First Thessalonians 023 – Partial Rapture?

First Thessalonians 023 – Partial Rapture?
1 Thessalonians 5:10 • Dr. Andy Woods • April 23, 2023 • First Thessalonians


First Thessalonians 023 – Partial Rapture?

1 Thessalonians 5:10 • Dr. Andy Woods • April 23, 2023


All right, well good morning y’all.  Let’s open with a word of prayer.  Father, we’re grateful for today, and even in a changing world, a rainy world this morning, You change not.  I do ask, Lord, that You would use the teaching of Your word this morning, particularly in Genesis, looking at sort of a passage hardly anybody ever talks about today, that You would take what is presented and You would apply it to the needs of people’s lives.  I pray that for the Sunday School hour also, and also all of the kids’ classes, Youth group, etc., that are meeting now as I speak.  We desperately need the illuminating ministry of the Spirit.  We really do not need, Lord, to a large extent, just a surfacey understanding of Your Word.  We ask for a deeper understanding and not just an understanding, but an application.  And only Your Spirit can do that in a room like this or people listening online.  You know the deepest needs of the human heart.  And so we invite that ministry of the Spirit to guide us this morning into all truth.  In preparation for that, we’re going to just take a few moments to do personal business with You.  Moments of silence by way of confession, if need be, not to restore our position, but to restore our fellowship.  So that we can be in a position to receive completely and totally from You this morning.

We do, Lord, remain thankful for the promise of 1 John 1:9[1], that if we confess our sins, You are faithful and just to forgive us, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  We do ask Lord, as we said earlier, that the Holy Spirit would have unfettered access to us this morning.  We be careful to give You all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said amen.


If you can open your Bibles to the book of 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10.  Actually, we covered Verse 9 last time, Verses 10 and 11.  Paul the Apostle having rehabilitated, if I could use that expression, his reputation, his apostolic credentials that had been completely trashed by his theological detractors, Paul restores himself by way of reputation in 1 Thessalonians 1-3.  By the time you get to Chapter 4, through the end of the book, now Paul is in a position to correct the Thessalonians.  It’s hard to correct someone when people don’t really believe that you have the authority to do it.

So after restoring his authority as their missionary, pastor, teacher, and apostle, he now begins to deal with subjects, and you see that there, “Finally then, brethren,” 1 Thessalonians 4:1, subjects that he knew about them, information that had been given to him, most likely from Timothy, who you’ll recall had been dispatched back to Thessalonica to sort of encourage the Thessalonians.

And then Paul and Timothy were reunited, and he heads from there, Athens, into Corinth, and now he’s beginning to deal with them in the areas that they were either deficient in or lacked understanding of.

So one of the things I like about Paul is he doesn’t duck the tough subjects.  The first thing he deals with is sexual immorality, right out of the gate, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8.  Then he deals with laziness, 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12.  He’s not exactly a seeker-friendly pastor, this guy Paul.  And it’s going to be a problem that’s going to get compounded, as you’ll see in 2 Thessalonians, it’s going to become more prominent, but people that were basically using the coming of the Lord to get out of life’s responsibilities.

And speaking of the coming of the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11, a section that we’re going to finish today.  And thank you everybody not laughing when I said that, because usually when I said it, everybody just starts breaking out into uncontrolled laughter, that we’re going to seek to finish today, he’s dealing with eschatology, the study of the end.

He’s dealt with the subject of the rapture and how it relates to their deceased loved ones in Christ, end of Chapter 4, and then you move into 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 and there’s your “peri de” construction in Greek, “now as to”, which is classic in Paul for now he’s changing subjects.  Beginning in Chapter 5 he moves away from the subject of the rapture to explaining what is going to happen to the earth after the rapture.

And it’s a time period called the Day of the Lord.  He develops that in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, a seven-year tribulation period that’s coming upon the earth.  It’s spoken of in the book of Daniel 9:27, and John in Revelation 6:19 is going to give a lot of information about that time period.

And then beginning in 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11, Paul applies this to the Thessalonians, explaining to them that they are children of light, and they are not like the unsaved world that is groping around in darkness and is going to be totally taken off guard by this time period.  And it’s in that description of us as children of light, he exhorts us to live that way.  Live as children of light.


And then you get to 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11, and sort of my summary of it, is he now gives three reasons why we as God’s people will not be in the Day of the Lord, we will not be in the tribulation period.  So Reason 1, Verse 9, Reason 2 Verse 10, Reason 3 Verse 11.

1.  We are not appointed unto wrath (1 Thess. 5:9)

Now Verse 9 we covered last week.  And this becomes important because there’s a lot of people out there that are basically telling us that we are going into the tribulation period, or at least part of it.  Mid-tribulationalists, second graphic down[2], say we’ll be here for half of it.  Post-tribulationalists say we will be here for all of it.  There’s now another group of people, beginning with the writings of a man named Marvin Rosenthal in the 1990s who largely got his ideas from a man named Robert Van Kampen, and now there’s a lot of younger sort of progenitors of this view that we’re going to be here for three quarters of it, roughly.  I call them the medium well-done crowd.

And so it becomes really significant as to why we believe that the top graphic (pretribulation) is correct.  I mean, why do we really believe we’re not going to be here in this time period and that we will participate in the rapture, end of 1 Thessalonians 4, before the events of Chapter five break out.  Paul basically gives three reasons in verses nine through eleven.  The first of which we covered last time.

