The Shepherd's Chapel denies the doctrine of the rapture which is the teaching that upon the future return of Christ those Christians who are alive will be "caught up" to meet the Lord in the air. The word rapture is derived from the Latin "rapio" which means "to seize," "to snatch." The primary verses used to support this doctrine are found in 1 Thess. 4:16-17; "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." At the time of the rapture all Christians will be transformed bodily. According to 1 Cor. 15:51-52, "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed."
There are three main theories to deal with when the rapture will occur in relation to the seven year tribulation period. They are known as pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, and post-tribulation. In short, the difference between them is in respect to when the rapture will take place. Will it occur before the tribulation, at the midpoint of the tribulation, or at the end of the tribulation?
Mr. Murray, in an attempt to support his erring doctrine, teaches that the word "clouds" in 1 Thessalonians is not referring to clouds in the sky but a gathering of people of like mind, a collection of witnesses who know the truth. Such interpretations are not consistent with the 1 Thess. passage.
Accepting or denying the teaching of the rapture does not affect one's salvation. It is a doctrine that can be believed or not without any affect upon a person's position in Christ. Unfortunately, the Shepherd's Chapel teaching is rather harsh regarding the rapture. Mr. Murray, the pastor of the Shepherd's Chapel, states that the rapture is a false doctrine (Newsletter #193 - Nov, 1994) and that many who believe in the rapture will be deceived into worshiping the Antichrist (Newsletter #205, Nov. 1995). At one point Mr. Murray stated that 95 percent of the churches that teach the rapture will accept the antichrist as the savior (Newsletter #116, June 1988). Such statements are simply not sustainable from a biblical perspective. Nevertheless, please consider some more quotes from Mr. Murray regarding the rapture:
- Teachers of the rapture are dangerous.
- "The false prophets promise salvation cheaply. ... They say, 'All you have to do is believe and then wait to be raptured out of here'. These are dangerous teachers, friends." (Newsletter #193 - Nov. 1994).
- Preachers have twisted the truth regarding the rapture.
- "Christ taught in their streets, but they weren't listening. You can hear it unto this day from the very pulpits that should be teaching truth. They have twisted the truth into teaching the rapture, the Easter bunny and the apple Eve ate in the garden of Eden. These false teachings make those that accept this doctrine easy marks for Satan's bondage." (Newsletter #230 - Dec. 1997).
- False prophets teach the rapture.
- The false prophets utilize the rapture as a security blanket. Placing words in God's mouth is very dangerous. Believing those words is also dangerous. Think for yourself. Believe only what God has said in the letter He wrote to you. (Newsletter #245 - March 1999, Men Say and God Says)
- The Rapture doctrine is from Satan.
- Yet, today we have false teachers leading people to Satan's doctrine of rapture from the very pulpits from which they should be hearing the doctrine of Jesus Christ. It is very appropriate that judgment begins at the pulpits. (Newsletter #253 - Nov. 1999).
- The Rapture is not in God's word but is from seducing spirits.
- The rapture is not in God's Word. God is against those seducing spirits who would teach His children to fly to save their souls. In conclusion, let's go to the Book of Mark. The disciples asked Jesus what it would be like when He returns at the second advent. Jesus gave us seven events that must transpire before His return. (Newsletter #262 - Aug. 2000)
- There will be no rapture.
- There will be no rapture; however, if you believe the rapture theory, Satan might use this fact to deceive you. The false prophets promise salvation cheaply. ... They say, "All you have to do is believe and then wait to be raptured out of here". These are dangerous teachers, friends. (Newsletter #193 - November 1994, Prepare to Meet Your God)
As you can see, Mr. Murray adamantly denies the doctrine of the rapture and states that those who believe in it are greatly deceived since it is a doctrine of Satan. In reality, it is Mr. Murray who is deceived. He is perfectly free to deny the rapture doctrine; it isn't an essential teaching of the Bible. But, his condemnation of those who believe in it goes well beyond the admonitions of Rom. 14:5 which says, "...Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind."