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Is the Rapture Literal or Symbolic?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
November 29, 2022 4:19 pm

Is the Rapture Literal or Symbolic?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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November 29, 2022 4:19 pm

Episode 1108 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

Show Notes

Questions in this Episode


1. Do all Pentecostals believe the oneness doctrine about the Trinity?

2. What is the meaning of the wheels in Ezekiel 1?

3. Is it wrong to marry someone who got divorced without biblical grounds?

4. Is the rapture literal or symbolic?

5. I am Greek Orthodox. When we pray we say “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Is that ok or should I just pray our prayers in Jesus’s name alone?

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Is the rapture literal or symbolic? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Well, hi there. This is Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. You can call us right now with your question. Here's our phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE. That's 1-833-HELP.

843-2673. You can also post your question on one of our social media sites, and you can watch Adriel live right now on our YouTube channel and send him your question that way. And of course, you're always welcome to email us at

First up today, here's a voicemail we received from one of our listeners named Jason. When it comes to the Pentecostals and the Protestant churches, the Pentecostals tend to believe in the oneness doctrine. I was wondering if you understood what the oneness doctrine was and why there is a difference between the Trinity and the whole oneness being that Jesus is the Lord and that there is no other God but Him. What I understand is there's three persons in one from what I was taught in my church, so I just wanted to know why there is a difference between the oneness doctrine and the Trinity and whether or not it really makes a difference.

Thanks. It does make a significant difference. There are some areas where we can differ with regards to theology, but then there are some areas where we can't differ. And I think when we're talking about the doctrine of God, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, this is serious stuff. This is how God has revealed Himself in His Word, and so this is something that we don't want to mess up. And the oneness doctrine that is put forward by some charismatic groups is heresy. That is, it is false teaching. It's something that puts you outside of the bounds of the Christian faith, of core Christianity, if you will.

What is it? Well, it confuses, and it sounds like you're on the right track, brother. You're differentiating or distinguishing between the three persons of the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Oneness doctrine confuses those three persons. So it's this idea that the Father is the Son and the Spirit, and that these three persons are really one person, actually revealing Himself in different ways throughout redemptive history.

This is sometimes associated with, and I think for good reason, the ancient heresy known as modalism. Again, this idea that God is really one person, and sometimes He shows up as the Father, sometimes as the Son, sometimes as the Holy Spirit, but the three persons of the Godhead are not to be distinguished. And so it's a rejection of the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity.

It's a rejection of core Christianity, and it needs to be itself rejected as heresy because it misunderstands the revelation that we see in Scripture. Certainly, throughout the Bible, we know that there is one God, Deuteronomy chapter 6, right? Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.

And so we would say that's one in essence, one in substance. But three persons are identified as God in Scripture, three distinct persons who are one in essence, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And so we're basing our beliefs on the teaching of Scripture, and that's precisely what this oneness doctrine confuses. Now, you could understand why people might want to go this way, and this is how heresy starts so often, is we're trying to make sense of divine revelation.

We want to make it understandable. You know, the doctrine of the Trinity just seems so mysterious to me. Why can't we just say that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the same person? Well, because that's not what the Bible teaches. And so we need to receive God's revelation of himself in Scripture and submit to it by faith and hold fast to it. And so it sounds to me like you were doing that, but you're just wondering, you know, is there really a difference here between what we believe as Christians, the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, and then what some people will talk about with regard to oneness theology?

And I would say that the answer is yes, and we need to reject that oneness idea of God because it's just not biblical. Thank you for your question. Great explanation. Thank you for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Our phone lines are open right now if you have a question about maybe a Bible verse that confuses you.

Maybe something in the Bible that you're like, I don't really get that. Or perhaps a question about theology or doctrine or how your Christian life intersects with what's happening in our culture today. We are open to your questions right now. Here's the phone number. 833-843-2673.

That's 833-THE-CORE. Let's go to Rodney calling in from California. Rodney, what's your question for Adriel? Hi, my forever brothers.

Thank you for taking my call today. My question comes from Ezekiel chapter one concerning the four living creatures. I think I'm understanding the four faces as the lion being the banner of Judah, the man, the tribe of Reuben, and the eagle, the tribe of Dan, and the ox, the tribe of Ephraim. My question is from verse 15 to 21 concerning the wheels. I was wondering if you could shed some light on what the symbolic or spiritual meaning of the wheels are pointing to.

