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THE SECRET RAPTURE

Introduction

This article deals with a popular yet controversial subject within the Christian church, the legitimacy or illegitimacy of THE SECRET RAPTURE. Every truth seeking Christian, whether or not you believe in a secret rapture, should carefully read this article and prayerfully search the scriptures daily. This article is adapted from The Secret Rapture by James Bennett as published in the 1878 London edition of The second Advent. Prior to the 19th century the idea of a secret rapture was foreign to the Christian church. “Somewhere around 1830, Edward Irving began to teach the unique idea of a two-phase return of Christ, the first phase being a secret rapture prior to the rise of the Antichrist.” (Left Behind By The Jesuits). Edward Irving was highly influenced by the teachings of Jesuits Francisco Ribera and Robert Bellarmine regarding their anti-Reformation rhetoric and private Futurist interpretation of antichrist, which no doubt led him to speculations of a secret rapture. In 1864 Samuel Prideaux Tregelles published a book in which he gave the following testimony on the origin of the secret rapture:
“I am not aware that there was any definite teaching that there would be a secret rapture of the Church at a secret coming, until this was given forth as an ‘utterance’ in Mr. Irving’s Church, from what was there received as being the voice of the Spirit. But whether any one ever asserted such a thing or not, it was from that supposed revelation that the modern doctrine and the modern phraseology respecting it arose. It came not from Holy Scripture, but from that which falsely pretended to be the Spirit of God....” (The Hope Of Christ's Second Coming, 1864, Chapter 9, p. 35)
After the opinion of a secret advent had been adopted, many expressions in older writers were regarded as supporting it; in which, however, the word “secret” does not mean unperceived or unknown, but simply secret in point of time. By the 1860's it was publicly maintained that the secret coming is the second coming promised in Scripture, and that the manifest appearing of our Lord is His third coming. However, nowhere in scripture is there the slightest hint of a “third coming” of Christ. The apostle Paul said that Jesus shall appear the “second time” not ‘third’: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Heb. 9:28). Today many maintain that the “coming” of Christ is different than his “appearing.” But Jesus himself dispells this notion: “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matt. 24:27). Still, there are those who insist that there is a difference between the “coming” and the “appearing” of Jesus; hence, a “secret” rapture.

The Secret Rapture

This view is one which has made and still is making considerable progress among believers. There is much that is attractive about it, but it will not, I am persuaded, stand searching, sober investigation. The theory briefly stated is, that there are yet two comings of Christ to take place. One of them may occur at any moment, without the slightest warning. The object of this coming will be to take away the Church, which will thus disappear from the earth in an instant. This secret rapture of the Church will, we are told, be followed by the manifestation of Antichrist, the persecution of restored Israel, and when Jerusalem is besieged, the Lord will come openly to the world, accompanied by His saints. What the Christian is to look for, then, is not the coming of the Lord at the siege of Jerusalem, but a coming which may occur at any instant. So far as I am aware, this view has been derived from Edward Irving, by whom it was first broached. It need hardly be remarked, that, without saying one syllable as to Irving's personal condition before God, he was a most unsound teacher. Any Christian at all acquainted with the Word of God must feel this. His idea, for instance, that our Lord's humanity was teeming with evil propensities, is fearful to a spiritual mind. That the theory should have originated with such a man is enough to make one doubly cautious in receiving it. He, however, taught it in a form somewhat different from that given above. He said that the whole Church would not escape the great tribulation, but only those who followed his directions. And a modification of this is held by many who are not Irvingites. They say that only some will escape, viz., those who are watching for the Advent, and, as some add, standing aloof from all denominations! In these pages, however, only the form of the doctrine first given is dealt with, viz., that the whole Church will share in the secret rapture. I confine myself to this one aspect of the view, because it is the most widely spread. And in fact, if this is disproved, the other will fall with it.

The argument much advanced in defence of this doctrine is, that two words are used in the Greek Testament, one of which is limited to the secret, and the other to the public coming of Christ. Of course, if this could be fairly made out, a very strong case would have been presented for consideration. The two words areand. It may be remarked, however, that in reality three words are employed to describe the Advent. The third is . But it hardly follows that there are three distinct comings. Rather, the three words bring before the mind three different aspects of the Advent. The first means a personal presence or coming; the second, a shining forth or manifestation: it is our word Epiphany; and the third, an unveiling: it is our word Apocalypse or Revelation. Is not the Second Advent represented as all these? It is the personal presence of the Lord Jesus with His people, the manifestation of His glory to an ungodly world, and the unveiling or revelation of God's purposes in regard to this earth of ours. What wonder, then, that three words are used by the Spirit of God to describe these three aspects of this most solemn event? If, because there are two words, I infer two comings, does not consistency require me to conclude that whereas three words are used, three comings are intended?

