THE RAPTURE QUESTION

by: S.R. Shearer

There are a lot of people today who - while supporting us on a great deal of what we teach - believe that we err insofar as our belief that the so-called "Secret Rapture of the Church" (that many otherwise sound Bible teachers preach) is wrong. Many of those who criticize us with regard to this issue, DO SO NOT SO MUCH ON THE BASIS OF THE WORD OF GOD per se, BUT RATHER BECAUSE THEY THINK THAT BY DOING SO, THEY ARE DEFENDING THE CHURCH AGAINST THE "DOMINIONIST" APOSTASY - an apostasy that groups like "Latter Rain," "the Manifest Sons of God," "the Vineyards," "Restoration," etc. are polluting the church with. Dominionism is a modern-day form of post-millennialism that posits the notion that the church must first "conquer the earth for Christ" before Jesus can return to "rule and reign." For example, in an otherwise well thought-out exposition against "Latter Rain" and dominionist teachings, Pastor Bill Randles of Believers in Grace Fellowship in Marion, Iowa says:

"The Latter Rain is another similarly misapplied Scripture (the dominionists use to promote themselves with), which has taken on a life of its own. Hos. 6:3, Joel 12:23, and Jas. 5:7 all speak of the 'Latter Rain' which has traditionally been understood to be an allegorical reference to the agricultural calendar of Israel. The former rain, which was vital to the preparation for planting, corresponds to the giving of the Law of Moses, which is vital to the preparation of the heart for the Gospel. The latter rain came at the end of the growing season, and was vital to perfect the crop for harvest. This corresponds to the giving of the Spirit.

"But Branham (and other 'Latter Rain' teachers) promoted a different concept of the Latter Rain ... their Latter Rain was yet to come, and their idea of the former rain was Pentecost. The Latter Rain was presented as the coming 'Outpouring' of the Spirit, greater than Pentecost or any other outpouring ever known.

"The gradual effect of this 'fresh word' was to supplant the hope of many, from the IMMINENT return of Jesus, to a hope for the 'Great Last Days Revival' that would break out and usher the church into her greatest time of glory and power ever known.!

"THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS THE RAPTURE HAS COME UNDER SUCH ATTACK AND RIDICULE, AS THE 'HELICOPTER ESCAPE' OF THOSE WHO 'DON'T WANT TO TAKE THEIR RIGHTFUL PLACE AS OVERCOMERS' AND 'TAKE THE WORLD FOR JESUS'. IN FACT, THE TEACHING HAS DEVELOPED TO THE POINT THAT MANY BELIEVE THAT JESUS CAN'T COME BACK YET, EVEN IF HE WANTED TO, FOR WE, THE CHURCH, HAVE YET TO 'RESTORE ALL THINGS'. Where did this idea come from? From another badly distorted Scripture, Acts 3:21.

Randles continues:

"The context for this Scripture is the temple, where Peter is preaching to the Jewish crowds who witnessed the healing of the man at the gate Beautiful. Peter boldly explains that they had rejected and slain the One Whom God sent to them - the only One Who could fulfill their national hopes and longings, i.e., the restoration of all things, the throne of David, the kingdom to Israel, the city of Jerusalem as the Joy of the whole earth, and the Jews as the priestly nation.

"Failing to recognize Him, God had vindicated the One they condemned, and He (i.e., Jesus) was now in Heaven, offering the forgiveness of sins to all who believe. He will come again at the time of the restoration of all things - this being in the hand of the Father. It has always been understood that Jesus Himself is the One Who would do the restoring.

"Like the other verses, this one has received a novel interpretation of late. The new view is that Jesus can't come back, for He is 'held in Heaven' until we, the Great Last-Days Church, get busy and 'restore all things' ..."

Randles, of course, is right insofar as the apostate teachings of the new dominionists are concerned - i.e., that Christ is dependent on the church to "restore all things" before He can return to "rule and reign." That's to make God's moving on the earth dependent on man, and Randles thinks that the "Secret Rapture Theory of the Church" somehow counters this false teaching. The "Secret Rapture Theory" posits the proposition that before the so-called "tribulation period," Christ will "catch away" His church to preserve it from the terror, suffering and hardship of this period:

"His appearance in the clouds will be veiled to the human eye and NO ONE WILL SEE HIM. He will slip in, and slip out, move in to get His jewels and slip out as under the cover of night." (Roberts, How to be Personally Prepared for the Second Coming of Christ (pg. 341).