My forever brother Rodney, good to hear from you. Thank you for this excellent question first. It's important for us to understand where we are. Ezekiel chapter one verses four and following. This is a visionary prophecy. These images that we're getting are symbolic, many of them.

I like that you used that word symbol there. The four living creatures, which are these beastly creatures, really quite remarkable when you look at the description there in verses four through 14 of Ezekiel chapter one. I think that they're angelic beings that are representative of the created order.

I get this specifically from John's vision in the book of Revelation. If you look at Revelation chapter four where John has a vision of God's throne room, he says in chapter four beginning in verse six, around the throne, on each side of the throne are four living creatures. They're associated with God's throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. The first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. The four living creatures, each of them with six wings, I think six being symbolic of creation, of creatures, are full of eyes all around and within. Day and night they never cease to say, holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty who was and who is and who is to come.

These are angelic beings, I think, that are representative of creatures, of God's creation, praising God day and night, and they're associated with the throne of God. Then if you look back in Ezekiel chapter one, the text that you've brought up in verse 15, Ezekiel says, I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction, their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl. The four had the same likeness, their appearance and construction being, as it were, a wheel within a wheel. When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went, and their rims were tall and awesome. The rims, all four, were full of eyes all around.

Now that's interesting there, right? The wheels have eyes all around them, just like the four living creatures in Revelation chapter four, eyes all around and within. They're associated with the living creatures, but again, because we're looking at symbolic prophecy here, we need to understand these wheels, not literally, but what does a wheel communicate?

A wheel communicates, quite simply, I think, and just on the surface, movement. There's a question here because they're associated with God's throne, these creatures that worship him, but here they're also associated with movement. Well, Ezekiel is prophesying about this great destruction that's coming to the people of God, in particular the destruction of Jerusalem. You think about the destruction of the temple, and the question is, what's going to happen to God's throne? Well, God is in heaven. Ultimately, his throne is secure.

Even when the earthly temple was destroyed, he was still in control on the throne. It's pictured here as this great chariot, if you will, with wheels that can move around. I think that's actually what we're getting in Ezekiel chapter one, highlighting the sovereignty of God and the power and control of God, even in the midst of great catastrophe and calamity like the people we're going to experience under Ezekiel's prophetic ministry. I really appreciate you bringing this up.

It is. We read these things and we think, boy, what is going on there? But I think understanding this as symbolic visionary prophecy and letting the symbols speak for themselves and certainly the wheels speak of movement, God's throne on the move, if you will. Thank you for your question, Rodney, and God bless.

Great explanation. Thanks for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. We are excited about a new book by one of our good friends of this ministry, Bible teacher Nancy Guthrie. Yeah, Bill, it's a beautiful book, Saints and Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus by Nancy Guthrie, a good friend of the show. The story of Jesus in the gospels includes all kinds of interesting people, some who claim to be saints but proved to be scoundrels, as well as scoundrels who were transformed into saints. In this book, Nancy Guthrie provides a fresh look into what shaped and motivated people such as John the Baptist, Peter, the Pharisees, Zacchaeus, Judas, Barabas, Stephen, and Paul. We really need to look at how Jesus interacts with these different people because when we do, we see how Jesus also views and interacts with us.

I hope you get a hold of this resource. Again, it's by Nancy Guthrie, Saints and Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus, yours for a donation of any amount over at You know, when you get a resource from us and donate and order these resources, you are actually helping the entire mission of Core Christianity and everything we do. From answering the tough questions you hear on the radio, to supporting us as we write our excellent Bible studies and web articles, to get the new book Saints and Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus by Nancy Guthrie, just go to forward slash offers. Again, forward slash offers. By the way, when you're at our website, browse around and look at some of the wonderful resources we've created just for you, like our core questions and our core guides. Well, let's get back to the phones. Brian is on the line from St. Louis, Missouri. Brian, what's your question for Adriel? Yes, Pastor Adriel, I love your show.

I got a kind of a very serious question. A friend of mine has been a Christian a while, but his wife committed adultery, so he divorced. Well, he's engaged to another woman, but the problem is she doesn't know if her former husband committed adultery on her. So I've been trying to share with both of them as much of the scriptures I could think of how to explain that a person can't divorce someone except for adultery, and if they marry somebody else, they too would be living in adultery. So my question is, how can I advise it because he's kind of, you know, standoffish when it comes to talking to a pastor or minister. So hopefully you can give me some godly advice and share some scripture with me that maybe you could understand better. Yeah, I mean, in situations like this, Brian, I appreciate you wanting to be there for your friend.