Christ was at once Priest, Altar, and Sacrifice. Three aspects of His work were conveyed by these three types. In the early chapters of Leviticus five offerings are prescribed. They were all typical of the one offering on the Cross. They presented five different aspects of the work of Christ. The thing figured was one and the same. This principle meets us at every turn in reading the Old Testament types. Need we be surprised, then, to see three aspects of the Second Advent set before us in the New Testament?

There is, moreover, one passage which seems to me to settle the question as to the(coming) with the (appearing). It is 2 Thess. ii. 8. “And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and destroy with the of his.” Here both words are used to describe that Advent by which the Man of Sin is destroyed. Upon the theory now under consideration, several years must necessarily elapse between the two. And yet we find them here used of one and the same event. This of itself is enough to convict the system of error. But, again, on this theory, no signs mark the approach of the parousia for which the Church should wait. This also is utterly opposed to Scripture. Our Lord tells us that signs shall precede the parousia, and that for the signs we ought to look. Matthew xxiv. sufficiently proves this assertion. The disciples ask Christ, “What shall be the sign of thy coming (parousia) and of the end of the world?” (ver. 3). Had this theory been true, would not our Lord have taken this opportunity to warn the Apostles that signs should not precede the parousia? But His course was exactly the reverse, and, on this theory, quite inexplicable. He proceeds to enumerate signs. “Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars,” &c. “There shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places,” &c. “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” The description of the future siege and unequalled tribulation of Jerusalem follows, as we have already seen. —Terrible is the suffering of that awful time. But there is no hint given that the Church shall have been previously removed. The contrary is expressly stated: “For the elect's sake those days shall be shortened” (ver. 2 2). “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (ver. 24). The elect, then, are still upon earth. According to this theory, they were taken away some years before!

The parousia or coming has already on this theory occurred! But mark what follows: “As the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming (parousia) of the Son of man be.” Not much secrecy about the lightning! “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken; and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven” (vers. 29, 30). Here is a definite answer to the question of the disciples, “What shall be the sign of Thy coming?” Unmistakable signs surely! Sun and moon darkened! Stars falling! The sign in heaven, whatever it may be, perhaps the Shekinah cloud! And yet this theory tells us there shall be no signs! Verse 31 also has direct bearing upon this controversy. "And He shall send His angels” (this, be it observed, is after the darkening of the sun, &c.) “with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” This seems to me to settle the question as to when the saints are caught up. This is not, as the advocates of this view tell us, some years before this terrible siege, but after the signs in the heavens. If such a definite statement of our Lord is not conclusive, it is difficult to imagine language which would suffice. The prophecy is one connected whole. It is, from its structure, evidently chronological. There is no mystery about it. The order of events is given in answer to the inquiry of the apostles, and the glorification and rapture of the saints is expressly asserted to occur at the close, and not before the beginning, of the great tribulation.

Nay, more; that we ought to watch for signs is repeated by the Lord Jesus in a parable. “Now, learn a parable of the fig-tree. When his branch is yet tender and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh. So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (vers. 32, 33). Just, then, as the leaves of the tree prove the nearness of summer, so the accomplishment of the predicted signs proves the nearness of the Advent. The proof, in fact, afforded by this chapter is so convincing, that it may well be asked, can any reply be attempted? There is one way, and only one, of evading the force of the conclusions drawn from this prophecy. It is asserted that Christ spoke to the disciples as Jews, not as Christians, and that consequently the chapter has nothing to do with the Church; but is limited in its scope to the Jews! This assertion shows to what desperate straits the advocates of this theory are driven. There is absolutely nothing to prove this. It is assertion, and assertion only. The closing verses of chap. xxiii. seem expressly designed to warn against such an extraordinary idea. Christ there closes His testimony to Israel. They had rejected Him, and He is compelled to leave them. “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord” (vers. 38, 39). Jesus then quitted Jerusalem. He “went out,” and on the Mount of Olives—outside the city—He instructed His disciples. His connection with Israel had finally closed. This is specially pointed out; and then He speaks to His own people. But further, if we are told that this chapter is “Jewish,” i.e., has reference only to Israel, why not extend the principle. Is John xiv. “Jewish”? If not, why not? The Apostles to whom it was spoken were all Jews. Are we to conclude, therefore, that its precious promises have no message to us? Is John xvii. “Jewish”? If not, why not? The Apostles for whom its petitions were originally offered were all Jews. I have just as much right to say that John xiv.-xvii. is Jewish, i.e., not for the Church, as Matt. xxiv. In truth, we can hardly believe that such a theory would have ever been started had it not been for the maintenance of a system. Once more, we are told by those who hold this view, that the “parousia” or “coming” of Christ is to precede the siege here foretold, and that the public appearance of Christ at its close is not the “parousia” or “coming,” but the “epiphany” or “revelation.”

