Nailing My Rapture Colours To The Mast
Reluctantly joining the current pre-trib debate
have hesitated very much in writing about this, as I know that most have already hardened into one side or the other, and I refuse to engage in pointless debate.
But after prayer, I read this [about a different topic] on a post to my Facebook "It is love to warn someone of deception and falsehood. It is a believer's obligation if you know the truth to warn a brother or sister of deception and of wolves in sheep's clothing. To say nothing at all is to not care about that person's soul."
So I am going to post this, because I believe the time is right.
I've been noticing an escalation in the age-old rapture debate with people taking sides on what at first glance seems a trivial and even minor doctrine of scripture, compared to everything else in the gospel.
And the endless debate isn't even about the FACT of the rapture, but its TIMING.
Now it's getting even more unworthy of the Body of Christ, with some calling others heretics, and breaking fellowship, and even saying that anyone who doesn't believe the classic pre-seven-year theory is ignorant, stupid, apathetic, backslidden or "will be left behind to suffer God's wrath". Where does such thinking and talking come from? It's not from God!
I haven't made the rapture timing a focus of my writings, because there are more important and less divisive things that need to be said. I hate confrontation and I am grieved by pointless sniping at the jots and tittles of doctrine. Didn't God warn us against debating over words for no particular reason?
And in particular the bible warns about rapture debates! Because the specific issue causing problems below is that "some believe the resurrection has already taken place" - that is, the resurrection of Christians at the same time as the rapture. The Church started arguing over the rapture almost from day one! And how are we to respond? Let's see what the bible commands....
2 Timothy 2:14 Warn them before God against quarrelling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. ... Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. ...(18) They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some... .(23) Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
But despite taking a back pew on this for many years, I myself have been at the receiving end of bad-feeling from other Christians, I have had broken friendships, and have been accused of various things JUST for not holding to pre-trib. This ought not to be!
At one conference in the 90's shortly after I announced in my little magazine the same things I'm telling you now, I was approached by a very red-faced angry woman, with a huge black bible tucked under her arm, who faced me down and called me a deceiver, and denounced me in no uncertain terms. I've never forgotten the look of disgust on her face - and all for what? That I believed we'd be taken three and half years later than she did??? How petty.
This debate has been a source of amazement to me over the years, just how defensive and aggressive some can be. Also, just how stubborn people, including myself, can be in hanging onto something despite questions as to its authenticity.
I have been on both sides of the debate because for most of my Christian journey I was as pre-trib as anyone, but now I'm not. I've never stopped believing in the rapture (it's described in scripture) but God challenged me to show, without the aid of any man's teaching or any inference or interpreting into the verses, that the Church would all be taken out seven years before the coming. Or, that the "tribulation" would last seven years. And so on.
All the things I had clung to and desperately defended for years came up for review and I knew the Lord was saying to me, if you cannot prove it just with the plain bible text, you ought not to hold to it.
Before, I had been so determined to defend my pre-trib views that I wouldn't go to websites that taught alternative things, would not read any literature that argued against pre-trib, and cut dead anyone who tried to persuade me otherwise.
In a word, I closed my mind.
And THAT is not the attitude that denotes a genuine scriptural doctrine. After all, I was willing to look at and discuss topics like OSAS or soul-sleep or predestination, so why not this?
So God challenged me to prove what I believed. Well, I tried. And I failed. (See my NOTE at the end for a further comment on this)
Yes, I failed. But not through ignorance or lack of understanding, I hasten to add, because bible prophecy from the 1960's had been my special subject of interest and I'd studied it every which way. Oh I know ALL the proof texts, all the arguments for and against. I know them all off by heart.
The fact is, if you look for simple direct scriptures that teach the pre-seven-year rapture, you'll be disappointed because they just aren't there. I THOUGHT they were, but when I laid aside what men had taught about them, and what I had inferred from them, and what I had interpreted into them, I was left with no other honest course of action than to discard that belief system and go back to the plain word of God.
Often, those who are challenged on their belief in a strict pre-seven-year rapture say "it's totally biblical! It's one hundred percent biblical!". This avoids the real problem, which is that the teaching is merely BASED ON THE SCRIPTURES, and not actually BIBLICAL.