I think that's a wonderful thing. It's so important when we're talking about, I mean, really serious stuff like this, talking about a marriage, divorce, remarriage, that there are people involved in your friend's life, and it sounds like he's engaged to another woman who's also divorced in her life, but this is happening in the context of the church and accountability, and there are people who can really speak into this situation. Of course, you have the words of our Lord Jesus in Matthew 19. I'm imagining that you're familiar with these and that you've shared these with him, where Jesus talks about divorce and, you know, legitimate cases where divorce is permissible. He brings up the situation of adultery. If somebody has been cheated upon, I mean, that's legitimate grounds according to the New Testament for divorce. It doesn't mean that an individual has to get a divorce, but it just means that there's been a breach, a break in the marriage covenant, and that there's permissible grounds for divorce, and the person who's been sinned against, the person who was cheated on, is free to be married.

Now, with regard to the other person in question, it sounds like his fiancée, who maybe was divorced as well and not sure about, you know, the situation there. Again, this is where it's important. It's important that we're in churches and where there are other people, pastors and counselors and so on and so forth, who are speaking into our lives and giving us wisdom here.

I don't think it's just an easy answer of, well, what exactly did it look like? Okay, okay, or no, this is not okay. I think it really would require you knowing a little bit more about the situation, but certainly for them, I think the best way that you could encourage them is just say, look, we don't need to just jump into things. We want to do things in a way that honors the Lord, and we want to make sure that with whatever decisions that we're doing, we're acting wisely with a multitude of counselors, with people speaking into our lives and ultimately looking out for our good and the glory of God. That's what we should long for, and so with big decisions like this especially, I think just encouraging your friend and saying, hey, I love you guys.

I want this to be a good thing. I want to encourage you in this, and just would encourage you also to go about this in the context of solid Christian community, where you have people who are speaking into your lives and encouraging you, and if they have that, and if their pastors or their pastor is saying, man, this is a good thing, and there aren't any big red flags, biblical red flags, then I would say encouraging them and supporting them in this. But we try to be really careful. I try to be very careful on the broadcast, especially when people bring up questions about divorce and remarriage. I just know how complex these situations are, and sometimes people are looking for a quick answer.

Can I do this or should I not do this? And I just like to say, talk to your pastor. You should have a pastor in your life, somebody who knows you and knows you far better than I do in your situation who could speak into this with a lot more wisdom than I can because of my own limitations. So I think seeking that specifically and encouraging them to have that in their relationship and just as individuals is the most important thing. You know, this really echoes what you've said many times about the importance of being plugged into a healthy local church, having people that know you, that you're accountable to, and that you're sitting under their leadership, right?

Absolutely. I mean, this is just what the New Testament assumes. A lot of people will say like, well, you know, I have a personal relationship with Jesus and I go to church here and there. I go to different churches. I'm not a member of any local church, but the New Testament assumes that we are accountable to a local church, that we're in a church. This is why Paul can tell the Ephesian elders to keep watch over the flock of God, that Jesus purchased with his own blood the people that God has entrusted to our care within local churches.

I mean, I oftentimes will say this. You should ask yourself, you listening to this broadcast right now, believer, you should ask yourself, who are the elders that I'm accountable to? Is there anyone that I'm accountable? Is it even possible for, say something went really, really poorly or badly in my life, would it even be possible for something like church discipline to happen in my life? Or do I just have no real relationship with the local church that makes that possible? The New Testament assumes that you do have that, that you should have that, not because it's trying to control us and this, that, and the other.

It's because it's for our own good. We need one another in the body of Christ. You are not, as an individual, the church. Together, as Christians, we make up the body of Christ, and each of us is a different part of the body, a different member in the body. It's only as we're together, united in local churches, serving and caring for one another, that the body builds itself up in love, Ephesians 4. And so it's really, really important for us to have this because the Bible assumes that we will. And so, yeah, appreciate that, Bill.

Amen. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adrian Sanchez. Here's our phone number. If you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, it's 833-THE-CORE. That's 1-833-843-2673.

