The Secret Rapture Theory
The teaching of a secret coming of Christ is known as the Secret Rapture and it is believed almost universally by professing Christianity as a biblical fact. Although there are many variations of the Secret Rapture teaching, most who believe this teaching believe that Christ will return twice:
Christ's First Return
- He will secretly come to gather the saints to protect them from the great tribulation.
- He will return around the middle of the tribulation, or at its end, seven years later.
Christ's Second Return
- He will return to destroy the Antichrist and begin his reign on earth.
- He will return to totally destroy the earth and take remaining believers to heaven.
EMANUAL LACUNA'S BOOK
The beginnings of the Secret Rapture theory seems to have come from a book by Emanual Lacuna who had become a Chilean Jesuit in 1747. When the Jesuits were expelled from Chile, Lacuna settled north of Italy where he devoted the remainder of his years to writing 'The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty' in which he speculated that Christ will come twice: once for his saints and again with his saints. He completed his book in 1790 and presented it under the pen-name of Ben-Ezra to avoid exposure, which was wise, because his book was placed in the Index of Forbidden Books by Rome in 1824.
Although the teaching of a pre-tribulation secret rapture of the saints is not found in Lacuna's book, he had actually stumbled onto a Biblical truth, and his speculation seems to have been the catalyst for the doctrine of the Secret Rapture.
THE YEAR 1830
There does not seem to be any literature referring to a secret coming of Christ until after 1830 when many individuals began to come forth with the concept of a secret coming. Among those who taught this concept were the Anglican Curate J.N. Darby, Newton, George V. Wigram, Andrew Jukes, and J.P. Tregelles.
THE BIBLICAL FACTS OF CHRIST'S RETURN
The biblical facts clearly show the following two returns of Christ:
Christ's First Return
He will openly return to gather the saints three and a half days after the death of the Two Witnesses. See Matt.24:23-51; Rev.11:7-13.
Christ's Second Return
He will openly return with the saints and his heavenly hosts to destroy the governmental and religious system of the Antichrist and False Prophet and establish the Kingdom of God on the earth. See Jude 14-15; Rev.19:11-15; Rev.11:15.
CHRIST TO RETURN OPENLY TWICE
Throughout the Bible, there are many references to God coming to earth to reward the saints and establish his government upon the earth in order to bring peace and prosperity to humanity. Most Bible scholars will agree that God says he will indeed come to earth to establish his government. The problem is not with what these references say, it is with the various beliefs of when and how this will happen.
A close review of each reference that details the presentation of rewards given to the Sovereign Father's elect children and the establishment of his Kingdom on the earth shows two distinct returns of Christ. Christ's first return involves gathering the saints for their rewards and change into immortal spirit-beings. During his second return a short time later, he comes to conquer the earth and establish his heavenly Father's government and worship system which will rule the earth from Jerusalem.
Jesus to Come in Clouds
When the high priest Caiaphas asked Jesus to tell him whether or not he was the Messiah, he did not expect the answer he received:
"The high priest said to him, I adjure you by the living God, that you tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus said to him, You said it. I tell you more. From this time you shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of the heavens. Then the high priest tore his garments, saying, he has blasphemed! Why do we have any more need of witnesses? Behold, now you have heard his blasphemy" (Matt.26:63-65 Para.).
Jesus told the high priest that the next time he sees him, he will be on his throne next to the Father, and when he returns, it will be in the clouds.
After Jesus' meeting with his disciples and his disappearance into the heavens two angels told them essentially the same thing that Jesus had told Caiaphas about the events surrounding his return:
"While they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:9-11 KJV). See also Matt.24:30.
The Creator God and Clouds
The biblical record tells us that when the Creator God appeared in his glorified form on Mount Sinai that he appeared in a thick cloud and that there was the sound of a trumpet along with lightning, thundering, and smoke rising up from the mountain. The following are a few of the many biblical references which speak of a spirit-being in his glorified form appearing in clouds:
"And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud,. . ." (Ex.13:21 KJV). See also Ex.16:10; 19:9;16; 24:16; 34:5.
"And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spoke to him,. . ." (Num.11:25 KJV).
"And I looked, and behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire enfolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire" (Ezk.1:4 KJV).
"I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven,. . ." (Dan.7:13 KJV). See also Psa.104:3; Psa.18:7-15; Rev.1:7;14:14.