What's the difference, I hear you ask. Well, have you ever watched a movie that is "based on the novel by...." whoever. And if you have read the novel, you find to your disappointment that the movie that is BASED upon it misses out a lot that is stated, and implies a whole lot more that isn't in the book. It's drawn from the book, it's based on it, but it's NOT the book!
"Now The End Begins" blog said recently:
"There is a big difference when you study Bible prophecy through the filter of other people's commentaries, and when you study it for yourself from the inerrant, preserved word of God. This is not to say that commentaries written by Godly bible believing teachers are not good, because many of them are. But they should only serve as a starting point for your scripture studies, they should not be a destination unto themselves."
What happens when we abandon all the books and go straight to the Word of God for confirmation of the pre-trib rapture? As you may know, a prize of ten thousand dollars was recently offered to anyone who could come up with a single verse from the bible that said Jesus will take all his followers off the earth before "the tribulation". Nobody could come up with that verse. Because it's not in the bible.
That fact doesn't deter millions believing in pre-trib however. It never deterred me! I used dozens of different scriptures that were supposed to prove a pre-trib rapture, but I found out that they had been misapplied. In effect, I'd been deceived. I'd been duped. I had been led to believe something was biblical, when it wasn't.
Ask any pre-trib believer to prove it from the bible and you will hear the same dozen or so verses repeated time after time. But there's something disturbing about all of them - they don't prove the pre-trib rapture. That's right. None of them!
Proof Texts Problem
Often, scriptural support for the pre-trib theory is provided in an honest and serious manner, but using verses that are simply ASSUMED to mean one thing, when in fact they can mean another. That is, using verses that have previously been INTERPRETED in a pre-trib way, so ever-after they are assumed to BE pre-trib.
I could say that a leaflet I found discarded in my yard uses the word "Fair", so that PROVES there will be a FAIR coming to our town, even if we don't know when! I'm excited about that event, and I want you to be excited too. And I can show from historical data that Fairs once did come to this town. That clinches it. From that time on, anyone disposed to believe me would teach that our town is going to have a FAIR one day soon and we should watch for it, because there's a text that proves it! Especially if they were greatly looking forward to that event.
But what about if the discarded leaflet - when it's reunited with the rest of its context in the Council Offices - actually said that prosecuting people for building a garden shed isn't FAIR. Will you believe ME, and my OPINION, or the context of the original statement - the FACTS?
With the pre-trib scriptures it's like, the jury is already out, and the verdict has been pronounced, before ever we had the trial.
TV documentaries do the same thing. They start out with a premise based on unproven fact, such as "Did Aliens Build The Pyramids?". They then present as fact something that is actually an opinion, or guesswork.
For example, they read a pyramid inscription in a certain way, or present an artefact that somebody claims is alien. So far it's just somebody's opinion. Watch what happens next.
They then build the ENTIRE programme and come to a supposed FACTUAL CONCLUSION on the basis of these unproven facts!
They have merely made an assumption. It doesn't matter if two thirds of the population agree with it, it's still just an opinion. But they say, "So WHEN the aliens first came to earth they needed a base for their activities that looked like their home planet, and that's when they encoded this text into their new home..."
But wait, who said the pyramid text WAS alien in the first place? Do you see? They presented the initial hypothesis like proven FACT.
A similar thing happens with the "proof texts" of the pre-trib rapture. Somebody way back says that a certain scripture means this or that (in their opinion). Rather than leave it open to discussion, it's treated like proven FACT, because everyone wants to believe in the pre-trib rapture.
Daniel's 70th Week
I'll give one example. Daniel talks about the final week of the 70 "weeks of days". Almost everyone accepts that it means seven years, and that it's not happened yet. However, a pre-trib believer will add that "The Tribulation lasts seven years." Wait a moment. Daniel mentioned seven years, but he didn't equate it to a seven-year "tribulation".
An assumption has been made. But for ever after, the belief is "the tribulation lasts seven years." Do the research. Get a good bible concordance and look up the word "tribulation". Can you find any verse that describes it as seven years, or the full week of Daniel? This isn't to deny the tribulation! It's just to say, we have to be accurate about it.
Another supposed proof that the Tribulation lasts seven years is that "the church is removed seven years prior to the Second Coming" which in itself also has no biblical support. So one assumption is supported by another assumption. That's as sound as saying that sheep can knit because people buy woollen sweaters!
