Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Was Rapture Imminent In Paul's Lifetime ?


The subject of the imminency of the rapture came up in an email exchange between my good grace friend, De, and me; and her explanation of why she does NOT believe Paul anticipated the rapture of the body of Christ in his own lifetime struck me as most logical! De says she has written on this topic on her website, Departure Ready, but here is a synopsis of her train of thought:

De: I've shared on this subject more than once and I wanted to elaborate on a few points.

When Paul said "we" which are alive and remain, it is said by many teachers that Paul believed and taught that he would experience the "Catching Up" in his lifetime - that is, that Paul expected that he would be alive for the "Catching Up" of the Body of Christ.

We have brought out that part of Paul's ministry was to finish the Word of God - to bring it to completion, and he did. And then Paul wrote to Timothy that his course and ministry were finished. Paul also wrote to Timothy to preach what he had learned from him.

What I'm going to share today is to challenge anyone who still believes Paul expected to be "Caught Up" to Jesus Christ in his lifetime.

The "Imminent Rapture" theory is in part based upon Paul using the word "we" - as if to say Paul expected to be "Caught Up" to Jesus "at any moment."
Often times when I'm sharing I will write "we" - and what I mean when I write "we" is "we" who are in the Body of Christ that believe what I'm sharing - this is what I believe Paul meant when he wrote "we."

I don't believe that Paul was saying that he expected to be "Caught Up" with the living. He was saying - the living ones in the Body of Christ at that time are the "we" that will be "Caught Up" alive.

The living ones, in Christ, at the time of the "Catching Away" are identified as "we" just as the ones in Christ who agree with what I share in my offerings are "we."
Does that make sense?

Neither the word rapture nor the word imminent appear in the Bible.
We use the word rapture oftentimes to speak of when the Body of Christ will be "Caught Up."
Imminent has been used to teach that the "Catching Up" may occur "at any moment."
Imminent is an adjective and it connotes something about to occur, "at any moment;" expected to happen soon; at hand.
Which brings me to the flip of the coin.
Since this word imminent, that is nowhere to be found in God's Word means something that is about to occur - how, oh how - do these same dear Saints of God teach that the "Catching Up" that Paul told us would facilitate our meeting Jesus Christ in the air - also teach that the "Catching Away" of the Church can occur "at any moment," 50 years from now, or even 1000 years from now?

Makes no sense to me.

If it's about to occur "at any moment," if it's expected to happen soon, then how does one rationalize that it could take 50 years, 100 years, or 1000 years longer to occur?
We say, for now, get rid of the word imminent - it doesn’t fly within the confines of God's Word, NOT YET ANYWAY.
We believe the better teaching is that the "Catching Away" WILL OCCUR.
IT WILL OCCUR - just as our apostle Paul taught that it would.
And IT WILL OCCUR at the very moment IT IS TO OCCUR.

The "Catching Up" is a prophesied event inside "the Mystery" that was revealed to only Paul by the Ascended and Glorified Lord Jesus Christ.

"The Mystery" was God's secret until the Glorified Lord Jesus Christ took the lid off and revealed it to Paul.

The "Catching Away" is no longer a mystery, because God's Word to His Church is complete, however it is not imminent.

Let's look to see if Paul was living his life expecting the "Catching Up" of the BOC.
By Acts 16 Paul knew that the "Catching Up" was not going to happen. Till Paul get's to Macedonia he knows God has ministry for him there. He knows the "Catching Away" is not going to transpire "at any moment." Paul, knows he is going to Macedonia, Rome, and Jerusalem. In Acts 21 Paul is told through a message from the Holy Ghost how he will be bound in Jerusalem. The "catching away" was not imminent when Paul received this prophetic message. In Acts 23 Paul is bound in Jerusalem and he is told that he must bear witness in Rome.

Do you think Paul thought that night: Perhaps tonight I'll be "Caught Away" alive?
No, of course he didn’t. I can't believe that the Lord would add things to Paul's course and Paul expected to be caught up alive at any moment.

Paul was given a course to fulfill and part of his course was to finish the Word of God. Until the Word of God was complete the "Catching Up" of the BOC could not be imminent.

What most teach when they speak of the "Catching Away" being imminent is that nothing needs to happen before the "Catching Up" of the BOC can take place. It can happen "at any moment."

It appears that Paul was given some things that were prophesied events within the Mystery, therefore, the "Catching Up" of the Body of Christ was not imminent.

Until the prophesied events are fulfilled the "Catching Up" of the BOC cannot be imminent as most teach.

It's all about God's Word - so let's look at this from God's Word and it's purpose for man.
One has to ask the simple question. Why would God go to the trouble to reveal His Word to Paul to completion, if after it was complete, the "Catching Up" of the Body of Christ was going to occur - in Paul's lifetime? There is absolutely not one ounce of logic to that scenario.

A GOD SCENE: OK, Paul - you followed through with everything I commissioned you to do. You suffered, you were persecuted, you were stoned, you were beaten, you were dead. Yes, you did it all, Paul - and most of all you completed My Word telling of Israel's setting aside and how in this Dispensation all are vessels of Mercy, you penned the instructions to the Church. Now that you have finished your course it's time for you and the rest of the Body of Christ to be "Caught Up" to meet Me in the air.
How absurd!

Paul spent all that time suffering and being persecuted for the Gospel - the Gospel of God's Grace that he was writing down or dictating so that others could write down - that which Jesus Christ had revealed to Paul to complete, His settled in Heaven Word - with all it's Doctrine, and Instructions for the Body of Christ.

We have been taught that after all this, Paul expected he would be alive when the Body of Christ is "at any moment" to be "Caught Up" to their eternal home.
We have been taught to believe that Paul expected to be "Caught Up" alive before the Body of Christ would have the opportunity to Live the Life of Christ because of the completed Word, just because he wrote "we which are alive and remain."
We have been taught to believe that Paul expected to be "Caught Up" before the Word of God accomplished what it was Written to accomplish in and through the Believer.
Do you see just how foolish it is to teach that Paul expected to be "Caught Up" in his lifetime?

Paul pens early on that he must bear God's name before many and suffer many things. Thus, during Paul's ministry the "Catching Away" could not happen "at any moment."
Do you believe that when Paul completed God's Word that the "Catching Up" was imminent? I don't.

The Word of God was given so that it would accomplish something.
The Word of God was given to strengthen the Body of Christ. To give us instruction. To grow us up spiritually. To teach us how we could live victorious godly lives that would honor our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Me: My thanks to De for taking the time to jot down her thoughts on this subject about which many of us have simply accepted a popular teaching.

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