CHRIST RETURNS TO GATHER THE ELECT
When Jesus enters the earth's atmosphere in his glorified form, the elements will begin to disintegrate under the power of his presence as happened when the Creator God in his glorified presence descended on Mount Sinai. As Christ enters earth's atmosphere, the air will become supercharged with electricity, lightning, thunder, fire, and smoke will fill the sky as his angels collect the elect:
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1.Thes.4:16-17 KJV). See also 2.Thes.2:1-8.
"And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matt.24:31 KJV). See also Isa.43:5-7; Mk.13:24-27; 14:62; Rev.1:7.
The Elect Rise to Meet Christ
What happens as the righteous of all ages rise to meet Christ in the clouds above the earth?
"Listen I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we will all be changed––in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed" (1.Cor.15:51-52 NIV).
The change of the Sovereign Father's earthly children to immortal spirit-beings will be a spectacular event that will be accompanied by the blast of a trumpet that will be heard around the world. Notice that the elect will not only become immortal, but they will assume an appearance similar to that of Christ.
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1.Jn.3:2 KJV). See also Rom.6: 1-5; Phil.3:21; Rev.1:13-16.
To be like Jesus is to be like him in his glorified form and presence. Notice what the prophet Daniel recorded about the appearance of the righteous who will become immortal spirit-beings in the Kingdom of God:
"And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (Dan.12:3 KJV).
As the saints rise into the sky, they will be instantly changed into glorified spirit-beings, and they will begin to shine with the brightness and power of the stars. At the instant of their change, the very power of their presence will rip apart the atmosphere, dissolving its basic elements. The noise of this awesome event will be almost unbearable to the human ear as sonic booms, explosions, blinding light, thunder, smoke, and clouds fill the sky. The sights and sounds of this day will put terror in the hearts of all those who witness it. To many, it will seem as if the world is coming to an end.
CHRIST RETURNS TO CONQUER AND RULE
After many plagues are poured out on the earth, Jesus will return with the Elect of God to conquer the beast power and establish the Kingdom of God:
"Now you prophesy against them all these words, and say to them, the Lord shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar over his dwelling place. He answers with a shout, like those who tread out the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. A roaring will go to the ends of the earth; for the Lord has a controversy with the nations. He will enter into judgment with all flesh; he will give the wicked to the sword, declares the Lord" (Jer.25:30-31Para.). See also Isa.43:5-7; Mal.3:2-3; 4:1; Am.9:1-4; Oba.vs.15-16.
"And I saw the heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God" (Rev.19: 11-13 KJV).
The Elect Return With Jesus
During the time period between Christ's first and second return, his army of spirit-beings which includes the righteous of all ages then immortal spirit-beings in the Family of God will be preparing to invade and conquer the earth in preparation for the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.
"And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his saints [the elect], To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him" (Jude 14-15 KJV).
"And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God" (Rev.19:14-15 KJV). See also Rev.2:26-27; 3:4; 17:14; 19:8.
When Christ returns as the conquering king, the elect of God will come with him as a part of his vast spirit army:
"And to you, who are troubled, rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, that will take full vengeance on those who do not know God, and those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, these will pay the penalty of everlasting destruction from the face of the Lord, and from the glory of his strength, when he comes to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired by all those who believe in that day, because of our testimony" (2.Thes.1:7-10 Para.).
Christ's Rule Begins
"And his feet shall stand in that day on the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall divide from its middle, from the east to the west, a very great valley. And half of the mountain shall move toward the North, and half toward the South (v4). . .. And the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with you" (Zech.14:4-5 Para.). See also Hag.2:6-7.
His Rule to Last Forever
"And the seventh angel trumpeted. And there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world became our Lord's, even of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever" (Rev.11:15).
This is the time that was spoken of from the beginning of humanity when salvation will begin to come to all of humanity through the Kingdom of God:
"For a Child is born; to us a Son is given; and the government is on his shoulder; and his name is called Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. There is no end to the increase of his government and of peace on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to order it, and to sustain it with justice and with righteousness, from now and forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this" (Isa.9:6-7 Para.) See Lk.1:32-33.
Whether or not Darby, Newton, Wigram, Jukes, Tregelles or for that matter anyone else used Emanual Lacuna's writings as a basis for their theory of a secret rapture, the Bible shows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that when Jesus returns to gather the elect of God, the event will neither be secret nor silent. The Secret Rapture theory is just that; it is a theory. It is not biblical fact or truth.
By B.L. Cocherell b7w16