61. Despite the dispensationalists’ teaching that “Jesus will come in the air secretly to rapture His Church” (Tim LaHaye), their key proof-text for this “secret” coming, 1 Thess 4:16, makes the event as publicly verifiable as can be, declaring that he will come “with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God.”
Response: By “secret” LaHaye, who is not to be thought of as an authority on the issue, meant something like “kept secret until revealed.” For a number of reasons, not least because anti-dispensationalists try to make capital out of it, this is not the best way to speak about the rapture, so most dispensatiionalists don’t!
But again it ought to be pointed out that the preterists who signed these 95 Theses don’t really have a problem with an “event as publicly verifiable as can be” being, in fact, totally secret. This is precisely how some of them interpret the Second Coming passage in Matthew 24:25-31 (see K. Gentry in “The Great Tribulation: Past or Future?”, 65-66. Gentry co-wrote this book with T. Ice). They think all this happened secretly and invisibly in 70 A.D.
62. Contrary to dispensationalism’s doctrine of two resurrections, the first one being of believers at the Rapture and the second one of unbelievers at the end of the millennium 1007 years after the Rapture, the Bible presents the resurrection of believers as occurring on “the last day” (John 6:39-40, 44, 54; 11:24), not centuries before the last day.
Response: As far as John 6 is concerned one needs to ask what is meant by “the last day.” As Jesus is referring to believers here, not unbelievers, the passage does not tell us enough to be definite. Dispensationalists interpret “the last day” here as the time, either of the pre-tribulational rapture, or immediately after the Second Coming of Christ in vengeance (2 Thess. 1:5-9; Rev. 19:11f.). As John 6 is very Jew-oriented, it may be best to interpret it in terms of the latter. If this is correct (and I am not sure) then Jesus does not have the rapture of the Church in view but the “first resurrection” of Rev. 20:4-6 (which nearly all non-dispensationalists spiritualize as the new birth).
The fact of the matter is that there are numerous resurrections at different times in Scripture: Christ’s (Col. 1:18); certain saints at the same time (Matt. 27:50-53); the two witnesses in Rev. 11:9-11 (who are also often spiritualized); those martyred during the Tribulation (Rev. 20:4-6), together with the saints mentioned in Dan. 12:1-2; and finally the resurrection of the wicked at the close of the Millennium (Rev. 20:5, 12. Which resurrection is interpreted literally by our gainsayers, although both the first resurrection and the 1,000 years in the same context are spiritualized!).
Having said all this, why then is it strange if those mentioned in 1 Thess. 4:16-17 are resurrected at a still different time prior to the seven year Tribulation? Answer: it isn’t! But we have more to say about this. (more…)