by Clarence Stam
“I tell you, on that night two people will be on one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.” (Luke 17:34)
Rapture. What do you believe about it? How many raptures will there be? - Only one? Two - as implied by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B Jenkins in the book “Left Behind – A Novel of the Earth’s Last Days” (Tyndale Press, 1995)? Or even more? Indeed, what do the Scriptures say about the rapture?
The Reverend Clarence Stam is known to most of us. He is pastor emeritus of the Cornerstone Canadian Reformed Church at Hamilton, Canada. He served there from 1988 until 2004 when he retired from fulltime ministry due to the effects of Multiple Sclerosis.
Reverend Stam has written a number of well-loved books. Some examples include: “Everything in Christ”, “Celebrating Salvation”, “The Covenant of Love”, “Towards the Maturity of Faith”, “Regina Dei Gratia” and various others. Most of these are available through the Pro Ecclesia Bookshops.
A member of Reverend Stam’s congregation once asked one of the elders, “Do we believe in the Rapture?” Apparently, the elder was at a loss for words – he did not know how to respond. The question was brought to a consistory meeting for discussion, where it was found that other brothers were similarly uncomfortable.
The question is not un-common. In Reformed thinking, the notion of the rapture is often left in so-called ‘evangelical hands’. So at this consistory meeting, all eyes in the room turned towards the minister who declared, “Of course we believe in the rapture. It is a very Biblical concept.”
Reverend Stam agreed to devote some time to studying the Biblical notion of Rapture. This led to a series of sermons about the first and second letters to the Thessalonians.
Some time after Reverend Stam’s retirement from fulltime ministry, the material from this work was put together to form a book. This book: “Ready for the Rapture? – A Devotional about the coming of the Lord” is currently available through the Pro Ecclesia (and associated) bookshops.
So what should we understand and believe concerning the rapture?
Having introduced his new book, Stam spends some time discussing the theme presented by LaHaye and Jenkins in “Left Behind”. This book presents the modern belief concerning the Rapture – the notion of two returns by Christ and two raptures (i.e. the heresy of a second chance to repent). Although Stam correctly warns of the need to read the book critically, it is felt that appreciation is expressed for the attention drawn by the authors to the things to come.
Stam impresses the importance of understanding the Biblical sequence of events. He outlines the sequences suggested by LaHaye and Jenkins and compares these with the sequences revealed in the Scriptures. He draws particular attention to the number of rapture events that will occur - just one, with no time remaining for those ‘Left Behind’.
The notion of the rapture is inseparably connected to a certain way of thinking about the millennium. For this reason, Stam takes some time to explain the Biblical revelation about the millennium – the meaning of the 1000 years and when the millennium will take place.
Additionally, he discusses the Great Tribulation and the Man of Lawlessness in detail. He seeks to provide insight into questions such as: What are the characteristics of the great tribulation? When will it come? Who is the man of lawlessness? And how will we (and our brothers and sisters) survive through such difficult times?
Before true believers perish because they cannot endure it any longer, the end will come. It is described how our Lord Jesus will return on the clouds of heaven in the same way as the disciples saw him go. Stam describes how all the dead will be raised – both believers and unbelievers in readiness for the great judgement to come.
Finally, Stam comes to the main subject in question: the rapture. So what does the Bible say about the rapture? And when will the rapture take place? Please read “Ready for the Rapture” to find out. The book can be used either as a study guide or a devotional. Either way you will find it informative and easy to read.
Notably, Stam does not end with the rapture (or Judgement Day for that matter). He concludes his book by presenting some thoughts about how we should prepare ourselves for the coming of the Bridegroom and what the Scriptures reveal about the Life Everlasting.
Let us continue to wait with anticipation for that Great Day. “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night… and … both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up…” (2 Peter 3:10)
Are you ready for the rapture?
Review by D. Visser