If you’re a Christian in more than name only, that is you are truly born again and Jesus Christ sits on the throne of you heart, then you have most likely heard of the “Rapture”. The promise of the resurrection from the dead, and those who are alive and remain will be caught up to meet Christ in the air at His coming for the Church. The change that comes to us that makes us immortal; that enables us to inherit the Kingdom of God and enjoy Him forever.
There are two main places in the Bible we get the foundational scriptures that form the basis for the concept of the Rapture. The first is in 1st Corinthians 15, where Paul makes the astounding proclamation about a mystery of God, in that he says: “51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in 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 will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality”. And the 2nd foundational scripture is found in 1st Thessalonians the 4th chapter:” 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 4 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus 15 or this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”
Now I want to assure you, that there can be only one truth. If there is only one truth, then three out of the four positions are in error. Many great teachers and scholars have studied this question, and the fact remains that although these men are men of God, they cannot all be right. Some are teaching error. For example, Hal Lindsey, Chuck Missler, John Walvoord, of Dallas Theological Seminary, David Regan, just to name of few of the prominent names, and many, many more preach that the Rapture will happen before the tribulation begins. Indeed, most of the Church believes this error today.
Well, they are wrong. They are in error and I’m going to prove it too you.
The first argument the Pre-tribbers et.al. make is found in 1st Thessalonians 5: 9 “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,”
The 2nd argument they make is found in Rev 20: 4 “Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”
Let’s take the first argument: I think all would agree that there is a difference between “wrath” and “judgment”. Judgment does not always include wrath; God continually judges man ever day, all the days of our lives. God’s judgement may result in good things happening to us when we have been obedient to Christ and not necessarily bad things or punishment which many times is a result of God’s judgement. However, wrath is a judgment where only bad things happen. In the book of Revelation, God’s wrath does not take place until the bowls of wrath are poured out. This is the third WOE. This comes after Jesus has “Raptured” the church in Revelation 14. It happens after the “Abomination of Desolation” that occurs in the middle of the tribulation, so you could say that the “Pre-Wrath” position is the most accurate. The rapture is portrayed in symbolism in that Jesus gathers in the harvest of the earth. Christians are the wheat of the harvest. Israel on the other hand is always depicted in scripture as being the vine, or the olive tree. Israel is never, referred to as wheat. It is after Jesus gathers the “wheat” that the righteous are removed from the earth. Only unbelievers and Jews remain on the earth after that event.
Therefore, we are not destined for wrath, however, the Church is indeed IN THE TRIBULATION when the rapture occurs! And consequently therefore, cannot have been “caught up” before the tribulation began. Otherwise, there would have to be TWO resurrections for believers; and no where in the scriptures are two resurrections taught except that the second resurrection is the resurrection of the dead at the Great White Throne Judgment of God and does not include believers in Christ. (I’ll have more to say about that a little later on). So, then that leads into the 2nd argument. What about those who are beheaded, and did not take the mark of the beast that came to life and reigned with Christ for a 1000 years?
Does the scripture not teach us that we are to be “Kings and Priest, and reign with Christ for a 1000 years? In 2nd Timothy, Paul states: 11 It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him.”
Also Rev; 5:,9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 10 “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” Additionally: Rev: 20: 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
So then to explain the conundrum the Pre-Tribbers seem to have regarding this is nothing more than those that “came alive” are none other than those who have been raptured! When John reports that they “came alive”, of course they came alive in earthly form, in human form although immortal, because before that event they had a spiritual body in heaven. Make sense. Yes?
Now, let’s take it a step further: Question, If the group that comes alive in Rev 20 is of the martyred of Christ in the Tribulation, and is a special group, a different group than the Church, as the Pre-tribbers believe, then what of John 3:16? The scripture is very clear: we do not get a second chance at salvation! That would have to be the case, otherwise, John 3:16 becomes invalid, moreover, it would make God a liar!
Additionally, are not those that are martyred in the Tribulation among the “dead in Christ”? And if they are of the dead in Christ, then they are of the Church, the body of Christ. As a matter of fact, there are more dead in Christ that make up the body than those that are alive and remain at His coming!
Finally, to further expand on the dead in Christ condition, there is another question that must be answered: Does not the dead in Christ constitute those that make up part of the number of the “fullness of the gentiles” that is to come in as Paul taught in Romans 11:25? Paul taught that we should become careful about conjecture “lest you become wise in your own estimation.” That a hardening has happened to the Jews until the fullness of the gentiles comes in. This term: “the fullness of the gentiles” refers to the gentiles that are to become believers in Christ, that is the Church. The “fullness of the gentiles” is number specific and not time dependent, that is why Jesus said “no man can know the day or the hour” of His coming. Only God knows who the last martyr will be that completes the number.
Furthermore, we must also take into consideration regarding this “number”, the prophecy concerning the martyrs as John saw in the 5th seal in the Book of Revelation. Chapter 6:9: The Fifth Seal—Martyrs
9 “When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained.
10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.”
Please note the last phrase regarding the number that is to be completed! They are told ( probably by one of the four living creatures,) to wait until the number is to be completed, What number? The number that comprises the “fullness of the gentiles”!
What Paul is teaching in Romans 11, 25 and forward is a mystery. I explain all of this in my book: Unprepared: The Unsealing of The Book of Revelation.
The rapture occurs in the Tribulation. It does not happen before the tribulation. No Way! It is depicted in Rev 14, and God is going to use the rapture of the Church as a sign that finishes His judgment of punishment upon Israel: It will be the event that the Jews will observe above Jerusalem that will convict them in their hearts that they indeed crucified the Lord of Glory. They will gaze upon Him whom they pierced. They will morn profusely because they will finally realize they threw away the Kingdom that was theirs for political expedience. They will witness the rapture; and they will know they are left behind! The realization of this will be utterly devastating to them. The good news is, that at that time God will open their eyes, and ears, and give them an understanding heart, and put His Spirit upon them as He has done for us. His peace will be upon them. Amazing isn’t it! He will protect them until the end, and they will become the glorious Kingdom in the millennium that will bless the whole earth as God intended for them in the first place.
I give additional reasons that refute the notion that the rapture is pre-trib in my book, however, what I have written here should convince anyone that the Church will indeed go into the tribulation. So I strongly suggest, to every Christian, get prepared for what is coming. We all are going to be tested.
To God be the Glory, and to Jesus our Savior.