Between these two events, the coming and the revelation of Christ, we are told there is an interval of at least three and a half years. But in Matt. xxiv. the “coming” is said to take place at the end of the siege, and not at the beginning. After the darkening of the sun and moon, and other celestial phenomena, it is added, then shall appear the sign, and “they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven” (ver. 30). To this event, which our Lord says occurs at the close of the tribulation, the word “parousia” or “coming,” is applied. “As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (ver. 37). They “knew not until the flood came and took them all away: so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (ver. 38). And yet this theory requires that the word “coming” should be limited to the secret rapture which is supposed to occur before the tribulation. I am willing to rest the whole case against the secret rapture upon this chapter. It is so conclusive.

There is also another chapter in St. Matthew which bears so strikingly upon the question before us that I cannot pass it by. I mean chapter xiii. In the parable of the “Wheat and Tares,” Christ likens the kingdom of heaven to a field (ver. 24). In this field wheat and tares grow together. The “kingdom of heaven” can hardly bear any other meaning than the professing Church. True, the kingdom is not yet set up in power. Christ has been rejected on earth. But some profess to be His subjects. This profession is true in many cases, false in most. But all who make it are members of the visible Church or kingdom. A usurper has possession of the throne at present. The rightful King is an exile. Soon, however, He shall return with resistless power. The kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ. From the very first there have been those who have falsely named the name of Christ. There was a Judas among the twelve. Christ called him “a devil.” To see tares, then, springing up in the Gospel field is what we were led to expect. There are side by side, “the good seed,” the “children of the kingdom,” and the “tares,” the “children of the wicked one.” For eighteen centuries this has been the scene presented to us. It is the same now; not only in “Established” Churches is the sad mixture apparent, but in bodies which have from time to time seceded for the sake of greater purity. Alike in England and in Scotland there seems to be now greater error and more wide-spread Rationalism in the Dissenting bodies than in the National Establishments. And I venture, with all humility, to say, as the result of my personal knowledge, that in the most carefully fenced or “Brethren” section of the field, tares may be discovered as well as wheat. But we ask how long shall this continue? When the Lord returns will His professing Church be still in this condition? Will the field still present this appearance of mingled wheat and tares. We are not left in doubt as to the answer. Our Lord supplies it. He says concerning wheat and tares alike, “Let both grow together until the harvest” (ver. 30). And what is meant by the “harvest”? “The harvest is the end of the world” (ver. 39).

Now comes the fact which is conclusive against the secret rapture. That doctrine, it will be remembered, is, that the Church or “wheat” shall be taken away to heaven at a coming of Christ which is to precede the end of the age by several years. The wheat are to be removed some years, therefore, before the tares. And how does this theory tally with the teaching of this parable? It flatly contradicts it. “In the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into My barn.” Can words be more express? First the tares and then the wheat. This theory exactly reverses the Divine order, and says, first the wheat, and then, after an interval of some years, the tares. Christ, moreover, in His explanation repeats this, and thus emphasises it: “The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (vers. 41—43). Here again is a passage wholly irreconcilable with this theory. That tells us that Christ shall gather out of the kingdom all the wheat, leaving those that “offend.” The Lord tells us that from the kingdom shall be gathered “all things that offend, and them which do iniquity.” It may be observed, too, that in a subsequent parable the same order is preserved, “The angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just” (ver. 49). This theory asserts that the just shall be severed from among the wicked, and not the wicked from among the just. For my own part, I cannot imagine how language could by any possibility be more utterly opposed to the theory now under review. The two are, it seems to me, diametrically opposite.

