Current rapture theories assume that there will be only one rapture of the church. It will be a defining moment when, from among God’s people, only Israel will remain on earth. But such a limited view of the rapture has resulted in conflicting theories. Advocates of each rapture theory zealously explain why the other theories are wrong. To resolve these contradictions, and more importantly to get at the truth, the possibility of two separate raptures needs to be considered.
An early partial rapture followed by a complete rapture of the church, much later, meets the criteria upon which the leading rapture theories are based. From this perspective we find in scripture an early rapture that marks the end the Church Age. While it is the birthright of every believer to participate in this early rapture, those destined for discipline, such as promised the Laodicea Church, will be left behind on earth (Revelation 3:19; Matthew 24:50-51).
Other theories place the rapture much later in the final seven years, and emphasize that the church must be raptured prior to God’s wrath upon the earth (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9). What is found in scripture is a complete rapture of the church, accompanied by the resurrection of God’s people, just before the seven bowls of God’s wrath (Revelation 14:14-16). In the past this harvest has been largely ignored; it is frequently interpreted as having only symbolic meaning.
Casual observers of our rapture debate sometimes observe that our theories do not matter. Do any of the current theories change the way we live on a daily basis? Some say that knowing that the “blessed hope” of rapture is imminent gives Christians greater security. It is sometimes stated that this security allows believers to live an enhanced Christian life. But is there any proof? After all, a primary criticism of the arrogant Laodicea Church is that they place too much emphasis on their own security (Revelation 3:17).
When Christ appears, there is a requirement that His people must be prepared. John the Baptist was sent in the first century (Matthew 3:1-6). Two witnesses in Jerusalem will prepare Israel for His second coming (Revelation 11:3-6). Those of us with military experience can witness to the fact that when a senior officer is to visit – those who do not prepare in advance will likely regret not having done so. How much exponentially more must we be prepared for the next appearance of Christ.
• The last time Christ appeared – His people were not prepared, and Christ suffered.
• The next time Christ appears – once again, many of His people will not be prepared.
• But this time – it will be the unprepared believers who will suffer.
• Christ will be coming with power and great glory.
With the early, partial rapture countless believers will be caught off guard. The Sardis Church is an example of believers who are not ready: if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. (Revelation 3:3b) While eternal salvation is by grace through faith, rewards are conditional (Ephesians 2:8; 1 Corinthians 3:13-15). Participation in the early, partial rapture is a reward.
The promise to rescue believers from the end-times was only given to the Philadelphia Church. The prerequisite for inclusion in this partial rapture is to respond to trials – with mature perseverance. Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:10)
PARTIAL RAPTURE THEORY