Number one, we are not candidates for God’s wrath.  He says it as clearly as it can be seen in 1 Thessalonians 5:9.  And of course the tribulation period, second bullet point down, is a time period characterized as divine wrath.

2.  We are exempted from wrath whether morally asleep or awake (1 Thess. 5:10)

And now let’s move to the second reason, is we will be taken in the rapture, should it occur in our lifetime.  In other words, this promise of being delivered from God’s wrath is ours.  Whether we are morally asleep or awake.  Whether you’re looking for the Lord’s return as a Christian, or maybe you’re not because you got engulfed in the world.  It doesn’t matter.  If you’re a born again Christian, if you’re regenerated, then God has promised you that you will be taken before the Day of the Lord hits planet Earth, should these events happen in our lifetime.

So notice what he says there in 1 Thessalonians 5:10, “who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.”

Now notice this introduction there to Verse 10, speaking of Jesus Christ.  In fact, if you look at the end of Verse 9, it says, we have these promises “through our Lord Jesus Christ” and then Verse 10 sort of describes what He did – He died for us.

That’s why we’re exempted from His wrath.  Because 2,000 years ago, he stepped out of eternity into time and absorbed in His own body the wrath of a holy God, the Father, against sin when that wrath should have fallen on us.

And so if you’re going to put the church into the wrath of God, which is what the Day of the Lord is, then basically what you’re saying is the atoning work of Jesus wasn’t quite enough.  I mean Jesus did about 95% of the work, but you need to be here on the earth for at least 42 months or seven years or three quarters because there’s a little bit that you have to pay off as well.  It’s a lot like a Protestant purgatory, the more you think about it.  And there’s a lot of people that believe in purgatory.  Roman Catholicism teaches purgatory, and it’s sort of the idea that certain people that really didn’t quite have their act together, when they die, although the scripture says absent from the body is to be what?  Present with the Lord.  Well, if they were kind of a naughty Christian, they need to spend a few years in purgatory.  And what are they doing in purgatory?  Well, they’re kind of paying off the debt that they incurred as a naughty Christian.

Well, if you’re sent somewhere to pay off some kind of debt before you go into the presence of the Lord, then what do you do with Jesus’ statement when He says, “It is finished” (John 19:30).  Everything is finished.  The wrath of God has been completely and totally satisfied.

There’s a Greek word that Paul uses to describe it called “propitiation,” which basically means “satisfaction of divine wrath.” So if you believe that, and does anybody here believe that doctrine?  I believe it because it’s in the Bible.  Why would I have to go to purgatory for five years or ten years?  Why would I have to go into the Day of the Lord for a quarter of it or half of it or three quarters of it?

Jesus said, “It is finished.”  So the reason we’re tied into this promise is not because we’re so wonderful in and of ourselves.  It’s because of what Jesus did.  It says right there in 1 Thessalonians 5:10, “who died for us, …”.

The book of Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

Translation, God is not mad at you anymore.  God is not angry at you because the wrath of God has been satiated.  It’s been satisfied.  God who is holy and loving simultaneously at the cross of Jesus Christ, His holiness, the holiness of God against our sin was satiated.  Freeing up the only attribute of God left, which is His love, to be expressed towards you.

So when God deals with you in your daily life as a Christian, and He deals with all of us, He’s not doing it out of anger.  A lot of people come from these sort of abusive backgrounds with their parents or employers or co-workers, bosses, whatever, and they transfer that to God, and they think God is always mad at them.  Well, that would violate, it is finished.  It would violate the doctrine of propitiation.  So when God does discipline us, and He does, He doesn’t do it out of anger.  He does it for purposes of correction, and ultimately discipline is a component of His love.

The unsaved world has no such truth going for them because they’re not in Christ.  And so the wrath of God is literally hanging over their head, like the sword of Damocles that could fall at any minute.

John the Baptist in the book of John 3:36, John’s Gospel, says, ““He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.””

I mean, who is it that has the wrath of God hanging over their head?  It’s the person that has not believed in Jesus.  Because the benefit that Jesus gained them 2,000 years ago does not apply to them until they have actually trusted in Christ for salvation.

So when you understand this and you understand the doctrine of propitiation, you don’t fall prey to the doctrine of purgatory, you don’t fall prey to the doctrines of mid-trib, post-trib, three-quarters rapturism.  Because to understand the completed work of Christ correctly, you understand that you’re no longer a candidate for God’s wrath.

Yeah, but what if I backslide?  Does that mean I’m a candidate for God’s wrath?  What if I’m an authentic born-again Christian who goes back into the sin nature?  Does that mean I’m now a candidate for God’s wrath?  No, it means you’re a candidate for divine discipline, which is a different category than divine wrath.

And that’s why Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:10, excuse me, “who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep [you should underline those two words by the way,] we will live together with Him.”

Now what does he mean here when he says awake or asleep?  Back in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Paul used the word sleep to describe death.  When he described the rapture he said, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, …”.   Sleep is a euphemism, a euphemism is a polite way of saying something, is a euphemism for death rather than saying they croaked, or they kicked the bucket, or whatever.  He chooses to use the imagery of being asleep because that really is a pretty good description of the Christian.