Further proof might be deemed superfluous, but yet it may be well to point out a few other Scriptures which are equally clear. One is 1 Cor. i. 7. St. Paul is describing the condition of the Corinthian Church, a Church founded by the Apostle himself. God had bestowed great gifts upon that Church. “Ye came behind,” he says, “in no gift; waiting for the revelation (margin) of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Greek word used is, , apocalypse or revelation. This word, advocates of this theory contend, can apply only to the public return or manifestation of Christ at the close of the tribulation. This is the return for which we are taught not to look, as we shall have been taken away from the earth years before it happens. Yet the Apostle tells the Corinthians that for this “manifestation” or “revelation” they were waiting! And his language is that of commendation! If this theory is Scriptural, the Corinthians were very wrong to expect the “revelation” of Christ. It showed great ignorance or deplorable unbelief. St. Paul, moreover, surely would have corrected the mistake, as he had previously corrected the error of the Thessalonians on the same subject. No such thing, however. Are we not, then, driven to conclude that St. Paul knew nothing of the distinction in point of time between the “coming” and the “revelation” of Christ? If the Corinthian Christians were right in thus “waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,” we cannot be far wrong in doing the same. But to do so is inconsistent with this theory.

Another Scripture to which reference may be made is 2 Thess. i. 6-8, “It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming tire, taking vengeance on them that know not God.” This coming cannot be supposed for a moment to be secret. It cannot be other than the coming for the destruction of Antichrist, when Christ's feet “shall stand upon the Mount of Olives.” It is thus the “revelation” or “manifestation” of Christ. But the Apostle comforts the persecuted saints to whom he writes, and through them the saints of all ages, by promising to them rest. This rest is to be their portion at a definite time. “Rest with us,” he says, “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed.” All the laws of language require us to understand by this that there shall be no rest before “the Lord Jesus shall be revealed.” If I make an appointment with a person for eleven o'clock in the morning, I do not mean him to come till eleven o'clock. This is universally understood. Accordingly, when I read of rest at the revelation of Jesus Christ, am I not obliged to conclude that there shall be no rest till then? that till that time the Church's persecution shall not have ceased ? If, however, the coming of Christ has some years previously removed the Church, this statement would not be true. She would be at rest with the Lord for some years before He was “revealed with His mighty angels, in naming fire taking vengeance.” This passage seems to me, therefore, diametrically opposed to the theory before us. The same remark applies to I Tim. vi. 14, “I give thee charge . . . that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing (Gr. Epiphany) of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Had this theory been correct, would not the Apostle have written, “Until the coming (parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ?” Why need Timothy keep the commandment till the Epiphany, when years before that, at the coming of Christ, the Church would have been removed to heaven?

A similar passage is Titus ii. 13. The grace of God, it is there said, teaches us to deny ungodly and worldly lusts, and live soberly, righteously, and godly, “looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing (Gr. Epiphany) of the great God, and our Saviour, Jesus Christ.” Why should this be the object of the Church's hope if, some years before this, at the parousia or coming of her Lord, she is destined to enter into rest? Surely, to that her eye would be directed. We would ask any brother who has adopted this view, Would he present the Epiphany of Christ before a believer as the object of his hope? His own principles compel him to do no such thing. He is obliged to say, Look away from the Epiphany; look straight at the parousia. Yet this is exactly the opposite of the teaching in this passage. To the same effect is the exhortation of St. Peter, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the Revelation (Gr. Apocalypse) of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter i. 13). If, as we are told, grace and glory are to be our portion at an event prior to the revelation of Christ by several years, why exhort believers to wait patiently till that revelation? Again he writes, “Feed the flock of God. . . . And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Peter v. 4). But this appearance is quite irreconcilable with a secret coming. The two cannot possibly be identified. And yet we find St. Peter directing the faithful pastor, not to a secret coming, but to a manifestation or appearance of Christ as the time of reward. This is quite in accordance with the general tenor of Scripture, but equally opposed to this theory. St. John writes in a similar spirit. “It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him (Christ) purifieth himself even as He is pure” (1 John iii. 2, 3). This “appearance” cannot be a secret thing. The word excludes such a thought. But it is at this appearance, and not at some earlier coming of Christ, that His people are made like Him, and this is expressly called their “hope.”

