Scripture teaches that the first man, Adam, was created in God’s divine image. He was Elohim’s perfect creation, radiant in eternal life. So when death entered into the human experience through Adam’s transgression, God immediately set in motion a plan to counteract it. He would bring men back to what Adam originally was before the fall.
To fulfill His redemptive plan, God would first overlook fallen man’s sin ritualistically to re-establish relationship through a symbolic rite of animal sacrifice (Lev. 17:11). God’s pronounced death sentence for Adam’s disobedience was immediately overshadowed by His compassionate decision to die in his stead. Every Old Testament sacrifice typified the offering of Jesus’ life blood on the cross. Once Jesus Himself fulfilled God’s plan of “vicarious substitution” (Heb. 9:11,12), He would recreate man on the inside with His perfect, eternal life (2 Cor. 5:1,17).
But in the scope of God’s overall plan, born-again men have only been restored one-third of the way to what Adam originally was. Adam walked and talked with God personally (Gen. 2:19), with no need of a “go between” as the church requires today (1 Tim. 2:5). And that is where Christ’s church is heading again some day: “God Himself shall be among them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3).
In that day, mankind will be restored into the radiant presence of God as beings completely recreated in His perfect image.
But before this will happen, one more phase of God’s redemptive wisdom is scheduled, an immortal transformation into the kind of spirit-based body that Jesus displayed to the disciples following His resurrection from the dead. “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Lk. 24:39).
When this stage of salvation is finally fulfilled, the departed spirits of redeemed men and women will receive this new spiritual body, and those still alive at the time will be “changed” (allasso: to exchange one thing for another, to transform) and snatched heavenward to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:17). “Behold, I tell 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 trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:51-53).
Jesus was resurrected (Matt. 28:6) and raptured (Acts 1:9) to ensure the redemptive fulfillment in man.
1 Corinthians 15:22-26
22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.
23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming,
24 then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.
25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.
26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death.
When will it happen? You decide!
The following are expert exerpts from the traditional pre, mid, and posttribulation Rapture views. Over the next months we will examine each on its own hermeneutic merits. Have fun. Get engaged!
Eschatology Today Publisher, Mark Norris, M.A.
The Pretribulational Rapture Theory
From: Rapture Get Right or Get Left, and God’s Master Performance by Hilton Sutton, p. 55; 65, 66.
If you search for a single verse of Scripture which states specifically that the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ and the catching up of the Church is prior to the Tribulation, your search will be in vain. There is no such verse. But by studying the whole of God’s Word (which you should do), you will discover that the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ is a certainty. The taking up of the Church to meet Him in the air is for sure, and it very definitely comes before the Tribulation Period can begin.
In Revelation 1 we read that John, when in the Spirit, heard a Voice from behind which sounded like a trumpet. He turned to discover Jesus, from Whom the Voice had come.
In Revelation 4:1 we read of a second encounter. Again John hears a Voice which sounds like a trumpet. When it speaks, he is immediately in the Spirit and in heaven at God’s throne.
Although John was not taken bodily to heaven in the same manner described in Second Corinthians 12:2, his spiritual experience began with the same event awaiting all believers: a rapture. John’s experience parallels the Rapture of the Church described by Paul in First Thessalonians 4:16,17.
Notice that John, according to Revelation 4:1, was looking or watching, and the Voice which he heard commanded him, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.’ The things he would later witness could only take place after his arrival in heaven, again showing wonderful agreement with Luke 21:36: (“Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son Man”).
1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.”
2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne.
The Mid-tribulational Rapture Theory
From: The End, by Norman B. Harrison, p. 75.
St. Paul, by inspiration of the Spirit, definitely places the Resurrection and the Rapture of the saints through the coming of Christ “at the last trumpet” (1 Corinthians 15:51,52). This is a specific locating of the event. Unquestionably the Holy Spirit revealed the fact and inspired the recording of it. How dare any one locate it otherwise?…Can we postulate the Rapture at any other place than that given by and through the Apostle Paul and claim to maintain the integrity of God’s Word?
Eschatology Today: Mr.Harrison counts trumpets in the book of Revelation. There is no other sequence of trumpets outside of The Book of Revelation to count in Scripture. Paul’s New Testament prophecies at times acknowledge the Old Testament, but mainly exist with the apostle John’s as the only New Testament Eschatology in the Bible. The last trumpet blows mid-way (midtrib) through Revelation’s text (Revelation 11:15-19) after the two witnesses are resurrected and raptured before the Saint’s judgment seat.
From: Understanding End Times Prophecy, by Paul Benware, p 216.
One supporter of this view prefers that it be called the “midseventieth week theory of the Rapture,” noting that his view “is popularly known as the midtribulational theory, but such a term gives rise to a possible misunderstanding.” Those who believe that only the second half of Daniel’s seventieth week (three and a half years) is the time of tribulation would see themselves as really advocating a pretribulational rapture of the church.
1 Corinthians 15:51-53
51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on mmortality.
The Posttribulational Rapture Position
From: Answers To 200 Of Life’s Most Probing Questions by Pat Robertson, p.156.
I do not find in the Bible the teaching that Christians will be “raptured” prior to the Tribulation. The Bible teaches two comings of Jesus; one, His birth; the second, His coming again in triumph. There is no third coming for a secret rapture. The book of Matthew specifically says, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days…. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven…and He will send His angels…and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
This is just one of many references that indicate we will be going through a time of tribulation until Jesus Christ comes back.
I do believe that Christians will be protected in the midst of tribulation, however. After all, the Israelites were protected when the plagues fell upon Egypt.
Throughout history there have been successive martyrdom’s of Christians, and it is the height of arrogance to assume that only twentieth-century Christians in the United States of America will be spared any kind of persecution. That goes against the flow of history for the last two thousand years. Jesus said, “He who endures to the end shall be saved.” Persecution is simply part of living as a Christian in this world. The saints in China, Russia, and other communist countries have been tortured, have suffered privation, have had their jobs and their families taken away from them. Many of them have already died because of their witness for Jesus. It is hard to contemplate much worse tribulation than these great men and women of faith have already endured.
29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken,
30 and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.
31 “And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.