Read the Book
So this issue can only be resolved by READING THE BOOK, and not depending on what is drawn from it or interpreted into it by teachers who differ widely in their doctrine. The only way to know is to go back to the bible and look for the plain teaching that is there. (And finding out what is NOT there.)
Thus it was with me. I determined to be true to the word of God, I braced myself to read it as if it were for the first time, or through the eyes of somebody who had never had a bible before. My mind would not be cluttered with centuries of books and teachings, nor would I read into the text things that were not there, but would go back to the bible afresh and look at the timing of the rapture to see what the bible actually said.
So Many Texts
M uch more space would be required to say all that I found, but I just need to share the reason WHY I was pre-trib: I believe that I was over-eager to accept what I was taught without checking it, without being a Berean in fact. I avoided any challenge like the plague. I even considered those who weren't pre-trib as being somehow inferior saints, not quite christian enough, not "sound", and thought they were unreliable and flakey. I regret that now.
But it was because of my hopes for the future. When I was told that all the verses about persecution, tribulation, martyrdom and suffering had nothing to do with the Church, and that it was ALL for Israel and the world, it was so comforting! I believed because I WANTED to believe.
I will say that again, I believed because I WANTED to believe. And I denied the alternatives because I didn't want to consider them. I didn't want to let it go. I was AFRAID of letting it go.
I wanted to avoid suffering. I wanted a guaranteed escape route. Having been given one by church teachers, I was only too eager to accept it, without looking into it too deeply.
I had a rope that kept me from falling into the abyss (of other interpretations) and no matter how much that rope frayed I would NOT let go. It was FEAR and COWARDICE (to be honest) that kept me clutching that rope against all comers.
Only when I looked into the bare face of persecution, testing, martyrdom and suffering and told the Lord that I would trust in him no matter what, was my mind cleared and rational enough to look at the scriptures properly.
At First Reading
- Anybody reading Revelation for the first time would simply read that Jesus called John up to heaven: "come up here" and they would fail to see ANY reference to the Church being taken out of the world before the so-called Tribulation began!
- Anybody freshly reading the words of Jesus in the gospels, telling his disciples that the rescue would come "AFTER the tribulation of those days" would not then argue that it's definitely BEFORE the tribulation.
- Anybody unfamiliar with the bible seeking to find out the length of satan's rule in the last days would find it was three and a half years in every instance, and never seven years.
- Anybody reading "that day will not come except the apostasy come first and the man of sin..." in 2 Thessalonians, without instruction from another person, would have no doubt that the rapture could NOT happen before those events - yet millions of Christians tell themselves it isn't so..
One of the more desperate devices to avoid the plain text of scripture there, is to redefine the word "apostasy" to mean "the rapture".
Everywhere else that word is used in scripture it means falling away from a belief, but in one single instance it's supposed to mean being taken up in the rapture.
When Paul intended to say "depart from the faith" - that's the way he wrote it: APOSTASIA. (1 Tim 4:1) Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will **depart from the faith**, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, in the Greek: apostesontai tes pisteos: that literally means "depart from the faith".
The Septuagint uses the Greek 'apostasia' for treachery and rebellion of Israel against God and His Truth. Please see this website for instances of the Greek word in scripture, and its meaning to be "defection, apostasy, revolt..." and so forth.
A 'departure' from the plain meaning of scripture and from the truth of the bible is not the "rapture" and to say so is wresting the scripture out of its context. That's a sobering thought.
No doctrine can be established by applying different principles to similar texts, nor by overlaying scripture with an interpretation derived from another, dissimilar, part of the bible. We must not "read between the lines" when the lines themselves state the obvious. Nor do we have the freedom to extrapolate from the given text something that it does not teach, even when that doctrine appears elsewhere in the bible.
The scripture means what it says. We can't turn it around, play with words, and mould it into something else. I have personally experienced this very thing. I even participated in it, to my shame.
In the day when I was deluded by the Word-of-Faith groups, I used to wink at their mishandling and twisting of scripture, because it confirmed my/their beliefs. I refused to listen to reason, or to anyone who said otherwise. I got defensive, angry even, at those who tried to open my eyes.
