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Biblical perspective on rapture teaching

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QUESTION: Hello Pastor, I don’t understand the rapture. Will rapture happen before the mark of the beast? And if yes, will people who will have refused to take the mark of the beast have been saved then? Thanks. Amon Passy.

RESPONSE: Hello Amon, praise God and thank you for the question. Your question needs definitions, interpretations and thereafter explanations.

I will attempt as follows; first, let me begin from the point that the question you asked concern the study of Eschatology (the study of last things or the end times).

I assume these questions come because you are thinking about the end of the world and how things will be.

Definitions
I do not know what you know about the rapture or the mark of the beast in the context of eschatological events, but I am going to assume you know enough and contribute to that effect.

The Merriam Webster dictionary definition of ‘Rapture’ is:

a)-the act of seizing and carrying off with force: forcible capture: abduction.

b)-the state of being carried out of oneself: spiritual or emotional ecstasy: possession by an overwhelming emotion (as joy, love).

c)-a mystical phenomenon in which the soul is borne out of itself and exalted to a knowledge of divine things.
The mark is labelling and the beast is the evil one. It is a sign and a seal.

The concept of rapture is a mythical phenominon. (Illustration/Left Behind)

Interpretations
The rapture is a doctrine in some Christian circles and a belief that at the return of Christ, all believers will be caught up (“raptured”) to meet the Lord in the air.

The term ‘rapture’ came into popular parlance in the nineteenth century with the rise of Premillennialism and Dispensational theology.

It is the belief that at the second coming (Parousia), both the dead and the living believer will be abruptly teleported and caught in the sky to meet the Lord.

Explanations
The word ‘rapture’ itself is not in the Bible. Rapture was coined by the framers of this doctrine and it was derived from the Latin word ‘rapere’.

‘Rapere’ is derived from the Greek word (‘Harpazo’) that Apostle Paul used in 1Thessalonians 4:17.

In most versions, this word is translated as ‘Caught up’. Harpazo can be translated as ‘to seize’, ‘carry off by force (Matthew 11:12, 13:19, John 6:15, 10:12, 28, 29, Acts 23:10, and Jude 23) ‘to rob (Philippians 2:6), ‘to snatch out or away.
The best translation of Harpazo is in Luganda; ‘Okunyakula’.

It is an open act of confiscatory violence (Matthew 11:12; the violent taking the kingdom by force), to snatch or tear away, yank away, pluck out of (Matthew 13:19; Satan coming to snatch away the seed sown in a person’s heart), remove by swiftly and aggressively grasping (John 10:12; Satan again as the wolf who snatches away the sheep).

The Good News, however, is that we believers in Christ are encouraged that the devil cannot snatch us out of His strong arm of salvation (John 10:28-29; no one being able to snatch the sheep from either Jesus’ or the Father’s hand).
According to Allan S. Bandy’s Gospel Coalition, believers in this rapture doctrine are in four categories, and these are essentially about the timing of the tribulation:

l Pre-tribulation rapture: To this category, the rapture occurs when Jesus comes secretly to gather the Church before a seven-year great tribulation that precedes the return of Christ to Earth. It is not true that Jesus will come secretly, though.

l Mid-tribulation rapture: Similar to the pre-tribulation view, except that it locates the rapture after the first three-and-half years at the point when the anti-Christ assumes power.

l Pre-wrath rapture: The rapture will occur toward the end of the tribulation before the outpouring of God’s wrath with the bowl judgments (Revelation 16) prior to the return of Christ.

l Post-tribulation: The rapture occurs simultaneously with the return of Christ at the end of the tribulation.

Christian Eschatology does not in context teach that true believers in Jesus will be grabbed or snatched and vanish like the ninja mystical Musan technique.

Believers being lifted towards God has inferences in the Old Testament in Enoch (Genesis 5:21-24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:1, 11).

Then Phillip in the New Testament (Acts 8:39), the visions and revelations of Paul (2 Corinthians 12:2-4) and in the sign of the woman who represents the Church in revelation (Revelation 12:5).

However in biblical eschatology, when the living and the dead are lifted to our God in the skies, the world is simultaneously destroyed and replaced.

Now that you understand the rapture, let me respond to your last two questions.

NO, by the time believers (alive and resurrected) meet their Lord in the sky, the unsaved are already beast marked.

The mark of the beast is unbelief in Christ. It is not necessarily a literal 6I6 or 666 stamp.

It is unbelief in understanding and behaviour (Revelation 13:16).

Major symbols of evil in the Bible are threefold: 1-the Dragon (ultimate cosmic evil, Satan; Genesis 3, Revelation 12:7-12), 2-the Politics (First Beast empowered by the Dragon; Revelation 11:7, 13:1-10; 17:7-18), and 3-the marriage of religion and politics (Second Beast; Revelations 13:11-18).

Whoever is part of the dragon and its beasts is beast marked unless he converts to the Gospel.

And YES, the saved are saved upon belief in Christ (John 3:16) and not in the end times for all believers are saved and sealed with the Holy Spirit as their divine mark (Ephesians 1:13).

Answered by Pr Isaiah White.
Contact: +256775 822 833
Email: whitemwine@gmail.com

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