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The Rapture

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
February 25, 2021 12:01 am

The Rapture

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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February 25, 2021 12:01 am

Christians agree that Jesus will return to take His church out of this fallen world, but they disagree about how and when He will do it. Today, R.C. Sproul answers the question, "What is the rapture?"

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Coming up next on Renewing Your Mind. There's all kinds of debate about what actually is going to take place in the rapture and again when the rapture will take place. Those who hold a completely future interpretation of New Testament eschatology, expect the rapture to take place before the tribulation in the book of Revelation can be fascinating and encouraging.

Also puzzling and sometimes terrifying as it describes, plagues, chaos and destruction when it comes to the rapture. It's been the subject of much debate over the years and focus of countless books and essays can we know for certain about the timing of the rapture and the return of Christ today, Dr. RC Sproul continues his series.

The last days according to Jesus for this series of luck times we've been looking at those New Testament prophecies that in one sense or another. Perhaps were fulfilled within the first century time limits, particularly in and around the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple and those who believe that these prophecies of the all of the discourse were fulfilled in the first century are usually described as being pride arrests or adopting the theory that is called preparation, meaning that these future prophecies have already been fulfilled in the past, but we also have to be careful to distinguish between two various and different forms of plagiarism there is that group which call themselves full printers and those that would call themselves partial printers. Now what's the difference between full credit rhythm and partial plagiarism. While full predators him as the name suggests, believes that all of the specific future events that are prophesied in the New Testament regarding the end times have already taken place in the first century so that would include not only the destruction of the Temple and the destruction of Jerusalem and the return of Jesus, but also the great resurrection. The rapture and all other matters that pertain to future prophecy, partial credit rhythm. However, differs from full predators him in this respect that the partial predators believe that though the return of Jesus in 70 A.D. was a return of Christ in terms of her return in judgment over Israel. It was not the Peru CR or the final coming of Jesus at the end of history.

The partial predators would say that Jesus came in 70 A.D. at the end of an age, namely the Jewish age but not at the end of all history that the destruction of Jerusalem.

The visitation of God's wrath upon his people. There was a significant day of the Lord but not the final and consummate day of the Lord which remains yet to occur in the future, but most significantly, is the difference on understanding the future resurrection of the saints and the rapture and last judgments that are predicted in the New Testament. Now let's look first today at the difference with respect to the resurrection.

When we turn to first Corinthians 15 where we have Paul's most lengthy and complex teaching regarding the resurrection of the bodies of the saints who will participate in the glorified body of Christ in line with his resurrection.

Paul concludes that study in first Corinthians 15 with this teaching beginning at verse 50 now this I say, but rather in the flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed for this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality so that when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory over death, where is your sting O hell where is your victory. The sting of death is sin, the strength of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Prior to this section of first Corinthians 15, Paul talks about our being raised with glorified bodies after the similitude of the resurrection body with which Christ rose from the dead. Now up to this point in our discussions about the future. Prophecy the most central controlling factor in our consideration has been the timeframe references that Jesus gives were the author of the book of Revelation gives with respect to the time in which we can expect the fulfillment of these prophecies now we understand that in the early church. One of the very first Christian creeds that was formulated is that Craig called the apostles Creed and in the apostles Creed. There is a phrase in the original Latin that reads resurrection. The onus climates in which we affirm as Christians, our faith in the resurrection of the body. So I believe in the resurrection of the body that profession of faith that comes from the early church was not simply a profession of faith in Christ's resurrected body, but rather in our resurrected bodies as Christ is promised to be the firstfruits of those who will be raised from the dead, so we are told in the New Testament and in the resurrection we will have glorified bodies that we will not be disembodied spirits wandering through eternity in that state, but there will come a time when our souls will be reunited with our bodies, our bodies will be raised and the new bodies that we will enjoy will be incorruptible and immortal, so to speak. And so that's always been a major hope of the Christian community that we look forward to that day where we will participate in the resurrection of the body. While full predators argue that that prophecy about the future has already been fulfilled, which is a startling and astonishing conclusion. Let's see first why they argue for its past fulfillment, and then will look at how they present that argument. If you notice when I was reading from first Corinthians 15, Paul says these things, behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, etc. and then he goes on said we shall be changed.

I would notice that in this text unlikely.

All of this course, there are no specific explicit timeframe references Paul doesn't say this is going to happen before this generation passes away nor does he say these things must take place shortly, or that they are near at hand. So why then would somebody find in here a future prophecy that one would expect to take place in the near future, while those who hold to full predators.