I remember sitting in conferences, and listening to audio tapes, and as somebody who knew the bible well my mind gave a little jolt when I heard these WoF teachers interpret the bible texts to mean something fanciful and wild. But I overlooked it! I winked at it! I excused them.
I told myself, "well they must be right because they know more than I do, and anyway, this teaching is very positive and uplifting and it makes me feel good."
I didn't WANT to be dissuaded.
I had the same sense of angry indignation when any of my friends tried to argue me out of WoF. I got hot, defensive, loud in the defense of my preferred interpretation (while inside having a few niggling doubts.)
Indeed, the more my doubts grew, the more defensive and aggressive I became. I was, in effect, putting my fingers in my ears and singing LaLaLaLa! I didn't WANT to be persuaded!
The Clash When Deception is Exposed
Eventually, God shook me awake. I did accept the deceptions of the Word of Faith Movement. It wasn't easy. I was disappointed, I felt like I was losing something good; most of all it was hard for me to accept (pride being what it is) that I had been deceived! What ME? Surely not!! But yes, I had, and there was no way of avoiding the fact.
But then I had exactly the same kind of experience when I stood for the classic seven-year secret rapture theory. I didn't want to be persuaded. Everyone around me believed it, how COULD it be wrong?
The Argument Against Pre-Trib
Added to my stubborn zeal, was the paucity of thorough, thoughtful and respectful literature from the OTHER side (in those days anyway.) The only NON pre-trib tapes and books I'd let myself consider had a viewpoint that was often one-sided, tendentious, and historically incorrect. And those who opposed pre-trib came across as petty, off-base, and even spiteful in their attitude, so that only confirmed my prejudice. They weren't doing themselves any favours!
It worried me that many of the anti-arguments were coming from the wrong side, the Christians I wouldn't normally fellowship with, and the ones who at the same time adopted anti-semitic or borderline heretical views of scripture, or were even from the lunatic fringes.
Oh yes, I bought the Dave MacPherson book! And I found the exact text of the "Jesuit" Lacunza's book at the Bristol Library, "The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty" . And I went out of my way to find the full unabridged word of Margaret Macdonald. These are now on my website for anyone to read.
I scoured the library for old texts and early church literature, I read everything I could to educate myself about the subject, and still I held to pre-trib. There was nothing substantial one way or the other, so I just stuck where I was. The only thing I learned from those studies was that the pre-trib rapture wasn't "invented" by those who had been accused of it.
Nothing but a deep study of the bible could help me now!
God Would Not Let it Go
Yet I could not deny the voice of God calling me to think again. It was a tough battle - even a battle that reminds me of the fight to loose ourselves from a deception. Only after the chains fell off, was I able to think and see clearly, as with Word of Faith and later Shepherding, and other similar teachings.
If this is what I experienced before, why would it differ this time? How then can I deny that pre-trib really is a spiritual deception?
(It's important to add, because I know that many readers will be wondering, that when I say "pre-trib" I'm including all the usual teachings about the tribulation lasting seven full years, about the antichrist being the first seal, about the Church Age ending before God can deal with Israel, about the first sign being the peace-treaty, and all that. However, there are variations of those teachings.
Some of these teachings are very much based on dispensationalism - another subject entirely - but I would say here and now that outside of the dispensationalist viewpoint, much of the pre-trib argument fragments and loses its core meaning. And I have never accepted dispensationalism.
- Here's a page for anyone wondering about that: Dispensationalism, what is it?
Also, the REAL debate centres around the tribulation - its nature and length - not the rapture! We say "pre-tribulation" but confusion enters in when we don't specify what that tribulation is, or where it's seen in scripture, or who it affects, or how long it lasts. If only we could get THAT right, we could agree on a whole lot more.)
My journey to the Light
I had to go back to the scriptures and see if there was any direct promise of a secret pre-seven-year rapture, and there wasn't.
It just isn't there.
I was told that "there is no mention of the church after Revelation Four" but who then were the elect, the saints of God, those who stood fast in the faith, those who testified of Jesus, those who were the fellow-servants of the martyrs, and the ones urged to persevere and be patient till the End? In Chapter 12 verse 17 we read of the Dragon persecuting the Woman's other children "those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus...."