Here's a voicemail from one of our listeners named Javier. My question is this. If the rapture is supposed to occur in the twinkling of an eye, and the dead in Christ are to rise first and meet us up in the air, will the physical bodies of the dead in Christ, rising first, be a violent process? Will people left behind see graves and tombs and urns open up, and the sea give up her dead suddenly and violently, like similar to a landmine going off in a cemetery? And if so, then what about the believer who's a liver or heart or lung was donated to a non-believer after the believer has died? Will the donated organ leave the unbeliever in the twinkling of an eye?

Thank you very much. That's a great question. I've never thought about that. Are a bunch of people just going to lose their kidney or their heart?

A couple of things. The text that you're referring to is 1 Thessalonians 4. I think that this is speaking about the coming of the Lord and the final judgment. I don't think that this is referring to a rapture that happens prior to the final judgment.

I know that there are differences of opinion in the church about this, but I think the way we understand this really speaks to your question and answering that question. If this is the final judgment, and it's contemporaneous with the resurrection of the dead, the restoration of all things, then everyone, it's not just going to be like there are some people who make it, everyone is now at this point being resurrected to judgment or to condemnation. Why do I think that this is referring to specifically the day of the Lord, the final day of judgment?

That's precisely what Paul says here in 1 Thessalonians 4. Verse 13, Do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For we declare to you by a word from the Lord that we who are alive who are left until the coming of the Lord will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with the cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and the sound of the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive who are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

And so we will always be with the Lord, therefore encourage one another with these words. And then going into chapter 5, immediately he says, Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you, for you yourselves fully know that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. And so this day of the Lord is the day of judgment. And the day of judgment, the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, happens at the same time as the resurrection, the final restoration. So if all this is happening at the same time, yeah, it's going to be, I mean, you use the word violent, it's just going to be cataclysmic, if you will. I mean, this is why in the apocalyptic literature you have the language of the sun being darkened and the moon turning to blood and the stars from heaven falling. This is going to be earth shaking, if you will. In fact, throughout the book of Revelation, the final judgment is oftentimes associated with a great earthquake.

So in that sense, yeah, we could refer to it as violent, if you will. But everyone, believer and unbeliever alike, is going to experience the resurrection. But as Daniel says, some are going to be resurrected to everlasting life and some to condemnation.

And so this is, you know, what we anticipate and await. This is the judgment that the scripture speaks about so often. One day, each one of us, friends, will stand before the true and the living God and give an account for our lives, the judgment. And the question on that day will be, Christ, am I in Christ? Do I know Christ?

Does Christ know me? Jesus said in Matthew chapter 7, many are going to say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, didn't we do all these things in your name? And I will say to them, depart from me.

I never knew you, you who practice lawlessness. Today, friends, is the day of salvation. The Bible does speak of this great cataclysmic judgment that is coming with the second advent of our Lord. And we have to be ready. And how are we ready now, today? How can you be ready? By turning to Christ, by turning from your sins and trusting in him, receiving his grace by faith and following him as he calls us. And so, brothers, this is really, really serious stuff, but I would say this is referring to the final judgment, which is going to affect everyone, believer and unbeliever alike.

And yes, it's going to be cataclysmic. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. We have time for one more call. Emmanuel's on the line from Indiana. Emmanuel, what's your question for Adriel?

Hello. My question is, in my church, the Greek Orthodox Church, at the end of a prayer, we say in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. And should I be ending my prayers with, in Jesus's name?

Hey, great question. I don't think there's anything wrong with praying in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Here, the focus is on the oneness of the Holy Trinity. Now, when we think about praying in Jesus's name, as Jesus told us to in the Gospels, we're doing that because we recognize that we approach the Father through Jesus the Son, our mediator, our great high priest, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. So it is helpful, I think, to pray in Jesus's name because we approach the throne of God through Christ, our great high priest.

This is what the book of Hebrews makes absolutely clear. But again, I wouldn't knock you or say that there's something wrong or bad about praying in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And so, I think so long as you recognize, Immanuel, that you're coming to God solely through the merit of Jesus Christ, through his work as your great high priest, what he's done for you in atoning for your sins so that you could have access to the Father by the grace of the Holy Spirit. God bless you, brother.

Thanks. Thanks for listening to CORE Christianity. To request your copy of today's special offer, visit us at and click on offers in the menu bar. Or call us at 1-833-843-2673. That's 833, the CORE. When you contact us, please let us know how you've been encouraged by this program. And be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's word together.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-29 18:51:12 / 2022-11-29 19:01:25 / 10

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