The Rapture

Dr. David R. Reagan and panel on the show Christ in Prophecy answer questions concerning the Rapture.

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Christ in Prophecy Study Guide

Christ in Prophecy Study Guide Book
by Dr. David R. Reagan


Dr. Reagan: What is the Rapture and when is it most likely to occur? Will it include the Old Testament Saints? What about children? What about carnal Christians? For the answers to these and other questions concerning the Rapture, stay tuned.

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Part 1

Dr. Reagan: Greetings in the name of Jesus, our Blessed Hope, and welcome to Christ in Prophecy. I’m Dave Reagan, Senior Evangelist for Lamb & Lion Ministries, and I am delighted to have with me once more this week two experts on Bible prophecy. The first is my colleague Dennis Pollock, who is my associate here at Lamb & Lion Ministries. And the other is Don McGee, the Founder and Director of Crown and Sickle Ministries, located in Amite, Louisiana. Those of you have seen Don on our program before know that we fondly refer to him as our Ragin Cajun. Well, over the past four weeks, Dennis, Don and I have been responding to questions that have been sent to us by our viewers. Well fellas, this week we’re going to be considering one of the most controversial topics in all of Bible prophecy, and that is the Rapture. And we have quite a stack of questions that have been sent in by our viewers, and if we’re going to cover any of them, we’re going to have to get to them immediately. Are you guys ready to go and get us straightened out on this issue?

Dennis Pollock: Let’s go for it.

Dr. Reagan: OK fellows, our topic is the Rapture. Let’s go to our first question. “I can’t find the word rapture in the Bible. Where in the world does this word come from?” I hear that, I hear that question all the time.

Don McGee: Oh yeah, yeah.

Dennis Pollock: Well see, the problem is they’re not reading the Latin Bible. If they were reading the Vulgate, why they’d see it there. But in Latin, the word is seen in the First Thessalonians passage which is the classic Rapture passage, above all others, where it says, “The Lord will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, with the trumpet of God. The dead in Christ shall be raised, and we who alive and remain shall be caught up, caught up, snatched, the Greek word is “harpazo.”

Dr. Reagan: That’s 1 Thessalonians 4:16 & 17. Okay.

Dennis Pollock: And that’s where the word Rapture comes from. In Latin it is “rapturo” in Greek its “harpazo.” In most versions it’s “caught up, or snatched.” And it means, “To be violently taken from the earth.”

Dr. Reagan: In fact it’s used in other places in the Bible. Isn’t there even an example of a horizontal harpazo or Rapture?

Dennis Pollock: That’s right, when Philip was baptizing the Ethiopian eunuch, the Bible says that when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord “caught Philip away.” Same exact word, harpazo.

Dr. Reagan: But he was not taken from earth to Heaven; he was taken from one part of the Earth to another part of Earth. Yes.

Dennis Pollock: Which would be a nice way to travel by the way.

Dr. Reagan: But it’s a violent snatching away, or a quick snatching away, and it is there in the Latin Vulgate. You know, most people don’t realize that the only Bible that the Western World had for 1,500 years was the Latin Bible. And the word doesn’t have to be in English to be a Biblical word. The word is there in the Latin Bible. We’ve only had the King James for what, 400 years or something like that.

Don McGee: Yeah, Paul didn’t use the King James.

Dr. Reagan: Oh, he didn’t? That’s right. Okay.

Dennis Pollock: You’re going to shock some folks probably out there.

Dr. Reagan: So the word is a Biblical word.

Dennis Pollock: And the concept is definitely a Biblical concept, and if they don’t like using the word Rapture, I’ve got a great idea. They can just say, “I’m looking forward to the great I Thessalonians 4:16 & 17.” It’s a little easier to say Rapture, but if they want to say that.

Dr. Reagan: I think I’ll go with Rapture if you don’t mind. All right, number two: I have always been taught that there will be one future return of the Lord. Why do you believe the Rapture will be an event, separate and apart from the Second Coming? And you know fellas, I’ve found that people who know nothing about Bible prophecy, which is most Christians, usually respond in absolute amazement when you start teaching about the Rapture as being an event separate and apart from the Second Coming. They’ve always believed that there is just going to be one return of the Lord. So this question is, Why do you believe the Rapture will be an event separate and apart from the Second Coming?

