SOME OBJECTIONS TO GRADED RAPTURE
STATEMENT. Are there two classes of people in the Church, partial overcomers and full overcomers? This theory teaches that there are two classes, and attempts to create within the Church two groups of believers, those who partially live in sin and those who do not, those who partially overcome and those who fully overcome. This class of interpreters uses the seven promises to the overcomer in Rev. 2. 3., claiming that the full overcomers will receive rewards and reign with Christ, and that the partial overcomers are to be finally saved but have no part in Christ’s reign. - F. J. DAKE.
ANSWER. It is exceedingly interesting to observe how clearly this objector himself expresses the plurality of raptures. He says: “This Rapture (1Thess. 4: 13-18) is the first of a series of raptures that will take place during the First Resurrection. Besides this Rapture there will be the Rapture of the Manchild (Rev. 7: 1-3; 12: 1; 14: 1-5), the Rapture of the Great Multitude of Tribulation Saints (Rev. 6: 9-11; 7: 9-17; 15: 2-4; 20: 4), and the Rapture of the Two Witnesses, (Rev. 11: 3-13). The teaching of more than one rapture is not only required and stated in the above passages, but necessary to make clear what Paul meant when he said, ‘every man in his own order’. ( 1 Cor. 15: 20-23). The Greek for ‘order’ is "tagma" and occurs only here. It is used in the Septuagint of a body of soldiers and an army (Num. 2: 2; 2, Sam. 23: 13). It means a company or body of individuals. In order for every man to be raptured ‘in his own order’ or company there must be different companies of redeemed people saved and raptured at different periods."
This admitted plurality of rapture - which is obvious - makes plurality in Church rapture a very easy conception, only requiring (what Scripture provides) a simple discrimination between ‘firstfruits’ and ‘harvest’: that is, not a distinction wheat-character, but a distinction in grain-ripeness, with consequent differently dated reaping. If reaping is dated by ripeness, the problem is solved. So it is written:- "When the grain is ripe, immediately he putteth in the sickle" (Mark 4: 29).
STATEMENT. Selective Rapture
includes Selective Resurrection. Therefore
the 144,000 must consist chiefly of those who “sleep in
Jesus". But we do not believe that Revelation
bear the interpretation forced into it as evidence of Selective Rapture. We think that "the
Firstfruits" of verse
4 are those who have passed through the great tribulation unscathed and
that they stand with the Lamb on
The answer is obvious. Our Lord states that the ‘wheat’ is sown between the two Advents, and therefore
is solely a symbol of the Church; that the ‘harvest’
is a reaping by angels - angels are never said to carry
Israelites into their refuge in the Wilderness; and, above all, He [Jesus Christ] is
- His rapture, a rapture of firstfruits, has
already occurred. The
figure is conclusive. But other facts
are, if possible, even more so. (1)
are the body-escort of the Lamb "whithersoever he goeth" -
therefore throughout the universe, and not only in Palestine; (2) they are
"purchased from among men" - not from Twelve Tribes alone; (3)
they are "purchased out of the
earth" - therefore they are not on the earth;
and (4) they are singing (among others) "before the throne" -
and the Throne throughout the Apocalypse is on high. It is obviously the
STATEMENT. It is true that only Overcomers will be caught up. But, then, every believer is an Overcomer; see 1 John 5: 5. Unfortunately, this is not what teachers of partial rapture mean by "an Overcomer".
Thus you see how utterly the idea of "a group of overcomers" is excluded, because the Manchild was caught up, to God and His throne, to which no man, however faithfui can ever attain. - G. V. WIGRAM.
ANSWER. It is true that faith overcomes the world, and makes an overcomer in the Apocalyptic sense; but it is a faith far larger than simple, saving acceptance of Christ that makes what our Lord calls an ‘overcomer’. In the great chapter that reveals overcoming faith - Hebrews Eleven - there is not a single example of merely saving faith, but only of a whole life responding to the whole Word of God:"through faith they subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions" (Heb. 11: 33). Our Lord’s own words show that by an ‘overcomer’ He means vastly more than the saved:- "He that overcometh, and he that keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give authority over the nations" (Rev. 2: 26). If all believers are overcomers, all believers throughout all the churches of the world for nineteen centuries - even including regenerate souls in the Roman Communion - have "kept Christ's works unto the end" ; not excepting the Ephesian Angel to whom the Lord says, - "Remember how thou hast fallen, and do the first works" (Rev. 2: 5). Such a conclusion is as remote from the facts as it is from the Scriptures. It is always a mystery to us where such writers live: it is not in the Church or in the world known to us. "The cause of Christ," says D. L. Moody, “is paralyzed because of sin - the sin of believers."