Daniel 7:21 and 25 "As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them. ... The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time."
Satan is given authority for 42 months "to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and [is given] authority over... everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.…" (Revelation 13:7-8)
Who are these people whose names are written in the "Lamb's Book of Life" - they can be none other than Christians! Yet they are being persecuted by the Dragon. No mention of the Church in Revelation?? I can't see how that can be sustained from scripture.
In Revelation 13:8 and 21:27, we find the references to the "Lamb's book of life," in which also are the names of all those who have been washed by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. The Lamb who has been “slain from the creation of the world” has a book in which are written all those who have been redeemed by His sacrifice. They are the ones who will enter the Holy City, the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:10) and who will live forever in heaven with God. Since the book of life is that which records all who have eternal life through the Lamb, it’s clear that the book of life and the Lamb’s book of life are one and the same. [Source]
As late as Revelation Chapter 14 we hear of the "patience of the saints" who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and "blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on..." so these are the inconsistencies I kept on finding when I read the scriptures. Yes, I know all the classic answers to these questions, but in my humble opinion those answers don't hold water. Because they insist that the Church MUST be removed before anything else can happen - and that's not what I read in scripture.
I have heard people say they believe in the pre-trib rapture "because God doesn't want us to suffer". Well these Revelation Christians are suffering! So are the Christians of the Middle East, Africa, China, North Korea, Pakistan - and almost everywhere else outside of the affluent West!!! Right NOW. Indeed, Christians have suffered and died in every century and in every nation up to this modern era, so we have to ask why God allowed that to happen, if "He doesn't want us to suffer."
Others have objected that the rapture is our "blessed hope" and it's the way that we "comfort one another" and (they argue) that only makes sense if we are taken out before the Tribulation. However, there are two problems with that argument. One, the "Tribulation" is wrongly perceived to be seven years of absolute hell on earth; and two, Christians are not exempt from trial, testing and persecution. Christians look up with hope, and comfort one another, precisely because we NEED comforting, and not because we are so very troubled by our soft beds and laden dinner tables. We ARE indeed rescued from the Wrath of God, but not from every trial that comes along.
Who Are The Multitude?
I cannot avoid mentioning the GREAT MULTITUDE, so vast that it cannot be numbered, who are seen in heaven after the sixth seal, and who have "come out of the great tribulation and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb". If the pre-trib rapture happened before the tribulation, it sure left a lot of Christians behind!
Oh, they say, these are the ones who got saved after we left. Really???
Such a great multitude that we didn't evangelise, who suddenly decided to accept the Lord after the Holy Spirit and the Church had gone home. But didn't Jesus tell us that after the door is shut, nobody else will be able to get in, no matter how long and loud they plead? (Luke 13:22-30)
Oh, it's Jews who accepted the Lord. Really? Verse 9 of chapter 7 says they are of ALL nations tribes and peoples! From all around the world!
The Church didn't do a very good job if it was taken to heaven before completing its mission, leaving the Body of Christ incomplete. And these were supposedly saved "after the church age" when the time of grace has ended! Hmmm.
One commentator says they are the ones "who are resurrected to appear before the Throne at the glorious Second Coming of Jesus...". How strange is that? Because in fact they appear suddenly in heaven itself, on the opening of the sixth seal, and WAY before the pouring out of the bowls of wrath or the return of Jesus Christ to earth.
See how people have to twist the bible inside out to avoid the very obvious conclusions. If the text says "they came out of the great tribulation" then that's what it means, plain and simple, especially when it dovetails exactly with the teaching of Jesus, that "immediately after the tribulation" the angels will go out to gather the believers.
This is where the debate should be - WHAT is this tribulation of which Jesus speaks?
It's not the WRATH, and it's not the last week of Daniel!!!
Dispensational Interpretation of the Olivet Discourse
I was told, by my pre-trib teachers, that the Church doesn't appear anywhere in the Olivet Discourse, where Jesus warned of the signs of the end. Because, they said, there ARE NO SIGNS! Just one day while all is calm and normal I will (for some reason) be taken up to heaven.
Actually according to dispensational writings, most of the New Testament isn't for the Church!
Dispensationalists have effectively binned half the bible. Once they have stripped out the gospels, and most of the epistles, there's precious little left for the Church to read, or that applies to Gentile believers!.
