Who Invented the Rapture?
Contrary to popular belief, the theory of the rapture began in the early 1830’s. It was invented by Margaret MacDonald of Scotland and promoted by Edward Irving. Margaret claimed to have had visions of the second and third coming of Christ. Irving, a Presbyterian preacher, promoted the idea that there was to be a restoration of spiritual gifts before Christ’s return. It was at that time, the 1830’s and 1840’s, when he expected Christ’s return to take place. The date for Christ’s return was set at 1844. The year came and Christ did not return. Nevertheless, many continued to follow the leadership of Irving. He emphasized the tongues gift. This was not the genuine tongues of the Acts of the Apostles, but the phony tongues of speaking gibberish and claiming it to be a gift from God. The Presbyterian Church kicked him out as his movement began to slide into high gear.
Irving was an eloquent and charismatic speaker, and therefore was able to influence large groups of people. Emotion was emphasized. The main group that continued his teachings was the Catholic Apostolic Church, of which Margaret MacDonald was a member. However, it eventually became the beginnings of modern day Pentecostal religion.
In the 1830’s, in Scotland, many people were claiming to have the gift of tongues. This, too, was the phony tongues, speaking gibberish and claiming it to be spiritual. Margaret MacDonald was sick. She thought she was dying. However, she also thought she had a vision. The vision, she claimed, revealed that Christ would return in two stages, a second coming and a third coming.
According to her belief, in stage one, Christ would be coming for the saints. In stage two, he would be coming with the saints.
The stage one would be a pre-tribulation rapture, allowing select people to go to heaven and cool their heels, while the rest of the population suffered through the tribulation. This, strangely enough, is the origin of the very popular rapture theory that has been the message behind the “Left Behind” books and movies.
The theologian John Darby visited Scotland and Margaret MacDonald. Although he was not fond of the Pentecostal gymnastics he witnessed, he did adopt the rapture theory and popularized it, so much so that even now many mistakenly believe Darby to have invented the rapture theory himself.
John Darby did invent dispensationalism, which paved the way for the cheap grace movement that was embraced by thousands of converts. Leaders taught that between the first and second coming of Christ was the dispensation of grace, with obedience to God (obedience to the Ten Commandments) optional. This belief spread like a virus over Scotland, Ireland, and parts of England.
Margaret MacDonald’s rapture theory indicated that Christ would come first in a secret rapture and silently whisk the Christians away, leaving people behind, dumbfounded over the absence of their co-workers, friends, and relatives.
The main scriptures for debunking the theory of the rapture are found in the 24th chapter of Matthew.
Just as you cannot put a square peg in a round hole, these scriptures simply do not fit the “visions” of Margaret MacDonald.
“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” (Matthew 24:31).
Notice there is the sound of a trumpet. It is not a private secret event, but a very public event.
Notice WHEN this event occurs:
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days…” (verse 29).
The saints meeting Christ in the air occurs AFTER the tribulation. This demolishes the idea of a pre-tribulation secret rapture. In fact, as we will see, the only way to justify the belief in the rapture is to try to read something into scripture that simply isn’t there.
The next logical question is: Where do the Christians go after they meet Christ in the air?
The rapture advocates would say they go to heaven. Scripture says otherwise.
Consider the following scripture:
“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 Thessalonians 4:17).
“…so shall we ever be with the Lord.” So, wherever the Lord is, there will the saints be also.
So, wherever Christ travels to after this event, there is where the saints will be also. This has to be the truth because there is the condition of togetherness between Christ and his followers.
Where does Christ go next?
He goes to the Mount of Olives!
“His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east…” (Zechariah 14:4).
Jerusalem will become Christ’s headquarters. He will be ruling on earth.
What? He won’t be ruling in heaven?
Even the 24 Elders will be ruling on this earth.
“Has made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10).
Who is speaking here?
Actually they are singing. It is the 24 Elders.
Notice verse 9.
“And they sung a new song…”
Who are they?
“And when he had taken the book, the four living creatures and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb…”(verse 8).
