Saturday, March 6, 2010

Making a Strong Case for a Pre-tribulation Rapture Position

As a follow up to my previous post on the return of Christ, I wanted to touch on the subject of the timing of the Rapture of the saints, which is a different event from the Second Coming of Christ. My church, as well myself, hold to a pre-tribulation Rapture position. There are other Christians that believe in a mid-tribulation Rapture and still others that believe in a post-tribulation Rapture.

I think it makes the most sense to define our terms up front in order to adequately differentiate the Rapture from the Second Coming of Christ. The Rapture is when Jesus Christ returns to remove the church (all believers in Christ) from the earth. The Rapture is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-54. Believers who have died will have their bodies resurrected and, along with believers who are still living, will meet the Lord in the air. This will all occur in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye. The Second Coming is when Jesus returns to defeat the Antichrist, destroy evil, and establish His millennial (1,000 year) kingdom. The Second Coming is described in detail in Revelation 19:11-16.

It is important to note that while both events involve Jesus returning, they are distinct in purpose. The Rapture, according to a pre-tribulation position, is the return of Christ in the clouds to remove all believers from the earth before the time of God’s wrath known as the Tribulation period or the Day of the Lord, which will last seven years according to Daniel 9:20-27. The Second Coming is the return of Christ to the earth to bring the Tribulation period to an end, and in the process, defeat the Antichrist and his evil world empire. At its conclusion, the Lord Himself and His saints will rule on the earth for a thousand years, which is known as the millennial kingdom period.

As I mentioned earlier, there is quite a lot of debate within the Christian community on the timing of the Rapture and if believers will be present on earth at the time of God’s wrath and judgment. The pastor of my church recently gave eight evidences for a pre-tribulation position. I have read many books and listened to many messages on this topic and these eight evidences are the best reasons I have ever heard that support a pre-tribulation position. My goal is not to persuade anyone’s position on this topic but to offer compelling information straight from the Word of God.

I also want to emphasize something that my pastor mentioned before he gave these evidences. The Scripture does not state in clear, unmistakable terms that the Rapture is pre-tribulational, mid-tribulational or post-tribulational. However, the evidences for a removal of God’s people, both dead and living, before the Great Tribulation is compelling to say the least. The Pre-Tribulation position also answers more problems than the other positions create or answer. So, without further delay, below are the eight strong evidences.

1. Revelation 3:10 teaches that Christ’s promise to the church at Philadelphia was “I will keep you from the hour of testing.” This is not saying that God would preserve them "within" the testing time, but that He would keep them from entering the time of testing altogether.

2. The Bible does not warn believers of the impending Tribulational judgments. It warns of present tribulation or trials, false prophets, and unholy living, but not the Tribulation period.

3. The church does not appear at all after chapter four, verse one in the Revelation (chapters 4:2-19 detail the Tribulation period). This silent witness speaks volumes regarding the absence of the church at this time of prophetical history.

4. The event of a Rapture at the end of the Tribulation offers no hope for the believer’s loved ones or themselves being spared the Tribulation. This was the major concern Paul was addressing in 1 Thessalonians in the first place as the people believed they were already experiencing the Tribulation period and were concerned for their loved ones who had already passed away.

5. If God raptured all believers just prior to establishing the Millennial kingdom, there would be no one left to enter the kingdom in their natural bodies to populate the earth.

6. Revelation 19 does not mention any Rapture, or where it would likely occur if post-tribulational.

7. If it is post-tribulational, then the Rapture accomplishes little at this time. It would make the separation of the sheep and the goats as detailed in Matthew 25:31-33 unnecessary because the post-tribulation Rapture of believers would have just accomplished that fact.

8. The sequence of events as detailed in Revelation chapters 4-19 requires a pre-tribulation Rapture for the following reasons:
a) The Rapture mentions a resurrection; the Second Coming does not.
b) At the Rapture the saints meet Chris in the air; at the Second Coming Christ comes with his saints to meet the saints on the earth.
c) At the Rapture the Mount of Olives is not involved; at the Second Coming it is divided.
d) At the Rapture saints are taken up; at the Second Coming there is no mention of the saints being taken up.
e) At the Rapture the saved are in view; at the Second Coming both the saved and unsaved are in view.
f) At the Rapture Satan is not mentioned; at the Second Coming he is bound during the 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ on earth.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have always been very interested in prophesy. Thanks for this information. It is helpful as I study through the book of Revelation.