TRUE, LIVING faith… they are the winners, in the end. These are the people who know WHO THEY ARE IN CHRIST, and don’t measure their worth by their official titles and positions. These are the saints, who know who they are.

          I prefer to offer my opinions while wearing the name Jesus, Christian, and doctrine. Forget little faddish labels. But if the label is useful for this short time, then I guess it’s worth using sparingly…

          At any rate, historicism is worth a look. It’s worth study. Especially since “the grapes of wrath” show up in late-Revelation 14. (The worshippers of the beast and its image who have no rest are contrasted with those who die IN CHRIST and get to rest from their labors, content that their work lives on in the next generation. Revelation 14 also features the use of sickles…a marxist logo…but turned on it’s head!) Revelation 14 ends in 2 horrible reapings. Recently, prophets have prophecied words from the Lord about a “mower” going forth. I put 2 & 2 together, followed my hunches…and the more I think about the WORDS of Revelation 14, the more they match today. Revelation 15 matches the near future (fans of Glenn Beck should be able to understand those symbols).

          The themes of Revelation 13 match the world around the time of the Reformation. The themes of Revelation 14 match the world around the time of America (through the present). Post-Reformation, Post-American Revolution, Post-Abolition… When Martin Luther was bringing music into his congregational-style gatherings, he introduced (actually, re-introduced) the participation of “laity” in the singing. When the slaves were freed they began to sing improvised songs, from the heart.

          The themes of Revelation 15 match the near future: the saints KNOW what they stand for. They are standing. They stand beside a sea (rootless people) that also contains fire (will not tolerate much falseness). The sea of humanity will not have any form or identity yet, but it will clearly (transparently) know what it does NOT desire. And it will not be content until it sees something true. The saints (having made it through the ‘reaping’ of the earth and the vine of the earth) are standing. Having embraced judgment (reason based on scripture) they are able to stand. Judgment begins at the House of God. We ARE the light of the world, and the Head (not the tail). So after we know how to stand, as a group of individuals, a rapid-fire series of judgments finally hit. God unleashes FINAL judgments upon the world-systems. Reason (based on scripture) is just dawning on the world.

          (In my searches, looking for historicist information, I have gleaned a little from the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who had some good eschatological insights. Revelation-today.com I’m sure you’ll easily spot the parts that are bogus (like claiming one person or another is THE prophet, etc). They just tried to add their OWN heirarchy on top of something that should have continued to become more organic in nature.)

        • Michael Keene says:

          You’re joking, right? Jehovah’s Witnesses? The group that claims that “Paradise” is reserved for only 144,000? The same group who said that the “end” began in 1914? Are those the “good eschatological insights” to which you are referring?

          You appear to reject the concept of “The Rapture” by saying that it is a “tired old argument” and by implying that the majority of churches, in your opinion, aren’t paying any attention to it anymore. And then you suggest a cult which relies on a very flawed interpretation of Biblical prophecy (and which also relies on an extremely poor and inaccurate “translation” of the Word) as its primary focus, as a means to support your argument?

          I think that Gary, Mike, and I have done a decent job explaining how end-times mania continues to be a driving force among mainstream Christianity. If you need further evidence, another mega-church in my region has on its application for employment a place where you must provide your thoughts on “pre-tribulational Dispensationalism.” When you compare that to the church’s “Statement of Faith” (which SPECIFICALLY mentions that they believe in a “Rapture of the Saints”) then you will realize that, in order to work there, you had better toe the line in regards to their eschatology.

          You need to do better than simply referencing the Jehovah’s Witnesses (who, BTW, completely reject the doctrine of the triune God, a PRIMARY ESSENTIAL of the Christian faith) as a source for accurate eschatological interpretation of Scripture.