Don McGee: I think the Scriptures are very clear about it, that there are going to be two different events because they are going to take place for two different purposes. The first is to take out Jesus’ Church, and the second is for Jesus to claim His Davidic throne. The first one is what we commonly call the Rapture, and it’s going to be something that the rest of the world is not going to see. It’s going to happen very quickly.

Dr. Reagan: Yes.

Don McGee: The Church will be taken out. And the second one is something that the entire World is going to witness, when Jesus comes back physically to this earth and assumes His place on the Throne of David in Jerusalem.

Dr. Reagan: OK. Dennis, did you have something to add to that?

Dennis Pollock: Well, you see the principle. It would be nice if God had just spelled these things out very plainly. You have to put scripture with scripture; you have to read some inferences. But you see the principle in, for example, the stories of Noah and Lot. In both cases you have a Godly remnant in a very wicked age. In both cases God is about to pour out His wrath and bring total destruction. And in both cases He decides to spare that godly remnant. In Noah’s case it’s through a boat; in Lot’s case it’s through escaping to the mountains. The Bible says, “We were not appointed to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The principle is, God delivers those who are His, who walk with Him by faith, before He pours out His wrath. The Tribulation is a pouring out of the wrath of God.

Dr. Reagan: One of the things that’s absolutely convinced me that there are going to be two appearances of the Lord in the future–the way I put it is, the Second Coming is in two stages. First the Rapture, and then the actual Second Coming, when the Lord returns to the earth. But the reason that I am firmly convinced that there are going to be two stages is because there’s only two detailed descriptions of the return of Jesus in the New Testament. One is in 1 Thessalonians 4; the other is in Revelation 19. And if you’ll take those two passages and compare them, you’ll see that they have nothing in common except they both focus on Jesus. In one, He is coming for His Church, the other He comes with His Church. One He comes to deliver people from wrath; the other He’s coming in wrath. One He’s coming as a Bridegroom; the other He’s coming as a King. One He’s coming as an act of grace; the other He’s coming in an act of wrath. Those are two separate events. They cannot be the same event.

Dennis Pollock: Yeah.

Dr. Reagan: So, I think the coming of the Lord is going to be in two stages: first the Rapture, then what we call the Second Coming.

Dennis Pollock: And you know, if you put the Rapture at the end of the Tribulation, and make it one and the same as the Second Coming, you have a real problem, and that is, you make it impossible to look for the return of Jesus today. You totally wipe out the hope of His coming at any moment.

Dr. Reagan: That’s right.

Dennis Pollock: And yet, the Bible emphasizes, probably more than any other single point that we are to watch for Him always, because we just don’t know when He’s coming.

Dr. Reagan: Well, that’s a very good point Dennis, because again, if you only believe in one future coming of the Lord at the end of the Tribulation, then the return of the Lord is not imminent, because there are so many things that have to happen. Like the rebuilding of the Temple, the Antichrist has to be revealed, seven years of Tribulation. I shouldn’t be looking for Jesus Christ; I should be looking for the antichrist. The Bible tells me to live, looking for Jesus Christ, and it tells me He can return any moment and the only way that can happen is if there is a Rapture.

Don McGee: He told the Thessalonians, Paul told the Church at Thessalonica that. He said, “You left paganism to become children of God to look for the appearing of the Savior.”

Dr. Reagan: Yes, and He also said in I Thessalonians 1:10, “You are waiting for Jesus Christ who is coming from Heaven to deliver you from the wrath that is to come.”

Dr. Reagan: OK, let’s go to question number three. How do you explain the absence of any Rapture in the book of Revelation?

Dennis Pollock: Well, I don’t think Revelation is about the Rapture. I think Revelation is about the Tribulation, about the Second Coming, about the glory of that Second Coming, about the judgments that will occur, and all of that. But it is not about the Rapture. You might as well say, “How do you explain the fact that Paul never referred to Mary being a virgin, Jesus being born of a virgin?” Well, God just didn’t see fit to include that. Paul had other things he had to say. The book of Revelation is not about the Rapture, but the Rapture is found in 1 Thessalonians, it’s found in 1 Corinthians. And there’s symbolism of the Rapture. A lot of people would say where John is caught up into Heaven in the fourth chapter, and so forth.

