To Irving, the time had come for those spiritual manifestations to occur. Among the expected gifts was the renewal of speaking in tongues and of prophetic utterances motivated by the Spirit. He began to preach this new teaching and was dismissed from his Presbyterian denomination in for his pains. Irving has been called "the father of modern Pentecostalism. One of Irving's followers was Margaret Macdonald. This lady apparently started to receive "visions" during a serious illness. The "message" she received during one of these visions convinced her that Christ was going to appear in two stages at His Second Coming, and not a single occasion, as just about the entirety of the Christian world believed.
Christ according to Miss MacDonald would first return secretly for the church alone; true Christians would be quietly snatched away, then He would return again when every eye in the world would see Him. This visionary experience of Miss Macdonald is the source of the modern Rapture doctrine.
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Many people have thought that John Darby, the founder of the Plymouth Brethren, was the originator of the Rapture doctrine. But this is not now generally believed to be the case, although Darby, and Cyrus Scofield, certainly popularized the teaching. In the McDonald meetings, some people were apparently "speaking in tongues" and this is now thought to be the true origin of modern "Pentecostalism.
According to the 'rapture doctrine,' when Christ returns, all of the elect who have died will be raised and transformed into a glorious state, along with the living elect, and then be caught up to be with Christ. The key text referring to the rapture in their view is 1 Thessalonians , which states, "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord.
Terrible events are then believed by many though not all rapturists to affect the entire world in the absence of these saints. Further support for a 'rapture' is sometimes drawn from about two or three verses in Luke 'I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left,' but this is just to take Luke out of context. If one considers the entire context, from verse 28, it is plain that Jesus was discussing the suddeness of His return and the need to be ready; He was also using a picture of the fact that God alone chooses His people.
However, those who believe in a rapture are divided into no less than three groups: a. Pre-tribulation rapturists, b.
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Mid-tribulation rapturists, and c. Post-tribulation rapturists. Arguments between these three groups have been regular and sometimes quite vitriolic.
The Doctrine of The Rapture:
Odd indeed for Christians to have arguments over a 'doctrine' which it is very hard to establish from Scripture. The huge body of Christianity simply sees 1 Thessalonians as a reference to the resurrection of the dead - nobody dreamed up this 'rapture' idea until MacDonald's "visions," this later being picked up by Darby and Scofield. The doctrine has affected not only most of Pentecostalism but a large section of the American Baptist movement. Most Baptists - and virtually all other Protestants - outside of north America, however, reject this 'extra-return' theory and focus on one Second Coming, in power and glory 'every eye shall see Him' , and the resurrection of the dead as the great Christian hopes.
The emphasis on the catching up of the saints rather than their resurrection has destroyed the spiritual vitality of the Christian churches. The resurrection from the dead is one of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian Gospel—the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
The fifteenth chapter of the Book of First Corinthians is devoted to the topic of raising the bodies of the saints from the dead. In fact, the Scripture does not consider we have been brought to life until our body has come forth from the grave.
We shall have attained the fullness of victory when our mortal body has been made alive by the Spirit of God. This will take place at the coming of Christ. The resurrection from the dead, which is the final victory of the saint, must be attained. We attain to the resurrection by overcoming the world, the satanic lusts that dwell in our flesh, and our self-will. If we live in the appetites of the flesh we will die spiritually. If we, through the Holy Spirit of God, achieve victory over the world, sin, and self-will, we will attain to eternal life.
Eternal life, immortality, that which Adam and Eve forfeited, has been lost to mankind from the time of the fall. Death has been working in our flesh and spirit since our physical birth. God has given Christians the gift of eternal life, that is, He has brought us into His Presence with a view to immortalizing all that we are—spirit, soul, and body.
The gift of eternal life must be grasped.
Eternal life is a demanding gift. God has not given us the gift of life as one would make a present of money but as the opportunity to attain to life. There is a difference between these two concepts. If we Christians choose to employ the grace of God in order to live righteously, we attain to eternal life; we attain to the resurrection out from among the dead. If we do not choose to serve righteousness, do not learn through Christ to behave righteously, we will not attain to eternal life Romans, Chapter Six.
The return of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth and the raising of the bodies of the saints have been the hope of the godly from the days of the Apostles of the Lamb and ought to be the hope of the believers of our time. According to Dr.
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Ladd of Fuller Theological Seminary, the doctrine of a pre-tribulation translation of the believers came into existence in the nineteenth century. It was not known before this time George E. Eerdmans Publishing Co. The emphasis on the ascension of the saints rather than their resurrection has destroyed the spiritual vitality of the Christian churches.
The doctrine of the ascension, as it currently is presented, appeals to the unregenerate nature of man. The ascension is perceived as a means of escaping suffering, a doctrine with no scriptural support see, for example, the fourth chapter of First Peter for the scriptural attitude toward the suffering of the believers. The Old Testament speaks of the resurrection of the saints but never, to our knowledge, of their being caught up. Paul was not seeking to attain to the catching up Philippians Except for I Thessalonians , a passage written for the comfort of the bereaved believers but which is now regarded as a special, secret appearing of Christ, none of the epistles of the Apostles alludes to the ascension of the saints.
There is no indication in the fourth chapter of I Thessalonians, that Paul is referring to a flight to Heaven or a flight to escape suffering. These ideas have no basis in Scripture. The Epistles emphasize the resurrection but not the ascension.
The Book of Revelation emphasizes the return in Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and speaks directly of the first and second resurrections from the dead. The ascension of the witnessing saints is mentioned in the Book of Revelation. If the ascension of the saints had one-tenth the importance being assigned to it today it would be discussed in several passages of the New Testament, as is true of the doctrine of righteousness, for example.
The Book of Revelation, which is the definitive unveiling of the future, does not reveal a withdrawing of the believers to Paradise for the purpose of escaping suffering or escaping the Antichrist. It is the resurrection, not the ascension, that is the victory. Once we have been raised from the dead we have no need of being caught up to deliver us from suffering.
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