        • E Harris says:

          Thanks for the reply, Keene. Finally! Someone who has a passion for discussing things! (I like how A.V. has not limited discussion on it’s boards. This may be frusterating for many people, but …)

          I am an historicist, who sees a lot of patterns in Revelation that seem to fit the chronology of history. But I remain very open to other viewpoints, as I assimilate many facets of many viewpoints into how I interpret Revelation. I have gleaned a little from the Preterists, from Futurists, from Historicists, and even Idealists. Most of it FITS TOGETHER, and (at least for me) it is easy to see where particular people’s viewpoints are a stretch. So I just leave out the bad, and keep the good. I found the website Revelation-Today.com. I read it, and it made A LOT of sense, except for occasional references to this guy Russel or Randal or whatever. So I looked up his name (just to see where the writer of this particular website is ‘coming from’ or gets HIS information). Turns out the man was the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Watchtower thingy. But that doesn’t mean that I then NEGLECT all of the good things that I read on that website! In fact, not once did he (or the person who responded to me from that website) mention J.W.’s, or try to hook me into anything. It was nothing but gracious, and centered (mostly) around Jesus Christ. Check it out for yourself!

          The Rapture is fast becoming a tired old argument that is being shoved onto the back-burner, even by people who subscribe to the belief. That is wise. Because if you STUDY how that doctrine has actually AFFECTED church culture and secular culture… you will see that it has made us ineffective worry-warts, who look impractical and ridiculous. It has shoved us into a cultural corner, where we don’t seek to innovate or plan for the future. I had a friend who avoided college for over a decade, because she HONESTLY believed that the rapture was coming. (Not that I advocate most colleges, but you get the point!) I was in a congregation that was over 1000 people back in 1988… and we went BONKERS in support of “88 reasons”. We got a lot of energy from it… and then it just quietly disappeared into the night. … and now my generation (I’m 29)… is just not interested in being stupid!

          By the way, and with ALL due respect, I am not strictly “Trinitarian”. I refuse that term, and that label, entirely. (Right along with almost everything else that was codified at the Council of Nicaea.) I do not believe in “co-equal AND co-eternal” “PersonS” that make up a “Trinity.” I prefer to stick to biblical terminology, as much as I can. My background is UPCI Pentecostal (though I don’t consider myself anything but “christian” and a follower of Jesus, nowadays). I know that most of this is totally ALIEN to the people that frequent Reconstructionist websites. But then, I would be at a Reconstructionist website in the first place, if I didn’t have somewhat of an “open mind” and an “open heart.”

          In all honesty, I read a lot of books, I consume a lot of media, I am embedded in the Pentecostal culture in the Wisconsin area (not to mention all of the major media outlets). With the exception of TBN… almost all pentecostal & charismatic types are moving AWAY from the rapture doctrine as fast as they can. We’re moving on to deeper and better things. Let the old and the dead take care of the old and the dead.

          This doesn’t mean that I won’t occasionally speak out against the dispensational viewpoint… but I am certainly not going to base my entire ministry on the preterist viewpoint (which seems to thrive only as a shadow of the now-dying dispensationalist viewpoint). When dispensationalism finally bites the dust, probably in about another 10 – 12 years max, its inverse-shadow will also not be needed any more. Now is the time to being opening up to the POSSIBILITY of a synthesis from many sources, and many backgrounds. Take the best (and most scriptural) and leave the rest. For me, idealism and historicism is capable of carrying the water much better than a paradigm that refuses any fulfillment after 70AD, or at least refuses to even EXAMINE THE POSSIBILITY of any prophetic fulfillment after 70AD.

          If the Jews of Jesus’ day had the attitude that the preterists do today, they would have been waiting for… the final arrival of Jesus to set up his earthly kingdom! They wouldn’t have EXPECTED prophecy to be a PROCESS that we are IN THE MIDDLE OF.

          The way out of Futurist Dispensationalism is not Preterism or Partial Preterism. The way out (as it was for me, and is for many others from my background) is through HISTORICISM. Just because Historicism doesn’t picture itself as a complete system that is totally figured out, doesn’t mean that it’s not relevant. It means what it says: we’re in the middle, and we don’t know the future. If you begin where most of the reformers began: by pointing the finger at the Papacy, and saying that it’s antichrist… then you can progress from there. Revelation makes A WHOLE LOT MORE SENSE when one sees that pride WITHIN OUR CIRCLES (and culture) is what GOD is concerned about in Revelation. It’s not a clear “us versus them”. We can’t simply point to “Rome” and say “antichrist”. We have to realize that it’s deeper than that!