Him seize upon the use of the word we in this text three times in the passage that I just read Paul uses this term we he says we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, and we shall be changed into this incorruptible situation now elsewhere with respect to the rapture. Paul speaks in similar terms in this is linked to the rapture text were Paul says in first Thessalonians, with those of us who are alive at his coming.

That indicates that the us and that we would include the apostle Paul so that Paul seems to be saying that these things are going to happen while he is still alive as since he is including himself in the group that is designated by the word, we or the word us on notice that this is not a statement whereby Paul says I will be alive explicitly and concretely, but rather he just says in passing those of us who are alive at that time in here in first Corinthians we shall be changed, and so on.

Does not necessarily mean that the apostle expected that he would be alive when these prophecies would be fulfilled now. The advocates of full predators. Him argue that the we implies that Paul expected these things that take place during his lifetime, and I have to say at this point that the prioress are not the only people who assume the Paul is indicating his own personal expectation of being included in those who were still living when these prophecies would be fulfilled because this is a point that the higher critics of the New Testament have also seized upon arguing the Paul certainly expected the final consummation of the kingdom in his lifetime, including the great resurrection and the rapture and they argue on the same basis that the predators do from inferences drawn from the inclusive language that the apostle uses when he says we or those of us who were still alive, but those words again do not necessarily require that we assume that Paul was trying to communicate to his people that he personally would be alive, but he was speaking to the Christian community not only to his contemporaries, but to the whole body of Christ. From that day forward, and certainly Paul would be included in the resurrection whenever it would take place. Weather was in the first century are in the third millennium. Who knows, he would still be included in the Wii because all of the believers will participate in the resurrection, and all will participate in the rapture and the course of the rapture things as those of us who are alive again does not require that includes that he be living on the earth at that time. What I'm saying again is that those inferences drawn from the predators the full predators are possible inferences from the text but not necessary.

Inferences from the text and so we can look at this in terms of how they see the fulfillment of these things in the first century in order to take the position that both the resurrection and the rapture took place in the first century, one has to spiritualize the texts in terms of the descriptive ideas and concepts that are used about this resurrection and if there's any place where it's a serious problem to begin. Spiritualizing something is one that what you're spiritualizing is discussing something that is supposedly physical and bodily is very difficult to spiritualize the bodily resurrection of the saints without at the same time actually denying the bodily resurrection of the saints, because if it's only a spiritual resurrection and manifestly. It's not a physical resurrection. But advocates of full predators in such a stored Russell and Max King do precisely this.

They say that the resurrection of which Paul speaks did take place in 70 A.D., but it was a spiritual resurrection of those who have died. They were spiritually raised and are now in heaven and they are not to be understood in physical categories, not without reason. This position has been charged with being a form of Gnosticism because as the Gnostics denied the full reality of the physical resurrection of Jesus, and even of his physical incarnation. This would seem to be denying a real physical resurrection of the saints, since in order to have taken place in the first century.

Without anybody's knowing it and nobody in the early church, recording the resurrection of those who had died before them that this would force them to this idea of a spiritual resurrection of the same type of thing happens with respect to the treatment of the rapture which Paul describes in his correspondence to the Thessalonica's in chapter 4 the first Thessalonians.

We read the following account of the rapture which is gained so much attention in Christian eschatology that it warrants that we read the text in verse 13 we read these words in chapter 4, first Thessalonians, but I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope for.

We believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God and the dead in Christ will rise first.

Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the year, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Not here.

The apostle is addressing a concern that was a vital concern of early Christians.

The early Christian community had the hope for the future resurrection and for the return of Christ in clouds of glory. And yet, before these things took place. Many of the Christians of the early community died and so the obvious question that their relatives were asking was this does this mean that our relatives and our friends who have passed on. Will miss these great eschatological events that have been promised to us. And Paul is answering the Christian community by saying by no means.

In fact, not only will those who have died not miss the return of Christ at the end of time in the great resurrection, but they will be front row seats participants.

They will be at the head of the line because the apostle says the dead in Christ will rise first and they will be taken up into the air and we who are alive at his coming will also be taken up to join the Lord or to meet the Lord, is the language the apostle Paul says in the air as he descends with the trumpet sound, and that sort of thing now the full predators have to speak again of a secret rapture.