Because when you look at the Christian that has died, you look at their body, it’s asleep.  In other words, at any second, they could wake up from their nap because they’re going to be reunited in that body.  It’s just the body as God intended without sin.  And so that’s why Paul looks at deceased Christians as if they’re really just asleep.  Now that’s not teaching soul sleep.  Soul sleep basically means your soul falls asleep before the rapture.  That’s not what the Bible says.  The Bible says absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8).  But when you look at the corpse of a Christian, Paul says they’re just asleep because any moment that soul that’s in the presence of the Lord is going to be reunited with that body which will be resurrected and they’re going to wake up from their nap, so to speak.

So when Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:10 whether awake or asleep, a lot of people think he’s talking about live Christians and dead Christians.  However, I do not think, although Paul uses that word sleep to describe the Christian’s death, I do not think that’s what Paul is talking about.  I think he’s talking about being morally asleep.

Why do I think that?  Because surely 1 Thessalonians 4 is in the context.  But as we said before, when you look at 1 Thessalonians 5:1 there’s a “peri de” construction there, “now concerning,” Paul is switching topics.  And look at 1 Thessalonians 5:6.  I mean Chapter 4 is in the remote context, but Vers 6 is in the immediate context.  Look at Verse 6, which is just a few verses before Verse 10.  “so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.”

So yes, Paul did use the word sleep to describe death in Chapter 4, but now we’re in Chapter 5 where he’s using the word sleep, same word, to describe the Christian being morally asleep.  Another way of saying it is a backslidden Christian.  That’s the common vernacular for it.  A Christian who, like Demas, 2 Timothy 4:10, has fallen in love with the world.  Paul says of Demas at the very end of his life, 2 Timothy 4:10, “for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me …”.   And a lot of people say, well, Demas wasn’t a Christian then.  Well, that’s absurd because Paul put Demas into his missionary team, something that Paul would never do if somehow Demas’ salvation was in doubt.

And the Bible does not teach you can lose your salvation.  So what do you do with Demas?  He’s basically an example of a backslidden Christian.  He’s a Christian that went to sleep, went to sleep largely.

And so what a lot of people say is, well, if you’re in that condition, man, when the rapture comes, you’re not going.  And I understand why a lot of my preacher colleagues teach this.  Basically, they’re using it kind of as an urgency.  You better wake up, because if you’re in that movie theater watching that bad scene when the rapture happens, you’re not going.  Well, no.  What the Bible says is you’re in that condition because you’re asleep.  And if the rapture happens while you’re watching that movie, if you’re a Christian, you’re born again, you’re still going in the rapture.

Why would I say that?  Because of what it says right here in 1 Thessalonians 5:10.  “**** so that whether we are awake [morally awake, spiritually awake] or asleep, we will live together with Him.”

Why go into this?  Because there is a very prominent teaching, in fact, as I’m trying to survey different things, I think it’s accelerating.  It’s the doctrine of partial rapturism, where it’s the idea that only the Christian that’s on fire is going to be raptured.  Only the Christian that’s looking for Jesus is going to be raptured.  If you’re backslidden as a Christian and the rapture occurs, you’re not going.  You’re going to go into the tribulation period.

And the purpose of the tribulation period is to straighten you out.  That’s its purpose.  And as Christians get straightened out one by one in the tribulation period, then they’re raptured.  So it’s one of those views that when we put our little charts up here, it’s such a weird view.  I can’t even put it on the chart.  I mean, how would you even graph that?

So basically what they say is, “Yeah, I’m pre-trib, but, but, if you’re morally asleep when the rapture happens, you’re going to go into the tribulation period, and maybe you’ll be raptured out in the middle, mid-trib.  Maybe you’ll be raptured out at the end, post-trib, because it took God that long to straighten you out through His wrath in the tribulation.  Maybe you’re here for three-quarters of the tribulation, and so partial rapturists basically say, “Well, I’m all of these views.  I’m pre-trib, and I’m mid-trib, and I’m post-trib, and I’m pre-wrath, because the only people that are going in the rapture are the sanctified Christians.” The other Christians will go into the wrath of God, and as their life is straightened out, then they’ll be individually raptured.  Partial rapturism.

Ray Brubaker, who now is with the Lord, so now he knows better to teach something like this, and I put up these quotes of people not to malign these people, I’m just trying to show you that this view is in circulation.

Ray Brubaker says, “Finally, we should note that the purpose of the tribulation is also to be the testing of lukewarm shallow Laodicean Christians who will be left behind at the coming of Christ.” No, that’s not the purpose of the tribulation.  The purpose of the tribulation is to judge the unsaved world that’s outside of Christ.  Brubaker says, “No doubt multitudes who expect to be raptured will be disappointed because like the foolish virgins, …”.  Foolish virgins.  Foolish virgins.  Make a mental note of that, would you please?  We’re going to be returning to that.  “… because like the foolish virgins, they were not watchful. Tribulation is then for the purpose of trying the faith of those who profess to be Christians but who really never repented or are living in disobedience to the will of God.[3]

So the tribulation period is not just to judge the unsaved world, it is to deal with the asleep, morally asleep Christian.  This is actually an old view.  It goes back to maybe even earlier, a G.N.H. Peters, who I love.  I quoted him over and over again in my Kingdom series.  He does such a good job on the Kingdom, but unfortunately in his classic three-volume set, the Theocratic Kingdom, written in the early 1900s, he drifts into partial rapturism.