STATEMENT. To teach that the church will be raptured by instalments is to woefully distort the figures which God has given to illustrate this blessed truth concerning His own - the church. The very thought is grotesque and repugnant to one’s sense of order and fitness. When the spiritual body is completed, it will be caught up to meet the beloved bridegroom, one glance from His blessed eyes changing forever her blackness into comeliness: one flash of His glory, and every spot and wrinkle cleansed away by the last needed application of the precious blood of Christ, the Lamb of God. - The Moody Monthly, June, 1925.
ANSWER. It is rarely that this point of view - the magical change of all believers into perfection at death - is so unblushingly stated. One verse, alone, is a sufficient answer. Concerning the believer guilty of one of the excommunicating sins, the Church is directed by the Holy Ghost "to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor. 5: 5). The connection that such a gross backslider was never converted, equally with the contention that because of his sin since conversion he is lost, wrecks on this text; but, equally, radiant sinlessness at the Coming founders. The believer whose works of wood, hay, and stubble are burnt in judgment after his resurrection, is yet himself "saved as through fire” (1 Cor. 3: 15): did "one glance from the Blessed Eyes change his blackness into comeliness,” before ever he had even been judged? The Eyes of Fire, watching a church (Rev. 2: 18) have a far graver function. A most startling disillusionment awaits the believer who imagines that his sins, if un-confessed and un-abandoned, will not come up for judgment because magically annihilated at death.
STATEMENT. The holders of the "partial rapture" theory might be asked, "To what degree must one overcome before one may be sure of being caught away when the Lord comes?" The answer would necessarily be, either a perfection unto which no believer can attain, thus shutting all out, or an imperfection which because of its universal presence would also debar every believer. Thus the blessedness of the hope of the Christian is stolen away, the grace of God is made of none effect, the power of God is proven insufficient, and the purpose of God is hindered in fulfilment, by the teaching of a partial rapture. The teaching of a partial rapture confuses law with grace, salvation with rewards, the hope of the Church with the hope of Israel, makes the types meaningless, denies the utter depravity of the old nature and the full perfection of the new, exalts the flesh and leads to spiritual pride, brings in works, and mars the matchless grace of the living God.* - Serving and Waiting, April, 1932.
ANSWER. The writer seems totally unaware of the doctrine of reward, so simply and openly stated in Scripture, and by no one more so than by our Lord. The Lord’s ten cities for ten talents, and five cities for five talents, is alone decisive of graded reward for graded holiness. The very absence of a revealed standard of holiness for rapture is a most powerful argument in its favour; for it not only cuts out all possibility of presumption, for so none can "be sure of being caught away when the Lord comes", but it exactly corresponds with the unrevealed date of the Advent - the one for unceasing sanctity, and the other for unceasing vigilance. We do well to remember the words of Robert Murray McCheyne:- "There is a pride of race, and a pride of place, and a pride of face, but worse than all is a pride of grace - spiritual pride." ‘Grace’ can be so preached as to make us saints that we are not.
[* Such intemperance of language is the danger of us all in controversy, and only defeats the cause it is intended to promote. This is from a pre-Tribulationist; but the post-Tribulationist can be no less severe. The very views for which Serving and Waiting contends, Mr. A. Reese characterizes thus (The. Approaching Advent of Christ, p. 116):- “Theories that, more than any other factor, not excluding Sacerdotalism, are making the oral teaching of our Lord of no effect: theories that are blighting Bible study and Christian fellowship all over the world: theories and traditions that have cursed the movement from the beginning." God guard us from intemperate judgments.]
STATEMENT. The exhortation in Luke 21: 36 is not addressed to the Church nor has it anything to do with the Church. The true Church will not meet Christ as the Son of Man, but the Church will meet Him as her Lord. The passage means the Jewish remnant on earth during the great tribulation, the time of Jacob’s trouble. They are to "watch"; we are to "wait". By their watching and praying and their faithful witness bearing they will be accounted worthy to escape the awful tribulation and finally when Christ comes as King stand before the Son of Man. The theory of a First Fruit Rapture is unscriptural, confusing, and rests on a superficial study of prophecy. - Our Hope, Jan., 1931.
ANSWER. But the distress immediately preceding this prayer to escape is not the wrath on Palestine (ver. 23), but "upon the earth distress of nations, men fainting for fear" (ver 25); it is no physical escape achieved by sudden flight, as that which our Lord commands to the Jew (Matt. 24: 16), but a moral escape by being "accounted worthy" through perpetual vigilance and prayer; and it is not an active escape but a passive – “to be set [passive] before the Son of man by angels”, as Dean Alford supplies. The supposition that the phrase ‘the Son of Man’ is Jewish is one of the inexplicable slips of exposition. It ought to be obvious that the Son of God is our Lord's divine title, the Son of Man is His human title, and the Son of David is His Jewish title.