But time would fail me were I to attempt to quote all the Scriptures that condemn this novel theory. These, I think, are enough. I ask any candid inquirer to ponder them prayerfully, and I trust that he will adopt the conclusion at which I have long since arrived. I do not speak to those who are absolutely determined to support their view at all hazards. To argue with such is waste of time. Their difficulty is not in the head, but in the will. They will not fairly weigh the evidence brought before them. A mistake in such a matter is a solemn thing. To misinterpret any part of Holy Writ is a terrible sin. May God pardon the iniquity of our holy things, for the sake of Him who died and rose again! To advance the view that just as the darkness is deepening the Church shall be taken out of the conflict with Antichrist involves most serious responsibility. It is simply deluding souls. Christians are led to look for a deliverance from earthly conflict which God has not promised and will not give.

One passage there is which is repeatedly adduced as teaching this theory. It is Acts i. 11, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” Hence it is argued, as Christ went up unseen by the world, so must He return. To build a whole theory upon such a passage seems to me incomprehensible. It is a statement which may be taken in several ways. That suggested is only one of several. To take a text which may fairly be understood in another sense, and upon this particular interpretation to raise a doctrine, is an extraordinary proceeding. If other Scriptures could be shown which proved it plainly, this might fairly be quoted as one which favoured the view. The construction, however, placed upon it is one, I venture to think, which it will not bear. The question turns upon the exact force of the expression “in like manner as.” Does it mean that every detail of the ascension is to be paralleled at the Advent? Or rather, that there is a general likeness between the two events? The Greek words translated “in like manner as” are used elsewhere as meaning a general and not particular resemblance. Thus Acts vii. 28, “Wilt thou kill me, as (in like manner as) thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday?” The point of comparison here obviously is the death of the Egyptian, and not the particular mode of his death. The resemblance is general, not specific. So 2 Tim. iii. 8, “As (in like manner as) Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth.” Not that the persons in question use identically the same means as did the magicians referred to. The comparison instituted is between the resistance, and not the particular means employed. The resemblance is general, not specific. So in the passage before us. It does not teach that every particular of the Ascension shall be repeated at the Lord's return, but that the same Jesus who went up shall come again. The personal Jesus went up; the personal Jesus shall come again. In the cloud, the symbol of deity, He was taken (ver. 9). In the cloud He shall be seen at His Advent (Rev. i. 7). The parallel between the two events is general. If any special correspondence of detail is included, it would be the cloud and not the secrecy.

There is thus no Scripture which, when fairly examined, supports this theory. Very many passages, however, on the other hand, are, as we have seen, decidedly opposed to it.

In this dispensation the believer is called to the fellowship of Christ's sufferings. Patient endurance is the grace which the Church is peculiarly called upon to manifest. The path of separation and opposition is that in which believers have had to walk, if faithful. They have not been delivered from the conflict, but grace has been given to enable them to become more than conquerors. It would be strangely different from the past history of this dispensation if a secret rapture, such as has been described, awaited the Church. We should require the very clearest proof from Scripture, to make us believe that, at the very crisis of the struggle, the Church should be secretly caught away. Antichrist is the most terrible adversary of our King. And yet, in this view, not to the Church is assigned the honour of confronting him, but to unbelieving Israel.

Should any brother read this chapter who has received this doctrine, may I in all affection entreat him to weigh well the Scripture that has been advanced? To say the least, if Scripture does not sanction the idea of a secret rapture, it must be a solemn responsibility to teach the Church to expect it. May the Spirit of God guide every believer into His truth in this momentous matter!

~ END OF ARTICLE ~
See also:
LEFT BEHIND BY THE JESUITS
THE TESTIMONY OF THE REFORMERS
and:
HISTORY OF THE JESUITS, Vol. 1, 1816
HISTORY OF THE JESUITS, Vol. 2, 1816
THE JESUITS, AS THEY WERE AND ARE, 1845
HISTORY OF THE JESUITS, 1854
MODERN JESUITISM, 1855
SECRET INSTRUCTIONS OF THE JESUITS, 1857
THE JESUITS; A COMPLETE HISTORY, 1885
THE JESUITS IN GREAT BRITAIN, 1903
THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH & THE PRIMACY OF ROME, 1910
FOURTEEN YEARS A JESUIT, Vol. 1, 1911
FOURTEEN YEARS A JESUIT, Vol. 2, 1911
THE JESUITS IN HISTORY, 1914

Scriptures Prove Secret Pre-tribulation Rapture is Anti-biblical!