He says, “It is not simply those who ‘watch’ that shall ‘escape,’ but those, Luke 21:36 …” Hmm, Luke 21.36, what does that have to do with the church?  Nothing.  Jesus is speaking to the Jews in the tribulation period.  Mr. Ray Brubaker, what does the foolish virgins have to do with the church?  Nothing.  That’s dealing with the Jews in the tribulation period.  So you can see what they’re doing is they are dispensationally misapplying passages.  Keep a mental note of that.  We’ll come back to it.

“It is not simply those who ‘watch’ that shall ‘escape,’ but those, Luke 21:36 who ‘watch and pray always,’ [I guess if I let down in my prayer life for 30 seconds and Jesus comes back, I’m going to be left behind] avoiding the corrupting influences around them. The number of translated ones [that’s language for the rapture] may not be very large (for the number of translated ones given as…types in comparison with the number of those not translated, and with that of the resurrected saints is small so that Dr. Seiss, with whom many concur, is undoubtedly correct in saying …”

I love how these old guys wrote, you know, kind of these long sentences.  You have to actually concentrate to figure out what they’re saying.  Could you imagine a guy like this on Twitter, where we have these little emojis and smiles?  I think all this electronic stuff has made us really, really stupid, to be honest with you, to the point where we have difficulty formulating complex sentences, and we certainly don’t have the attention span to read something like this.  So that’s why, when I get frustrated with the world, I go back a hundred years.

And he says, now he’s quoting Dr. Seiss, “‘I have no idea that a very large portion of mankind, or even of the professing Church, will be thus taken. The first translation, …”.  When he says translation, he’s saying rapture.  What do you mean first translation?  There’s more than one.  There’s pre-trib for the good Christians.  The rest of us, notice how these guys never put themselves into that category.  The rest of us who are carnal go into the tribulation, and as we are straightened out by the tribulation, one by one we individually get raptured.  Partial rapturism.

” The first translation, if I may so speak, will embrace only the select few who watch and pray always,’ etc.””  Coming from Luke 21:36, which is not a church age prophecy.  It’s dealing with Israel in the tribulation period.  But this is a hundred years ago or more where he’s promoting this idea.  Ray Brubaker picks it up.

I have seen this kind of teaching coming out from someone probably that you know very well, and the reason I’m not posting his stuff up here to prove to you that he teaches this is what he does is he files copyright infringements on people’s YouTube channels, where they threaten you violated copyright, you could lose your whole station or your whole channel.  So because these types of gimmicks and games are played within Christian circles, you know, it prevents me from putting up identical quotes proving that this person teaches this partial rapture doctrine.  But most of you probably know who I’m talking about.

But he goes around, and he says, “If you’re not a Zionist, if you’re not a lover of Israel, then you’re not going to be raptured.” And he goes over to the sheep and goat judgment to build the point about how the sheep enter the kingdom and the goats are cast off the earth based on whether the sheep are sheep because they love the brethren or Israel or not.  And so the doctrine, again, comes from, like the foolish virgins, like Luke 21:36, passages of scripture that are talking about Gentiles and Jews in the tribulation period and have nothing to do with the church.

And so he tries to, you know, sort of terrorize people that if you have some sort of animosity towards Israel in your heart, then the truth of the matter is when the rapture hits, you won’t be taken.  Which would rule out an awful lot of Christians when you think about it.  Martin Luther didn’t have a lot of nice things to say about Israel.  Are we going to say that Luther wouldn’t have participated in the rapture if the rapture had occurred in his lifetime?

By the way, love for Israel, that’s a great thing.  I’ll preach that till the day I die.  You ought to love Israel because God loves Israel.  But here’s the thing to understand, is love for Israel is not a birth truth, it’s a growth truth.  For the first number of years in my Christian life, I got saved at age 16.  I didn’t know anything about Israel.  In fact, I’m embarrassed to say that in that time period, if you had showed me a world map, I probably couldn’t even point at Israel on a world map.

But as you began to study the Word of God, which is a process not of justification, but sanctification, you start to see, “Wow, God thinks Israel is a big deal.  And if God thinks Israel is a big deal, maybe I should think Israel is a big deal.”

So according to this man’s doctrine, if the rapture had occurred before I began to grow in my knowledge of the nation of Israel, then I would have been left behind at the rapture because I really was not a Zionist.  I didn’t know what a Zionist was.  I was not a lover of Israel.  And because I didn’t have the divine point of view on the subject matter, I was prey to all the sort of anti-Semitic theories that are out there.  You know, the Jews control the banking, the Jews control Hollywood, the Jews are leading us into the New World Order.  And you start to say, “Yeah, I don’t really like those Jews that much.”

But then you start to read what God says about the Jews, how they’re unconditionally loved, and God is going to fulfill a purpose for them.  And into your salvation experience, your mind starts getting renewed, which is what sanctification is.  It’s a mental renewal, Romans 12:2, and you start to develop more proper thinking.  But those aren’t justification issues, folks.  Those are sanctification issues.

Participation in the rapture is a birthright

Participation in the rapture is a birthright, regardless of what your individual level of sanctification might be.  So that’s why when Paul makes this statement here, 1 Thessalonians 5:10, “who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.”  That’s a big deal.

