‘Rapture Church’ Got Left Behind

Didn’t she seek the kingdom here and now?

Mark Raja
8 min readDec 8, 2023
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As a young believer, I used to perform a puppet show named Uncle from Africa. It amuses me now when I think about it. It also embarrasses me somewhat. The show was hilarious and presented the “Gospel” as we believed. We performed it at many schools and churches, and often on popular demand.

A puppet and the host talk about getting ready with their passports so that their uncle from Africa can take them when he arrives. The puppet does not believe it; hence, he does not bother to get his passport ready. Ultimately, the uncle comes in a hurry and takes the one with the passport. The puppet gets left behind. A lively and hilarious show ends in despair.

The “gospel” in this show is about being ready for the coming of Christ to be taken up into the clouds to be with Jesus. According to this gospel, the Church’s responsibility is to save souls from the gloom and doom ahead of us.

This thinking leads to a frenzy whenever some war or disease breaks out. Today, we are at such times when the Rapture Church is busy speculating about fulfilled prophecies while neglecting her call to act by the vision of the kingdom of God. Unfortunately, here in India, most of the churches are ‘rapture churches’.

There is some element of truth in what this sort of thinking implies and that I appreciate. It gives the call to turn away from worldliness to Christ. But it is muddled up with a theology that is not biblical.

Misunderstood the gospel

That is not even a gospel; instead, it seems an escape plan of a defeated king. But the gospel of Jesus Christ is about his triumph over death and the coming of his eternal heavenly kingdom on earth. In his kingdom, Christ reigns with his ecclesia in righteousness, justice, and peace. He proclaimed his gospel saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” This is the kingdom Christ commands us to seek above all.

The problem with the Rapture church is not mainly its belief in our disappearance into the sky when Christ appears, as the Left Behind series depicts. But, it’s a complete rejection of the coming of the kingdom of God here and now, God’s vision to advance his kingdom to the ends of the earth and our call in it to disciple nations. This false teaching is one of the reasons the kingdom of darkness is advancing even inside the Church.

Since she does not believe in God’s kingdom now, she desperately waits to be taken up to heaven at Christ’s imminent return, while the unbelievers are left behind on earth. However, the truth is that the Rapture church chose to be left behind from the kingdom and her calling as kings and priests to disciple nations into it. What a tragedy!

Jesus said, “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” As we are born of the Spirit of God into the household of God. As sons and daughters of our heavenly Father, we become heirs with Christ inheriting the kingdom and serve the Father as custodians of it.

The gospel regenerates us internally and consequently transforms us externally. But the Rapture church thinks the purpose of the gospel is only to save souls from hell and not to transform our reality. How is this possible? This is the mindset of some clergy who do not engage or contribute to the mainstream culture but isolate themselves from it, calling it secular or unspiritual. They fail to recognise the kingdom of God advancing when an engineer, janitor, nurse, mother, artist or a teacher worships the king by doing God’s will in their day-to-day life.

Rapture church fails to comprehend the conflict of the kingdoms behind the gospel. Satan tells Jesus that all the kingdoms of the world belong to him. Therefore, the nations pledged their allegiance to this king in everything they did. However now, Christ is the Lord of heaven and earth because he has triumphed over Satan.

Therefore, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the royal announcement of his reign and kingdom he reclaimed where he will reign with righteousness and justice. Hence, all things in heaven and earth should submit to him. But those who do not submit will be sent to outer darkness.

Ignored her calling

Christ has called us as kings and priests to “proclaim the excellencies (Arete) of Him”, which is to declare Christ’s ultimate goodness in the spiritual and natural reality we inhabit. This is better understood in Christ’s command to disciple all nations by living and training in the way of Christ in all areas of life, visible and invisible because He is the king of kings with all authority in heaven and earth to redeem all things from the kingdom of darkness.

As ambassadors of Christ, we conduct our lives administering God’s will in the presence of the world to persuade them to see and learn the will of God and enter the kingdom by submitting to the king and ordering their lives accordingly.

As humans, we learn by imitation, not by speaking abstract concepts. The more I see others the more I imitate them. The more the world sees the body of Christ doing the will of God in all areas of life, the more the gospel permeates into families, communities, education, business, environment, economy, governance, etc. Therefore our calling is not private piety. In Christ we bring healing to the nations as we disciple and proclaim his excellencies, not preach an escape plan.