However, I don't agree with that.
The New Testament is for the Church as much as for Israel. Nowhere in the Olivet Discourse does Jesus say that he's only talking about Israel or the fallen world! Indeed, he goes out of his way to emphasise that he's talking to his own disciples (who were later called Christians), the very ones who had asked him privately to tell them when he was coming back. And "what would be the SIGNS....?"
If there were none, why didn't Jesus say? Why didn't Jesus make it plain that nothing would happen before we were taken? Indeed, why didn't he describe the Rapture happening BEFORE all these dire events, since that was THE most important information that the disciples wanted to know?
What Are The Signs?
They asked, when is this evil age ending? What are the signs? And Jesus started off by issuing a very strong warning: don't be misled! don't be deceived!! A lot of things have to happen before you see THE sign! A GREAT DECEPTION IS COMING and you may be caught unawares if you don't watch out. That is what Jesus said. TAKE HEED.
But then what happened in the Church shortly after Jesus left? Yes, Christians did start to speculate, and circulate words and prophecies and sayings, that Jesus had already returned (or that He wasn't going to return). They got tired of waiting, being persecuted, tortured and killed. They either lost hope entirely, or claimed that The Day (of Redemption) had already dawned and that Jesus had returned "in spirit" or some such heresy!
Against all this Paul had to say (again) don't be misled! don't be deceived! You'll KNOW when The Day is approaching because you'll see certain signs, the principal one of which is the Great Falling Away (in fact that is happening right now.)
Paul said, That Day - with all its hope and comfort - cannot happen until the prophecies are fulfilled, and the signs have taken place, and the great delusion and miraculous works of the Man of Sin come along. THAT is how you will know, so hang on and don't let yourself be swayed by any other teaching. (2 Thess 2:3)
I've spent almost all my Christian life studying Revelation and bible prophecy. It's kind of been my passion. I created scrolls of events, wrote the text individually on cards, made computer animations... you name it... But no matter how many times I tried to make it work, no matter how many charts, cards, texts I laid out, I could never see how the rapture happened at the beginning and everything else was for Israel. It wasn't for want of trying! But the scripture kept contradicting me, and eventually I would no longer accept other people's explanations for that.
Then when I looked at the Olivet Discourse and Revelation side by side, something wonderful emerged - they were almost identical passages speaking of the same sequence of events!
Yet Jesus was speaking to the disciples, advising THEM what they would see and do; so how could John in Revelation be addressing the world AFTER the Church had gone...? When it was the same sequence of events?
A Different Type of Salvation?
Some taught about the Olivet Discourse that this was only addressed to people who would come to faith AFTER the rapture, but that "it's a different system of salvation then." People supposedly revert to being saved by "the law and the sacrifices" just like in the Old Testament. What?? NOBODY has EVER been saved by the Law, isn't that why Jesus had to come and die?
But no, according to this teaching, that blood-bought salvation is withdrawn along with the Church and the Holy Spirit! It's too late to accept Jesus as your Saviour. Remember, the "church age has ended and with it the 'time of grace'" .
When the rapture occurs and Christ takes His Church into Heaven with Him, things will never be the same on earth again. When all those in Christ are raised up to meet their Savior in the air, a whole dispensational system will go up with them. Eternal salvation as we know it today (by grace through faith apart from works) will no longer be valid because the Holy Spirit will no longer regenerate and seal those who become saved after the "trump" [1Thes. 4:16]. Believers in the future will not have a new nature, be placed in Christ, or have Christ permanently indwelling them. Simply put, the means of salvation as we know it today will no longer exist. The differences in the dispensations will make it impossible for a believer to be born again [as we now understand it], placed into Christ's Body, or keep eternal life by faith alone. Instead of being like salvation in the Church Age, salvation will be very similar to the way it was in the Old Testament with works playing a part. [Source]
Yet throughout the Olivet Discourse and the book of Revelation [supposedly about the Jews and the unbelievers] we find people left behind who DO accept Jesus and ARE saved! And they DO go to Heaven. Contradiction? You bet.
