|PRE-MID-POST? When is Christ coming for His Church? (Post-Trib) Part 2
Concerning the timing of the rapture, the apostle Paul wrote:
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by [concerning] the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by [concerning] our gathering together unto him….Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” – (2 Thess. 2:1-3).
According to the Scriptures Jesus will rapture the saints on the last day of the Great Tribulation, not before it. The Apostle Peter did not believe that Jesus would return at any moment after He ascended into heaven. Jesus, before His ascension, told Peter that he would live to be an old man, which would be many years later, and how he would die to glorify God (Jn. 21:18-19). Paul knew that he was a chosen vessel unto the Lord to bear His name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15). The apostle knew that the rapture would not take place before this ministry was accomplished.
Since Peter and Paul did not believe in the imminent return of Christ, then when can Christians believe that Christ could return at any moment? The answer is recorded in Luke 21:25-28. “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption [the redemption of the saints] draweth nigh.” These things will happen on the last day of the Great Tribulation.
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air….For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night….But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief” – (1 Thess. 4:16-17, 5:2-4).
Jesus will rapture the saints with the sound of a trump. Which trump? Paul wrote, “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” – (1 Cor. 15:51-52).
When is the last trump? According to the Revelation there are seven trumpets during the Great Tribulation. The seventh and last trumpet recorded in Scripture is sounded on the last day of the tribulation: “And the seventh angel sounded [the seventh and last trumpet]; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever….And the nations were angry, and thy wrath [from which the saints were delivered] is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints….” – (Rev. 11:15-18).
It is imperative to know that the last day of the tribulation is depicted in six passages throughout the Revelation. It is impossible to understand the chronology of the events of the Great Tribulation without seeing this. The last day of the Great Tribulation is portrayed (perhaps within a few verses before and after) in the following passages in the Revelation: 6:12-17; 11:15-19; 14:14-20; 16:17-21; 19:11-21; and 20:9-21:8. John the Revelator wrote of events that he saw and then wrote of the last day. Then he wrote of events that he saw and then wrote of the last day. He did this six times in the Book of Revelation.
We are living in times of easy believism, easy credit, easy living, and easy exit for the saints. A major point that pre-tribulationists try to make to uphold their view is that God has not appointed us to wrath. But we must answer the question, What is the wrath to which we are not appointed? And, can saints go through the Great Tribulation without directly suffering the wrath of God, as did the Old Testament saints in Egypt when God sent his plagues because of Pharaoh?
One of the purposes of the Great Tribulation will be for unrepentant worldlings to experience the judgment of God, as have sinful societies throughout history, from the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, Jerusalem, and others up to the worldwide judgment of the end-time Tribulation. Another purpose will be the persecution of the saints during the Great Tribulation in order to clean us up for the return of Christ. Much of the suffering of the saints during this terrible time will be from persecution and not directly from the judgments of God. (There will, however, be suffering because of not being able to buy or sell without the mark of the Beast, etc. Christians who do not take the mark will not be able to be legally employed, pay taxes on their property, buy automobile tags, gasoline, food, or anything else.) Christians during the Great Tribulation will be like those saints of the Old Dispensation mentioned in the Book of Hebrews. They “were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” – (Heb. 11:35-38).
In Revelation 6:9-11 it says, “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held….And white robes were given unto every one of them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. In the next chapter the apostle John saw not just Jews but Aa great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes….And one of the elders [around the throne] answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of [the] great tribulation….” – (7:9, 13-14).
Some Christians argue that the word “church” is not even mentioned after Revelation chapter 3. That is true (except that “churches” is mentioned in 22:16), but the “saints” are referred to more than a dozen times after chapter 3. And Jesus said, For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened – (Mt. 24:21-22).
|WHY DO I BELIEVE THIS WAY
|Persecution and martyrdom is the New Testament norm. Jesus said to His disciples, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you….The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you….” – (Jn. 15:19-20). Peter wrote, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” – (1 Pet. 2:21). And Paul wrote, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” – (2 Tim. 3:12).
According to Church history all the Apostles suffered martyrdom except John who was banished to the Isle of Patmos. The apostles were thrown into prison time and again during their ministry, and suffered beatings and other persecution (Acts 5:40; 16:23; 2 Cor. 11:25; et al.). Paul was in and out of jail, suffered beatings and was incarcerated, under house-arrest, for two years (Acts 28:30) before his martyrdom.
