How do you explain to someone that the rapture theory is not true? When the millennium happens and the end of the earth? Is Revelations NOT in chronological order? I have some Baptist friends who believe they will be "on the first plane out
' so to speak. I need simple language and Bible verses to back them up, I am Lutheran, Missouri Synod. Thank you for any help you can give me on this.
It may not be worth the trouble to explain this to a Baptist. There are probably more important issues. For my money, that includes the refusal to baptize infants (which brings to my mind the picture of a millstone being hung around someone's neck), and what I call "decision theology", which says that you have to make a decision to accept Christ. I would hold that GOD makes the decision, and then enables us, and then and only then can we make a decision. If they're busy concentrating on the Rapture, they are concentrating on the wrong issues.
In my opinion, we don't know enough to interpret Revelation correctly. I even went to a series of Bible classes on it, and came away just as confused as before. Lutherans are amillenialists, which means we don't accept the idea of a literal thousand year reign on earth. But the number of cults that have been started by people trying to interpret Revelation and Daniel is probably more than we can count. It's a real trap; it distracts us from Christ and Him crucified and risen.
Missouri Synod published a booklet defining the LCMS position on these issues some time back. I have read part of it. I don't know if you'd be able to get a copy, and I don't offhand remember the name of it. If you go to their web site, you might find more information, or email them and get information.
As for the ongoing discussion with your friends, it has been my observation that a number of times it sure looked like the ducks were lined up for the Great Tribulation to happen soon, and then something shifted, and it all fell apart. For example, some of these people claim that Russia will attack Israel. But later on, Russia proved to be too financially insolvent to do such a thing. And then there is the statement that the temple will be rebuilt. Hasn't happened. We don't even know if some of Revelation is allegorical, but there is a good chance it is.
There is no way your friends can know that the Rapture, IF it occurs in the way in which they think it will, will happen in their lifetime. We simply don't know. Jesus told us that only the Father knows. I also personally think it's not that simple. Remember, God lives in eternity. He's not bound by the time line. We are. We have a very difficult time imagining what it is like not to live bounded by time. It's probably far worse than understanding the nature of the Trinity, and that's hard enough.
Personally, I wouldn't waste my time on the topic. It is far more important to make sure your Baptist friends understand the basis of salvation. They must accept Jesus' life and death as payment in full for their sins. No legalism allowed. They must show their faith with the fruits of the Spirit, such as love, joy, longsuffering, etc. The fruit is produced by the Holy Spirit, through us, and with our cooperation. It's not just us doing it. If it's just us, then our fruits are filthy rags. Fruits are just that: the end product of being grafted into the Vine, Jesus. If those claiming to be Christians continue to live ungodly lives, they probably aren't saved.
And your friends might believe in eternal security. That's another pernicious doctrine to my mind. Yes, we are promised that nothing can snatch us out of God's hand, but WE can choose to turn our backs on God. There's a Catch-22 there anyway. If a person stops living a life of fruit, then is he backslidden, or not saved in the first place? These are questions no one can answer.
The passage that is interpreted to define the Rapture is in I Thessalonians 4, not in Revelation. The entire chapter is worth reading. I do believe that God will spare us from His wrath, and it seems that many of the things that happen during the "Great Tribulation" are because of His wrath. But even now, Christians in many parts of the world are living in the Last Days, being severely persecuted, sometimes murdered in the most horrible ways. We all know this. And this has been going on since Pentecost.
When talking to your friends, ask God to give you the words. He will.
I hope this helps. May the Lord bless you.