          We have to be careful, lest we fall, or fall away. God recognizes only 2 kingdoms. And there is no PHYSICAL border between these 2 kingdoms.

          The book of Revelation is more about the heart (and how social movements through history are interacting) than it is about geo-politics and specific one-time earthly fulfillments.

        • Michael Keene says:

          E Harris, thanks for the kind words. I will leave you with this link to read:

          http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/05/14/new-york-man-spends-life-savings-ahead-21-doomsday/

          After reading it, are you still convinced that “The Rapture is fast becoming a tired old argument that is being shoved onto the back-burner, even by people who subscribe to the belief.” ? :-)

        • E Harris says:

          I heard about Fitzpatrick a few months ago. I had a hard time taking it seriously. Nobody (I mean NOBODY) around me has mentioned it. Ok, one person. No pentecostals that I know, or have observed in pentecostal outlets, have taken him seriously. He is one man, spending his life savings in an ad campaign & writing a book, and making appearances. He is 60 years old.

          That should tell you something.

          Both the rapturists and the preterists are aging together. Preterism and Partial-Preterism NEEDS the ‘common enemy’ of the Rapturists to keep them feeling like they have something to offer (in their closed-minded approach to ending almost all prophetic fulfillments at 70AD.) If rapturism were to disappear tomorrow (and it might) then the Preterists will not have won. They aren’t winning now, even as Futurism is de-emphasized, and Rapturism has all-but-disappeared! They will have lost their motive for standing staunchly on their everything-specific-ends-in-70AD attitude toward biblical prophecy. There won’t be a clear enemy to fight. Because what has now arrived on the pentecostal and evangelical leading edge is a post-millenial and historicist ATTITUDE, not a preterist attitude.

          Post-millenialism and historicism are relevant FOR ALL TIMES, in a way that Preterism and Partial Preterism simply are not. Preterism thrives on a correct interpretation of the fall of Jerusalem and it’s Temple, but then it stops there. It does not go much farther or deeper. Historicism takes the next step and says that the temple was destroyed because it was no longer the thing that God was interested in. He was interested in His People because THEY ARE the temple. And from there you get historicism: who sits in THE temple OF GOD, trying to play God? Well… since the temple is the people of God, the person/thing/man sitting IN the temple is sitting AMONGST God’s own People, claiming to be one of them (but just a step above), using THEIR FAITH as his platform. This is how he triumphed over the saints. Now, we all know MANY people with that kind of attitude and approach to the christian faith. But the unrivaled epitome of this mindset has always been the papacy, especially around 1100AD.

          The preterists are more relevant than the rapturists (in their interpretation of the fall of Jerusalem). The rapturists have an emotional intensity that helps them get along. …but somewhere there must be some middle ground between head (reason) and heart (dedicated and focused, holy zeal). Both are misguided in their single-minded emphasis.
          If anything, Fitzpatrick is the last gasp of the ‘rapturists’. My generation is NOT filled with rapturists, at all! That doctrine began dying out in the early 2000′s. And about 2 years after Obama’s election, many pentecostals have seemed to say to themselves that focusing on the rapture (as in times past) gets us nowhere… facing the things that we are facing now. The rapture doctrine is a luxury of better times. When things get financially rough, the rapture doctrine does not escalate in intensity… it decreases in intensity. Because even ‘rapturists’ have lives and logic.

          The internet/information age, has exposed EVERY DOCTRINE to scrutiny, and brought a whole new level of cultural conversation. The awakening (away from rapture doctrine, and toward figuring out DEEPER THINGS) has already happened.

          Look at the Passion Conferences with Loui Giglio. Look at Hillsong church. Look at the mega-churches. Look at the organic & house-church movements. Look at ANY major pentecostal outlet (with the exception of TBN & its preachers). You will not find the rapture anywhere near front-and-center, if it is mentioned at all. We are moving toward understanding the gifts of the Spirit, how to relate to other denominations and the culture in general, how to use our finances, how to engage in the culture war, etc.