Some teach that there IS salvation after the rapture:
Revelation 6:9-11 speaks of those martyred during the Tribulation “because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained.” These martyrs will correctly interpret what they see during the Tribulation and will believe the gospel themselves and call on others to repent and believe as well. The Antichrist and his followers will not tolerate their evangelism and will kill them. All of these martyrs are people who were alive before the Rapture, but who were not believers until afterward. Therefore, there must be opportunity to come to Christ in faith after the Rapture. [Source]
Others deny that anyone can be saved after the rapture:
"Will people be ‘saved’ after the rapture? ... I hate to be blunt like that but I think it’s wrong to give people false hope because it could make some people procrastinate if they think they have a second chance or safety net. I think preachers get that concept from Revelation 20 but as I will show; when the whole Book of Revelation is considered, ‘being saved after the rapture’ is a widespread misconception. In a nut shell, I think the ones mentioned in Revelation 20 are the 144,000 Jews who are ‘sealed’ by God, in Revelation 7, but left on earth until Revelation 14-15. [Source]
Absolutely none of this tangle of weeds called doctrine is necessary if we simply accept that salvation by the blood and cross of Jesus through faith in His sacrifice, is possible and called-for right up to the final moment when Jesus Christ returns riding a white horse, with his angelic armies, to despatch his enemies to the fires.
- What is the point of the angelic shout in Revelation 14:6 if nobody can possibly obey? "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people".
- How could the 144 thousand sealed to God be "redeemed from among men being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.... (Revelation 14)
- How could the great multitude "wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb" if salvation through the blood of Jesus has ended?
The Church where it ought not be
If the Church has already gone, WHO is "looking up" in the Olivet Discourse to watch for their redemption drawing near, and WHAT could that redemption be? And WHO do the angels gather from one end of heaven to the other, at that great trumpet blast? Is it not the believers?
Quite obviously, the believers ARE still here, looking up. Yet this is "immediately AFTER the tribulation of [seal six]".
Someone might argue that Jesus' reference to the 'day of redemption' is actually the Second Coming, for Israel? NO! Jesus isn't talking about his triumphant return to earth after the wrath has befallen the world, because at that time he's not coming FOR his saints, but WITH them. Something is amiss here for sure! One scripture cannot contradict another.
Bent Out of Shape
I could go on and on, but almost every passage of scripture - Thessalonians, Daniel, and others - had been bent out of shape to fit a certain interpretation; but when I went back and actually read what was there in scripture, it said the opposite. It said we had to "endure to the end". That "through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom". (Acts 14:22) We had to "be patient" and "overcome" and "love not our lives even to death."
Yes, there WOULD be a rescue, in the nick of time, as it was for Noah and Lot. Yes God promised to keep us from the WRATH to come, for we are not like unbelievers "destined to WRATH" but He never promised to spare us all the trials and testings of the last days! Remember that Jesus had a perfect opportunity to promise us an easy passage to safety, knowing all that we would suffer on earth after his departure, but what he prayed was this:
John 17: 9-15 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them that you have given me; for they are yours....While I was with them in the world, I kept them in your name: those that you gave me I have kept, and none of them is lost...And now come I to you. I pray not that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil.
We are KEPT from evil, not necessarily by escaping it every time, but by being preserved through it. Likewise, we are told to be patient under suffering, persevere, and don't lose hope. This suggests the context of our last days will not be comfort and safety, but a desperate trial of deception which is almost impossible to resist.
Paul's statement, that "we who are alive and remain" doesn't sound to me like a situation of normality. It sounds more like "anyone who is left alive at that time". That is, people have gone through a very bad time. It suggests there will be few left who have stayed the course.
Israel Abandoned to her Fate
The pre-trib system is merciful only to the Gentile Church, who escape untouched, but consigns everyone else to the utmost torment. True, we have given our allegiance to the Lord, and his mark of ownership is upon us. He WILL honour his purchase agreement and return for his own. That is true, but sadly, some Christians are only too glad to abandon Israel and the rest of the world to horrific suffering in order to be rescued in the rapture, even rejoicing in the sufferings to come! It was this very attitude of "pull up the ladder Jack, I'm all right" that offended me for many years.
Not ALL are this way, but enough to be an irritation in the Body.