“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.... Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24:21,22,29-31)
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (I Thessalonians 4:16,17)
“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” (Revelation 1:7)
“Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:25-27)
“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:28)
“Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)
“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44)
“Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:54)
“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Revelation 3:10)
“I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” (John 17:15)
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (I Corinthians 10:13)
“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)

“I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Revelation 1:9)
“Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” (James 5:10)
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” (II Timothy 3:12)
“And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.” (Luke 21:16)
“These are they which came out of great tribulation [you can't come out of something that you didn't go into], and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:14)
“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. ” (Revelation 12:17)
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Revelation 12:11)
“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (Revelation 13:7)
“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12).
“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” (Isaiah 48:10)
“And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.... He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.” (Daniel 3:13-27)
“Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions.... Then said Daniel.... My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me:” (Daniel 6:16-23)
“Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” (Daniel 12:10)

When Jesus' disciples asked him “what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” the first thing he told them was, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” He then preceded to give them a long list of things that were to transpire just before his second coming and the end of the world. Jesus said,
“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matt. 24:37-39).

“Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” (Luke 17:28-30).

What is the common denominator in these scripture passages? Secret Rapture proponents argue that the “ark” in Matthew 24:38 is symbolic of Christ as a vehicle by which Christians will be taken out of the world prior to the great tribulation thereby escaping the wrath of God upon the wicked. But this theory does not float (no pun intended). The obvious common denominator in these scriptures is that while both Noah and Lot escaped the destruction of the wicked neither of them was taken out of the world. The common denominator is that the wicked are going about their daily lives and the righteous are obeying the commandments of their Lord. Noah obeyed God and was kept safe through the great flood. Lot obeyed God and was kept safe during the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Noah and Lot were not secretly or otherwise “Raptured” out of the world. Jesus said, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” (John 17:15)

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not taken out of “the midst of the burning fiery furnace,” they were kept safe from the destructive force of the flames (Dan. 3:21,25,27). Daniel was not taken out of “the den of lions,” he was kept safe from “the lions’ mouths” (Dan. 6:16,22). Noah, and Lot, were not taken from the earth when the wrath of God fell upon the wicked. Daniel, and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not taken out of the midst of their tribulations and temptations and the fiery trials of their faith. Noah, and Lot, and Daniel, and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were all “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation” (I Pet. 1:5,10,11). The prophet Isaiah said, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.” (Is. 54:17). Jesus said, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matt. 24:13)

A very significant Bible passage concerning the second “coming of the Son of man” is also very revealing in that it warns us against belief in a secret coming of Christ: “Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.”(Matt. 24:25,26). The scriptures consistently describe the second coming of Christ as a very noisy and visible event:

“For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”(Matt. 24:27)
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. ”(I Thess. 4:16,17)
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”(I Cor. 15:51,52)
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”(Matt. 29-31)
“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”(Rev. 1:7)

The events described in the above scriptures make it clear that Christ's second coming is anything but secret. We are told in no uncertain terms that the coming of Christ will be “as the lightning”(Matt. 24:27), that “then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet....”(Matt. 24:30,31). Proponents of the secret rapture claim that Matthew 24:29-31 describes the second coming, which will include “a great sound of a trumpet”(Matt. 24:31). So how can 1st Corinthians 15, which speaks of “the last trump” when “the trumpet shall sound,” refer to the “Rapture” when there is yet another trumpet to be sounded, several years later, at the second coming? When Matthew 24 and 1st Corinthians 15 mentions “the last trump,” “a great sound of a trumpet,” and “as the lightning,” all are describing the same event – the second coming of Christ. There is nothing secret about lightning. And there is nothing secret about a great sound of a trumpet. To deduce from any of these Bible verses a secret coming of Christ is to deny the plain meaning of the scriptures.

Another set of scripture passages frequently used by secret rapture proponents is Matthew 24:37-41 and Luke 17:31-37, which says that “Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” But look closely at Matthew 24:39: it is not the wheat –the saints, God's elect, the church– that is “taken”; it is the tares –the wicked, unbelievers, counterfeit Christians– that are “taken” –they “knew not until the flood came, and took them all away;”(Matt. 24:39); “Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”(Matt. 13:30).

