The Partial Rapture Theory Written by J.R.Hall Dangerous Dissection of the Bride
Unlike the Pretrib, Midtrib and Postrib theories, the Partial Rapture theory does not concern itself as much with the timing of the rapture, as it does with persons that will take part in the rapture. The belief is that not all Christian believers will be translated in the event of 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 and 1 Thess 4:13-18 but rather only those that are found 'watching' and 'waiting' will take part in the event. It is said that there will be a certain hierarchy in the church that some who have attained special spiritualism, or are more 'annointed' will be worthy of the promised exemption from the wrath to come as expressed in 1 Thess 1:10. This view of the 'Partial Rapture' has had a few proponents in the past, but now it is gathering steam as we see more and more of the charismatic groups assigning their “special annointing” as evidenced through their experiential manifestations of the works of the spirit, as the signpost for being worthy of escape in the partial rapture. This then leaves those of us un-charismatic Christians behind as a sort of punishment for our spiritual slumber; Forced now to live through some period of the final 70th week of Daniel (or more commonly called 'The Tribulation') until such time as we are found worthy to be raptured at a later date. I hope the reader can see that this belief in a sort of 'earthly pergatory' has serious consequences to the understanding of the sufficiency of the cross that we evangelicals must not overlook. Together now, lets have a look at the grave concerns that arise when one looks closely into the 'Partial Rapture Theory'. Doctrinal Difficulties with the Theory 1. Firstly, the partial rapture theorist must deny the scriptural teaching of unity in the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12 goes into great detail about the relationship of the members in the body of Christ, and how although not each is equal in gifting; each is yet still apart of the same body. Of careful study and consideration in this passage is the following: 1Co 12:22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.
1Co 12:23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen,
1Co 12:24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity.
1Co 12:25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other.
1Co 12:26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
1Co 12:27 All of you together are Christ's body, and each of you is a part of it. You see we are all unified in the body. Scripture also tells us that Christ is the head of the body (Ephesians 5:23). When we look to scripture to the prerequesites to being Christians we find ourselves at Romans 10:9-10. Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Upon repentance of sin and this confession of faith we therefore are regenerated, or 'born again' as Christ tells us in John 3:7. To admit the possibility of the Partial Rapture Theory, we also must then admit that the Corinthian verses were not true when Paul wrote, "And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care..." Dr. Dwight Pentecost said this on the subject: "If the rapture includes only a portion of those redeemed, then the body, of which Christ is the head, will be a dismembered and disfigured body when it is taken to Him. The building, of which he is the chief cornerstone, will be incomplete. The priesthood, of which He is the High Priest, will be without a portion of its complement. The bride, in relation to whom He is the Bridegroom, will be disfigured. The new creation, of which He is the Head, will be incomplete. Such is impossible to imagine." 1 This same division in the body that the partial rapturist would have us believe carries directly over into the denying of the translation events of the rapture passages themselves. Logically if the partial rapturist is correct, then there would be some that are 'dead in Christ' that would not measure up to be worthy of 'God bringing them' (1 Thes 4:14), and certainly then, Paul would not have told us that "we shall all be changed" in verse 51 of 1 Corinthians 15. “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, “ - 1 Co 15:51 To assume the Partial Rapture Position one must assume that Paul was erred when he expressed that 'all' would be changed, and that the dead in Christ would be worthy of being a part of that meeting. If the Partial Rapture was correct, Paul would have indicated qualifiers for those dead in Christ, and those who remain, and yet the only qualifier we find in the passages are the words, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again" in verse 14. When you review this brief statement in light of Romans 10:9-10 we can quickly see the error of the Partial Rapture position. 2. The Partial Rapturist confuses the distinction between law and grace. If exception of the wrath of God were conditional upon the works of man as the partial rapturist would have us believe, then have we not then removed the law of unconditional grace? Tit 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Tit 3:6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
