Burning Questions answered
by Rev Colin Le Noury
Q10. Is the rapture of millions of souls too fanciful to be credible?
The question highlights an objection often raised by unbelievers and theologians alike. The idea that at one given moment in history literally millions of souls disappear from the face of the earth in a fleeting moment of time is, for some, too hard to conceive.
Our analysis of the subject must begin as always with scripture. Let us see what the word of God says. Two passages of scripture are especially poignant and unmistakably clear. Paul, the apostle, writing to the Thessalonian church says:
'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 them that are asleep. 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; 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.' (1 Thess. 4 vv 15-17.)
The same apostle writing to the Corinthian church also stated:
'Behold I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.' (1 Cor. 15v51.)
Both of these scriptures point to a moment when God will break into human history and physically remove all the living souls who, by faith, have received Christ as their Saviour.
At the same time, those who have died in faith will be raised up with them to meet the Saviour somewhere in the heavens. This is the rapture of the church. Fanciful as it may seem, it is clearly prophesied in God's word.
Critics of this great truth are increasingly more sceptical of the pre-tribulation viewpoint which places the event before the tribulation period. To suggest that the world could continue indifferently or unchanged following such an event, they say, is absurd.
Let us deal with some of these criticisms. Firstly the suggestion that it is fanciful. This criticism is not just reserved for the doctrine of the rapture. The very same critics use the argument in attacking the resurrection, the atonement, the virgin birth and not least the miracles associated with the earthly ministry of Christ.
All of these have been deemed 'fanciful' by those who do not believe. The truth is that in matters of christian doctrine, faith, not rationalisation, is the criterion with which to approach these things.
These are matters of faith and they require the application of faith. This is just as true of the rapture as the other doctrines mentioned. To try and rationalise them is a denial of the sovereignty of God and of His miraculous power.
Critics of the pre-tribulation rapture also question the effect it would have on those left behind. The suggestion that it would cause the whole world to suddenly start believing in God is a fallacy. The problem of human depravity will still be there following the rapture, and it will take more than the disappearance of God's people to alter that.
Indeed it might be said that such an event will only harden the hearts of those left behind. Certainly the story of the Exodus and the hardening of Pharaoh's heart is a good example of that.
In the same connection we should also give consideration to a verse of scripture in 2 Thess. 2 v 11 which says:
'And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie...'
We cannot be absolutely sure how this verse will be fulfilled but it does suggest that antichrist will offer the world an explanation for the disappearance of the Church which will seem credible to those left behind. What antichrist will say we cannot imagine, but remember, the devil is the father of lies. One can almost visualise the scenario in which the world is placed on a state of global emergency. Antichrist appears on T.V. and his broadcast is flashed around the world. A plausible explanation is countless multitudes fall for it because, as always, falsehood is easier to believe than truth.
One should not forget also, that the whole event will be enveloped in confusion as many supposed christians, perhaps men of the cloth among them, will still be on earth, whilst others not thought to have been believers will have been taken away.
This writer is also convinced that the world is being mentally prepared for such an happening. The much emphasised attention given to UFOs and so called unexplained phenomena, so prevalent in today's media, could be part of a preparation process for what will be the greatest unexplainable phenomenon in human history. One can see that the mystery of iniquity is already at work. It is conceivable that antichrist will use some of these ideas to explain away the rapture to a world of people whose minds have been well prepared and conditioned over many years.
Thankfully we who are ready and prepared for the Lord's coming will not have to face such deception. Rather we live in the light of 'the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.'
For those with faith, this is not fanciful, but credible, and entirely real!