Titus 2:13 is often used to support a secret rapture. The argument is that the “blessed hope” is the rapture and the “glorious appearing” is the revelation. But this would postulate a second and a third coming, of which there is not the slightest intimation of such in all of scripture. What is the Christian's hope? Paul gives us the answer in his first letter to Timothy, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;”(I Tim. 1:1).

Another scripture used by the Secret Rapture proponents is Luke 21:36, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” They contend that this scripture means that the church will be Raptured out of the world prior to the “great tribulation” period. They argue that the phrase “to stand before the Son of man” is to be taken in a literal sense. But the same phraseology is used in Revelation 11:4 when speaking of the two witnesses “standing before the God of the earth.” Whether literal or not, neither Luke 21:36 nor any other Bible verse gives the slightest hint of a secret catching away of the saints. Second Thessalonians chapter two is, according to Secret Rapture proponents, further “proof” that the saints will be secretly caught away:

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
(II Thess. 2:3-12)

Let us examine the above text in the light of the scriptures. Verse 3 says, “that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first” (II Thess. 2:3). Writing to Timothy, the apostle Paul warned, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith [“a falling away”2Thess.2:3], giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats....” (I Tim. 4:1-3). Paul said, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29,30). And the apostle John warned, “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us,” exclaimed John, “that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” (I John 2:18,19). To “be made manifest” means to “be revealed.” Paul said that “the mystery of iniquity doth already work:” and “that he might be revealed in his time.” What is “the mystery of iniquity”? In the book of Revelation chapter 17 verse 5 the apostle John tells us,

“And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”
This mysterious mother of harlots is also called “the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” (Rev. 17:1,2). The Bible tells us that in the days of the apostles “the mystery of iniquity doth already work” and “even now are there many antichrists” (II Thess. 2:7, I John 2:18). The angel of Revelation chapter 17 said unto John,
“I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.” (Rev. 17:7,8)

Who else in scripture shares a similar attribute –“was, and is not, and yet is”? The Lord Jesus Christ –“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev. 1:8). Lucifer said, “I will be like the most High.” (Is. 14:14). This is the great counterfeit of Christ which John said “is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (I John 4:3). Paul said, “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.” (II Thess. 2:6). This is the great counterfeit Christian church that was to come to power not far in the distant future after the apostle Paul's death. We are told that this great power would come in the name of Jesus Christ “to draw away disciples” after “a falling away” from the truth (Acts 20:30; Mat. 24:5; II Thess. 2:3). The angel then tells John,

“The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman [harlot church] sitteth.” [in scripture hills are sometimes called mountains] (Rev. 17:9)

The Catholic Encyclopedia states: “It is within the city of Rome, called the city of seven hills, that the entire area of Vatican State proper is now confined.” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, Thomas Nelson, 1976, see “Rome”). The official Catholic Bible, the NASB, states, “The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits enthroned.” (Rev. 17:9) (See Defining Antichrist). The ecclesiastical-temporal union of church and state by the Roman emperor Constantine in the fourth century marked the beginning of the establishment of the mother of harlots, with whom the kings of the earth have committed spiritual fornication (Rev. 17:2). This religio-political power of Rome is the fulfillment of many Bible prophecies, being recognized by the remnant of faithful believers over the centuries as the four “beasts” and “little horn” of Daniel chapter 7, Paul's “man of sin” of 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2, and John's “beast” of Revelation chapters 13 and 17. But despite the abundance of scripture evidence and historical facts many of our pro-secret rapture friends are still not convinced.

Let us look again at 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2 and compare scripture with scripture: here we are told of “that man of sin” whom the apostle Paul said would “be revealed in his time.” (II Thess. 2:3,6). Secret Rapture proponents argue that these scriptures point to one single sinister devil-man who is to appear on the scene after the true church is caught away. They contend that the phrases “that man of sin be revealed” and “that Wicked be revealed” refers to a single individual person. But could not Paul be using these terms in the same plural sense as in “That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works”(II Tim. 3:17) and “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience”(Eph. 2:2) and “this is that spirit of antichrist”(I John 4:3)? In light of the scriptures presented here along with irrefutable historical corroborating evidence we have every reason to believe that the “man of sin” refers not to a single person, but to a long succession of Christian impostors.

