Will we still be here?
According to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture proponents the Church will be taken out just before the seven year Tribulation period. However, the Bible does not teach a seven year Tribulation period but it definitely teaches a three and a half year period of Great tribulation and stress unequalled in the past history of the world and never to be equalled again. This period will begin with the Antichrist desecrating the Temple Mount as Antiochus did. Yet we also need to keep in mind that an abomination of desolation already stands on the site of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and has been sitting there now for several hundred years or more.
Now, the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Proponents teach that the true Church won’t even be here when the Antichrist is fully revealed. But is this true? Nowhere are we told in scripture that the Church will not be here when the Antichrist comes. The clearest reference we have to this is found in Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonian believers. The passage of scripture is found in 2nd Thessalonians chapter two verse one to verse twelve. (See the study “The Coming of the Lord and the man of Sin” on this website) We will now look at the other lines of defence propagated by the Pre-Tribulation rapture proponents.
8. The next line of defence used by the Pre-Tribulation Rapture proponents is to say that the Church will depart before the Antichrist is revealed.
At this point please take your Bible and open it to 2nd Thessalonians chapter two. In this chapter Paul specifically tells us that the rapture cannot occur until three things happen. Two things are already conspicuous but there is a third thing to happen before the rapture can take place and we will look at this.
In its context Paul is talking about the Second Coming of the Lord and that specific part of the Second Coming when the saints will be gathered around the Lord Jesus in the air when He returns. Some were saying that the day of the Lord had already come implying that the Thessalonian believers had been left behind. He wrote to them…
(Vs. 1-2) “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.”
In its context Paul is speaking about the Day of the Lord which is not a moment in time but a series of events that happen one upon another that includes the end-time judgements of God, the rapture and the wrath and return of Christ. However, the aspect of the Day of the Lord Paul mentions is; “The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him.” In other words he was referring to the Rapture of the Church. Some had been saying that the Day of the Lord had come because the believers at Thessalonica were experiencing persecution and affliction and thought that the day of God’s wrath was upon them. Furthermore, some of them were easily unsettled, and alarmed at the events they found themselves in. Some had been saying supposedly with Apostolic backing that the rapture had also come and they had somehow missed it and been left behind to suffer all of the affliction and persecution they were undergoing.
Now Paul settled their fears when he said that the rapture would not happen until certain things occurred that would be very conspicuous and unmistakably clear to them as the Church in Thessalonica. Let’s look at what he told them…
(Vs.3-4) “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.”
a. The first thing Paul mentions is “the rebellion” or “the apostasy.” He is not talking about a general falling away from the faith but a landslide of apostasy never before seen in history, an apostasy that would see multitudes of professing Christians being unfaithful to Jesus, backsliding into the world and Ministers teaching false doctrines and things taught by demons. (1Timothy 4:1-2) In other words before the Lord Jesus comes back to rapture and resurrect the faithful Church there would have to occur the final great apostasy. Today the apostasy is in “full swing.”
Whether it is Roman Catholicism, the Immerging Church, Postmodernism, Motivational Psychology in the Church, Faith Prosperity, Restoration Theology, Latter Rain Manifest Sons of God doctrine, or Purpose Driven theology and so on it is all part of the final apostasy. Of course the apostasy really started when the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire paving the way for the paganizing of the Church. (This is a separate subject in itself). So the apostasy has to happen before the rapture and resurrection of the saints. Already the apostasy is well under way and a conspicuous feature in the professing Christian Church.
b. The second thing Paul mentions, and the main point to consider, is that the rapture cannot happen until the Man of Sin also called the Antichrist has been revealed. According to Paul’s Eschatology the believers would have to know who the Antichrist was before they were raptured. This in itself refutes the Pre-Tribulation Rapture proponents who say that the Church will be removed before the revelation of the Antichrist. Furthermore as we have seen the Antichrist’s Beast Empire persecutes the saints before Jesus comes back. (Revelation 13:7).
c. The third thing Paul mentions is that false signs, miracles and wonders in the Church will precede the coming of the Antichrist.
(Vs.9-10) “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”
Today the whole world is fascinated by the supernatural. Just look at the movies, the books and the video games and DVD’s perpetuating the Occult and the Supernatural. More close to home, look at the myriad of false prophets, false teachers and so called miracle workers like the false prophet Benny Hinn and many others like him. Look at the multitudes of professing Christians going in for the miracles, the signs and the wonders.