Since the Rapture church is pessimistic she has no kingdom vision for the world. If you ask them why they pursue education when Christ’s return is imminent, they may say to financially support themselves. But they ignore to see their work, or creativity as an opportunity to reflect the excellencies of Christ in the dark world. Yes, there are evangelistic but you can see the shallowness of the gospel they preach to get converts, not the kingdom. Go check out the number of schools and hospitals they started in the last thirty years.

I don’t mean that they have not done anything good to bless the nations; they indeed have done some good work, but they fail to see God’s eternal purposes through them. They consider them futile efforts if a soul is not saved. Therefore their effort is often shallow, that is, focused mainly on merely ‘saving souls’.

Some may say Rapture church can also be kingdom-focused. It may be possible on some levels when they don’t get carried away by the end-times frenzy. Some of them focus on discipleship not merely converts, but limited to personal spirituality. They don’t have a vision of Christ’s excellencies coming to fruition in our families, work, education, business, economy, etc., here and now. The modern education, health care, and agriculture systems initiated by kingdom-minded missionaries in India are now abandoned by the Rapture church for the kingdom of darkness to take over.

Indulged in End Times frenzy

You may ask, what about the ultimate judgement of God on the unbelievers? The Bible does talk about judgement and destruction of the kingdom of darkness, it even more talks about the mustard seed that grows into a great tree. The faithful Eklessia advances the kingdom of light on the earth, overcoming the kingdom of darkness and plundering it even through trials and persecution.

Jesus knowing the judgement of Jerusalem, wept over it, yet he proclaimed the good news of his kingdom that conquers. He did not ask the Church to be paranoid nor be deceived by End Times heresies but to seek the kingdom of God in all things.

Yes, Jesus instructed the church in Judea specifically to leave Jerusalem when they saw certain signs. That is how the body of Christ in Judea escaped God’s judgement on Israel around AD 70. Eusebius records this in his Church history.

Similarly, When God judged the world during the time of Noah, he saved his people in the ark. When God judged Sodom and Gomorrah, he saved Lot and his family by leading them out. God kept his people in the land of Goshen while bringing judgement on Egypt and, in the end, took them to the wilderness.

The end times that the New Testament authors refer to are about the Jewish people and the temple which ended with the fall of Jerusalem around 70 AD. Today, we don’t have any specific instruction from God to run to any secluded place or disappear into the clouds.

Paul, in his letter to Thessalonians, uses the word harpazó or “caught up”, which we call rapture, a moment of greatest joy, to describe our bodily resurrection when Christ appears. This term was used at different places in the New Testament. Even Paul used this term to describe his experience of being caught up in paradise.

In that 1 Thessalonians passage, Paul was comforting the believers in Thessalonica that those who died in the Lord are not lost forever, but they too will be raised in their resurrected bodies in this astonishing experience when Christ appears.

In biblical cosmology, heaven is something above and land below, and hades is below the land. This language is not meant to be interpreted from the point of view of scientific materialism. This symbolic language needs to be understood not by its material property or function but by its metaphysical meaning.

Therefore, this passage should not be understood as an escape to heaven above the clouds but rather as the ultimate fulfilment of the new creation where the heaven and earth, the invisible and the visible, are renewed into an impressible new creation along with those who already died in the Lord. This is our hope and reward, not our mission.

John’s writing of the message of Christ to the seven churches ends with these words, “Those who conquer.” Christ calls the Church to conquer our ungodly circumstances by the Spirit of God in them, not escape into clouds. That does not mean the Church dominates the world politically but to conquer the spiritual powers by discipling the world into obedience to Christ. Our families, marriages, institutions, industries, communities and ecologies in which we participate and inhabit should become outposts of the kingdom of righteousness, justice, and peace.

My journey from the rapture church towards the Gospel of the Kingdom is challenging, the old mindset keeps coming back in many ways. However, I am learning not to condemn but to love my unbelieving neighbours and the cities I live in despite the darkness. Focusing on faithfully proclaiming and doing the will of God, and caring for my work, resources, relationships, communities and ecologies. To serve the body of Christ so that we can conform to the image of Christ in love and unity.

May we return to this vision of the kingdom that Christ proclaimed!



Mark Raja

I mostly write to clarify my understanding. You will find my articles on themes like beauty, faith, hope, culture, and common good.