by Greg on July 1, 2012
The secret rapture/left behind scenario is false. So why do so many in the church readily accept it? Nowhere in the Bible is it found that Jesus is going to return in a two-phase rapture—first, secretly to gather up His church, and secondly, after a 7yr. period of tribulation reigned over by Antichrist.
Probably the reason there is such widespread acceptance is because the average lay person doesn’t read the Bible in a studious way, much less church history. There is a willingness to trust implicitly that the preacher knows what he or she is talking about.
However, the lay person would be surprised to know that although the keys to truthful knowledge is available to the preacher; most, out of convenience, simply go along with whatever is the latest trend.
If the leaders would only go back to determine how the popular trend got started, and where it comes from, they would at least be in the position of deciding for themselves the truth or error of the trend.
Origin of the Secret Rapture
During the course of the Reformation, most of the Reformers charged the Roman papacy with being the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning Antichrist. This became a great conviction in the minds of the populace.
Here’s what some of the Reformers had to say about the papacy.
Martin Luther, Lutheran Church founder: “For who is the man of sin and the man of perdition, but he who by his teaching and his ordinances increases the sin and perdition of souls in the church; while he yet sits in the church as if he were God? All these conditions have now for many ages been fulfilled by the papal tyranny.”
John Calvin, Presbyterian Church founder: “I deny him to be the Vicar of Christ, who…demonstrates by his conduct that he is Antichrist.”
John Knox, Scottish Reformer: “As for your Roman church, as it is now corrupted…I no more doubt but that it is the synagogue of Satan, and the head thereof, called the Pope, to be the man of sin of whom the apostle speaketh.”
(Scriptural indicators used by the Reformers to buttress their conclusions are found in my book The Three Angels’ Message: God’s End-time Warning.)
To counteract the identification of the Papacy with the Antichrist, the Roman church employed the services of a Jesuit priest named Louis De Alcasar. He is the one credited with coming up with what is known as the Preterist school of thought; a thought that all the prophecies of Antichrist were fulfilled before the popes began to rule Rome.
Very few bought that idea, so about 1580 A.D., another Jesuit priest, Francisco Ribera, came up with the idea that the supernatural individual, Antichrist, was yet to appear. When he does, near the end of time, he would reign for 3-1/2 years.
This futurist school of thought was accepted by the Roman church, and stealthily introduced into the Protestant Church as part of Rome’s Counter Reformation efforts. However, Protestantism maintained its Pope/Antichrist belief and accusation up until around 150 years ago.
That’s when the Jesuit infiltration of persuasion finally succeeded; spreading into the Protestant churches by the likes of John Nelson Darby (a Brethren preacher and writer), the Scofield Reference Bible notes, Hal Lindsey (writing in The Late Great Planet Earth), and finally the infamous Left Behind series of books and movies.
What Does the Bible Say?
If only new doctrine coming into the church would be checked against scripture, Satan would not be able to deceive the very elect of God. The proper way to check is to check all scripture related to the topic—here a little, there a little, line upon line, precept upon precept.
What has happened instead, in this case, is that the secret rapture doctrine was formulated based on two scriptural themes taken out of context—“a thief in the night” and “one taken, one left behind.”
A Thief in the Night
Secret rapturists point to 2 Peter 3:10, that says, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.” This is supposed to indicate that Jesus’ return is supposed to be quiet and secret.
The failing here is that, amazingly, the rest of the verse is ignored. In its entirety it reads, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”
Does that sound like a secret? Of course not, it’s the end of the world. It’s the time in which Jesus said that the wheat and tares would grow together to be harvested. Everything, except the righteous dead and living, will be burned at the brightness of His coming (2 Thess. 1: 7, 8).
Moreover, if coming “like a thief” is supposed to be the secret rapture, how can afterwards there be a 7yr. tribulation when the sky and all else is burned up?
Jesus, Himself, explains what it means when comparing His return to that of a thief.