The Israelitish escape is the fruit of sudden, intense muscular effort, the Christian escape of prolonged moral preparation and prayer. "Ye are the salt of the earth,” our Lord says (Matt. 5: 13), "ye are the light of the world": it will hardly be contended that the Jew, either then or now, is the light of the world: "but if the salt have lost its savour" - not its nature ; it is salt still: literally, if it has ‘become foolish’ - "it is thenceforth good for nothing" - the gross backslider is not only good for no Christian purpose, but is the world’s worst stumbling block - "but to be cast out and trodden foot of men." Exactly this happens in the Tribulation.
STATEMENT. Of late, certain men have confused Christians by teaching what they term "a partial rapture". They claim that only certain ones whose surrendered lives have made them worthy will share in this glorious destiny. They say the others have not reached a certain standard of spirituality will not share in it. -The Prophetic News, Oct., 1937.
ANSWER. The same issue of the Prophetic News says:- "No greater book on prophecy has ever been written than Seiss' Apocalypse." We wonder if the critic of partial rapture is aware that Dr. Seiss is one of "the certain men who confuse Christians." Dr. Seiss says (The Apocalypse, P. 371):- "Some saints are raised, translated, and glorified in advance of others: there is in every instance some ‘firstfruits’ before the general harvest. And so we are taught, as Ambrose, Luther, and Kromayer admit, “that particular resurrections and translations occur at intervals preceding the full completion of the glorified company."
"He that overcometh." It is there in this one or that has not allowed the pressure of the world to prevail, has not let the salt of a consecrated personality lose its savour, or the light of a steady witness to Christ grow dim, who has used the God-given talents, be they ten or five, or even if there were only one, as God would have them used - that the answer to the message of the risen Christ is given. It is he who has met the buffetings of the stream, and yet has not let the stream carry him away; he who, with whatever slips and stumbles, has yet remained faithful in the very little; he who may seem to himself sometimes to have lost much, yet has never lost heart - it is he who overcomes, who is a victor.
- CANNON J. K. MOZLEY, D.D.
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE BELIEVER
By W. P. CLARK
(From an Address to the
Grace! 'tis a charming sound, harmonious to the ear,
Heaven with the echo shall resound, and all the earth shall hear:
'Twas grace that wrote my name, in Life's eternal book:
Grace taught my wandering feet to tread the heavenly road:
Grace all the work shall crown, through everlasting days.
Yes! no word in human vocabulary is dearer, and we can hardly over-emphasize the wonderful fact that we are saved by Grace alone through faith - free, unmerited grace with no works of our own, and that we shall never perish; but it is possible to emphasize Grace to the exclusion of God’s infinite justice, and to attribute to Him an easy generosity which would gloss over the un-confessed and un-forgiven sins of His own people, and so deprive believers of all responsibility for their walk and life and character. In view of such statements from the lips of our Lord Himself - "the Son of man shall come in His Glory and then shall he render to every man according to his deeds", and, "Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me to render to each man according as his work is" - it can hardly be denied that reward is according to our works, and will be awarded at the Coming of our Lord.
question is, what are the rewards, and whether they can be lost. Undoubtedly
Stronger still is the parable of the "Faithful and wise servant whom his Lord had made ruler over his household." According to the exegesis of some exponents of Scripture, the servant ought to be classed as a believer when he is found doing his Lord's will and is "set over all his goods", but becomes an unbeliever when, not expecting his Lord’s return, he acts wrongly and is appointed his portion with the hypocrites: the word "with" showing that he is not himself a hypocrite. Such a contention would be absurd and illogical, especially to those who hold the view of the final perseverance of the Saints. The faithful and unfaithful servants are all judged at the same place and time - the Bema - where no unbeliever’s stand; therefore all are believers.
other Scriptures prove the exclusion from the Kingdom of some believers, which
it would not be possible in a short paper to examine, but one outstanding one
may be referred to (1 Cor.
6: 9, 10); it expressly and in
unequivocal terms states exclusion. "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the
Lord’s own promise is, "To him that overcometh
will I grant to sit with me in my throne." It will hardly be denied that all Christians
are not "overcomers". Even the Apostle Paul had to run, fight, and
buffet his body lest that by any means after being a herald he himself should
be rejected - disqualified for the Prize ; and so, "forgetting those things that are behind", he
"pressed towards the mark for the Prize of the
high calling of God in Christ Jesus". If the
chief Apostle was in danger of losing his Crown, how much more we! A gift once received from God is certain, and
life: not so a prize - as the