Because if you understand that passage, you will not fall prey to partial rapturism.  You will not fall prey to this doctrine taught by Peters.  He can’t take my YouTube channel down because he’s dead.  Brubaker can’t take my YouTube channel down because he’s dead.  This other guy that’s running around teaching can take my YouTube channel down because he’s not dead.  And when they file this copyright thing against your YouTube channel, then you got to spend your whole day trying to figure out, because YouTube doesn’t tell you exactly where the copyright infringement is.  Wading through all of these documents, which to be frank with you, I just don’t have time to get into.  I could hire Bill Hargrove up here, who’s a lawyer, maybe he could look into it for me.  And the more I get embroiled in all of these kinds of silly things, the less time I have to study and teach, which is my calling.  So I just end up, to avoid the hassle, I just end up, you know, not post, you know, taking the video down or not mentioning the person’s name, which basically means they won because they punish you through the process.  That’s what litigation is.  They’re not necessarily trying to win, but they’re trying to wear you down.  So you’ll never use their name again publicly.

But there is a man that’s very popular that’s Jewish that’s running around teaching what I would consider to be blatant partial rapturism.  He happens to give very good reports on Israel, kind of updates are very good, but as everybody is saying, “Yay, this report is so good!” Suddenly he works in this teaching about the foolish virgins and starts introducing partial rapturism.  And gullible Christians who don’t know the difference kind of lap it up and suddenly the body of Christ is poisoned.  People don’t have any assurance of salvation anymore because, boy, what if I have a bad thought at the moment of the Lord’s return?  I’m going to be left behind.

No, Paul says whether asleep or awake.  Keep in mind what the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:51.  This is a classic rapture passage.  “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not [what’s the next word?] all sleep [now there he’s using sleep as death], but we will [what’s the next word?] all be changed,”

Now does all mean all?  He doesn’t say, “Hey, you guys, when the rapture hits about 75% of you, you’re on thin ice.” The rest of us are fine.  He says all.  It’s like in Texas when you don’t just say “y’all,” you say “all y’all.” And I had to learn this coming from California to Texas.  I needed a vocabulary translator because in Texas there’s a difference between “y’all” and “all y’all.” Can I get an amen on that?  I mean, when you say “y’all,” I mean, a California guy has no clue.  When you say “y’all,” you’re talking about a group, a subgroup.  When you say “all y’all,” you’re talking about everybody.  So if I’m looking out here at this group and I’m saying, “Do y’all understand?” I’m talking to this half of the room.  But then when I say, “Do all y’all understand?” I’m talking to the whole room.  So Paul here is saying, “All y’all.”

And keep in mind who he’s talking to here.  Do you think that, how would you like to be the pastor of the church at Corinth?  You talk about a totally messed up group of people.  Oh, well they weren’t, some of them weren’t saved.  That is so nonsensical.  Because when you go to the very first, excuse me, second verse in the whole book, 1 Corinthians 1:2, he says, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified [positionally, that is] in Christ Jesus, saints [they’re called saints positionally] by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:”

I mean, was Paul saved?  Of course.  Well, he’s saying to the Corinthians, “Our Lord.” There’s no evidence as you go through 1 Corinthians, sometimes called 1 Californians, 2 Corinthians, that he’s dealing with a mixed audience.  They’re all saved.  And when he gets to the rapture, which is a positional right, it’s a birthright as a child of God, and he talks about it, he says when it occurs, he says it’s not just, “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed.” All y’all are going in the rapture, whether you’re asleep or awake.  And these people were asleep.  And he says this.

Because in 1 Corinthians 1-4, what is he dealing with?  Division, division, division.  People that were rallying around their favorite teacher.  “I follow Paul.  I follow Apollos.  I follow Cephas.” Another group was very spiritual.  “Well, we just follow Christ.” “I follow Chuck Swindoll.  I follow Tony Evans.  I follow John MacArthur.” Now, I don’t think those three guys will sue me or anything so I can bring their names up.  But Paul says you’re not following anything.  You’re following your own carnality when you get like that.  When you start to elevate people and pit one teacher against another.  Forget all these teachers.  Follow God.  And follow teachers that are going to help you in your relationship with God.  That’s what you should follow.

So 1 Corinthians 1-4 divisions; 1 Corinthians 5 incest.  A man has, what does he say, his father’s wife.  Is that what he says?  Something like that.  And he says the pagans don’t even act that way.  1 Corinthians 6 litigation, visiting temple prostitutes.  Well they weren’t Christians, really.  No Christian would visit a temple prostitute.  Really?  What do you do with 1 Corinthians 6:9?  Where he says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God …”  And he goes on and he says, “Or d do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit …” (1 Cor 6:19).  “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you …”  Obviously, Christians doing this.  “… whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”  In other words, when you go visit the temple prostitute, you’re bringing the Holy Spirit into that exchange and you’re grieving the Spirit.

He doesn’t say to them you’re not Christians.  No Christian would act like that.  They’re obviously Christians because they have the Holy Spirit inside of them.  That’s 1 Corinthians 6.  Chapter 7, he’s dealing with rampant divorce and remarriage.  Chapters 8-10, Paul is dealing with the stronger Christian flaunting their freedom in the presence of the weaker Christian.  Someone that’s in the Lord more knows what their freedom in Christ allows, but those in the Lord more were exercising their freedoms, flaunting their freedoms in the presence of baby Christians who didn’t know up from down.  So they were using their freedom to destroy, not to build up, which is contrary to our calling.