Dr. Reagan: Yes.

Dennis Pollock: But the clear spelling out of the Rapture just isn’t there, but it doesn’t have to be there.

Don McGee: That’s true. What you said is absolutely true, but the key to understanding Revelation is in 1:19 where he says, “Write the things which were, which are, and which shall be after these things.” And in the fourth chapter and the first verse he says to John, “Come up here and I will show you what must take place after these things.” What things? The things that are. And after the things that are, will come the things that will be in the future.

Dr. Reagan: Yes.

Don McGee: So this is–if you look at it like that, then you can see that if you were to divide it up, you would probably place the taking of the Church at chapter four and about verse one.

Dr. Reagan: Also, I think it’s inferred in the book of Revelation in that those first three chapters are focused on the Church – seven letters to seven Churches. I mean, Jesus is there to encourage those Churches who are in persecution. He’s there to say I am walking among you, I am concerned about you. I mean they’re really focused on the Church. Suddenly, there’s no more mention of the Church till you get to the end of the book of Revelation. There’s a mention of saints, but the saints would be those who are saved during the Tribulation itself. But the Church just disappears when you get to chapter four. Another inference of the Rapture occurring at that particular point in time. All right, how about this question: How do you explain the absence of any Rapture in Matthew 24?

Don McGee: Matthew 24 is called, commonly called the Olivet Discourse.

Dr. Reagan: Yes.

Don McGee: And it was spoken by a Jew, as a Jew, to Jews, regarding purely Jewish questions. And that Jew, of course, is Jesus.

Dr. Reagan: Say that again.

Don McGee: It was spoken by a Jew, as a Jew, to Jews, regarding purely Jewish questions.

Dr. Reagan: In fact the whole Gospel of Matthew is a Gospel to the Jews.

Don McGee: That’s right. So when you consider it in its context, you see that the Rapture is not part of what Jesus was trying to explain there. Those people didn’t know anything about a Rapture. He was talking to Jewish disciples who, the only thing they knew was about the return of Jesus to this earth, because they knew something about Zechariah.

Dr. Reagan: Yes.

Don McGee: So the Rapture wasn’t even in the conversation. It wasn’t even on the table.

Dr. Reagan: Yes. Okay. Dennis?

Dennis Pollock: Well, and I would say the hint of the Rapture is in the warnings that Jesus gives a couple of times. He says, “Watch, you don’t know what hour your Lord is coming. Be ready, the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” You can, Christians have applied that to the Rapture, and certainly I think ultimately it can apply to every Christian. We are to watch, but as you said, the Rapture itself is not here.

Dr. Reagan: But what’s interesting is that when you read the same speech recorded in Luke, there are things that are not mentioned in Matthew because he’s not speaking to a Jewish audience there; He’s speaking to us. And what does he say? “When all these things begin to take place, look up, be watchful, your redemption is drawing near. Pray that you can escape all these things that are coming.” A whole different type of emphasis there, but you’re right.

Don McGee: Two different authors.

Dr. Reagan: Yeah, there are four Gospels because they are addressed to four different audiences. And Matthew is the Gospel to the Jews, and that is not a concern here – is the Rapture. Right?

Don McGee: Right.

Dr. Reagan: OK. Let’s go to the fifth question: Will Old Testament saints be taken in the Rapture? Most people assume that everyone who has died in a faith relationship with God will be resurrected at the time of the Rapture and be taken to Heaven with Jesus. That’s Old Testament, New Testament, the whole thing. What about it?

Dennis Pollock: The Bible says the dead in Christ will rise first. It doesn’t say the Jews. It says the dead in Christ. So it would be from the Cross on. As far as the Scriptures tell us, the Day of Christ, the Rapture of the Church, the resurrection of the dead, all of that relates to believers in Jesus Christ.

Dr. Reagan: Anything to add to that Don?

Don McGee: Yeah, the question is: Will they be taken in the Rapture? The answer is no, so logically, when will they be taken? And that will be after that 70th week, that seven-year period just before the thousand years.

