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Revelation 3:10 – The Rapture?

Jesus Christ said, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I will also keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earthRevelation 3:10.

Many sincere prophecy teachers (and their followers) are now applying these words to the rapture and to the sudden removal of the Church from this earth prior to Earth’s final hour of temptation. on the surface, it may appear this way, yet a closer look is needed.

Jesus spoke these words to “the Church in Philadelphia” (Revelation 3:7), which was number 6 out of seven Churches receiving messages. It is obvious that Christ’s words do not apply only to the literal Church of Philadelphia which existed almost 2000 years ago in Asia Minor, for if they did, then they have no relevance to any Christian today. Most scholars correctly realize that those “seven Churches” (Revelation 1:20) represent seven periods in the history of Christianity, yet each letter also contains practical lessons for Christians of all time.

With this in mind, we must realize again that Revelation 3:10 was given to Philadelphia, which is then followed by “lukewarm” Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22). Even if Revelation 3:10 does depict a secret rapture, this would not mean the Church would be gone during the Tribulation. Why? Because the Laodicean Church comes after Philadelphia, and thus its Christians would still be left on earth. And lukewarm or not, Jesus still refers to them as “the Church”!

The truth is, Revelation 3:10 does not speak of a rapture. It simply says the faithful in the Church of Philadelphia, who have “kept the word,” will be kept from the hour of trial. Once we understand that Philadelphia is followed by the Church of Laodicea, which represents the final period of Christianity, then we can easily see that the reason why Jesus told the Philadelphians He would keep them from the hour of trial is not because they would be raptured, but because they simply would not be living on earth during the final time of trial.

We are living during the time of Laodicea when the majority of Christians are lukewarm and half-hearted. Soon the final “hour of temptation” will burst upon us. Only those who are truly faithful to Jesus Christ and to the Word of God will “stand in the evil day” Ephesians 6:13. The Master said, “He that endures to the end, the same shall be saved” Matthew 24:13. Through Jesus Christ’s love and the power of the cross, may we each be among those who “overcome” Revelation 3:12, 21.

The Second Coming of Jesus Christ

Even though Jesus was not born on December 25, His first coming is celebrated around the globe with songs like “Silent Night,” “Away In A Manger” and “What Child Is This?” He was here once, but will He return? If we believe the Bible, the answer is, yes! Yet unlike His first appearance as the Babe of Bethlehem, His Second Coming won’t happen on a Silent Night.

John 14:1-3: A few days before His death, Jesus Christ told His small band of bewildered disciples, “Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.John 14:1-3. Thus the clear answer from the Lord is, “I will come again.

Acts 1:9-11: But how will He come? Will it be in some invisible or symbolic way? Let’s find out. Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus led His disciples to the top of a small mountain, the Mt. of Olives, which is just east of Jerusalem. Suddenly, “…while they watched, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white clothing; which also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why are standing there gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven.’Acts 1:9-11. Its obvious Jesus ascended literally, bodily and in full view of His watching, awestruck followers. As they watched Him go up, two angels appeared and said He would come back “in like manner” as He went up. Hence the Second Coming of Jesus Christ will be literal, bodily and visible to normal human eyes.

Titus 2:13: This visible return of Jesus is the true hope of the Church. Paul told the early believers to keep “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.Titus 2:13. Thus our hope is the visible revelation of Jesus Christ at the end of the world.

Matthew 24:26-27: There will be nothing secretive about His return. In words of warning and clarification, Jesus Christ said, “Where if they say to you, ‘Behold, he is in the desert,’ go not forth; or ‘Behold, he is in the secret chambers,’ believe it not; for as the lightning comes out of the east and shines even to the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.Matthew 24:26-27. Language could not be plainer. False teachers may talk of a “secret” coming, but don’t believe it. Jesus Christ’s coming will be like highly visible, electrically charged bolts of lightning flashing across a stormy sky.

Matthew 24:30-31: When our Lord and Saviour finally returns, this event will not only be witnessed by believers, but by all nations. And He’s not coming alone. Jesus clarified, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of the trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.Matthew 24:30-31. Thus Jesus Christ’s return will be loud and visible to the eyes of “all the tribes of the earth.” When God’s heavenly trumpet sounds and billions of shiny angels burst into Earth’s atmosphere, no one will wake up the next day wondering what happened.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-9: Jesus Christ’s return will bring happiness to the saved, yet it will result in destruction to those who are lost. Paul wrote about the great day when “the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who know not God and who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18: The return of our Lord will be an incredibly loud, noisy event that will wake up the dead, “For the Lord himself will 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, the meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. When Jesus Christ comes, all God’s children, those who are resurrected and those living at that time will bid goodbye to the sins of earth. We shall be “caught up,” literally, just like Jesus was “taken up” at His ascension, and we shall forever “be with the Lord” who willingly died for us.

The Last Disciple vs. Left Behind

New take on rapture puts author’s in apocalyptic feud 08:05 PM CST on Friday, November 5, 2004. By Ira J. Hadnot / Dallas Morning News / Religion Section Note: We do agree with Left Behind’s Futurism or The Last Disciple’s Preterism. Left Behind places antichrist in the future after the rapture, whereas The Last Disciple sees the antichrist as Emperor Nero in the past. Both fail to discern the present antichrist taught by Protestant scholars for 400 years and which is even now influencing global politics. To understand these gripping issues, we highly recommend, End Time Delusions, from WhiteHorseMedia, which plainly explains the errors of Futurism, Preterism and Historicism truth.

What if the rapture has already happened?
What if Revelation’s prophecies have been fulfilled?

These questions are unthinkable for those Christians who believe that the end of the world is, well, still to come and that it will unfold in accordance with apocalyptic interpretations of the Book of Revelation: the rapture, the sudden snatching up of millions of the faithful into heaven, followed by the seven-year Tribulation, during which the world is ruled by the Antichrist, followed by the return of Jesus and his triumph on Armageddon day.

