Does the Bible support the theory of the secret rapture? And if not, how can it be proven? These were some of the questions I had when first encountered this idea, and perhaps you have also had similar questions. So, let’s look at how this doctrine has started.
The secret rapture doctrine was first popularized by John N. Darby in the 1830’s, and was later spread in the United States by Cyrus I. Scofield through his sermons. He was also the author of the references in the Scofield Reference Bible. As a result, most Protestant evangelicals have accepted this doctrine as Bible truth. The secret rapture theory consists of the idea that Christ’s coming will take place in two separate events. The first time, Christ will come secretly to take the faithful Christians to heaven. Life on earth will continue for a seven-year tribulation. During that time, many people will be converted and be saved. Then Christ will come visibly, the second time, and take a second group of Christians to heaven. Let’s put this theory to the most reliable test—the Word of God.
To support the idea of the secret rapture, its proponents quote, : “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”
When these verses are taken out of context, it may seem that a secret rapture is a possibility. But let’s read the previous verses, 37 to 39, to have a better understanding: “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
Now that we have read the entire passage, we see that Jesus is clearly drawing a parallel between conditions of the world in the days of Noah to that at His Second Coming. The verses state that some people will be saved, and some will be lost (). The words “taken” and “took” are mentioned, but what do they imply? Noah and his family entered the ark and were saved, while those who didn’t want to enter in were left outside. Did those who refused to enter have another chance to be saved? No, they were destroyed by the flood. So, the same will happen when Christ comes at the end of the world. One person will be taken to heaven and the other will be left to be destroyed. “And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” ( ).
We notice that a few Bible verses when taken out of context can cause some to believe that Christ’s Second Coming will be a secret event. However, after carefully reading and understanding the entire passage, we can confidently say that this is not a biblical doctrine. Since the faithful Christians will not be secretly raptured, how will God take them to their heavenly home? The Bible clearly explains how Christ’s Second Coming will take place.
Christ’s Coming Will Be Visible
The coming of our Lord will be more visible and unmistakable than any could imagine. Everyone on the earth will see Him coming in the clouds with power and glory, and with Him thousands upon thousands of angels.
“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen” ().
“For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” ().
“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” ().
Christ’s coming will be like His ascension
Christ will come again in the same manner as He ascended to heaven over 2,000 years ago. This means that His coming will not be symbolic but a literal, visible event.
“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” ().
Christ’s Coming will be Audible
Christ’s voice will be heard throughout the earth; it will even raise the dead in Christ.
“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” ().
“Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him” ().
Christ’s Coming will Open Graves
How do we know that Christ’s coming will open graves? God’s word tells us, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the 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” (, ).
We see that only two types of people will resurrect—the wicked who chose not to accept Christ, and those Christians who are saved. This resurrection must take place so that all the saints may be taken to heaven. The verses clearly state that the dead in Christ will be raised by His power and will meet the living saints in the air.
“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” (, ).
“And this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” ().
Christ’s Coming will Destroy the Surface of the Earth
The coming of Christ will be so powerful that even mountains and islands will not stand before His presence. The earth will shake and break down. The Lord will come to destroy the earth and remove sin.
“And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places” ().
“The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again” (, ).
Christ’s Coming will Bring Final Judgment
Christ’s coming will bring the final judgment and the reward to every person. Each one will already have made his/her decision; there will be no second chance to be converted. Today is our opportunity to hear Christ’s voice and to follow Him.
“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” ().
“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” ().
As we see from the biblical evidence, Jesus wants us not only to know that He is coming again, but He also wants us to know the manner of His coming. Why is that so important? Christ warned us to watch out for impostors who will try to impersonate His coming. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (, ).
It is Satan’s plan to deceive God’s people, and prepare them to accept his final deception when he will try to impersonate Christ. (, ). For this reason, Christ warns us:
“Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (, ).
Friend, who are you preparing to meet—Jesus, the Saviour of the world or Satan, the impostor? Are you daily submitting your will and life to Jesus Christ, or are you only making a half surrender? Are you studying the Bible to know what is truth and are you following it? Jesus said, “To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation” ().