You know the late Derek Prince said, “There are many Christians who hunger and thirst after signs. Miracles and wonders but how many hunger and thirst after righteousness?” He was right in what he said. Well this also is a conspicuous feature occurring today and the rapture has not occurred as yet. I would rather believe what Paul said than what the well-meaning, well-intentioned Pre-Tribulation Rapture teachers are telling the Body of Christ. This is why it is important that we love and obey the truth. If we don’t then God Himself will send us a delusion and we will no longer be able to believe the truth even when we hear it. (Vs.11-12) “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” To not believe in the truth is to delight in wickedness!
Another argument the Pre-Tribulation Rapture proponents will use to support their view is to say that when the restrainer (the Holy Spirit) is removed that this will mean that the Church is also removed because the Holy Spirit indwells all true believers.
But can they say this? Look again at our text in 2nd Thessalonians…
(Vs. 7-8) “For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendour of His coming.”
Now most Bible commentators will agree that “the restrainer” or “the one who holds the power of lawlessness back” mentioned here is the Holy Spirit. Some would argue that it is the Roman Empire; however, most scholars agree it would be the Holy Spirit. Now the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Proponents say; “Well if the Holy Spirit goes then the Church must also go because He lives in believers.” This is again an inference or an assumption that is not found in the text itself but is based on their view of Eschatology. It does not say that the Holy Spirit goes but simply stops restraining the Antichrist from coming to power. Let’s be clear that God will never take the Holy Spirit from the heart of a true believer who loves and obeys the truth. However, in some way the Holy Spirit will no longer exercise His restraining power on the Man of Sin but allow him to manifest himself.
So then in the Great Tribulation the restraining power of the Holy Spirit will not be evident in the same way as it is now, however, the Holy Spirit will still be around. In the Great Tribulation true believers will still be preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and doing it by the power of the Holy Spirit. Now while many will still be saved the majority of people at that time will not repent of their sin and turn to Christ. In a very real sense the God of the Bible goes back to behaving like He did in the Old Testament.
Furthermore, the Pre-Tribulation Rapture proponents teach that the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation chapter seven are unmarried Jewish evangelists who will preach the gospel during the Tribulation. (Based on their system of Eschatology) Now ask the question, “By what power will they preach?” “Can anyone preach without the power and presence of the Holy Spirit?” If the Holy Spirit is removed with the Church prior to the Tribulation then by what power will the 144.000 preach the gospel if the Holy Spirit is absent on the earth? Their argument just does not hold up at all!
In the light of Paul’s teaching we can confidently say that before the rapture can happen three things must occur. 1. The Apostasy. 2. Counterfeit Wonders, signs and miracles. 3. The revelation of the Man of Sin. While the first two things are prevalent today the man of sin is still to be revealed to the faithful Church. Until we know who he is and until he starts to persecute the saints we will not be raptured out of here. But we will be raptured. Make no mistake about that!
9. Another line of Defence used by the Pre-Tribulation Rapture proponents is that they will say, ““I’m going up before the Tribulation. If you want to stay around you can but I’m leaving!”
This is the weakest argument of them all and probably not even worth mentioning however, there are many in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture camp who will say this to those of us who do not believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. In most cases it is said with an aggressive know-all attitude. Somehow they really object to those of us who do not agree with their view of the Rapture. This has been my experience as a fellow believer and fellow heir with them in Christ.
This kind of statement exhibits a rather “smart alec” kind of attitude. Usually those who say this kind of thing have not really looked at all the facts but are “blinkered” to a great degree and do not want to see the truth as it is quite challenging and frightening. Furthermore, the real truth concerning the rapture will move us out of our “comfort zone thinking.” Many believers really think to themselves, “it’s one thing for our brothers and sisters in third world Islamic countries to suffer persecution and death for Christ but why should we have to suffer in the West?”
Pre-Tribulation Rapture Eschatology really finds root in western affluent Christianity especially in America. Because of Pre-Tribulation Rapture teaching in the Church today bolstered by such movies as the “Left-Behind Series” and others, multitudes of sincere, Christ loving believers will not be prepared for the onslaught of the Antichrist’s Beast Empire that will come upon the Church in the west. It is only a matter of time! All true Christians will leave the earth at the point of the rapture, regardless of their position concerning the timing of the Rapture. Even true Christians who for some reason don’t believe in the Rapture will also go up at that point in time. So let’s be clear that no-one is getting out of here through the rapture merely because he or she wants to go.