Dr. Reagan: And in Daniel chapter 12, Daniel says: “There’s going to be a time of distress, the Tribulation, such as has never occurred, to our nation, at that time. At that time, your people everywhere who are found written in the Book will be rescued.” That’s the remnant that will live to the end of the Tribulation, and will put their faith in Yeshua. And it says, “At that time, those who sleep in the dust of the ground will be resurrected to everlasting life.” Well he’s speaking here of Old Testament Saints. That’s who this is directed to. That’s what he’s talking about. So the Old Testament Saints are going to be resurrected at the end of the Tribulation. Actually, the resurrection there is, the first resurrection is taking place in three stages. Jesus is the First Fruits. The Church at the time of the Rapture will be the general harvest. And then at the end of the Tribulation will be the gleanings, which will be the Tribulation Martyrs and the Old Testament Saints. It follows the concept of the harvest in the Old Testament.

Part 2

Dr. Reagan: Well fellas, it’s time for us to get back to questions about the Rapture that our viewers have sent in. All right, let’s go to question number six. And this is one that I have heard over and over and over at every prophecy conference I have ever conducted. Usually asked by a woman who is about seven or eight months pregnant, and that is: Will children be taken in the Rapture?

Dennis Pollock: Dave, I want to read a verse from I Corinthians. Paul is dealing with believers that are married to unbelievers, and he says in 1 Corinthians 7:14 that the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, who would be a believer, or if the unbelieving wife is married to a believing husband, the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband. He says, “Otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.” That’s a tremendous passage. And it declares that God has a special sanctifying work that goes on in the lives of children where at least one parent is a believer. I’m convinced that the children of believers, if they haven’t reached the age of accountability, are going to be taken in the Rapture. Because of this and a couple of other verses I could mention, they belong to Christ in that covenant relationship until they reach that certain age.

Dr. Reagan: You know it says there that the children are holy. What holy means literally is “set apart.”

Dennis Pollock: Set apart, sanctified.

Dr. Reagan: And let me read that same verse. I’m glad you mentioned that verse. Now let me read that same verse out of the New Living translation, which is sort of a paraphrase. It says, “For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage. And the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise your children would not have a Godly influence, but now they are set apart.”

Dennis Pollock: Set apart.

Dr. Reagan: Yeah, it’s a good point. What else would you say?

Don McGee: Jesus said too, regarding the children, when the disciples were trying to keep the kids away from him when He was blessing them, He said, “You guys need to stop, you need to let those children come to me.” This is McGee’s translation. “You need to let those children come to Me so that I can touch them, bless them, hug them.” That kind of thing, show love to them. He said, “Because this is what the kingdom of Heaven is all about.” Now there’s a couple of different applications for that, but one in particular I think ties in with this question: Will children be taken in the Rapture? I think Jesus, by principle, we find taught by principle, will indeed take these children with Him.

Dennis Pollock: Yeah. One more verse. Jesus said to the people of His day, when He was in a dispute with some of them. He said, “If he were blind he would have no sin.” And the implication is, or really it’s more than an implication. He was saying that if you are in such a moral state that you cannot discern right from wrong, God does not hold you accountable. And I think that’s why, not only will children be taken in the Rapture, that is, those that haven’t reached the age of accountability. But if a small child such as that were to die before the Rapture, even if he hadn’t been born again, I believe he would go to Heaven because he was blind, he wasn’t able to discern right from wrong at that time.

Don McGee: The same applies to a person that’s mentally lacking and just cannot understand or comprehend.

Dennis Pollock: Right.

Dr. Reagan: You know there is another principle too and that is that we have this question answered in a symbolic way in that Noah and all his family were saved by the Lord. And Lot and all his family were taken out. This included the children as well. OK, let’s go to another question. Number seven: Will the angel’s shout, and the blowing of the trumpet be heard by all the world, or only by believers? I don’t know why this question is so important to some people, but they just always try to nail me with this question.

Don McGee: I don’t understand either, but we can certainly answer it. I believe that we have it taught very clearly. This is something that believers are going to hear. The rest of the world is not going to hear it.

Dr. Reagan: Why do you think that?

