September 22nd, 2014 | By admin
by Paul Holland In the fall of 1991, after being inducted into the Alpha Chi National Honor Society while at Faulkner, I had the opportunity to attend the Alpha Chi regional conference in Atlanta, GA. At that conference, the attendees would present a paper they had prepared in their respective disciplines. After you presented your paper, you would open the floor to questions and discussion. I chose to write a paper on the book of Revelation and its use and abuse by those who believe in a literal thousand-year reign of Christ on earth. I specifically dealt with the Battle of Armageddon as it is presented in Revelation 16. After presenting that paper, I opened the floor for questions. One professor from another college asked me if I thought premillennialism was still an issue today (which was 23 years ago!). I told him that although it did not seem to be as widely spread as perhaps it once was, I did think it was still an issue. Twenty-three years later, a movie is coming to the box office, starring Nicholas Cage. The movie is titled, Left Behind. The movie is based on the book by the same title written by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye. It is about the rapture and ensuing events as it is taught in the doctrine called premillennialism. The following comes from The Concise Evangelical Dictionary of Theology edited by Walter A. Elwell (page 313). The “millennial” part comes from the Latin word for 1,000, based on the 1,000 year reign found in Revelation 20:1-10. “Premillennialists” believe that the return of Christ will be preceded first by the rapture and then by certain signs – wars, famines, earthquakes, a great apostasy of Christians led by the AntiChrist, and the “great tribulation.” These events will culminate in the second coming of Christ which will result in a period of peace and righteousness when Christ and his saints control the world. THE RAPTURE: The Concise Evangelical Dictionary of Theology defines the rapture this way: “[A] phrase used by premillennialists to refer to the church being united with Christ at his second coming (from the Lat. rapio, “caught up”). The main biblical passage upon which the teaching is based is 1 Thess. 4:15-17.” Now, here are all the Bible passages that mention the “Rapture” in the NIV: (none); NKJV (none); RSV (none); ASV (none); NASV (none); KJV (none). You know what? That causes a very serious issue with the idea that the “rapture” is a biblical doctrine! As the dictionary points out, the primary text for the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. Take a look at this passage… The word “rapture” comes from the Latin (rapio) of the verb translated “caught up” in verse 17. As you can see from the context, the idea of the “rapture” is not found in the context. There is no suggestion of what is going on with the people outside of Christ at this time. All Paul is concerned about at this point is what happens to Christians – both living and dead. There are some passages that do picture the resurrection of those outside of Christ but these passages portray this as happening at the same time as the resurrection of the Christians: John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15. The Bible teaches there is only one resurrection and it will involve both the righteous and the wicked and will include both the living and the dead. What we do need to emphasize here is that the second coming of Christ is going to happen and it will be unexpected (2 Peter 3:10). While the second coming will catch all of us unexpectedly, it will only catch some of us unprepared. You do not have to be unprepared!