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When the Trumpet Sounds: Part 1
Thursday, September 7, 2017 by Dr. Paul D. Norcross

In these days of cultural and political turmoil, economic and emotional uncertainty, no subject can be more stabilizing or more compelling than the trumpet sound that announces Christ’s meeting the saints in the air. As the Scriptures say, “Wherefore comfort ye one another with these words.” 

Yet Christian brothers and sisters have been perplexed, wondering if or how much of the tribulation they will endure before that great and notable day of Christ’s gathering together of the church. Combined with increasing frequency of wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes and pestilence, believers everywhere sense a nearing of the end of the age. Exactly where are we in the book of Revelation anyway?

Despite each theory and timeline offered by many, and despite each new internet preaching that there is no such thing as the rapture in the Scriptures, it is spectacularly refreshing to see what Jesus Christ and the Scriptures declare about these vitally important matters. And the answers are profoundly simple.

With Eager Expectation

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”  (Titus 2:13-15)


“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto him that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”  (Hebrews 9:28)

(See also 2 Timothy 4:8, Hebrews 3:6, 7:19, Colossians 1:23)

Titus exhorts us to not just internet-surf for a favorite ear-tickling theory about Christ’s return, but to continually look with confident expectation (prosdechomai) for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of Jesus Christ. Hebrews encourages our constant looking and waiting with full expectation (apekdechomai). Hallelujah! Yet, how can we do this with uncertainty in our hearts about all the pre-mid-post tribulation opinions swirling through Christendom? Let’s establish a few basics, starting with the rapture of the church.

The Rapture Is Real

Although the term “rapture” is not used in English translations, it is indeed a Biblical term used in Latin translations long before the English. Rapture is an entirely appropriate concept. Practically speaking, it did not come into modern theological focus until the mid-1800s (Darby) and early 1900s with Schofield’s (and others’) dispensational theology.

While English translations use the term “gathering together,” the Latin translations use the term raptus and rapio from the verb rapare meaning to seize, snatch away, or take away. Our English word “rapture” comes from this Latin root. Its Greek antecedent for “caught up together” is harpazo, in I Thessalonians 4:17,  and means to seize, carry off by force, to claim for one’s self eagerly, to snatch out or away, to catch away:

“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together (harpazo) with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”  

Curiously, in 2 Thessalonians 2:1, the Greek word for our “gathering together” unto Christ is a different word, yet it means precisely the same in its context:

“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together (episunagoge) unto him . . .”

Although episunagoge is a different word, it is nevertheless describing the same concept. Episunagoge means “a gathering or assembling in one place” and is here used in the immediate context of gathering together with Christ at the end of the age.

So is it Biblically correct to use the term “rapture of the church”? Decidedly yes. Why is this issue so important? Because mocking or degrading the concept of the rapture of the church is a heresy that is entirely to be expected as we approach the end of the age. After all, what other single heresy could more effectively discourage our pressing toward the mark for the prize of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus?

Let’s keep looking for that blessed hope with eager expectation! 

 

NOTE: This is the first of a 10-part series on this topic taken from Principles for Overcoming in Spiritual Warfare,   Copyright © 2016 Paul D. Norcross. 

Part 2 will look at what the rapture will look like!

 

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