Believe me, I would LOVE to believe in a pre-trib rapture, because I'm a coward. But I'm not prepared to deny scripture or change it to suit my own beliefs. There is not ONE scripture that says the "tribulation lasts seven years" and not ONE scripture that says "The Church will secretly be removed seven years before the end." There is not ONE scripture that excludes the Church completely from the trials and testings and pressures of the last days.
All of the sayings of Jesus, backed by all that we read in Revelation, combined with the parables and historical events throughout the Old Testament, demonstrate a series of events where at the time of greatest peril and darkness we WILL be rescued by being taken out. But that we must steadfastly endure until the End, to be saved.
Signs of the End
We have been told what to watch for, and how it will happen. We know when the fig tree leaves are coming out that Summer is drawing near (Matthew 24:32) So we will see the signs around us everywhere, as we do right now! We have not been left in ignorance. Only the unaware and sleeping will miss the signs.
The Olivet Discourse and Revelation show us in very exact terms that the shaking of earth and sky, and the moment of greatest fear of man, with a "great mountain" about to crash into the sea (seal six of revelation) and Israel under threat of occupation or nuclear war, at that moment when all seems lost we will see the "sign of the Son of Man in the skies" and be taken out of here.
For then (as it says about seal six) THEY cry out "the time of his wrath has come..." And we know we will be spared the wrath of God.
It is a comfort to me that EVERY bit of scripture that is now being revealed and amplified to us as we draw nearer to the end, confirms and supports that viewpoint and does not unsettle me as it did before.
The bible is consistent, and nothing that I read in Old or New testaments is inconsistent with regard to this view of the End. I thank God for opening my eyes and I pray he will do the same to many more, before this debate turns really ugly, and before the time of testing befalls us with so many being unaware and unprepared.
Be brave enough to be a true Berean!
When people say there ARE pre-trib proof texts, they then give you the ones in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-54 which only state the fact of the Rapture, not its timing. They assume you are denying the rapture altogether, or are post-trib. Or they say that "we do not know the day or the hour" which is just a cover-all statement to explain how we are not supposed to know these things. True, we will not know the exact hour, but we certainly WILL know the signs and the seasons, or what use was it for Jesus to explain them to us?
After several parables of the need to stay awake and watch for the master's return, Jesus says this "Watch therefore, for you do not know what HOUR your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into." (Matthew 24:42, 43).
There you have it. It's the foolish people who don't bother to watch that are caught unawares and miss the Coming! Why would Jesus warn us over and over to WATCH, if there was NOTHING TO SEE!
Matthew 16:3 "When it is evening, you say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and overcast. O you hypocrites, you can discern the appearance of the sky; but can you not discern the signs of the times?
Jesus addressed this to the Pharisees who certainly did miss the sign of Jesus' first coming, but it equally applies to those who can't see the signs of his SECOND coming. Those who don't see the need to "watch" are the very same ones who are caught unawares:
1 Thessalonians 5:5-9 "But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. (WHY NOT? THEY ALREADY KNEW!) For you yourselves KNOW perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when THEY say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon THEM, as labour pains upon a pregnant woman. And THEY shall not escape. (Here we see the pregnant woman, Israel, in her day of trouble, crying out to be delivered...)
But YOU, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake YOU as a thief. (It's not a secret!!) YOU are all sons of light and sons of the day. WE are not of the night nor of darkness....(and therefore will not miss the signs, nor be unprepared)... (9) For God did not appoint US to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (and here in the same hour we have the child of the Woman who is to be snatched away from the Dragon, to be removed from the wrath to come...).
As you see, I neither believe the rapture is a secret, nor does it come previous to the time of trouble. It is for those very reasons (the possibility of being caught up in the deception and turning away from the truth) that Jesus warned us to be wary, and to watch.
FURTHER STUDY: One very lengthy assessment of ALL the likely rapture mentions throughout Revelation is found HERE - https://bible.org/article/apocalypse-john-and-rapture-church-reevaluation
© 2015 Tricia Tillin. All rights reserved. Birthpangs Website: http://www.birthpangs.org/ This document is the property of its author and is not to be displayed on other websites, redistributed, sold, reprinted, or reproduced in printed in any other format without permission. Websites may link to this article, if they provide proper title and author information. One copy may be downloaded, stored and/or printed for personal research. All spelling and phraseology is UK English.