          Also, there is a small (but very vibrant and growing) movement toward an organic understanding of church. This movement looks a little like the emergent movement, but it is very distinct from it – and many conservatives are embracing it, such as Barna. This movement (if you read its literature, and trace its ideas) is Historicist in nature. It doesn’t talk about eschatology or the end times. It doesn’t even point the finger at the papacy. But it is VERY critical of things that the papacy held dear, and it is also very critical of everything that every institutional & “official” ‘church’ holds dear. It may be tough for Reconstructionists to understand this movement, but it will grow and be noticed. It will eclipse anything the rapturists ever did.

          Now, I guess we are to have many watchmen, on many fronts. Because we still have saints who still honestly believe in the rapture, and will distract their fellow saints with that doctrinal garbage…I guess we still need some fighters on that front. But what distubs me almost as much as rapturism and futurism is preterism and partial-preterism. Both paradigms tend to view fulfillments in physical terms (or to at least focus on the physical aspect). Both paradigms leave the now-2000-year period that we have experienced IN LIMBO. Both paradigms have no settled conclusions about how the entire book of Revelation is to be interpreted, and yet they also reject any interpretation that hasn’t already been imbibed by their camp!

          Historicism is open-ended. Historicism sees past, PRESENT, and future in Revelation and other prophecies. If there is to be a synthesis, that would explain the things that Preterism & Futurism have not figured out in a FEW HUNDRED YEARS… I argue that that synthesis will look a lot like Historicism and Idealism (with elements of preterism and some futurism). Futurism and Historicism are both too stuck in their camps. And yet, Historicism (by pointing at Rome and the Roman ATTITUDE in the church) is the happy middle ground. It’s relevant in all time periods, because it points out men’s pride, and the social nature of the enemies of God.

    • BILL says:

      But remember the word never changes. Doesnt matter how long these preachers preached it.

  25. Michael Keene says:

    Gary, how dare you reject the idea of the Rapture. You are going to hell for sure….. just kidding (my old Dispensationalism was coming out). Thank you for this concise explanation. Having said that, what do I say to my 70-something year old mom who clings to this concept with all of her heart? Should I attempt to educate her? Like many seniors in my church (where a certain Tim LaHaye used to be pastor), they are waiting to be “taken away to glory.” It’s all they have. How can I attempt to educate her without being a big meannie? Should I even bother? BTW, thanks for all that you do. I haven’t always agreed with the articles on here, but on this topic you are right on the money. Please respond before May 21, because I won’t be around after that date. :-)

  26. Kerry says:

    Gary,
    Thanks for making that video.

    It is my opinion that 1 Thess 4_13-18 and Matt 16:27,28 are the most pivotal in the New Testament for correctly understanding prophecy and other doctrines, especially the “Rapture” and the Resurrection. Briefly stated, here is my thoughts on Matt 1:27,28, 1Thess 4:13-18, 1 Cor 15:51,52.

    Matt 16:27-28 tells us “who” the specific group is that would not taste of death and be “alive and remain” until the Lord’s coming. This same specific group in Matt 16:27-28 , is also the specific group of “we” that will be changed in the twinkling on an eye in 1 Cor 15:51-52 and not all sleep, and the same group in Matt:16:27-28 is the same specific group in 1 Thess 4:13-18 that is the “we” who will be alive and remain. Paul in 1 Cor 15 tells us “why” the “some” in Matt 16:27,28 who were standing with the Lord and were alive and remain had to be changed. Since flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, therefore their mortal bodies must put on immortality, and their corruptible bodies had to put on incorruptible bodies so they could be caught away to meet the Lord in the air. This specific group of people starting in Matt 16:27,28 also has the Apostle Paul included in it as the speaker in 1 Thess 4 “we” who are alive and remain (1st person plural, nominative case), if Paul was to be “alive and remain” at the Lord’s coming. This was an “exclusive” group (Apostolic), and would have been known to those Christians Paul was writing to. I believe that the “we” who are alive and remain was exclusive, and not inclusive, and in fact was a physical “Rapture” of those who remained alive from that first generation of Apostles and those specifically chosen by the Lord as His witnesses.

    Matt 16:27-28, 1 Thess 4:13-8, 1 Cor 15:51-52 tells us the who, when, why, and how of the “Rapture” and the Resurrection.

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