Tit 3:7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. That's it. Nothing more. We are justified by His Grace. Nowhere in scripture is it said that our salvation is a product of an individuals works, therefore therefore the 'born again' result cannot itself be a product works. Salvation requires nothing more than the acceptance of God's grace, through heartfelt repentance and the belief and devotion to Christ Jesus as required in Romans 10:9-10. 3. As mentioned in the introduction, the partial rapturist placed a portion of the church in time of Daniel’s 70th week (The Tribulation). When we consider that Christ proclaims that time being, "the time of trouble which is coming upon the world to test all the people on earth." (Rev 3:10), we see that one purpose of the period is to purge and judge the world in preparation for the kingdom to follow. A kingdom where Christ himself will sit on David's throne in Jerusalem and rule the nations with a rod of iron. The church; the body; the Christians; all those who have placed Christ as Lord of their lives and who have put on the gift of salvation of God through His grace alone, need not be purged in this matter. We have our own rewards and time in front of the Bema seat. We are exempt from the wrath of God because of our new standing with Him through the sufficiency of Christ and the Cross. Which leads me to my next point. 4. The partial rapturist must deny the sufficiency and value of God, manifest in flesh, dying on the cross for the sins of mankind. The unblemished sacrificial lamb of God sacrificing himself unto death, so that we can not only be free of our bondage of sin, but again be worthy to be in the presence of a perfect and Holy God. Through the threefold doctrine of propitiation, reconciliation and redemption, we find ourselves in an acceptable state as was preordained for all humanity through the personal act of a gracious God. Propitiate is defined as: to gain or regain the favor or goodwill of: to appease2 Chafer says this of propitiation: "Propitiation is the Godward side of the work of Christ on the cross. The death of Christ for the sin of the world changed the whole postition of mankind in its relation to God, for He recognizes what Christ did in behalf of the world whether man enters into it or not. God is never said to be reconciled, but His attitude toward the world is altered when the world's relation to Him becomes radically changed through the death of Christ."3 Reconciliation comes from reconcile, which is defined as: a: to restore to friendship or harmony b: settle, resolve Chafer adds: "Since the position of the world before God is completely changed through the death of Christ, God's own attitude toward man cannot longer be the same. He is prepared to deal with souls now in the light of what Christ has accomplished."4 Because God's plan for reconciliation was made perfect through the death of Christ on the cross, God therefore is able to justify any sinner who puts on Christ as a personal reconcilatory act. God honours our recognition of His personal sacrifice in our place, as a settlement (reconciliation) of our debt paid in full for our sin. This leads nicely into redemption which can be defined as the act of redeeming. Redeeming is defined as: serving to offset or compensate for a defect. It is this compensation that was paid in full by God Himself when he became man. Lived as Man and died a horrific death, at the hand of those he wished to save. Chafer comments: "Redemption is an act of God by which He Himself pays as a ransom the price of human sin which the outraged holiness and government of God requires. Redemption undertakes the solution of the problem of sin, as reconciliation undertakes the solution of the problem of the sinner, and propitiation undertakes the problem of an offended God."5 This threefold process of salvation washes us the sinner free from any condemnation from God. Now in perfect and right standing with a Holy God, we ourselves are acceptable to Him who created us to be so. We now have no more punishment, no more payment required for our iniquities. Our slate is clean, our position before a Holy judge is good and acceptable, with no conditional caveats based on our own strength and ability. We merely take up our cross and follow in the footsteps of the master. The Partial Rapturist that insists that only those who are:
...or those that speak in tongues;
...or those that are charismatic;
will be translated, must therefore believe that the acts of propitiation, reconciliation and redemption is a byproduct of one's own doing and abilities and not the perfect sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. This denial of the sufficiency of the cross, leaves the Partial Rapture theory debunked at a core theological level. -- J.R.Hall ---------------------------
1. J.Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come, pp. 160
2. Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary, http://www.m-w.com
3. Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, VII, 259
4. Ibid., VII, 263.
5. Ibid., III, 88.
Also see this fine article: geocities.com/cobblestoneministries/Rapture_partial