It is both interesting and disturbing to see how that in recent years many once Bible believing churches have compromised the Word of God and fallen away from the sound doctrine of the scriptures back to the fables of the Roman Catholic church, as the prophecies of the scriptures are literally being fulfilled before our eyes (II Thess. 2:3; I Tim. 4:1-5; II Tim. 4:1-4). The “falling away” foretold in second Thessalonians chapter two began in the early days of the church and excelled in the fourth century with the establishing of the Pagan/Christian Roman Catholic church. The “falling away” refers to the falling away from true Apostolic Christianity, “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (II Thess. 2:3; Jude 1:3). The early Christians clearly understood this, as did the Protestant Christians of the Reformation. Read what Protestant churches taught for centuries in their official prayer books and in their public declarations of faith. Even the Episcopal church in America and the Anglican church in England exposed many of the “blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits” of the Roman Catholic church (see Book of Common Prayer, Article 31). As late as the middle of the twentieth century, circa 1953, the Episcopal church in America understood and revealed, at least in part, the doctrines of antichrist. (See A FALLING AWAY)

For more than three centuries, the vast majority of American pulpits reverberated the sound doctrine of the Holy Scriptures. Ministers of the gospel knew the true source of man's salvation as revealed in the Holy Bible. They also knew the source of man's depraved nature and his inclination to follow dangerous heresies. And this is why pastors of churches regularly preached against false doctrines and cunningly devised fables. It is only in the last two generations that many, if not most, American Christians have become ignorant of the history of the world, of the history of their nation, and of the history of the churches both at home and abroad.

The Lord said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). Herein lies one of the grave dangers of believing in a pre-tribulation rapture: if “Christians” believe they're going to be "raptured" from the earth before the great tribulation and the mark of the beast, they will have no reason to believe that it is in fact the mark of the beast and will readily accept it.

People often confuse sincerity with humility. We can be sincere, yet wrong. We can be sincere, yet deceived. True humility is to admit that our hearts are "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked", and then let the word of God correct us and be our final authority (I Pet. 5:5; Jer. 17:9; II Tim. 3:16). Sadly, many professing themselves to be Christians today are erring by failing to believe and trust the words of the Lord in the Holy Bible. And instead of trusting that the Lord preserved his pure words as promised, many modern-day Christians are putting their trust in the wisdom of man's inventions via Bible lexicons and such. “All Christians profess to believe that God speaks to them in the Bible. He speaks, and therefore He can make us hear and know His voice. But we fall far too readily into the notion that the book only speaks to us; and we find, when we think so, that our spirit does not hear. Then we go to commentaries; we try one after another; we know not how to ascertain whether this or that commentary may be most safely trusted; we go further and further from the Book which all the time we profess to consider divine, and we despair of its teaching, even whilst we seem to ourselves to be reverencing it.” (Bible Readings, Edinburgh, 1864, Preface, p. 6). “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.” (Prov. 26:12)

Dear fellowservants in Christ, we are “charge[d]” to “reprove, rebuke” and “exhort” with the “pure” "preserve[d]” “sound doctrine” of the inspired “holy scriptures”. We are living in the “perilous times” of “the last days” and the “falling away” from “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints”, when men are “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud”, “Having a form of godliness”, “when they will not endure sound doctrine”, but “shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables”: “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (Psa. 12:6,7; II Tim. 3:1-5,16; 4:1; II Thess. 2:3-11; Jude 1:3).

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord is calling us back to himself and to his pure preserved word, “saying, Come out of her, my people”: “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works”. The fables of the Roman church are ensnaring the souls of millions, while many once Bible believing Christians are being led astray and lulled into a state of complacency with the charms of “THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS” (II Tim. 4:1-4; Rev. 2:4,5; 17:1-6; 18:4).

ROME'S CHALLENGE - WHY DO PROTESTANTS KEEP SUNDAY?


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THE HOLY BIBLE, Printed in 1611
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(except for the rare 1611 typographical slips which were shortly thereafter fixed by King James translators themselves).

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THE HOLY BIBLE, Printed in 2010

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Question:
What do Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, Scientology, Free Masonry and Catholicism all have in common?

Answer:
They all teach that you cannot fully trust nor believe the Holy Bible; and that you must put your faith in their theologies, traditions, customs and rituals in order to please God and have everlasting life.



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