The Rapture of the Church – What is it?

Categories: WRITINGS
Published on: November 28, 2013

“ONE TAKEN. . . AND THE OTHER LEFT”
To give you an idea of the way the scriptures were mutilated by those straining to prove this theory, let us look at the example in Matthew chapter 24 where it tells us that at His coming, “one shall be taken, and the other left”. Songs were written, and sermons were preached, to urge us to be ready to be “taken” when Jesus comes. When actually, the Bible is saying the exact opposite. It was the wicked that were “taken” in Noah’s day, and the righteous were left to inherit the earth. So shall it be in the day of the coming of the Son of man.

Matthew 24:37-41 says: “But as the days of Noah were, so shall the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken and the other left.” Now who was taken in Noah’s day? The wicked! That’s what the Bible says. And if there is still any doubt in your mind as to whether the saints will be “taken when Jesus comes”, let us turn to Luke 17:27. While Matthew says that the “flood came and took them all away”, Luke give the same account of this teaching of Jesus, except that in Luke we read: “and the flood came and destroyed them all”. So to be “taken” means to be destroyed by the judgments that are coming upon the earth. Do you still want to be taken?

THE PENTECOSTAL EVANGEL SPEAK
In April 1961, while living in the village of Carney, Oklahoma, I published a message on this subject entitled “One Shall Be Taken”. Although we had just a little over a thousand on our mailing list at that time, this message caused such an uproar and storm of protest from some quarters, that I thought I would have to hit the storm cellar. Carney, Oklahoma was in “tornado alley”, and after I published this message, I thought I had been hit by one. However, it opened the eyes of many sincere people, and made them realize that they had been duped and deceived by those who had twisted the scripture to try to make it mean something it did not say.

It seems that with many, the “rapture” theory had become a “sacred cow”, and to question this teaching or expose it as false was like attacking the blood of Jesus or the virgin birth or motherhood. Good men almost became violent about it. Rumors would be started that you must be dabbling in spiritualism, free-love, or even devil worship, if you didn’t believe in the good old rapture. Dare to “rupture the rapture”? Be careful. It was dangerous to your reputation. But thank God, some cared more for truth than they did for their reputation! And the truth marched on!

After being attacked by Pentecostal preachers for saying that in Matthew 24 it was the wicked who were “taken” and the righteous who were left, I was delighted to find this same truth brought forth in the official organ of the Assemblies of God. I am quoting from the January 1, 1967, issue of the PENTECOSTAL EVANGEL, “Official voice of the Assemblies of God” (page 4), Springfield, Missouri. On page 9 of this magazine, in an article about the 24th chapter of Matthew, we read: “Contrary to what is often taught.. the Rapture is not in evidence here. Those “taken” are the wicked, who are taken in judgment – just as the wicked of Noah’s time (mentioned in the preceding verse) were taken in judgment. Those “left” are the righteous who remain to enjoy the blessings of the Millennium which will follow Christ’s return to earth.” The same thing I had said six years before. How do you like that? Thank God for men everywhere who are willing to tell it like it is. Even if the majority disagree with them.

WHO ARE THE ELECT?
In the early part of this 24th chapter of Matthew, Jesus is telling of the signs of His second coming and the end of this age. In verse 21, He speaks of the Great Tribulation, and in verse 22, He says that the “elect” will be here at that time. And in verse 24 He says that the false prophets and false christs would try to deceive “the very elect”. Then in verses 29-31, He gives a sequence of events: After the tribulation of those days, the sun and moon shall be darkened and the powers of heaven shaken, then the tribes of the earth shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, then his angels shall gather the elect together.

Now this should be plain enough, and stop all arguments. But they have devised a scheme to get around these scriptures. They simply say that “the elect” are not Christians, they are the Jews who are left here after the rapture. All you have to do is get a concordance, and read every scripture that mentions the “elect” of God, and see who they are. Start with Romans 8:33, Colossians 3:12, 1 Peter 1:2, and Mark 13:20.