1 Corinthians 11, if you can imagine this, they are drunk and disorderly at the Lord’s Supper.  Can you imagine coming to communion service inebriated?  They had turned communion into a pay-to-play situation where if you were rich and had resources, you could participate at the Lord’s table, but the poor were excluded, and Paul says you just divided the body of Christ when you do stuff like that.

1 Corinthians 12-14, there’s total imbalance in the area of spiritual gifts.  They were taking people that in that time period were speaking in so-called tongues and allowing them to just go on and on and on with no interpretation whatsoever.  And Paul says what do you think is going to happen when an unsaved person comes in here and sees that?  They’re going to think you’re out of your mind.  And that’s where Paul says I would rather have you prophesy than speak 7,000 words like that.  Because at least when you prophesy, it has edificational value to the listener.  Going on and on in some language that you only know and you’re doing it publicly with no interpretation, that is counter to the gifts of the Holy Spirit which are designed to edify.

And if all of that weren’t enough, in 1 Corinthians 15, they’re throwing out the doctrine of resurrection.  Can you believe that?  All that resurrection stuff, we just don’t believe it anymore.  A lot of it had to do with incipient Gnosticism leaking into the church at Corinth where they were saying the physical world is evil, the spiritual world is good, and so how could Jesus have been raised in a body?

Would you not say that the doctrine of resurrection is pretty important?  I mean, if Paul explains in that chapter, if you don’t have that, you don’t have anything.  That’s the church at Corinth.  And all the way through the book, he never once says, “Y’all aren’t saved.  Y’all aren’t justified.  And boy, when the rapture comes, a bunch of you are going to be left behind.”

What does he say here?  1 Corinthians 15:51, after all of that detail that we just went into, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,”

Put that contextually into who he’s addressing, and you can see very fast that the doctrine of partial rapturism is something that is unknown to the Apostle Paul.  It may be known to Ray Brubaker, it may be known to G.N.H. Peters, it may be known to this sort of famous person now within Christianity that’s running around teaching it, but it is unknown to God.

Yeah, but so-and-so, look at all of the tourism and trips that they do.  Look at how many thumbs up and likes and views they get on their YouTube channel.  Are you saying that they’re wrong?  I’m not saying they’re wrong.  Paul is saying they’re wrong.  That doctrine is wrong.  And if you believe it’s true, what will be immediately eradicated, just like that in your life, will be snuffed out, is your assurance.  Because all of us in the Christian life, if we’re intellectually honest, have ups and downs.  And you need to understand that the positional truths that have been given to you at the point of faith are given to you by grace.  Grace is unmerited favor.  They are your birthright, whether you’re having a great day or a lousy day.

And so many Christians out there think that somehow the positional truths given by grace are really not given by grace, because God really has us all on probation.  Well, if the rapture happens when I’m having a down day, I guess I’m not going to go.  I guess I’ve got to go into the tribulation period.

Do you understand that from a pastoral perspective, the psychological damage that’s being done by people that teach these foolish ideas, do you understand that when you counsel people as a pastor, a lot of the issues that people have relate to insecurity and fear that they are dealing with concerning whether they’re saved or not.  I mean, so many people are just gripped and living by fear because they don’t understand positional truths given to them via the grace of God, such as the assurance of salvation, such as participation in the rapture.

There’s a doctoral dissertation that I’ve been reading where a man went through the Puritan writers.  Those are the people that founded the United States, the Puritans, but they were wrapped up in this idea that if I don’t persevere to the end of my life, I’m not going to heaven.  And in this particular dissertation, and he did all this historical research on it, he said the Puritans, almost to a person, went to their graves on their dying day – and folks, on your dying day, I hope you have this figured out, because you need to be claiming the promises of God as you’re going from this life into the next.  You don’t need to be on your deathbed wondering if you’re saved.

You don’t need to be on your deathbed saying, “Well, I hope the Lord comes today, but He’s not coming for me.” You’ve got to get beyond that, because there are going to be crises in your life of such a severe magnitude that the only thing that’s going to get you through it is standing on the promises of God’s grace, such as dying.

And so the Puritans, as they went to their grave, almost to a man, were scared out of their minds because they really didn’t know if they had persevered enough.  That’s the reason I’m sort of emphasizing this, awake or asleep now, because the devil will use perversions of the truth to steal your assurance, at a time when you need it.

So in our rapture series, Lessons 49 through 56, I would encourage you to go back and review those to get more depth, we went through 10 reasons why partial rapturism is wrong.  And let me just list these for you, I can’t in my time limits today go into these in detail, I just want to make you aware of these.

Why is partial rapturism wrong?

Why is partial rapturism wrong?  We have 10 reasons.

1.  Every divine blessing is given on the basis of His grace and not human effort (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 12:6)

Number one, every divine blessing that you have is given on the basis of grace and not human merit, including the promise that if the rapture happens, you’re going to participate in it.  God never gave that to you on probation any more than He gave you eternal life on probation.  If it was given to you on probation, it would not be given to you on the basis of, starts with the G, grace.  It would be given to you on the basis of merit.  That’s not how God’s promises are given.

