I could express the title of this post another way, "How victorious do we have to be, to be Raptured?"
There are some folks who have taught a Partial Rapture of the Church: that only those Christians who are living victoriously, abundant lives will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. To the best of my knowledge this belief came along relatively recently, somewhere around the early 1990's, maybe earlier.
While that kind of rational is often being taught to believers, and its motivation by coercion and fear might be understandable, it is another misapplication of Scripture. Such teaching is based on taking Scripture out of context and fails the test of sound exposition.
A frequent Scripture that is regularly misapplied is the parable of five wise and five foolish virgins found in Matthew 25:1-13. The claim is they (the virgins) are Christians. Those who are unprepared when the Lord comes for His Bride will not go to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
First, the parable of the ten virgins is addressed specifically to Israel before the Church had been born on the day of Pentecost. The Church is the Bride of Christ -(Ephesians 5:23-32), and the Bride is absent from the parable of the ten virgins. She is never mentioned in the story.
Jesus is warning Israel that they need to be ready for His Second Coming. Only the Jews who have the oil of the Holy Spirit will be guests at the Marriage of the Lamb. Those who have no oil are strangers to God, and He will say to them, "I know you not!"
Secondly, the Second Coming is in view in Matthew 24 and 25, NOT the Rapture, and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb takes place after Jesus Christ's Second Coming, not after the Rapture.
Thirdly, there is no such thing as a Christian without the Holy Spirit. Scripture says, "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His" -(Romans 8:9). God could never say to any saved person, "I know you not!"; nor can a saved person be lost, for nothing can "separate" us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." -(Romans 8:38-39).
The Jews understood very well the symbolism of oil as a picture of the Spirit, from Zechariah 4:1-14. The oil from the two olive trees kept the seven lamps of testimony burning, and God said, "Not by might, nor by power, but my Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts."
To teach a partial Rapture from the parable of the ten virgins is to wrongly apply the parable to the Church at a time when it did not even exist. The message is to Jewish disciples, and for the Last Days Tribulation period.
Another absurd passage by those teaching a Partial Rapture is the parable of the foolish servant -(Matthew 24:44-51), and the parable of the talents -(Matthew 25:14-30). To use these passages is again simply to misapply them as being written to the Church, which is totally incorrect. The Church was not even in existence at this point in time in Matthew, and there is no mention of the Church until Jesus mentioned His plan in Matthew 16:18, which did not begin until several weeks after the Resurrection. It could never happen that a saved person could be "cast into outer darkness" where there is "weeping and gnashing of teeth." -(Matthew 24:51; 25:30).
God has entrusted to Israel many talents as noted in Romans 9:1-5; and the Nation has buried those and not used them to extend God's kingdom to Earth. Individual Jews need to be ready for the return of their King; that is the thrust of the parables in Matthew 24 and 25. God is saying, "Israel, be ready!" It is understandable why confusion exists so long as one does not make the distinction between Israel and the Church. Just using common sense, and asking the right question, to whom is Jesus speaking to in the text would clarify this issue.
Unfortunately the tragedy comes down to ignorance and inerrant hermeneutics in interpreting the basic fundamentals. Matthew's Gospel is primarily for the Jews. Any attempt to frame a historical setting for future understanding is fraught with conflict and lacks adequate specifics to draw conclusions concerning the Church.
Another Scripture used to teach a Partial Rapture is 1st Thessalonians 4:15-17. Here we read that "we which are alive and remain shall be caught up". From this it is deduced that unless we "remain" faithful to the Lord in our service, we will not be Raptured. Undoubtedly, this passage is to the Church, but can we imply that the word "remain" means "remain faithful"? I don't think so and neither does most of the theological community. The correct sense is expressed in verse 15, where we read, "We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord." I would simply remind you that the 1610-11 KJV Bible translators were extremely careful in their use of proper grammar and formal punctuation. Every member of the KJV translating committee had to agree on the final product of the KJV Bible. The translators were made up of multiple groups or committees, and each member of a committee had to review the committees' translation work, and they had to read each of others work, along with the entire committees' work. This meant that each member of the committee (approximately 50-54 at any one time) had to read every translation of every book of the Bible. That would be like reading every book of the Bible 50-54 times.
Those today that use the corrupted "Critical Greek text" of Bishop Wescott and Professor Hort, the basis of today's modern day Nestle-Aland Greek text, (the basis of all modern translations) operated under an entirely different set of rules. There are a number of excellent scholarly works in print and available today that have preserved the truth concerning the work on the translation of the KJV Bible. Just be aware that there are those that have an agenda to undermine and destroy the KJV Bible, which I stated that it was confirmed by the "Heptadic" Structural Design Feature that the KJV Bible is the only true Bible through mathematical and computer studies.