We are not experiencing persecution in America, not because Satan has changed his strategy, but because the saints have changed theirs. Most Christians in this country have not been endued with power from On High and are not proclaiming a scriptural evangelistic message which includes remission of sins and repentance (Lk. 13:3-5; 24:47; Mk. 1:15; 6:12; Acts 3:19; 17:30; 26:19-20; 2 Pet. 3:9).
Most evangelistic messages are watered-down, easy-believism, half-truths that omit the need for repentance. (Look at the Gospel tracts in the tract rack at bookstores and in your church building, or listen to your pastor preach an evangelistic message or give “an invitation” to see if you can even find or hear the word “repent” or “repentance” mentioned.
Some church leaders teach that believing in an imminent pre-trib rapture will influence Christians to live holy lives. But the Scriptures teach, referring to the heavens and earth being destroyed by fire, “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye [the saints] to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?….Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” – (2 Pet. 3:11-14).
There has never been a time when so many Christians believed in an imminent pre-trib rapture and yet the twentieth-century church in America can be characterized by almost anything but holiness. (With all the filth of the television programs and cheap output of the press brought into our homes, divorce, the worldly dress and sports activities, ad nauseam.) Most Christians in America live and look too much like worldlings; there is no contrast, therefore in many cases there is no conviction brought about by the Holy Spirit in the lives of the lost.
Paul said, “…We glory in tribulations (thlipsis) also: knowing that tribulation (thlipsis) worketh patience” – (Rom. 5:3). This is the same Greek word used in Revelation when John saw a great multitude in white robes and one of the elders around the throne said, “These are they which came out of [the] great tribulation (thlipsis)….” – (7:9, 13-14). The Greek noun thlipsis was also used in Acts 11:19 concerning the persecution of the Church at the time of Stephen’s martyrdom and is rendered “persecution.”
“In the world ye shall have tribulation….” – (John 16:33). “…We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” – (Acts 4:22). “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you…for my sake….Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” – (Mt. 5:10-12).
Tribulation and persecution is not the wrath of God. Again, persecution and martyrdom is the New Testament norm. The wrath of God that Christians will be kept from is the wrath of the last day and, of course, the wrath of the Lake of Fire. Those who have been saved by Jesus have already been delivered from the eternal Lake of Fire which is the wrath to come. Paul wrote, “…Jesus…delivered us [past tense] from the wrath to come” – (1 Thess. 1:10).
Even a casual reading of the Scriptures will reveal that God takes His people through tribulation rather than delivering them from it. Beginning with Noah and his family who were kept safe in the ark which was a type of Christ, they went right through the middle of the flood with torrential rains coming down from above and all the waters from below: “…All the fountains of the great deep [were] broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened” – (Gen. 7:11).
Another well-known example is the three Hebrews who were not delivered from going through the fiery furnace which was heated seven times hotter than usual. Indeed they went right through the middle of that persecution and the Lord went through it with them. Yet another example of God sending His saints through tribulation rather than keeping them from it, is Daniel being thrown into the den of lions. He went right through the middle of that persecution, but God sent an angel to close the mouths of the lions. That great saint brought glory to God in that tribulation.
Like the Old Testament saints listed among the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11 and all the Apostles who were martyred except John who suffered the persecution of Patmos, God sometimes lets His saints suffer and die for His glory.
The saints will go through the tribulation depicted in the Revelation. The Antichrist will be given power “to make war with the saints, and to overcome them” – (Rev. 13:7). Christians who are compromisers before the Great Tribulation are not going to be overcomers through it. Most Christians (especially those in the United States) are not spiritually ready to go through that which is on the horizon if it is as late as we think it is. The days of the Great Tribulation will be the worst time that this world has ever seen. Probably not many Christians will be ready to go through the Great Tribulation, but believing that you are going to be raptured out before it begins is certainly not conducive to spiritual preparation for it.
|WHERE ARE WE NOW IN THE TIMEFRAME
|According to the Scriptures there must come a falling away before the rapture of the saints. Never in the history of the Church has there been such a falling away from the truths of God’s Word. With all the signs prevalent throughout the world—sin, lawlessness and violence as it was in the days of Noah, with the technology available to implement a “mark of the beast,” and the global movement toward a one-world government to name just a few—it doesn’t take much discernment to know that we are living in the very last of the last days before the Great Tribulation.
PRE-MID-POST? When is Christ coming for His Church? (Post-Trib) Part 2