We believe . . .
The Lutheran Churches Of Calvary Grace does not believe that the prevalent teachings about the "rapture" are based on a proper understanding of Scripture. We believe that scripture teaches all Christians will endure varying degrees of "tribulation" until the last day, that Christ will return only once (visibly) to "catch up" ("rapture") all believers, living and dead, into heaven, and that all believers will reign forever with him in heaven. The Lutheran Churches Of Calvary Grace understand the "1000 years" of Rev. 20:11-15 to be a figurative reference to Christ's reign here and now in the hearts and lives of believers, which will culminate in our reigning with Christ forever in heaven following his return on the last day.
The word "rapture" comes from the Latin translation of 1 Thessalonians 4.16-17, where, in relating the resurrection and return of the Christ, Paul says that "we who are alive, who are left, will be to drag off (Latin: rapio / raptum) in the clouds together with them [the dead in Christ] to meet the Lord in the air." This is the only mention of such a concept in the entire Bible. The immediate transformation described in 1 Corinthians 15.51-52 is also sometimes mentioned as describing a "rapture" as well as the description of some people being taken and some being left behind in Matthew 24.40-41 and Luke 17.34-35.
The concept of a rapture is not to be found in Revelation, and many Christians (Lutherans in general among them) do not believe in a rapture as an event marked by saints mysteriously vanishing from earth. The act of being "caught up" is merely one way to describe what happens to Christians who are alive when the final resurrection and judgment occurs.
Even for those who read the book of Revelation using a Dispensationalist point of view and I might add who also think it to be a single event, there is considerable debate about when the rapture occurs in respect to their interpretation of the events in Revelation. There are some who hold a "Pre-Tribulation" view, using Revelation 4.1 as an indication of the rapture prior to the seven years of tribulations. Others point to Revelation 11.12 and 12.14 as a suggestion that the rapture occurs "Mid-Tribulation." Then there are those who use the sequence described in 1 Corinthians 15.51-52 as a basis, point to texts like Revelation 11.15-19 and 14.14-16 to claim a "Post-Tribulation" rapture.
Besides the Lutheran Churches, many of the Protestant churches in the United States including the Presbyterians, Episcopal, Disciples of Christ and many of the other major denominations do not believe in the rapture. We have found that the theology is found in primarily in the fundamental and Pentecostal churches as a rule.
For the Lutheran Churches Of Calvary Grace, the false teachings on the rapture require more than one return of Christ, more than one bodily resurrection, and more than one judgment in the future (and an additional one in the case of pretribulationist thought). We find this to be divergent to what is set out in John 5:28-29, Matthew 25:31ff., and many other places where these events are identified as happening onetime, not multiple times.
The Lutheran Churches Of Calvary Grace believes that these rapture theories ultimately make the Last Day known to one and all, which is again a concept contrary to Scripture (Mt. 24:36ff.) We find that depending on the favored position of the rapture in relation to a seven-year period of great tribulation, the Last Day would follow 1,007, 1,003.5 or 1,000 after the rapture.
The Lutheran Churches Of Calvary Grace believes that the ideas of this incorrect theory, particularly that of premillennialism, are inseparable from forms of dispensationalism. We hold that this maintains incorrect distinctions between "Israel" and "the Church" regarding how God desires to work among them for salvation purposes.
The Lutheran Churches Of Calvary Grace finds that these rapture ideas require a secret or unrecognized coming or return of Christ, which is also a concept that is divergent to Acts 1:11 and parallel verses that describe his return as visible and obvious to all mankind. Even 1 Thessalonians 4, from which (through the Vulgate) the term "rapture" is derived (1 Th. 4:17) says the event is accompanied by loud command, voice of archangel, and trumpet (v. 16).
The Lutheran Churches Of Calvary Grace believes that "Millennialism" in general and other false rapture ideas share the weakness of leading people to become preoccupied with literalistic (as opposed to literal) views of Bible texts. We believe that all too often people are led to an obsession with "end times" at the expense of gospel work here and now. We believe that this theory provides a tendency to try to scare people into God's kingdom with a law-oriented warning rather than to convince them through the gospel.