2.  Symbolic parallels mandate that carnal as well as sanctified Christians will be taken up in the rapture (Gen. 19:22)

Number two, symbolic parallels mandate that carnal Christians as well as sanctified Christians will be taken in the rapture.  All you have to do is look at God’s dealings with Lot.  I have a sermon entitled, “Are You a Lot Like Lot?”  You talk about a guy who was completely and totally messed up in Sodom and Gomorrah.  In fact, to be honest with you, if I didn’t have 2 Peter 2 in my Bible, I would think Lot was unsaved.  His lifestyle has no concurrence to someone that’s living for God.  And yet when the destroying angel came to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, the angel said, not “I will not” (Genesis 9 verse 22) “I cannot, I cannot do anything until you are removed from this city.” Why would he say that?  Because Lot was saved in the positional sense of the word.  2 Peter 2 proves that.  The word righteous man is used of Lot I think three times in that chapter.  But obviously Lot wasn’t living it.  And yet the angel says, “Before I destroy the city, I’ve got to get you out of here.” So when the rapture happens, even if you’re living in total carnality like Lot, God gets you out of here before the wrath of God hits.

3.  The promise of the rapture is mentioned in Paul’s letter to the carnal Corinthian church (1 Cor. 15:51)

Number three, the promise of the rapture is mentioned to Paul’s letter to the carnal Californians, excuse me, the carnal Corinthian church.  We just went into that.  He doesn’t say y’all, he says, “All y’all.” To the most carnal church of the first century that we have record of.  He says, “Every single one of you is going in the rapture if it happens today.”

4.  A partial rapture would sever Christ’s body (1 Cor 12:12-14)

Number four, a partial rapture concept would sever the body of Christ.  We are a body.  We are knit together in what is called the body of Christ metaphor, some are hands, some are a foot, some are a toe, some are a mouth.  I think God sort of made me a mouth.  I’m a mouth.  That’s okay.  I’ll take the role.  But if partial rapture is true, it’s like a tooth is gone but the rest of the body is here.  The ear is gone but the rest of the body is here.  The ankle is gone but the rest of the body is here.  It just does a total injustice to the whole Pauline metaphor of the body.

5.  The partial rapture view subjects believers to God’s wrath (Thess 1:10)

Number five, and this is a biggie, the partial rapture view subjects believers to God’s wrath.  Partial rapture is saying carnal Christians will go into the wrath of God, which would violate the promises that we’ve gone through.  Not the least of which is the verse that comes right before verse 10, where we’re told very clearly that we’re not going into God’s wrath.  1 Thessalonians 5:9, First Thessalonians 1:10, etc.

6.  Partial rapturism makes the Bema Seat Judgment unnecessary (1 Cor. 3:10-15)

Number six, Partial Rapturism makes the Bema Seat Judgment unnecessary.  What is the Bema Seat Judgment about?  That’s when God deals with the carnal Christians.  Not out of anger, but out of a lack of reward.  Rewards are things people receive above and beyond salvation.  Bema Seat Judgment.  Some will stand before the Lord and smell the smoke on their garments.  Their life will be exposed, not them, but their deeds will go through a fire.  And as they’re found in carnality, wood, hay, and stubble, they’ll go into the fire and the fire will expose it for what it is.  It’s not gold, silver, and costly stones.  It’s wood, hay, and stubble.  It’s incinerated in the fire.  Paul talks about a guy who is in heaven, but his life is consumed.  And yet Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:15, “… but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

Why would Paul explain that?  Look at his audience.  He says you’re not going to do well at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ.  He doesn’t say you’re going to hell.  He doesn’t say you’re not going to heaven.  He says we all must stand before the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ.  For what reason?  To be rewarded.  God wants to reward us for faithfulness.  But if I’ve lived my life in carnality, there’s no faithfulness to reward.  See?  I’m in heaven because I’m there by divine grace, but at the same time I forfeit rewards.

Now think about this.  If partial rapturism is true and the sanctified Christians go, and then the carnal Christians become sanctified in the tribulation and they go individually, then everybody arrives in heaven in a sanctified state.  If that’s true, then there’s no purpose for the Bama Seat Judgment.  You follow?  Watch very carefully what people are doing with the Bible because if you knock over one domino, others start to fall.

7.  Partial rapturists never objectively quantify the exact degree of faithfulness or spiritual maturity that is necessary to participate in the rapture

Number seven, partial rapturous never objectively quantify the exact degree of faithfulness or spiritual maturity that is necessary to participate in the rapture.  You got to live a holy life.  Well how holy?  You got to make sure there’s no sin in your life.  Well how many sins?  What about sins I’ve even forgotten I’ve committed?  This is the problem with John MacArthur, John Piper, Lordship Salvation.  They’re doing what the partial rapturists do but in the area of justification.  If Jesus is not Lord of all, then He is not Lord at all.  Has anybody ever heard that?  Complete false doctrine.

What makes you saved is not making Jesus Lord of your life.  What makes you saved is you trusted in His provision for salvation.  Now after you get saved, I would presume that the Holy Spirit will start to deal with us on the basis of surrendering different things in our lives to the Lord.  But surrendering different things to the Lord in my life doesn’t make me justified.  Because my justification is given by grace.

