One morning I was reading the Bible, precisely 2 Thessalonians 2, when I suddenly began to question the pre-tribulation rapture teaching I had always embraced. For the first time, I saw something in that passage that my firmly held beliefs have always blinded me to.
It was a bit unsettling (it always is, when you begin to discover you have believed a lie for such a long time).
Further study on the subject caused me to change camps and come to a position where I believe there is no rapture of the church before the visible second coming of the Lord. I now believe the dead saints are resurrected, and together with the changed living saints, are caught up to meet the Lord in the air at His coming.
My intention in this post is not to write on the subject of the rapture. Paul Benson has done a wonderful job on exposing the false rapture teaching and the dangers of believing lies in general. I highly recommend his book, A Bucket Full of Holes, to be freely downloaded from the site.
What I want to highlight here is the reason why professing Christians believe what they believe. The Pre-tribulation rapture continues to be the firmly held belief among Christians, though it is very lacking in Biblical backing. Why? I believe the reasons for its wide acceptance can be generalized to other doctrines, be they truth or falsehood.
It is popular
Popular teachings usually pass for truth. The rationale is “if it were not true, not so many people would have believed it”.
But that is farther from the truth. I have heard it said that in every false teaching, there’s an aspect that is appealing to the flesh, to self. You can then understand how a false teaching could become very popular. Why? For the simple fact that people love it and want it so.
Who doesn’t want to leave in the first train before the monster comes to town? Doesn’t it feel good to know you can confess Jesus Christ as Savior and continue to live like the devil, and God would just be madly in love with you?
Or how about believing that the devil would finally be saved alongside those that lived for him here and there is no hell?
The appeal to the flesh contributes easily to the popularity of a teaching, but then, popularity or wide acceptance of a teaching doesn’t make it truth if it is not backed by Scriptures.
It is an established teaching
It is now proven that the church has always believed in a ‘catching away’ of believers at the Second Coming of the Lord, until the nineteenth century when the pre-tribulation rapture was introduced into the Body of Christ and gained popularity. As such many Christians today get born-again and meet this belief as an established teaching in the Church.
In fact, I believed in a secret rapture before I believed in Jesus. Before I became a genuine Christian, I knew that should that secret event happen, I must stand strong and refuse to cave in to the demands of the antichrist, so that I could finally be saved.
It was an established teaching before I became born-again.
So when you come into the Body of Christ, and meet a popular established teaching, it is hard to not believe it. You would read the Bible and only see it through the lens of the established teaching. But when the scales begin to fall, you begin looking for support for the established teaching, but you find none.
As believers we need to let Scriptures speak for themselves. We need to search God’s word to confirm what we are being taught.
My denomination, my pastor, Apostle, Prophet So-and-so teaches it
We live in a day and age where many believe preachers’ word than God’s. once their hearts are captured by man, they fail to continue heeding the biblical warning that says to prove all things, to test the spirits.
It therefore is natural to hold unto a teaching simply because that’s what our denomination teaches; that what my spiritual father teaches; that’s what the respectable so-and-so teaches.
There are sincere Bible teachers I respect who teach the pre-tribulation rapture (maybe because that’s also what they were taught in church or Bible School), but I refuse to believe it simply because they teach it. The authority of persons does not change a lie into truth. Man is fallible, God is not.
That is the more reason why we need to search Scriptures, and not only depend on another person telling us what God’s Word says. If they are deceived, if they are ignorant, we too become ignorantly deceived. And that kind of deception is not excusable from Scriptures. We must search the Bible to confirm or disprove what we are being taught.
Our denomination or church is not the final authority. While we may belong to denominations or churches, the Bible must be our standard, not our denominational dogma.
Denominational dogmas are only truth as long as they align with Scriptures.
The alternative is horrible
This aligns with the saying that in every false teaching is an appeal to the flesh. The false teaching offers more good-feelings and hope than the truth presented in Scriptures. When coupled with a man’s perception of God’s love, the falsehood is embraced and taught as truth.
As such, false teachings are accepted while truth in suppressed, based entirely on human feelings and logic.
It is terrible to accept the church will go through the great tribulation. It is terrible to believe in a literal hell. It doesn’t feel totally good to believe holiness must be pursued in the life of believer as evidence of salvation.
No matter how well we may wish for the alternative not to be true, God’s Word stands firm. Man’s lies can never become divine truth.
God revealed it to me (or my pastor, prophet, apostle) in a vision
God speaks in visions and dreams, but He doesn’t contradict His written word.
When opposing sides of a teaching both have visions and revelations, which of them is truly hearing from God?
I have heard and read testimonies from both sides of the tribulation issue of how “God revealed to me lalalalalal….”How can we tell who is right and who is wrong? Through the written word of God. Test the spirits, the Bible says.
We are warned not to base our beliefs on visions (Colossians 2:18). Therefore, a vision or a dream is insignificant in establishing truth and dogma, especially when Scriptures have clearly shown what is true.
God’s Word says so
This is the ideal. We need to base our beliefs on what God says. If we can’t prove it from the Bible, either through a direct command, admonition or through a principle, we need to question that teaching, scrutinize it and reject it if there’s no biblical backing.
It is necessary to let God’s Word speak for itself. We must be careful about reading our ideas, hopes and beliefs into God’s Word. False teachings and false teachers have scriptural quotations, but which are usually twisted or taken out of context to say what the reader or teacher wants them to say.
I have used the example of the pre-tribulation rapture, but these points can apply to any teaching. The change made me realize that sometimes we believe a teaching not based on what God says, but because of different reasons. While we may still arrive at believing the truth with the first five points, it is dangerous holding unto beliefs without proper biblical scrutiny.
May we take every teaching up to the exposing light of God’s Word. May we learn to ask “what does the Bible really say?” May we learn to read and study the Bible without our denominational, sensual or wishful thinking lenses. Then we would be free and able to let God instruct us.
I will be doing another post about Fears Provoked by Debunking the Rapture Teaching. This is to address the issue of some who think the imminence of the rapture can be used to instill fear and the need for holy living in believers.
Several false teachings are causing havoc to the Christian world. There is widespread deception, lack of discernment and laziness in searching the Scriptures. We cannot dare continue to hold unto beliefs without having them backed by Scriptures. We shall not be inexcusable before God if we fail to study the Word to see what He, not man, teaches. He has given us warnings about false teachers. That is to call us to watchfulness.