At the heart of Biblical redemptive truth is the Blessed hope of the personal, glorious second advent of Jesus Christ. Salvation has to do both with the redemption of men as individuals and as a society. Salvation of individual believers includes the “redemption of the body” (Rom. 8:23). We must not only be saved from the guilt of sin, and delivered from the power of sin. Redemption is not completed until we are delivered from the very effects of sin in our moral bodies. The Biblical doctrine of the resurrection is a redemptive truth: it means the salvation of the body. This salvation will be realized only by the personal second coming of Christ.
So begins the introduction of George Ladd’s book The Blessed Hope: A Biblical Study of the Second Advent and the Rapture.
A fairly easy read, this book tackles a very important issue into today’s church: the substitution of the rapture in place of the Second Coming of Christ.
Think for a minute – if you were to stop your average every-day Christian on the street and ask them what they are looking forward to when Christ comes back, what would they say? I guess that most of them would tell you that they are looking forward to the rapture when they will be taken out of this world.
Yet, Biblical the rapture is not our hope.
Our hope, our Blessed Hope – as Ladd would say – is with the return of the King of Kings. That we may dwell with Him on a renewed earth. That is what we need to be looking forward too – not a pre-tribulation rapture that takes us out of the world like a cosmic escape hatch.
To help remind people of this hope, Ladd starts by looking at the beginning of pre-tribulation rapture theology in history before going on to look at the Biblical evidence about the rapture.
The historical overview was very impacting to me as it turns out that no one in the church ever thought about a pre-tribulation rapture until 1827. Before then, the church held to the view that the church would join Jesus in the sky and then continue down to earth for eternity after the tribulation.
Well kinda… in the 1600 to 1700’s the Protestant church started to believe in post-millennialism as they thought all the world’s problems could be solved through scientific means. In reaction to this, a group of Plymouth Brethren believers in Dublin, Ireland, came up with the idea of a “secret rapture.” S. P. Tregelles gives this eye-witness account of the meeting:
It was from that suppose revelation that the modern doctrine and the modern phraseology respecting it arose. It came not from Holy Scripture, but from that which falsely pretended to be the Spirit of God.
This is not to say that God can not speak through the Spirit. Instead this quote serves to highlight the fact that the concept of a pre-tribulation rapture did not come from a study of the Bible. In fact, most of those folks who originally bought into the concept later changed their mind AFTER studying the Scriptures.
I don’t know about you – but I find it extremely interesting that it took 1800 years for the concept to come to light – even more interesting is the fact that the early church discussed this issue in depth during the 1st though 4th century and did not walk away from the Bible with a pre-tribulation rapture…
In other words, George Ladd’s book The Blessed Hope is awesome read for those wanting to understand both the historical and Biblical view of the rapture.