The Rapture Theory
There is a teaching today that is rife within the Christian world, called the rapture. What is the rapture theory? It is believed by those who hold to this theory (and there are MANY who do), that the "church" will be raptured away to heaven and then the earth will continue for a period of seven years (called the tribulation) in which the inhabitants of the earth will be plunged into a time of great trouble and strife (more so than now). So according to this teaching there is a separation to take place between the saved and the lost BEFORE the end of the world.
In this teaching we are also told that Christ will return in two "phases". The first will be a "quiet" affair with the saints being raptured away. And then the second phase after the seven year tribulation will be the "glorious, triumphant" return, which according to this teaching, will usher in the 1000 year millennial reign on earth (which is also a false teaching).
Let me quickly show you an example of the weakness of the rapture doctrine - I came across a recent article stating '10 Irrefutable Proofs' for the rapture. Here are the first two 'irrefutable proofs' they quoted:
Number 1. "THE RAPTURE IS THE 'BLESSED HOPE' WHILE THE SECOND COMING IS A DAY TO BE GREATLY FEARED" ... They separate the rapture and second coming saying that the rapture is the 'blessed hope' quoting Titus 2:13, and the second coming is the 'FEARED day of the Lord', quoting Amos 5:18. They believe these must be different events, because one is to be hoped for, and the other is to be feared. But they fail to realize the simple truth that the second coming is the 'blessed hope' for the saved in Jesus, and to be 'greatly feared' by those who reject the Lord. Simple, logical truth.
Number 2. "IN THE RAPTURE, JESUS COMES FOR HIS CHURCH, AT HIS SECOND COMING HE BRINGS THE CHURCH WITH HIM" ... They say that Jesus takes His church way in the rapture, quoting 1 Thess. 4:16-17. And then Jesus comes back with the church at the second coming, quoting Revelation 19:14, which says 'the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses.". But what they fail to realize is that the 'armies' whom Jesus returns with are His angels, as Matthew 25:31 confirms, not the church.
"But what about 1 Thessalonians 4:14, where it says that those who sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him? This surely is talking about the church coming back from heaven after the rapture with Jesus at His physical return?" - No it's not. Rapture adherents love this verse, but they completely miss the context of what is being said here. Look at both vs. 13 and 14. Paul is clearly talking about those who are asleep in Christ, ie, those who are in their graves waiting for His return. And what does Paul say to give encouragement concerning those who have died? He says that just as God raised Jesus from the dead, so He will bring with Jesus those who sleep in Him. In other words, those who have died, God will raise them from the dead, just like He rose Jesus from the dead.
The rest of the so called 'irrefutable proofs' are of the same mold. They are not proofs at all, but just twisting of scripture to suit their wrong belief. It's interesting that they also believe the 'antichrist' will not be revealed until AFTER the rapture. This is a deception of the Roman Church. The Bible and historic Protestantism already revealed the antichrist - The Papal Church of Rome!
NOTE: If the rapture theory is a true Biblical teaching. Why was it not well known and popularized until the early 20th century?