10. Another line of defence used by the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Proponents says, “The Rapture is mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. After this it is mentioned that we are to “encourage” each other with those words consequently if we had to go through the Tribulation that wouldn’t be encouraging at all but instead discouraging!”
Now if we start reading a few verses before verse 16 we can easily see how we are to encourage one another as fellow believers in Christ. Let’s look at the whole text. I have underlined certain parts of the passage which clarify what we as believers are in fact to encourage each other about.
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
According to Paul’s words to the Thessalonian believers, who were undergoing persecution, he did not want them to grieve like the rest of the unsaved who have no hope. The encouraging truth they were to focus on is that their loved ones who have died in Christ were very much alive with Christ in heaven. Only their bodies lay in the ground. Furthermore, the reunion with their loved ones will occur at the rapture and the resurrection where they will all be changed in the twinkling of an eye. The unsaved have no such hope! As believers in our Risen Lord Jesus we should not grieve like the unsaved do when our loved ones in Christ depart this life. They simply go on ahead of us and wait for us to join them either when we fall asleep in Christ ourselves or when we meet them at the rapture and resurrection. Hence we can certainly encourage and comfort each other with these words of the Apostle Paul. This is the emphasis of this passage of scripture! There is nothing at all discouraging about this passage of scripture!
Multitudes of our dear brothers and sisters in Christ have only ever been presented the one view of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture and become quite sensitive and somewhat defensive when faced with an alternate view. It may come as a real surprise to them to learn that the Bible really teaches a Post-Tribulation Rapture. It is true that as believers we will never suffer the wrath of God we will go into the Great Tribulation and have to face the Antichrist and his Beast Empire. In the light of the world’s current situation I am persuaded that this generation will go into the Great Tribulation and that this century will see more martyrs for Christ that in any previous generation. Whatever the mark of the beast will ultimately be, we must not take it and ask the Lord Jesus to show us what it is when it comes.
Living in the Last days
We are living in the Last Days. Israel has been a nation since 1948. There is still an invasion of Israel to come where half of the city of Jerusalem will be sacked and exiled. The world is yet to experience the escalation frequency and intensity of the “labour pains” of wars, earthquakes, famines and diseases, not to mention the economic woes that will engulf the whole world. Indeed the four horseman of the Apocalypse have started to ride across the face of the earth! Tragically many who profess to be Christians will fall away from the faith (Matthew 24:9-10) (Luke 21:12-19) (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
What are we living for?
The rapture is our hope as believers and the reason we will experience trials and afflictions in this life is to help us not to become too attached to this world and the things of this world. When you think of eternity what is our life span down here on this earth? What are we living for? It will soon all pass away and fade like the flower and the grass which is here today and gone tomorrow. What is our life down here but a vapour of smoke quickly blown away! Indeed our Lord Jesus gave us come good advice.
Watch and pray!
(Luke 21: 26-28, 34-36) “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near…“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
We are still in the world
While we are in this world we will not be spared suffering, trials, temptations, stressful situations and even earthquakes or tsunamis or disasters of one kind or another. Not everyone will be able to escape persecution. Many faithful believers are already being persecuted right now. Some will escape persecution in the Great Tribulation, but the majority of us won’t in the end, however, we will be rescued out of the hand of our enemies and from the hand of all that hate us when the Lord Jesus comes back. We will go into the Great Tribulation to experience the wrath of Satan but we will never experience the wrath of God. Indeed Paul said to the Thessalonians.
God’s ‘payback’ time!
(2 Thessalonians 1: 6-10) “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power on the day He comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed.”
In the book of Revelation we are told how we can overcome Satan. “And they (the overcoming believers) overcame him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (Revelation 12:11)
These are all those who will come out of the Great Tribulation! Many will overcome in the Great Tribulation through martyrdom and that will occur before the rapture of the faithful Church (Revelation 7:9-17) (Revelation 20:4). Whether by life or death, ultimately God will be glorified in His holy people! In the end God Himself will have the last word! “Even so Come Lord Jesus!”