And so with this, if Jesus is not Lord of all, then He is not Lord at all, my mentality, people wonder, “Well, have I really submitted enough?” Because there’s no exact mathematical quantification.  Gosh I had a bad thought on Thursday.  Maybe I’m a Christian.  Maybe I’m not.  Maybe I am.  Gee, I went to a wrong movie.  Shouldn’t have gone to it.  And if the rapture were to happen today, maybe I’m going in the rapture.  Maybe I’m not.  Do you see how subjective this is?

You have to live your life on something beyond subjectivity, folks.  You have to live your life on what God, who cannot lie, has 100% assured you of.

8.  Partial rapturists appear individually biased

Number eight, let me just finish this list and then we’ll call it the, I was going to say we’re going to call it a day, but we’re not quite doing that.  Partial rapturists appear individually biased, meaning the people that teach this all think they’re going in the first elevator ride out.  This teaching’s for everyone else.  Brubaker says, “I’m going.”  G.N.H. Peters says, “I’m going.” This straightening out the carnal Christians, that’s for others, which makes to me the whole concept very, very suspicious.

9.  Partial rapturists dispensationally misapply Bible passages (Matt. 25:1-13)

Number nine, here we go, partial rapturous, dispensationally misapply Bible passages.  The foolish virgins, five tending their lamps, five not.  Partial rapturists come along and say, “That’s the church.  You better make sure that your lamp is trimmed and ready to go, because if you’re one of those that doesn’t have their lamp trimmed, you’re not going in the rapture.  Oh, I’m pre-trib.  I teach pre-trib.” You listen to them.  “I’m pre-trib.” Then they’ll throw at you the foolish virgins.  Well, maybe you are pre-trib, but when you start teaching the foolish virgins, which applies to Israel in the tribulation period, and you start yanking it over into the church to teach the foolish virgins will not be raptured, the wise virgins will, you may be pre-trib.  But you just inserted into pre-tribulationalism partial rapturism.  You yank the sheep and goat judgment into rapture teaching where it doesn’t belong.  You yank the foolish virgins into rapture teaching where it doesn’t belong contextually.  You may call yourself pre-trib until the cows come home, but you pragmatically, practically at that point are now teaching partial rapturism.

So that’s why when we teach the Bible here, we’re trying to emphasize context.  If you don’t understand context, you don’t understand that Chapter 24 comes before Chapter 25.  Can I get an amen on that?  And when you’re in Chapter 24, you’ll see very clearly who Jesus is talking to.  He’s talking to Jews in the tribulation period that just watched their temple desecrated.  And that’s the crowd he says flee to Petra.  That’s not you.  That is Israel in the tribulation period.  That’s why he says stuff like pray that your flight will not take place on the winter or on the Sabbath.  He’s dealing with a specific Jewish group in the tribulation period having to navigate geography that anybody that’s been to Israel understands.  And so that flows very well from there into foolish virgins, sheep and goat judgment.

But if you’re just going to yank 25 into rapture teaching for the church and pretend like Chapter 24 isn’t there, I don’t care how many followers you have on social media, that’s false doctrine.  That is a very poor method of Bible study.  And people like that, in my humble opinion, should be avoided.  Or they’re just going to throw you into a state of confusion.

10.  Partial rapturists misapply passages promising a reward to faithful believers (Rev. 3:11)

Number 10, partial rapturists misapply passages promising a reward to faithful believers.  Look very fast at Revelation 3:11.  “‘I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.”  Partial rapturists say, see it is right there in the Bible.  If you’re not holding fast to the things of God, then your crown is going to be taken.

Meaning what?  Well, meaning you’re not going to participate in the rapture.  That’s what it means.  That’s not what it means.  The crown is not something that God gives on the basis of grace.  The crown is a reward that He will give at the Bema Seat Judgment for faithfulness in the Christian life.  And if you don’t understand the difference between a reward and a positional truth – rewards there’s a contingency based on faithfulnessPositional truths are given to you by grace.

If you don’t know how to rightly divide God’s Word and distinguish the two, you’ll hear someone with a big following in the three G’s in ministry, which are a guitar, the gift of gab, and good looks.  So and so’s got the three G’s.  They must be a credible Bible teacher.  So someone with the three G’s will come with Revelation 3:11 and they’ll convince people you better be holding fast to the things of God because you know what?  Your crown’s going to be taken.  You’re not going to go in the rapture.

If you don’t know how to rightly divide or you don’t know how to distinguish between a positional truth and a reward, which are two different concepts entirely, you’ll get pulled into partial rapturism.

So as promised, we did not make it through Verse 11.  Made it through verse 10.  Just remember, asleep or awake, you’re going.  The issue is you have to be saved, right?  But if you’re saved, whether you’re asleep or awake, you’re going.  Some people are going to go.  I’m convinced they’re going to go kicking and screaming, but they’re still going to go.

Let’s pray.  Father, we’re grateful for Your truth, Your Word.  Help us to be rightful dividers of Your Word in these last days of deception and confusion.  Be with us in the main service that follows.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said amen.

[1] “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  All Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. 1995. La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

[2] See graphic at 0:8:30 in video.

[3] Ray Brubaker, “The Purpose of the Tribulation,” Radar News, (December 1968): 6.