Will Christians Disappear Soon?
The Bible mentions over 2,500 times that Jesus Christ will return to earth again, yet there is considerable confusion within Christianity as to the exact manner of His return. The most commonly held belief, the Secret Rapture, teaches that Jesus will secretly, silently, and invisibly take Christians to heaven. As Christians instantly disappear, everyone else is left behind to endure a nightmarish seven-year period with the Antichrist.
While this view may be very popular, five Bible facts disprove the Secret Rapture teaching.
Fact 1. Jesus’ coming is visible worldwide. “Every eye will see him” (Revelation 1:7). Jesus said, “All the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matthew 24:30). When Jesus returns, it will be the single most viewed event of all time!
Fact 2. Jesus’ return will be loud. “And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds” (Matthew 24:31). “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16). There is nothing quiet or secret about this!
Fact 3. The Second Coming is glorious. “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory” (Matthew 25:31). The glory of God and of all the angels lights up the sky from horizon to horizon. “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:27). Worldwide, the sky is filled with the white-hot, bright light of heavenly beings. No wonder Revelation 1:7 says that “every eye will see Him.” Jesus’ return is global and it is glorious!
Fact 4. Earth is made uninhabitable by Jesus’ return. As Jesus and angels enter earth’s atmosphere, it triggers a global earthquake that decimates cities and swallows islands and mountains. “There was a great earthquake, such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth. . . . The cities of the nations fell. . . . Then every island fled away, and the mountains were not found” (Revelation 16:18-20). Massive hailstones pummel people and property into oblivion. “From the sky huge hailstones, each weighing about a hundred pounds, fell on people” (Revelation 16:21, NIV). The brightness of Jesus’ return ignites the elements of earth in a raging inferno. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). No one left on earth can survive this global catastrophe!
Fact 5. Christ’s return depopulates the planet. When Jesus comes, He raises the sleeping saints from their graves and takes them to heaven along with all of the living believers. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven. . . . 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 air” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
As God’s people ascend to heaven, the lost are destroyed and no one remains alive on earth. “When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God. . . . These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).
These five Scripture facts conclusively counter the Secret Rapture. To attempt to prove this theory, a few Bible texts are taken out of context. Let’s look at them.
Theory 1: The Bible phrase “one will be taken and the other left” (Matthew 24:40) is twisted to mean that the saved are taken to heaven at Jesus’ coming while the lost are left behind alive to be deceived by the Antichrist. However, if we read the context, Jesus says that His return will be “as it was in the days of Noah” (verse 37, NIV). What happened in Noah’s day to the lost? “The flood came and took them all away” (verse 39).
Describing the same scene, Luke wrote, “Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:27). Jesus’ point is clear—those who are left behind are destroyed. When the disciples ask where the lost will be left, Jesus declares, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather” (verse 37, NIV). Clearly, those who don’t go to heaven are “destroyed” by Jesus’ return and their dead bodies are left to attract vultures. The context clearly disproves the Secret Rapture. Don’t be tricked into thinking that there will be a second chance after true believers disappear!
Theory 2 teaches that after Jesus raptures the saints to heaven, the Antichrist will deceive everyone who is left behind during seven years of tribulation. The Bible readily discounts this theory when Paul writes that the Antichrist appears before the Second Coming and is actually destroyed at Jesus’ return. “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him. . . . Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day [i.e. Jesus’ coming] will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin [i.e. the Antichrist] is revealed. . . . Whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, 8).
Theory 3 states that the Rapture happens secretly, like a “thief in the night.” Once again, the Bible clearly says that there is nothing secret about Jesus’ return as a thief. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). “The day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3). Jesus’ coming as a thief is not a secret; it is a surprise! Jesus warns, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (see Matthew 24:42-44).
The devil would love nothing more than to deceive those who are living in the time of the end (see Matthew 24:3-4, 24). One of his tricks is to seduce people into thinking they will have a second chance to be saved during the “tribulation” if they miss the Secret Rapture. As a result, they put off for later their commitment to Christ. But as we have seen, when Jesus returns, later will never arrive. Jesus is seeking our hearts right now so He can rescue us from a sin-doomed world when He returns. So, don’t be fooled. Surrender your life to Him now and be ready (see Matthew 24:44).
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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com. The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™