In the same passage above we read that all of the dead "in Christ" are raised first. Regardless of the degree of faithfulness, all the saved of this Church Age who have died are "in Christ" and will be caught up. God does not distinguish between the believers who are alive at the Rapture; all are "in Christ"; all will be caught up!
It has been suggested that only "overcomers" will be Raptured. In the seven letters to the seven churches of Revelation 2 & 3, blessings are promised only to "overcomers", therefore it is deduced that only "victorious" Christians will be Raptured. This is misleading in all respects.
This teaching assumes that all people in the seven churches of Asia were saved, and that was not the case. All that is said of the seven churches, both literally and prophetically, is said to the professing church which, as corrupt as it has been at various states of history, has nevertheless been representative of Christ Jesus in this Church age. Those within the churches who are addressed as "overcomer's" are the saved remnant or the professing Church.
John, who wrote the book of Revelation, identified the overcomer's: "whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" -(1st John 5:4-5).
Scripture teaches that ALL who are saved are "overcomer's". If only the elite, victorious Christians will be Raptured, then we have to ask, How victorious do we have to be, to be Raptured? The parable of the sower teaches that there are different levels of fruitfulness among those who received the Word of God, "Some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold." -(Matthew 13:8).
"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature" -(2nd Corinthians 5:17), and ALL those "in Christ" will be raised or caught up at conversion, and at the Rapture. -(1st Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21). As my post topic title states, "All Christians Sin, but NO Christian Lives in Sin!" That is what we define as the miracle of the New Birth!
In giving attention to the different views pertaining to the Rapture, in this case the Partial Rapture theory, the reader needs to be aware of a number of points that shade or cloud the issue of a Partial Rapture. These are important reasons to oppose it:
++ The Rapture is part of the culmination of salvation. God starts salvation by grace and will finish it by grace as well; not by our works. -(Ephesians 2:8-9).
++ There is confusion between verses that apply to Israel and verses that apply to the Church in the Gospel message. This is not the Rapture, but a taking away to judgment as in the example of the flood in Matthew 24:39. 1st Corinthians 15:51-52 says ALL believers will be Raptured.
++ The emphasis is on working for rewards -(crowns of 2nd Timothy 4:8) not the participation in the Rapture.
++ Believers suffer in every age, and all reigning of Christians is never linked to any supposed order of the Rapture.
++ These passages speak of the unsaved not entering the kingdom. They do not apply to believers.
++ There is a division in the Church, the body of Christ. It seems that those worthy of being translated will be Raptured, while those not worthy will be left behind. Passages like John 14:1 and 1st Corinthians 15:51-52 obviously include ALL believers.
++ The baptism of the Spirit places ALL believers into the Body of Christ. The flaw of the Partial Rapture theory is not based on one's salvation, but rather, it is conditional, based upon one's deserving conduct.
A chief problem with this view is that it denies part of the value of the death of Jesus Christ. The Partial Rapture, infers that good works of a Christian believer gives him a special standing with God that makes him eligible for the Rapture. In Wesleyan Theology this view is built around what we call full sanctification as the basic qualification for being taken in the Rapture. But the fact is the proper meaning of Redemption is that Christ Jesus has paid the complete price for every sin, - past, present, or future. When I was a Methodist seminarian that was how it was defined and taught to us. Think of this error like God is doing 50% of the work and man doing 50%.
The ultimate resolution of this issue rests on a proper understanding of the doctrine of salvation and a clear exegesis of Biblical passages about the Rapture. And if this has not been made perfectly clear heretofore, then I will sum it up another way:
1. The Partial Rapture position is based on a misunderstanding of the value of the death of Jesus Christ as it frees the sinner from condemnation and renders him acceptable to God.
2. The Partial Rapture must deny the New Testament teaching on the unity of the Body of Christ.
3. The Partial Rapture must deny the completeness of the resurrection of the believer at the Rapture.
4. The Partial Rapture confuses the Scriptural teaching on rewards.
5. The Partial Rapture confuses the distinction between Law and Grace.
6. The Partial Rapture must deny the distinction between Israel and the Church.
7. The Partial Rapture must put a portion of the believing Church into the Tribulation period.
The Partial Rapture establishes an unknown or unquantifiable bar or standard based on merit, which is another way of saying that salvation is by grace + works, which is unsustained by the doctrine of being saved by grace + nothing. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man boast." -(Ephesians 2:8-9).
This is my point of the title of this post, "All Christians Sin, but NO Christian Lives in Sin!"
This ought to clarify any doubt that one has as to whether you are going to be "caught up" at the Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
God's abundant grace to you this week,