He says, “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the household had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.” Matt. 24: 42, 43.
Following a similar passage in Luke 12: 39, verse 40 continues with, “You too be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.” In other words, Jesus is telling us, not that His return will be a quiet secret, but that His return will be sudden and unexpected for the world.
God’s people, though still not knowing the date, should not be surprised when He returns. In 1 Thess. 5: 4, St. Paul tells the saints, “But you brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief.”
In contrast to being secret, Jesus’ return on the day of the Lord will be the loudest and most visual event that earth will witness. There will be the worldwide sound of a trumpet and a shout like never heard before (I Thess. 4: 16, 17). Jesus with all His angels will appear like lightning from the east to the west (Matt. 24: 27; 25:31).
The righteous dead and the righteous living will rise in the air to meet Jesus and every eye will see this event (Rev. 1: 7). Every eye means even the blind will see.
One Taken, One Left Behind
Matt 24: 40, 41—“Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill. One will be taken and the other one will be left.” This passage is supposed to prove that upon the secret rapture, Christians will disappear and unbelievers will be left behind to have a second chance to accept Jesus.
Preceding that passage, though, are these words, “For the coming of the son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying, and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away. So will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (vs. 37-39).
It’s clear what Jesus is saying. When He returns, the same thing will happen to the righteous and to the wicked as happened during the time of Noah. When the flood came unexpectedly, those in the ark were saved. So shall those in Jesus, be they dead or alive when He comes.
Those outside of the ark were left behind and were destroyed. So shall those outside of Jesus (unbelievers) when He returns.
The same process is seen in Luke 17: 28-30, in which Jesus compares His return to the last days of Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah. There too, the righteous were saved, and the wicked were left behind to be destroyed.
No Second Chance
The next time Jesus returns, He will be seen by everybody. The righteous living and righteous dead will meet Him in the air and be taken to heaven. The unrighteous dead will remain dead and the unrighteous living will be killed by the brightness of His coming.
That the unrighteous will die is stated in Luke 17: 37. There, Jesus is still talking about His second coming. His disciples ask where will the ones left be. Jesus answers, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.” The wicked will be left on the ground to be devoured by vultures.
Other attestations to the wicked being slain at the second coming are seen in Isaiah 11: 4, “With the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked,” and in Jeremiah 25: 33, “Those slain by the Lord on that day will be from one end of the earth to the other. They will not be lamented, gathered or buried; they will be like dung on the face of the ground.”
Jesus’ coming not only kills the unrighteous wicked, but the earth will completely be made a wasteland.
“The earth is broken asunder. The earth is split through. The earth is shaken violently. The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard and it totters like a shack, for its transgression is heavy upon it, and it will fall, never to rise again.” (Isaiah 24: 19, 20)
“I looked, and behold, the fruitful land was a wilderness, and all its cities were pulled down before the Lord, before His fierce anger.” (Jeremiah 4: 26)
“The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their place.” (Rev. 6: 14)
“And there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder; and there was a great earthquake, such as there had not been since man came to be upon the earth. So great an earthquake was it, and so mighty. The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.” (Rev. 16: 18-20)
After the second coming of Jesus, the earth will be uninhabitable for a thousand years. The saints will be in heaven reigning with Christ during that time. (More about the millennium in a forthcoming article.)
To continue to promote the idea that Christians will vanish in a secret rapture; that unbelievers will have a second chance during the so-called seven years of tribulation; and that all this occurs before the second-phased coming of Jesus, is to do unbelievers a fatal disservice.
To further push this secrecy concept when the doctrine isn’t found anywhere in the Bible, is to continue to partner with the destroyer of souls. For many unbelievers will and already have decided that they’ll wait to see if Christians disappear. It’s only then will they give serious consideration to Jesus being real. In the meantime, many have died and will die, giving their souls over to the devil.
Now is the accepted time! Today is the day of salvation!
The secret rapture/left behind teaching is a demonic doctrine.