“WHAT DO YOU DO WITH 1 THESSALONIANS?”
Good question. The answer is, I believe it and preach it. But I believe what it says, not the fables men have built around it. Turn with me now to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 . . . Read the entire context, and see the subject he is dealing with. He starts out by saying “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep” (in death). So the subject matter in this portion of scriptures is what happens to those who have died, those who did not survive until the coming of the Lord, until the manifestation of the sons of God that he preached and wrote about. Will they miss out on the glory of that day of the Lord? Oh, no. Paul tells them that those who have died in Jesus are going to return to this earth when Jesus returns. This same Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians chapter 5 that when a man of God dies, his body goes to one place and his spirit (his conscious life) goes to another. “To be absent from the body is to be in the presence of the Lord”. We are not sleeping or unconscious in His presence. That part of us that has eternal life is still living and conscious when we go into His presence. Our dead bodies, that part of us that ceases to have life, sleeps in the grave. Whether it is put into a tomb, or is cremated, or eaten by lions, makes no difference. When the spirit leaves the body, the body immediately “descends” into that state of death (lower parts of the Earth), while the spirit “ascends” into His presence. At the second coming of Christ, the order is reversed. The physical body “rises” or ascends from the state of death, no matter whether it has become bones, dust, ashes, or food for the birds. Out of the state of death that physical body rises into a glorified state, like unto His “body of glory” (Philippians 3:21). Meanwhile, not leaving the presence of God, but descending with Jesus back into this visible earth realm, the conscious spirit once again is joined to the body, which it left at death. Only in a much higher realm. (And “higher” does not mean somewhere up in the sky where airplanes fly and rain clouds drift about).

So Paul is comforting their hearts about the fate of their loved ones who are going on to be with the Lord. He is not saying to them don’t worry, we shall see them someday up in heaven”. He is saying that they are coming back with Jesus for the great day of the Lord and the events connected with that. Read on in chapter 5 and see that this is so. I can hear someone say: “Oh, I want to go to heaven someday and see Mother”. Well, don’t worry, dear one. If she is one of God’s elect, one of those who “sleep in Jesus’ (verse 14), she is coming back here. Just stick around, and be prepared. Someone says, “Oh, I want to go to heaven and get my rewards”. In Revelation 22:12, Jesus said, “Behold, I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be”. Is there a heaven? Of course there’s a heaven! Will we go there? Of course we will go to heaven! But what we are talking about today is the return of Jesus to this earth, and what happens at that time. 1 Thessalonians 4 says nothing about us being “caught away” to heaven. What it does say is that we who are alive and remain until His coming shall be “caught up”. And it does not say anything about us coming back down after we are caught up. Once I get caught into that realm of glory where Jesus is, don’t ever talk to me about descending back down into this life of mortality, sickness, pain, and death.

“CAUGHT UP”
The songwriters have said that Jesus “is coming back to catch His waiting bride away”. The Bible never said that. It never implies that the return of Jesus is to rescue His bride off this planet Earth, take her to another geographical location where there are no battles, or hide her from the face of the Antichrist. When the Bible speaks of being “caught up”, it is not speaking in terms of miles or light-years away.

Turn with me to 2 Corinthians 12:1-4, “It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ about fourteen years ago, whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth) such a one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man (whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth) how that he was caught up into paradise”. Where did he go? Physically, his body went nowhere. But he had an experience. God took him into that realm of life that is known as paradise, the third heaven. That first heaven corresponds to the first gate or entrance into the Tabernacle that brings us to the brazen altar (symbolic of Calvary). In Ephesians 1:3 we read that God has blessed us with “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ; according as he hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him”. That’s a heavenly place, friends. But you don’t have to get into an airplane or spaceship to get there. In Him, holy and without blame. Calvary brings us into a heavenly place. This is the first heaven. The second heaven corresponds to the second realm of the Tabernacle, the sanctuary, wherein dwells the candlestick and the golden altar of incense. When the Bible says (Ephesians 2:6) that He “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”, it is not speaking of a physical ascent into the sky, it is talking about a spiritual ascent. The Baptism in the Holy Spirit brings us into a supernatural heaven in Christ. This is the second experience, the second heaven God has brought us to.