Don McGee: Because it’s going to be a family affair. It’s the dead in Christ that’s going to be raised, and we could really, really focus on that. This is something that Jesus is going to do for those that are part of His Bride. Only believers are going to be listening for it.

Dr. Reagan: We have something similar to that in the experience Paul had on the road to Damascus.

Don McGee: That’s right.

Dr. Reagan: Where he heard precisely what the Lord said, and everybody else just sort of heard a muffled sound. They didn’t really hear what the Lord said.

Don McGee: If a person is not listening for it, then it will be gone.

Dennis Pollock: When God spoke to Jesus, and the people around said, “Well, I think it was thunder.” They could not perceive what it was God had said.

Dr. Reagan: That’s right.

Dennis Pollock: So they may hear something, but probably wouldn’t know what it was.

Dr. Reagan: You know I often hear this term, the secret Rapture. I’ve heard this over and over, and people are always asking me if I believe in a secret Rapture. I’ve really never figured out exactly where that term came from, but it may have to do with the idea that only believers will hear the blowing of the trumpet and the call of the archangel, which is probably going to be, “The Bridegroom cometh.” That may be it, but certainly the Rapture is not going to be any secret when it takes place. The whole world is going to be devastated.

Don McGee: They’ll know it by the evidence of it, not necessarily because of a sound they’re going to hear.

Dr. Reagan: There you go.

Dennis Pollock: I think some get mixed up when they read a verse such as, “Every eye will see Him.” And they say, “Well that means we’re all going to see Him. What are you talking about – a secret Rapture?” Well, that’s the Second Coming. Everybody will see Him at that point.

Dr. Reagan: Yes, they will see Him. OK, let’s go to another question and that is number eight. This is simple and to the point: What is the purpose of the Rapture?

Dennis Pollock: Dave, we’re going to lose our “G” rating on this one.

Dr. Reagan: Uh, oh.

Dennis Pollock: Because I have to use a dirty word.

Dr. Reagan: Hang on buddy. Hang on, be careful. You got your seatbelt on?

Dennis Pollock: The word is “escape.” And that’s a dirty word to so many folks. I mean we get accused constantly of being an escapist.

Dr. Reagan: Oh, you’re not spiritual if you want to be an escapist.

Dennis Pollock: But Jesus said, “Pray always that you may be accounted worth to escape all these things that will come to pass, and stand before the Son of Man.” And God is pulling us out to be with Him so that we will not be present when He pours out His wrath upon an ungodly World. It’s just as simple as that.

Don McGee: Can we take that just a step farther though? The purpose of the Rapture is to remove His Church. Certainly He wants to take the Church to be with Himself. But He wants to remove it in order that He can deal with His special chosen people in a very special way. It’s to bring them to their knees to accept Him, Jesus, as their Messiah. You can go to Zechariah chapter 12:10 and see that.

Dr. Reagan: Yes.

Dennis Pollock: So He’s taking the Church out, but His work is just getting started when He takes the Church out, because He can start dealing directly with those who neglected Him, who rejected Him.

Dr. Reagan: That’s right.

Don McGee: The Jewish people.

Dr. Reagan: Yes. So there’s really no purpose for the Church during the Tribulation. The Church, unless, let me throw this at you. I have heard more and more preachers recently saying, “But the Church must go through the Tribulation because the Church is full of sin, full of rebellion against God, full of apostasy, and heresy, and lukewarm, and carnal Christians. And so what is going to happen is God is going to let the Church go through the Tribulation so the Church will be purified and be ready to be taken to Heaven.”

Don McGee: Tribulation doesn’t purify anything. That’s not it at all. What purifies us is the blood of Jesus Christ.

Dr. Reagan: Amen brother.

Don McGee: And we respond to that–is what makes us ready. It’s our response to that.

Dennis Pollock: Well, a lot of people have some strange ideas about the Church and the whole idea of purification. They talk about, “Well, the Bible says we are going to be without spot or blemish, so what that means is every Christian will be perfect by the time Christ comes.” Well, I’d like to see that, but it just ain’t going to happen my friends, other than through the perfection of Jesus Christ.