Randles, however, is very wrong in thinking that he is defending "sound doctrine" by linking his defense of "sound doctrine" to the "Secret Rapture Theory of the church" - what dominionists contemptuously deride as Christianity's 'HELICOPTER ESCAPE' hypothesis. The fact is, the dominionists are right on this one - the "Secret Rapture Theory of the Church" is shot so full of holes that it simply cannot be defended on any rational basis, and those who attempt to do so only bring ridicule on themselves and the theological positions they are attempting to defend. But while the dominionists are right in ridiculing the "Secret Rapture Theory of the Church," they are wrong - very wrong - in thinking that in ridiculing it, they are thereby upholding their erroneous doctrine that Jesus can't come back until the church paves the way for Him by "conquering the earth" - in other words, by taking "DOMINION."

THERE ARE OTHER PURPOSES OF GOD AT WORK HERE - PURPOSES WHICH ARE NOT THAT HARD TO DISCERN FOR THOSE WHO HAVE "EYES TO SEE, AND EARS TO HEAR" (Matt. 13:16, Mark 8:18). To discern these purposes, we urge you to read the following chapters in the ANTIPAS PAPERS:

BUT PRIOR TO ALL THIS, WE IMPLORE YOU TO READ THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL TAKEN FROM CHAPTER VII OF THE NEW ANTIPAS PAPERS, "THE GREAT ESCAPE: MISCONCEPTIONS CONCERNING THE RAPTURE." You need to understand in your own mind that the "Secret Rapture Theory of the Church" FAILS ON ITS OWN MERITS. Don't take our word for it. Study the matter for yourself. Be convinced in your own mind. Be like the Berean brethren who - when they heard Paul speak, searched the Scriptures for themselves to see whether what Paul was saying was true or not:

"These (i.e., the Berean brethren) were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." (Acts 17:11)

---- VERY IMPORTANT ----

Now we are not talking here about things of little or no real consequence - things that only academics should be concerned with. There is much to be troubled about here, especially insofar as it impacts matters this ministry habitually deals with - for instance, the constriction of civil liberties, the "War on Terrorism," President Bush's connection to the Promise Keepers movement and Opus Dei, John Ashcroft's connection to the same two groups, what the United States is doing in Columbia and the Middle East, the nature and form of America's New World Order system, etc. All these and much more besides are things that will soon impact all of our lives, and we must be prepared to face the consequences. If we persist in believing in a "Secret Rapture of the Church" - i.e., that we will "escape" all these things; that Christ's, "... appearance in the clouds will be veiled to the human eye and NO ONE WILL SEE HIM that He will slip in, and slip out, move in to get His jewels and slip out as under the cover of night" - we will not be prepared for what is about to take place, and the testimony that we must give to an unbelieving world will be damaged to the degree that it has been tainted with this erroneous and silly theory.

Listen brothers and sisters; listen to me carefully here: we are about to be called "on the carpet" by people who - while they claim to be Christians, and who say they are acting in His name - have allied themselves with the elites of this world in a war against the earth's poor and dispossessed, and if we find ourselves on the wrong side of this struggle for any reason, there will be a price to be paid. The Bible says:

"For WE MUST ALL APPEAR BEFORE THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

"Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences." (2 Cor. 5:10-11)

I tell you the truth; I somberly and very earnestly warn you, you had better get ready, because the Bible says:

"But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to (church) councils; and in the ... (churches) ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them." (Mark 13:9)

You do yourself no service by thinking you will escape all these things because you are going to be "raptured" out of this earth prior to these great tribulations. Again I say, you'd better get ready! The Bible says:

"SEEK YE THE LORD WHILE HE MAY (YET) BE FOUND, call ye upon him while he is near:" (Is. 55:6)

God bless you all!

S.R. Shearer
Antipas Ministries

We need your help to spread the word concerning Antipas Ministries and the eschatological viewpoint it represents; WE NEED YOUR HELP BECAUSE WE DO NOT "LINK" WITH OTHER SO-CALLED "CHRISTIAN" WEBSITES which are, for the most part, "in the tank" insofar as their loyalty to the United States is concerned - a loyalty that has made them partners in the BLOODY trail the American military has left in its TERROR-RIDDEN rampage throughout the world, as well as making them partners in the abject poverty that American corporations have imposed on the peoples and nations the American military machine has ravaged - A BLOODY, TERROR-RIDDEN RAMPAGE THAT HAS TO A LARGE DEGREE BEEN CARRIED OUT IN THE NAME OF THE "PRINCE OF PEACE." [Please see our articles, "The Third World as a Model for the New World Order," Inside the American New World Order System" and "The American Empire: The Corporate / Pentagon / CIA / Missionary Archipelago."]

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