That’s more or less the story line hewed to in the phenomenally popular Left Behind series. Now, however, Tyndale House, the Christian publisher of Left Behind, is planning a new fictional series with a very different view – one that posits that Revelation actually tells the story (in code) of the first-century persecution of Christians and of the fall of the Jewish Temple.

Tyndale officials say they’re simply presenting different sides of an important theological issue.

But the Rev. Tim LaHaye, co-author of the Left Behind books, called the decision by his publisher “stunning and disappointing” and said he felt betrayed. “They are going to take the money we made for them and promote this nonsense,” he said.

The co-author of the new series, obviously, disagrees.

I am elated with Tyndale’s support,” said Hank Hanegraaff, the host of a syndicated call-in radio show, The Bible Answer Man. The first book in the new series, written with Sigmund Brouwer, is The Last Disciple. Additional volumes are planned.

The decision to publish two different, some would say competing, apocalyptic series was made by Ron Beers, senior vice president of Tyndale, which is based in Wheaton, Ill.

As a Christian publisher, we want to represent a diversity of viewpoints,” said Mr. Beers. “There is nothing strange about Tyndale selling both views. There are a variety of perspectives on the end times. Some people had a problem with the theology in the Left Behind books.

Mr. Beers was the Tyndale executive who purchased the Left Behind series and saw it grow, over nine years, into a sales empire rivalling those built by John Grisham, Tom Clancy and J.K. Rowling.

The 12 Left Behind books have sold about 42 million copies, counting both paperback and hardcover sales. When children’s editions, graphic novels and the like are counted, the figure is 62 million. In addition, there are spin off products, from calendars and music CDs to greeting cards and computer software.

The most recent book in the series, Glorious Appearing, sold almost 2 million copies even before it hit the stores last March. It was supposed to have been the 12th and final installment, in which Jesus returns to earth and presides at the Last Judgment. But already, at least four sequels or prequels are planned.

Dr. LaHaye is a former Southern California pastor. Mr. Hanegraaff heads a Christian research institute based in Southern California.

From their comments about each other’s work, it seems unlikely that the two men will be exchanging signed copies of their books.

I don’t know what science fiction he is reading,” said Dr. LaHaye. “We believe the rapture is going to come, not his nonsense that Christ came back in 68 A.D.” “I am reading the Bible, specifically Revelations it was written for first-century Christians,” retorted Mr. Hanegraaff. “I am not relying on some wooden, literal interpretation that is unsupportable.

The Last Disciple, the first of at least three books planned, depicts the Roman emperor, Nero, as “the beast.” In the book, Christians in Rome and Jerusalem are suffering through the Tribulation. Nero is trying to find the Apostle John’s letter (the Book of Revelation) and destroy it. To survive, the early Christians must decipher a mysterious code. (The code for Nero’s name is the number 666, regarded by many as the mark of the Antichrist.)

Sound farfetched?

Maybe. But scholars of eschatology, the branch of theology dealing with the end of the world, note that Biblical references to the end times are almost always ambiguous, highly symbolic and subject to widely varying interpretations.

The Bible, in particular the Revelation of John, is open to many dramatic readings,” said Harvey Cox, a professor at Harvard Divinity School.

Unfortunately, some are merely a paste-up of what the Bible actually says, a pulling from various passages to craft a theology that the bulk of New Testament scholars do not support.

He said Revelation “was a polemic against the corruption, debauchery and greed of the Roman Empire” and that it was “meant to be an encouragement for the people who were living under persecution.

Christians were being fed to the lions. John was writing in exile, fearful for his life.

The book is dense with symbols, visionary images and descriptions that seem allegorical, such as the lamb with seven horns and seven eyes, believed to represent Jesus. John “had to write it in code,” Dr. Cox said, “because it was circulating around and might have fallen into the hands of the emperor.

The professor said the Left Behind series is based on the notion of “premillennialism” or “dispensationalism,” which he said is “the belief that the world is getting worse and worse, and that Christ will come to get the Christians, the born-again Christians.

This helps explain the series’ popularity, he said. “You can look at the world these days and see the kind of killing that has gone for a century now. ... Who would not believe things are getting worse? We have had a Holocaust, wars, massacres.

The books celebrate the notion that the worse things become, the happier Christians should be, because Christ is coming.

Dr. LaHaye said the viewpoint expressed in his books is backed by “300 years of Church teaching.” But Dr. Cox said dispensationalism was considered heresy in ancient times and suppressed. It re-emerged in the 19th century, thanks to “a New Age-y, mystical type sect in Scotland.

The Last Disciple, on the other hand, is based on the notion of “Preterism,” which holds that most if not all major prophetic events in the New Testament have happened. According to this view, the great war of Armageddon occurred in 70 A.D., around the time the Roman general and future emperor, Titus Flavius, destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem.

When Jesus talked about the end of the world, according to Preterists, he was referring not to the physical world but to an old world view held by Jews in his time.

John was not writing about the future,” Mr. Hanegraaff said. “He was writing about the times he was living in, using symbolism from the Old Testament prophets to describe conditions in the first century. All the major elements of the Book of Revelation – Tribulation, Armageddon, Rapture – took place at that time.

How will readers react to the new series? Will they buy it?

Dr. LaHaye, predictably, does not think so.

There are 85 percent of evangelical Christians who believe as we do. We will see if they will be successful with the 15 percent who don’t.” Mr. Hanegraaff, predictably, disagrees.

He said his books will lure readers “in an age where most people are not even reading the Bible. ... I want them to go back to Revelation and see if they will read it the same way, after they have read The Last Disciple.

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