Dr. Reagan: And you know, I had a preacher one time really pushing me on this point about how we’ve got to go through the Tribulation to be cleansed. And finally I just said, I made the point about “if the blood of Jesus is not sufficient to cleanse us, nothing is.” But I made another point too and that is: when you start arguing that the Church has to go through the Tribulation to be purified, what you’re doing is creating a Protestant Purgatory where you’re saying that, “Yeah, we’ve got to suffer and be beaten and suffer terribly in order for our sins to be forgiven. This is not a Biblical concept. And also, I had a fellow one time say, “You know the whole thing is just absolutely ridiculous.” He says, “This is the Bridegroom coming for His Bride. He’s not going to beat her up for seven years and then come for her. Who wants a Bridegroom like that?”

Don McGee: Probably the majority of the Church is in Heaven with Him today. Why would the remnant go through it?

Dr. Reagan: OK, let’s go to question number nine. Fellas I’m really amazed at how many questions you all have been able to handle in this program. Let’s go to question number nine: When do you believe the Rapture is most likely to occur? Most controversial question concerning the Rapture. This is the last one we’re going to be able to consider. Will it be at the beginning of the Tribulation, the middle of the Tribulation, or near the end of the Tribulation? Or at the end, will it be one event with the Second Coming?

Don McGee: It is imminent, which means that it could happen before this program is over. And that’s part of our hope.”

Dr. Reagan: Amen, amen.

Dennis Pollock: We’ve talked about this already on the program, but it is an escape, it is God delivering us from the wrath to come, it is, as Don said, if it wasn’t imminent, if it wasn’t at the beginning of the Rapture, then we could almost figure out to the day when the Rapture would occur. We could figure out seven years, we could look at the Antichrist making a treaty with Israel and so forth. And we could say He’s coming then. But if He comes today, there’s going to be a whole lot of folks surprised.

Dr. Reagan: I think we have to make one point though very clear. And that is that the reason there is so much disagreement about the timing of the Rapture is because the Bible never says, “The Rapture will occur at the beginning of the Tribulation.” Or, “The Rapture will occur at the middle of the Tribulation. Or the Rapture is going to occur near the end.” It just doesn’t say that. What you have to do is read a lot of scripture. You have to do something else. It’s an X-rated word. You have to study. And as you study–What I’ve often said to people is that I believe that the best inference of the Bible is that the Tribulation is going to occur, that the Rapture is going to occur before the Tribulation begins. And I base that on a lot of things, but one of them certainly is imminence. The Bible says the coming of the Lord is imminent. The only way the coming of the Lord is imminent is if the Rapture can occur at any moment.

Dennis Pollock: Yeah, and we don’t want to be dogmatic about it. I would rather see someone who is excited about the Lord’s coming and maybe a little off in terms of their idea of when than someone who’s got the right theology but doesn’t have one little bit of interest in it.

Dr. Reagan: Oh, no concern at all.

Dennis Pollock: You know, some people act like, “Well if you don’t believe the Rapture is before the Tribulation, you might as well just be a pagan.” Well, no, it’s not that bad.

Dr. Reagan: Don, do you have any final parting comments about the Rapture, brother?

Don McGee: Uh, I’m just ready.

Dr. Reagan: I tell you, I want to end this by saying that I was on a program with a wonderful man of God a number of years ago in Orlando, Florida, and he had been asked, he was 85 years old, and he had been asked to speak on the signs of the coming of the Lord. And he said, “Folks when I started preaching 60 years ago there weren’t enough signs to mention.” He said, “You had to scratch around like a chicken to find a sign.” He said, “Today there are so many signs of the Lord’s coming, you’d have to be spiritually dead not to see them. They’re everywhere.” He said, “I am no longer looking for signs, I am listening for sounds.” And I said, “Amen, Maranatha, come quickly Lord Jesus.


Dr. Reagan: I want to thank you for tuning in this week. I hope the program has been a blessing to you and I hope you’ll be back with us next week when we will discuss questions concerning the Jews in prophecy. Questions like: “Has God washed His hands of the Jewish people? Has the Church replaced Israel? And what does Romans 11:26 mean when it says that all Israel will be saved?” Until then, this is Dave Reagan speaking for Lamb and Lion Ministries, saying, “Look up, be watchful, for our redemption is drawing near.”

End of Program

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