THE THIRD HEAVEN
Paul had already ascended into the first two heavens with salvation and the Baptism in the Spirit. Now he is saying that God took him for a little while into that realm of life, that third heaven, which is our inheritance in Christ. Moffat’s translation says “In the body or out of the body? I do not know. I simply know that in the body or out of the body (God knows which) this man was caught up into paradise and heard sacred secrets which no human lips can repeat”. In this experience, it was not important to him to know whether or not his body went into that realm or place. Fourteen years later he is still suffering the afflictions of a mortal body. But he has been into that third heaven. He knows it is there. And if he has to lay his body down in death, he knows that it eventually has to come into that realm of glory also, by the resurrection power of Christ. Caught up.

WHICH WAY IS UP?
Of course your answer would be given to that question by pointing over your head, into the sky above you. But the man in Australia, or China, or Palestine, would say otherwise. If we all went “up” physically in relation to where we are, the people of earth would all be flying off in different directions. If you point up today at noon, then twelve hours later at midnight, the part of the universe you pointed to at noon would now be down, not up. Actually, this physical universe is so created so there is no such a place as “up” in the universe. We can go farther out from the earth, and send space ships to the moon, and Mars. But the earth is constantly turning, and so is the entire universe. That’s what causes day and night, summer and winter.

We point at the clouds above us and say that is up. But to folks a few miles away, those clouds are not up, they are down over the horizon. Stratocumulus clouds range from ground level to 6,500 feet high, a little over a mile. Altocumulus clouds go from 6500 feet up to 23,000 feet high (over 4 miles). The cirrus and cirrocumulus clouds, the highest order of clouds, range form 16,000 to 45,000 feet high, less than 9 miles high That’s not in outer space, like the evangelist preach. While flying across the nation to California, I looked out of the plane window at the clouds below. We were high above all the clouds, but with a vast sea of clouds below. I thought to myself that if those were the clouds Jesus appeared in or with, then I would have to be “caught down” instead of being “caught up”. But that is contrary to Bible principle.

WHAT CLOUDS?
The Bible never says that Jesus returns “to” the clouds, or “on” the clouds. It is very careful to tell us that He comes “in” the clouds, or “with” the clouds. Clouds of glory. Daniel 7:13 says “with” the clouds of heaven. Does Heaven have clouds? Oh yes. Revelation 1:7 also says that He comes “with” clouds. Matthew 24:30, 26:64, Mark 13:46, 14:62, and 1 Thessalonians 4:17 all say “in” the clouds. Hebrews 12:1 tells us that the heroes of faith are a cloud. Those Old Testament saints that have gone on to be with the Lord are a great cloud of witnesses. 2 Peter 2:17 and Jude verse 12 both tell us that false ministries are clouds without water. They appear to be a witness, but they have no life to give. Ecclesiastes 11:3 says that “if the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth”. A true ministry has life to give, and is willing to empty himself in order to be a blessing to a dry and thirsty people. Pour his life out for others. That’s what Jesus did. The Old Testament speaks about a cloud of incense over the Mercy seat in the Holy of Holies, and says that is where God will appear. “I will appear in the cloud upon the Mercy seat” (Leviticus 16:2).

“A CLOUD RECEIVED HIM”
Acts 1:11 is a scripture some like to quote, and they say “See, it says that as He went away, he shall come in like manner. And He left from that cloud and went up into heaven didn’t He?” No, He didn’t. Read it again. Acts 1:9-11 says, “And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, 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 apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” In like manner. Some say He will come out of the sky and stop on a cloud where we will meet Him. But notice that in Acts 1:9 He did not start from a cloud and ascend to outer space. He started from their visible presence, and disappeared from view in a cloud, ascending by that means into heaven. Reverse the order, and we see Him appearing from out of a cloud and descending back into our visible presence where we can see Him and be with him. Glory to God! “As He went in like manner”.

