Does the Church of God teach the rapture?

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I have a friend who half believes and half doesn’t believe the rapture theory.  He goes by the verse that says we will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.  Please give scripture to prove the Rapture is not true.

Your “half-believing” friend has lots of company, what with a popular book series and movie on the topic. If a Left Behind sort of rapture were clearly taught in Scripture, then we’d have something to fully believe.

Christians who are alive when Jesus comes will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:17, your friend’s verse). This suggests that saints will be “snatched away sud­denly” at the Lord’s return and confirms that some sort of rapture is true — but not the sort usually taught.

Remind your friend that the “rapture” of his verse is not silent but is accompanied with “a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God” (v. 16)! This they don’t tell in Left Behind, nor do they say that “every eye will see Him” (Rev. 1:7). So the Bible’s rapture isn’t secret, either.

The popular theory requires Christ to return, first to rapture the saints to heaven and then again to defeat His enemies, judge the world, and establish his Kingdom. But the Bible never speaks of Jesus coming again and again—three total times. Instead, Hebrews 9:28 lays it down that we may look for Jesus just once more — “a second time.”

Matthew 13:24-43 offers rebuttal to the common rapture idea: “Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn’ . . . the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels” (vv. 30, 39). Jesus explained that the wheat is taken into the barn after the tares are taken for destruction. This reverses the common rapture idea that the righteous are caught away before the wicked are judged.

When Jesus returns, the Bible says He will stand upon the earth to rule and reign, not just swoop down close and go back to heaven (Job 19:25; Zech. 14:3, 4; Acts 1:9-12; 3:20, 21; Rev. 5:10). God’s saints, whether dead or alive, will rise up, go out to meet Him (1 Thess. 5:13-17), and return with Him in glorious procession, a common practice for conquering heroes in ancient times.

The “secret rapture” was never a teaching of the apostles, the early church, or the reformers. It was first taught among millennialists in nineteenth century England and was popu­larized through notes in the Schofield Reference Bible.

We’ll all probably be a bit surprised by the actual unfold­ing of events at the end of the age. Our view on the Rapture, however, is that it remains, at best, a half-truth.

— Elder Calvin Burrell

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Calvin Burrell is former editor of the Bible Advocate and former director of G. C. Missions. He retired in 2015 and lives with his wife, Barb, in Stayton, OR. They attend church in Marion, OR.