The four living creatures and the 24 elders are singing the song and proclaiming that they will be ruling on this earth.
What about the saints? Where will they be ruling?
They who overcome will be ruling over nations on this earth.
“He who overcomes and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations” (Revelation 2:26).
Christ will first make war when he comes to this planet.
Christ’s headquarters team will consist of those who have been called, chosen, and faithful.
“These shall make war with the Lamb and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of Lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14).
At the time of Christ’s return to planet earth, there will be two groups of saints meeting him in the air: those who are still alive, and those who are resurrected from the dead into bodies that do not die.
“Behold, I show you a mystery, We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
This happens at the last trump, the last trumpet. Once again, this is not a secret event. There is the sound of the trumpet.
“…we shall be changed.”
The change is the important thing. This change will be the real “born again” experience. This will be the completion of the process of salvation.
Unfortunately, most of the world lies to its children. Most parents tell their sons and daughters about a fat man in a red outfit coming in the dead of winter to bring them toys. When the child is supposedly old enough not to get angry about being lied to, the parents reveal that they have been lying year after year as a Christmas tradition.
Some lies, however, never get revealed, particularly the lies about heaven and hell.
Because the parents have swallowed the lie about heaven and hell and continue to believe it themselves.
From generation to generation, the lie that is told is: “Good people go to heaven when they die and bad people go to hell when they die.”
The truth is: no one has ever gone to heaven except the Son of man (John 3:13).
The traditional hell that people have come to fear over the centuries doesn’t even exist.
It’s no wonder children grow up to be atheists. They have been deceived so much, they begin to believe that anything adults might say about God is a lie. In the words of William Tyndale, “If souls be in heaven, what need have they of a resurrection?”
The fact that the Bible teaches a resurrection from the dead is a debunking of the “go to heaven/go to hell” myth. One of the two doctrines has to be true and the other false. They cannot both be true.
Marvel not at the truth.
“Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth, they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28-29).
The King James "damnation" is from the Greek word "krisis" meaning separating and contesting.
The "contesting" takes place in a second physical life after the 1000 years. The vast majority of mankind is not being called now.
In order to have a contest, participants must be provided with rules, they must be allowed to compete with others on a level playing field, and receive an appropriate reward.
Some of the ones who are "contesting" in the future will still not repent, and they will cease to exist. The ones who do repent will be given eternal life. The promise from God through Christ is eternal life, not heaven.
People in this life who have already repented will be given bodies that do not die (1 Corinthians 15:52-54). The same thing will happen to people called later. They will have their chance for salvation at that time. Most will embrace it and thereby secure eternal life for themselves.
Some who read this may say: “Does it really matter that people believe in going to heaven and going to hell and the rapture? If they simply continue to believe it, does it do any harm?”
Yes, it does do harm. Here’s how:
Information is interconnected. When any inaccuracy is accepted then there is an incompatibility with reality. This causes people to trust in things that are not trustworthy. It also gives a warped perception of what is. After all, if we believe what we believe because it is a comfortable belief, then we are, in a sense, reverting to being childish. We should be childlike, not childish. The idea of hell causes people to think of God as a sadistic monster, ready to fry you for eternity, if you don’t make the grade. The idea of going to heaven gives people a vague idea of Christian retirement and idleness, not something desirable unless you are a sloth. The idea of the rapture gives people the idea that they can avoid the tribulation, when, in fact, they cannot.
Daniel’s three friends would have wanted to avoid the fiery furnace. But they didn’t. However, thanks to divine providence, they were able to escape from the fiery furnace. The same is true of us. We will not likely be able to avoid the tribulation. However, we may, if God’s wills such a thing, escape from the tribulation.
“Watch therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).
Maranville, Cecil E, The Rapture Is Wrong: The Saints Don’t Rise to Run Away, November 2008, World News and Prophecy, pages 11-13, Cincinnati, OH, United States
Martin, Earnest L, PhD, The Rapture Theory: It’s Surprising Origin, 1976 Ernest Martin, Association for Spiritual Knowledge, West Coast, United States,