WHAT REALLY HAPPENS?
“To meet the Lord in the air”. Not meet Him up in the sky, or in outer space. But in the air. Air. The stuff we breathe. It is all around us. It’s what there isn’t any of in outer space. When airplanes fly up above the clouds, they have to take their air with them in order to breathe. Wuest translation says we meet Him “in the lower atmosphere”. But it will be in a much higher spiritual order. Caught up. . . Hallelujah! I like that. “So shall we ever be with the Lord.” But aren’t we with Him now? In one sense, we are. But 2 Corinthians 5:6 makes it plain that “whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.” But when we are caught up”, our bodies are also involved in this ascent, so that we can be forever in the presence of the Lord in a way we cannot know now, and still have our body. A glorious body then.

So the sum of what we have said is this: The old pre-tribulation escape rapture theory that originated with Margaret MacDonald in 1830, and now held by many Fundamentalists and Pentecostals, has been proven to be false and contrary to scripture. God has promised to deal with those preachers who lull the people to sleep with this doctrine. In Ezekiel 13:4-5 He says “O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts. Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the Lord”. God’s complaint against the prophets was that they did not prepare the people for what was coming in the Day of the Lord. And in verse 10 he says “Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and lo, others daubed it with untempered mortar.” Irving built the wall, while Darby, Larkin, and Scofield daubed at it. But God says it shall fall. The storm is coming. The prophets have said “Peace”, and there was no peace. Back to Thessalonians now in chapter 5, verse 3: “For when they shall say peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and shall not escape. What really happens is that Jesus is coming back with a sound of a trumpet. Now wherever the Bible speaks of a trumpet, it is symbolic of a message going forth. Look it up. Many scriptures confirm this. Trumpets sounded for each feast day. There was a trumpet , or message, that introduced the feast of Passover, a type of Calvary and salvation. Another message or trumpet sounded for Pentecost. Some heard it and are enjoying that feast. And there is a message or trumpet of restoration that brings Jesus back to earth (Acts 3:21). And when he comes back, those saints that come back with Him shall receive their bodies again that were laid down in death. Those bodies shall ascend or rise out of that state of death, into a glorious state of likeness to His body of glory. Then those who are still dwelling in these mortal bodies shall be “caught up” into that same place. This mortal shall put on immortality. Death shall be swallowed up in victory. Then the sons of God, that manchild company, shall be “caught up” into that same place. This mortal shall put on immortality. Death shall be swallowed up in victory. Then the sons of God, that manchild company, shall be “caught up unto God, and to His throne” (Revelation 12:5). The manifestation of the sons of God (Romans 8) takes place. The Jubile trumpet of Leviticus 25 begins to sound. The Meichisedec priesthood order passes through the veil into the Holy of Holies to be with their great high Priest, Jesus our Lord. Those whom he has made to be kings and priests begin to reign on this earth (Revelation 5). The Armies of heaven who follow Jesus on white horses, destroy Babylon, burn her with fire, and bind Satan with unbreakable chain. All enemies begin to be put under the feet of the Body of Christ, until every enemy has been destroyed, even death! Whether or not you have faith to believe for these great things, does not bother me in the least. For the performance of those things God has spoken does not depend upon your faith, and is not hindered by your unbelief. He has spoken, and He shall perform it. The age of death, sin, sickness, crime, hate, war, pain, darkness, and rebellion is rapidly coming to an end. The door is opening to a new age. The Kingdom is getting ready to come to Earth! Hallelujah! JESUS IS COMING SOON!

For more of these and other end-time messages, write:
Bill Britton Ministries/Church in Action
P.O. Box 707
Springfield, MO 65801-0707
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Welcome , today is Wednesday, September 20, 2017