The Rapture Paradox

The Chinese Church: A False Promise

When the communists started winning the civil war in China, the Chinese church leaders preached that Jesus would rapture the Christians first—that they wouldn’t have to face any suffering when the communists came to power.

Wrong.

Mao TA Chinese soldier standing in front of a picture of Chairman Mao.se Tung unleashed a terrible persecution that the Christians were emotionally and spiritually ill-prepared for. People in the churches felt betrayed by God Himself.

After all, He was supposed to rapture them!

Disillusioned and bitter, many immature Chinese believers turned away from the faith.

Today, after decades of fierce persecution, the Chinese Christians are some of the strongest believers in the world. They’ve counted the cost of following Jesus—and pay it. Stripped of everything else, the Chinese church has found Christ is worth more than anything they may lose in this world—or any suffering they may undergo.

Right this moment, Christian believers are facing persecution all over the earth. Followers of Jesus are under attack in the Middle East, India, Southeast Asia, Egypt, Somalia, Columbia, China, Vietnam, North Korea, Turkey and even parts of Mexico.  

Everywhere, believers are being refined by persecution’s terrible fire.

But here, living in a land of safety, comfort and freedom, we believe our part of the body of Christ isn’t going to have to suffer anything—except perhaps a little exasperation.

A Faulty Narrative

For the last several decades, the tribulation “bedtime story” we’ve been telling ourselves goes something like this:

  • Our sins are already paid for by Christ’s death, so we’re good.
  • Our Lord doesn’t mind if we’re lazy, disobedient, self-centered, whining Christians. He loves us—just as we are.
  • God’s going to overlook the disgrace and ridicule we have brought to His name by our bad attitudes, sinful behaviors and harsh, condemning verbal assaults.
  • Jesus can’t bear to see His people endure anything hard. So He will swoop in and rescue His church with the rapture before any of the end times nastiness starts.
  • The only believers left on earth will be a few latecomers to the faith who will:
    • Zip around in airplanes.
    • Eavesdrop on the plans of the Antichrist.
    • Occasionally shoot bad guys—because that’s what heroic Christians do!
  • God will then take out His giant flyswatter and hit all the evil people who remain with a series of awful judgments.

Gee, it sounds just like a movie!

I’m sorry—did my summary of this end-time teaching sound a little “snarky” to you?

What is the Rapture Paradox?

A sign of the Rapture; a man's empty clothes still sitting in a chair.Here’s what the rapture paradox is, in a few simple sentences.

At the darkest time in world history, when Christ’s light would normally shine the brightest, the Lord removes His greatest source of light—us—out of the world.

In the battle for souls, Jesus forfeits the game and Satan wins.

Did that last sentence startle you? It shouldn’t—it’s the natural result if “God’s team” leaves the playing field.

According to the 2010 Pew report, there are at least 2,2 billion professing Christians alive today. The current population of the earth is 7.5 billion people.

If God raptures all the Christians out of the world before the tribulation starts:

  • There’s little or no spiritual light available to pierce the awful darkness.
  • There are no godly witnesses on earth to share about:
    •  Personal repentance.
    • The blood of the Lamb opening the way into Heaven.
    • God’s forgiveness and love for sinners.
    • Our Savior, who cleanses us from all past and present sin.
    • The Holy Spirit’s redeeming power in our lives.

If our Lord raptures us early, He demonstrates great love for His people—and none at all for those who are unsaved. Over 5 billion sinners will burn in Hell, with almost no chance of hearing the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, because we will all have disappeared from the earth—at exactly the wrong time.

The End-Times Harvest

One of the God’s purposes for the Tribulation is to reap a great harvest of souls for the kingdom.

In Revelations 14 John prophetically saw this vision:

14 I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15 Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 16 So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested. (Revelations 14:14-16 NIV)

An old trumpet and a lit lantern on the shelf of a stone wall.My Personal Belief

End times symbolism is hard to come by, so I chose an image with these two elements: an old-fashioned lamp giving off light and a trumpet that has not yet been blown.

I think the tribulation will be a terrible, yet amazing time for Christians to be alive on this earth. In the midst of great evil, we will each need to experience Jesus’ provision and guidance in supernatural ways. I believe Christ’s bride will also be purified. That’s what the refining fire of persecution does for the church. It removes the dross and purifies the gold.

A Taste of Hell on Earth

To get a small glimpse of what’s coming, let’s look back into the past.

When the Nazis invaded Holland in the spring of 1940, they conquered the Dutch in just six days. As devote Christians, Corrie ten Boom’s family hid and smuggled Jews to safety while under German occupation. Betrayed and arrested by the Gestapo, Corrie and her older sister Betsy, both in their 50s, were sent to a German concentration camp called Ravensbruck.

Even in the midst of the terrible darkness, cruelty and horror of the death camps, Corrie and Betsy saw their Lord provide light, life and hope to many women through their witness and the Holy Scriptures. God had supernaturally helped them smuggle a bible past the guards when they arrived at Ravensbruck.

After the war ended, Corrie wrote a book called “The Hiding Place.” She shared these words about being a prisoner in a German concentration camp:

“Life in Ravensbruck took place on two separate levels, mutually impossible. One, the observable, external life, grew every day more horrible. The other, the life we lived with God, grew daily better, truth upon truth, glory upon glory.”
Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom

In the shadow of death, many women came to know Christ as their Savior before they died, because Corrie and Betsy came to live in Barracks 28. Both sisters eventually believed that the salvation of even one  or two souls was worth all their suffering.

In December 1944, Betsy died of natural causes. Then Corrie was unexpectedly released just before New Year’s day. After the war, she learned that her release was due to a clerical error. Seven days later, all the women prisoners of her age group were killed.

For the next 30 years, Corrie traveled the world, with her words of hope:

“There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”

Resources:

Here are the three scriptures I know, that teach on the rapture: I Thessalonians 4:13-17, Matthew 24:29-31 and I Corinthians 15:50-53.

Will we join Him in the air when Jesus comes back? Yes. Will we leave our clothes, shoes and watches behind? Probably not. Feel free to study these scripture passages carefully.

Here’s a link to “The Hiding Place” which is a Christian classic.

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2 thoughts on “The Rapture Paradox

  1. Heidi

    You certainly got me curious and so I had to read it now!!! We really do need to pray for the American church. We may all be a little spoilt. Yet God is merciful to those who do seek Him! The church in America does still bring light and inspite of our self indulgence, Gods not finished with us yet! I agree that God often does puts us in very hard situations and then uses us…like Corrie and the Chinese church. I enjoyed the read …lots of truth there!

    1. Maureen Hall Puccini Post author

      Thanks Heidi. I see the goodness in the church here too, but also our compromises. God’s purifying fire will come—because we need it.