My Personal Prophetic Beliefs
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I saved my belief on the rapture for the last because I wanted to say a few things about it. The rapture is probably the most divisive prophetic issue in the church today. This is unfortunate because I don't think it's important enough to cause divisions among believers. Now, before you jump all over me, let me explain what I mean:
Personally, I firmly believe in a pre-trib rapture, but, being human, and just an amateur student of prophecy, I could be wrong. However, the timing of the rapture does not, and should not, in any way affect my belief or faith in Jesus Christ, nor should it affect yours. If you've become a Christian because someone told you about the pre-trib rapture and you just want to be saved from the coming tribulation, you've got your priorities wrong. Our focus should be on Christ and not on ourselves. If a person comes to Christ just to escape the tribulation, they are focusing on themselves and not on Christ. Consider this: If your faith is based on a pre-trib rapture, and you will not accept the possibility that you might be wrong; what will happen to your faith if you one day realize that the tribulation has begun and the rapture has not occurred? Will it affect your faith or belief in the Bible and Christ? If he answer is "yes," or even "I don't know," then you're not focused on Christ. Even those of us who believe in a pre-trib rapture must be prepared, and focused on Christ, just in case it turns out we are wrong, which, being only human, is always a possibility. No matter when the rapture occurs, our faith and our focus must be on Jesus Christ, and if we allow our beliefs about the rapture to cause divisions among us, then we are placing too much emphasis on the rapture, and not enough emphasis on Christ and our fellow members of His church.
Incidentally, (and remember, I believe in a pre-trib rapture) before you start telling me that the pre-trib rapture is the "blessed hope" that we are waiting on, let me say: No, it's not. Our blessed hope is the fact that Christ IS returning. Not WHEN he is returning. And no matter when the rapture occurs, the "blessed hope" of Christ's imminent return will always be our "blessed hope."
Now, this paragraph is for those of you who don't believe in the rapture because "the word rapture isn't found anywhere in the Bible." This is a very weak argument. Even though the actual word "rapture" is not in the Bible, the concept of the rapture is very clearly taught. If we look at 1Thessalonians 4:17 we see that ". . . we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds . . ." The Greek word used for "caught up" is harpazo. If we go to Acts 8:39 we see, ". . . the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more . . ." The Greek word used here for "caught away" is, again, harpazo. Philip was caught away (raptured) out of the eunuch's sight by the Spirit of the Lord when they came up out of the water after baptizing the eunuch. So we can see that even though the actual word "rapture" is not in the Bible, the concept of a catching away so that the world sees us no more is definitely Biblical.
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