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My View Of The Rapture

by Bob Russell

Bob Russell1This article is gleaned from www.bobrussell.org    ASK BOB: “What is your position on the idea of a rapture?”

Occasionally people email me asking for my opinion on various personal or church issues.  I recently received the following email which I have reprinted below, followed by my response.


“I’m a pastor in northern California with a question for someone I’ve respected for years – you! Where do you land on the rapture theologically? As ministers in the Christian Church, do we as a non-denomination lean universally toward it or away from it? With a new movie coming out (“Left Behind”) much attention will be given to it. Emotionally & personally, I’d sure like for it to be a reality. However, theologically I’m still not convinced contextually by the identified supporting scriptures/passages. Thanks for any insight you can send my way!”


If there is any issue where we should practice the slogan, “In doctrine, unity; in opinion, liberty; and in all things love,” it’s in the interpretation of Bible prophecy.

I lean toward the pre-millennial position which attempts to take prophecy as literally as possible. But I also recognize that some of the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus’ first coming were figurative, so I can understand those who take an a-millennial position toward the second coming and regard much prophecy as symbolic.

Every Bible-believing Christian believes in a rapture, since 1 Thessalonian 4:17 says we will be “caught up to meet the Lord in the air.” While the word rapture isn’t a Biblical word, neither is the word “trinity,” but both convey a Biblical truth. The debatable question is, “Will everyone be raptured when Christ returns in the air or will the non-believer be left behind to endure a period of severe judgment on the earth?”

The premillennial position contends that when Christ returns in the clouds, He raptures His church while unbelievers remain on earth. Those left behind will endure a dreadful period called, “The Great Tribulation.”  That brief, chaotic time of judgment will be followed by the triumphant return of Christ in power and at that point Jesus will establish a thousand year reign on earth. (See Revelation 20.)

Those who interpret prophecy figuratively suggest the reference to a thousand year reign simply means eternity in heaven. They point out when the Bible says, “He owns the cattle on a thousand hills,” it’s referring to every hill not just a thousand. Thus the term, “a-millennial” describes those who don’t believe there will be a literal thousand-year reign on earth.  This view holds that Christ’s return is followed by an immediate judgment day.

Concerning the position of leaders in the Restoration Movement; Thomas and Alexander Campbell (early 1800’s) were actually Post-millennial…they thought the church would become so effective in the next millennia that it would usher in the reign of Christ at the end. David Lipscomb and James Harding (early 1900’s) took a pre-millennial position, while most of our Bible College professors today are a-millennial. As you can see, leaders from our movement, all conservative Bible students, have taken various positions on prophecy. That’s why, while I enjoy studying eschatology, I try not to be dogmatic or divisive about it.

Last winter I preached a series of three sermons on the second coming of Christ at the New Day Christian Church in Port Charlotte, Florida, where my son Rusty is the preacher. That series is available through the church’s website. I have benefited from the writings of David Reagan of Lamb and Lion Ministries in McKinney, Texas. His books and tapes about prophecy are easily accessed through his website: http://www.lamblion.com.

Hope you enjoy the study as much as I do. The most important thing is just to know that Christ is literally coming back to earth one day and from all indications He’s coming back soon. The Bible calls the Lord’s return, “our blessed hope,” and in light of the chaos in the world right now I’m convinced it’s our only hope! That’s why Pastor Adrian Rogers used to say, “For Christians, the world is getting gloriously dark.”

“He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).


Bob Russell is retired Senior Minister of Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, KY.

One Response to “My View Of The Rapture”

  1. eddie says:

    thank you for the insight though this is difficult for me to understand i pray that the Lord opens my understanding

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