A rapture that was spiritual that was silent and that was invisible to argue that the rapture is already taken place means that occurred. Nobody heard it. Nobody saw it and no one was aware of it and so if it were simply spiritual and invisible and silent.

We wonder how we can do justice to the language of this text and others will again Russell and others fall back on the symbolism that is frequently used in prophetic prophecies that say you don't have to make a literal interpretation of these thing but to me it involves a serious bending of the words of this text to talk about a secret which is according to the language of the possible be the worst kept secret in history and hardly a silent event as all heaven will break loose. Now, on the other hand, there's all kinds of debate about what actually is going to take place in the rapture and again when the rapture will take place. Those who hold a completely future interpretation of New Testament eschatology, particularly in dispensational premillennialism expect the rapture to take place before the tribulation and you hear people talk about the pretrip rapture. The idea here is that there's going to be a great tribulation at the end of history, but prior to that tribulation, the church will be caught up to meet Jesus and Jesus will sort of come halfway back to the earth. He'll take up his saints out of the earth to meet him in the year and then he will stay with his saints aloft, either for the whole seven years of the tribulation were, however, the schema is worked out and then at the final time. He will come back again for his final manifestation returning with the saints that he had taken up out of the world before the tribulation. So this game has two returns of Jesus at the end of the times one. The secret return. First, just for his saints and taken up out of the world to meet him and then his final return after the tribulation, and so on.

I think this fundamentally misunderstands the imagery that is used here by the apostle with respect to the rapture and its meaning. Paul does not say that the Christians will be caught up in the air and then stay up in the air with Jesus.

The imagery here is of meeting Christ as he is returning and glory so that the Christians are participating in his victorious return to this world. It's not that have come so far.

Catch up the church and then stay there, go back to heaven until a later time. But the whole point of the imagery here echoes and reflects something that was commonplace in the contemporary world in which Paul wrote, namely the pattern and practice of the triumphal return to Rome of the Roman armies. Whenever the Roman armies would come back from a campaign before they would enter the city of Rome they would camp outside the city about a mile outside the city, and there would be all the soldiers, plus all of the captives that they had brought home from the campaign and then they would send a messenger into the Senate to announce their arrival. Remember they carried the banners SPQR the Senate and the people of Rome, and that would give the time for the city planners to erect an arch of triumph and to decorate the city, much as we would for a tickertape parade for conquering heroes, they would spray garlands with the sweet aroma throughout the city the cover-up the smell of slaves and their older and so one and then at a prearranged time. A signal would be made whereby the trumpets would be blown and that was the signal for the armies of Rome to march in triumph into the city.

But before they began their march at the single of the trumpet. Everyone who was an actual citizen of Rome was invited to come outside the city to join the parade to march back in through the arch of triumph with the victorious army so that they participated in the victory and participated in the triumph and I think if you see throughout Paul's writings. He frequently borrows the imagery of the Romans from this and will I hear Paul saying is that when Jesus, he's going to come back to this earth with his whole church. The church will be caught up to meet him as he descends, and he will continue to descend along with his whole entourage of believers now. When this will occur depends on interviews of the millennium, and so on and will look at those things next next Dr. RC Sproul helping us understand the rapture.

Your listing to Renewing Your Mind on this Thursday five Lee Webb, thank you for being with us. We learned so much this week as we've made our way through RC series. The last days according to Jesus, we study the end times. The sheer number of opinions and theories can seem overwhelming.

And that's one of the reasons that Dr. scroll taught this series of the book of Revelation is a mystery and we will never have all of our questions answered.

When it comes to this book, but the RC really wanted to help us understand the context and gain greater clarity about revelation and we like for you to have all 12 messages from his series should just contact us today with a donation of any amount will send you the two DVD set again. It's titled the last days according to Jesus, and you can make your request and give your gift online at Renewing Your Mind on word or you can call us.

One of my colleagues is standing by to take your requested 800-435-4343. I do hope Renewing Your Mind is a regular part of your routine.

There are many ways you can listen to us, you can subscribe to the podcast you can listen on our app or at the website that's Renewing Your Mind.org or you can even sign up for email reminders that they provide a link to the program each day. Find out more about that when you go to Renewing Your Mind.org tomorrow were going to wrap up the series and take a look at what's described as the millennium throughout history there have always been those who maintain that Christ would come back for the millennial and establish a king for thousand years, after which there would be a great tribulation, and the final battle but is that what we find in Scripture. RC will address that tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind


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