Question: I have been talking to a friend of mine about the Rapture. He was raised in the Lutheran Church (ELCA) and confirmed; but, has never heard his church mention the Rapture. Do you have any idea why, since they claim to believe the Bible?
Answer: I cannot speak for every sect, or splinter group, that call themselves Lutheran. I have written and obtained the literature from three of their major denominations; being, the Missouri Synod, the Wisconsin Synod, and the Evangelical Lutheran Churches of America (ELCA). Their writings clearly state that none of the three believe in the Rapture.
They also do not believe in the literal restoration of the Nation of Israel; nor do they believe the promises of Christ setting up the Kingdom for 1,000 years here on the Earth, when He returns to judge the nations at the end of the seven-year Tribulation.
They spiritualize hundreds and hundreds of Scriptures throughout the Bible that prophesy, literally, these coming events.
This is the problem that arises when you establish a denomination upon a man such as Martin Luther, or any other man. Therefore, the views of the man are indoctrinated in people, instead of a personal study of the Word of God by themselves.
Personally, in studying the life and teachings of Martin Luther I am amazed at what he did not believe concerning the Bible. Along with denying the Rapture, Israel’s Restoration as a nation, and the Kingdom Reign of Christ on Earth for a 1,000 years; he also did not believe the Book of Revelation should be in the Canon of Scriptures. This is because he did not believe it would ever be possible for these things to be fulfilled. He also could never reconcile the Epistle of James with the Book of Romans; therefore, labeling the Epistle of James the “Epistle of Straw.”
In Luther’s Large Catechism, he states that
“But I am baptized! And if I am baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in soul and body.” (Luther’s Large Catechism, P. 86).
He continued on Page 87 by stating...
“Further, we are not primarily concerned whether the baptized person believes or not, for in the latter case, Baptism does not become invalid.”
He further states very plainly that...
“Baptism is valid, even though faith be lacking… Baptism does not become invalid even if it is wrongly received or used, for it is bound not to our faith, but to the word.”
This clearly contradicts the Word of God in John 3:36 which states:
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life: but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
Clearly, Martin Luther believed that Baptism is essential for eternal life. It is sad to say, but the majority of Lutherans I have talked with have no idea what Luther did and did not believe! Luther is as much a god to the Lutherans, as the Pope is to the Catholics!
A few years back, a young lady and her husband came to our home. She attended our church, but her husband, who had been raised a Lutheran, wouldn’t come. While visiting in their home, he had many questions; and, during the conversation trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior. He had been baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran Church; but, was lost on his way to Hell until that night when he trusted Christ as his Savior.
A few weeks later he was killed in a car accident. When I arrived at the hospital, his parents already had the Lutheran preacher there. All were in the waiting room and, as I began to relate to them about Matt accepting Christ, thinking it would be a comfort to them, his parents got up and very disgustedly left the room.
The deceased’s parents overruled the wife in having the Lutheran preacher conduct the funeral, since they had raised him a Lutheran. I asked the Lutheran preacher if he would tell those at the funeral about Matt’s trusting Jesus Christ as his Savior. At the funeral he talked about how Matt was a salesman and so was Jesus. His whole message centered on “Remember “Matt’s baptism.” Never once did he mention that Matt had received Jesus Christ as his Savior.
I thank the Lord we could retrieve another soul from the grips of Luther’s philosophy of Baptism for salvation. Matt’s salvation was based on God’s word, as he understood and believed Ephesians 2:8,9,
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."