Recently, we ran an article in the Saturday Pensacola News Journal on “The Rapture: Fact or Fiction?” Several days later, we received a letter from Mr. John C. Perdue, pastor of the Bible Believers Baptist Church, Route 1, Box 550-E, Cantonment, Florida. Mr. Perdue wrote to defend the premillennial doctrine of the Rapture. I appreciate Mr. Perdue’s letter, his willingness to write, his convictions, and his courage to disagree. I have found that so often those who disagree will call or send a “hate letter” and never give their name. They claim to be Christians, but their actions deny it! Mr. Perdue is not that caliber of man. I thank him for it. Most Baptist preachers will not discuss the Bible with an evangelist of the church of Christ. Again, Mr. Perdue is not that type of man. My hat is off to Mr. John C. Perdue.
What is the Rapture? Most people today believe that Jesus will rapture or catch up his church to heaven just before the Tribulation begins upon earth. Hal Lindsey, in his book, The Late Great Planet Earth, gives 1948 as the date Israel proclaimed itself a nation. He believes this set in motion God’s timetable for the Rapture, Tribulation, and coming of Christ’s reign of 1,000 years upon earth. He tells us to add a generation, 40 years, to the 1948 date. That naturally gives us 1988 as the date of the Rapture. This is the time many today are looking forward to, expecting to be caught up with Jesus in the clouds.
The only problem with all this hope and expectation by so many honest and sincere people is that the entire doctrine is based upon assumption and perversion of scripture! In Mr. Perdue’s letter he gives 1 Cor. 15:52 and 1 Thess. 4:16,17 as passages teaching the Rapture. He then turns around and says 1 Cor.15:24-28 is the end when Christ will deliver up the kingdom to the Father for eternity. Yet, if verses 24-28 teach the end of all things and verse 52 is speaking of the Rapture, you have the Rapture taking place after the kingdom has been delivered for eternity to the Father! Actually, neither 1 Cor. 15:52 nor 1 Thess.4:16,17 teach the Rapture. 1 Thess. 4:16,17; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; 52 all teach the same event! These passages speak of end time, not the beginning of our Lord’s kingdom.
In Col. 1:13 Paul writes to the church in Colosse. He tells the church that they have been delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of his (God’s) dear Son! They were in Christ’s kingdom in A.D. 64 on earth! Also, John the apostle in Revelation states, “I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience on Jesus Christ,” Rev. 1:9. John said he was not only in the kingdom of Christ, but also in the tribulation! Both the tribulation and kingdom of Christ existed in the first century when John wrote this letter! If John was in it with those he wrote to, how can we look for His kingdom in our day? It is here! The church of Christ! It was in the first century and it is the church of Christ today!
In our article, I stated that the word Rapture is not found in the Bible. Mr. Perdue countered by saying, “Would someone care to look further and locate the word Bible in the Bible?” The word Bible is not found in English. The word biblos which is translated Bible is found in such passages as Rev. 20:12 under the term books! But where is the expression Rapture either in English or Greek? The term is just as antibiblical as the doctrine is. Brother Marshall Keeble use to give this definition of premillennialism. “Pre means before, millennial means 1,000 and ism means there ain’t no such thing!”
It is a shame that so many honest and sincere folks have swallowed the Rapture doctrine and premillennialism hook, line, and sinker. It is my prayer that these fine people, such as Mr. Perdue and the Bible Believers Baptist Church, will get back to the Bible and see that Christ’s kingdom exist today upon earth. I pray Mr. Perdue will drop the expression Baptist Church from his religious name and accept only Bible names so he can speak as the oracles of God (1 Pet. 4:11). I pray that all will get back to and restore the New Testament church of Christ. It is the body of Christ, 1 Cor. 12: 27; Col. 1:24. It is the kingdom, Col. 1:13. It is the house of God, 1 Tim.3:15. It is the churches of Christ, Rom.16:16.