Category: Rapture

In defense of the pre-trib rapture: Imminency -- dothnet.net

A look at the pre-trib rapture: Imminency required

One defense for the rapture happening before the Great Tribulation begins is the need for a rapture imminency. According to pre-trib proponents, that means it can happen at any time, without warning or any notable event coming first, and with no way of determining exactly when it will occur.

That aligns fairly well with Merriam-Webster’s definition of, “ready to take place;” as in “hanging threateningly over one’s head,” giving the example, “was in imminent danger of being run over.” Let’s look at what the Holy Bible tell us about imminency and the return of Christ for His church.

Scriptural proofs

No one knows the day or the hour the rapture will occur. We know this because Jesus said so. He told His disciples in the Olivet Discourse that when it comes to His return,

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” — Matthew 24:36

And yet, He did not say that we would be left without a clue as to when the time was near. In later portions of the Discourse, our Lord said

“(S)o, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.” — v. 33

And:

“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.” — v. 42

Just as those promoting the pre-tribulation timing of the rapture use verse 36 to dictate the need for imminency, they use the later verses to insist that while we cannot know the day or the hour, we can (and some say, must) know the times and the seasons. Many align current events with Christ’s warnings of wars, earthquakes, love growing cold, etc., and then point to it as evidence of our being in those times and seasons right now.

This is said to be knowing the season but not the day or the hour, thereby preserving rapture imminency.

The countdown

The difference between knowing the times and the seasons verses the day and the hour supposedly proves a pre- vs. post-tribulation rapture because the Great Tribulation brings with it a countdown to the very day or hour.

Here is how this theory goes: If you are on the earth during the Great Tribulation, you will be able to count down to the day and maybe even the hour that the Lord Jesus will return. That is because the expected Anti-Christ will make a covenant with the nation Israel for seven years, break it in the middle of the seven years (bringing us into the Great Tribulation vs. a lighter tribulation in the first half of the seven), and at the end of that Great Tribulation (and the entire seven years) Christ will return. Therefore, all one has to do is make note of the date that covenant or treaty is signed, count ahead seven years to the day and perhaps even the hour, and you will know the day and the hour that the rapture is going to happen.

There is one huge problem with that. There will be no covenant between Anti-Christ and the nation Israel for seven years. This is a sadly popular misunderstanding of who makes the covenant with Israel and when (Daniel 9:27). Since there is no such covenant in the last days, there is no marker for a final countdown, and this argument for rapture imminency is dead on arrival.

The man of lawlessness

In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul assured the Christians there that those who have died in Christ would rise again at His return:

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.For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For 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. 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. 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. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

The bolded portion relates to a latter section, so please keep in mind it’s there.

Paul continues in chapter 5:

Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.

In his second letter to the church, Paul addresses an issue of concern that has sprung up among God’s people there:

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

And he tells them what must happen before that day comes:

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?

If the man of lawlessness, the one most pre-trib adherents call ‘the’ anti-Christ, must be revealed and take his seat in the temple of God, claiming to be God, before the people of God are gathered to meet Christ in the air, how is the return of the Lord imminent? If imminent means, as many say it does, “nothing more needs to happen in God’s timeline” before Christ appears for His church, how do we deal with Paul’s saying the man of lawlessness must be revealed before that day comes?

Jesus’ own words on rapture timing

Did Jesus say anything about the timing of the rapture in relation to the Great Tribulation?

Yes; He said it would be “immediately after the tribulation.”

“But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” — Mathew 24:29-31 (ref. Mark 13:24-27).

The angels with a great trumpet? They will sound that trumpet out over the land. Paul talks about it in I Corinthians 15:51-52:

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 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.

True rapture imminency

There is a true imminency about the last day and our appearance before Christ Jesus which is, if you think about it, a sort of personal rapture imminency. It is the frailty of human life. No one has the next second guaranteed to them. This is why we should be a living witness to the world around us, so that in our lives they may see something that brings them to ask us to give the reason for the hope that is in us (I Peter 3:15). That hope is in Christ alone, and it comes at His appearing whether we are among those who are alive and remain or those who have fallen asleep (I Thessalonians 4:15-18).

Once all sections in this series are complete a list with links will be posted below. Thanks for your patience.

Introduction to Series

 

 


 

End Time Delusions: The Rapture, the Antichrist, Israel, and the End of the World

It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine): How to stop worrying and learn to love these End Times

Intoxicated with Babylon: The Seduction of God’s People in the Last Days

In defense of the pre-trib rapture: longing -- dothnet.net

A look at the pre-trib rapture: Loving His appearing

I do not like to write about things like this, but what you are about to read is ugly. The way pre-tribbers use this particular defense of the pre-trib rapture – longing – is just plain ugly. Prepare yourself before reading further.

The Holy Bible makes clear that one indication of being a child of God is loving or longing for Christ’s return, His appearing, at the last day.

“In the future there is reserved for me the [victor’s] crown of righteousness [for being right with God and doing right], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that [great] day—and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and longed for and welcomed His appearing.” — 2 Timothy 4:8 (AMP)
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” — Titus 2:11-14
“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” — Hebrews 9:28-29

The rapture: Longing for Christ

In their efforts to shame anyone who does not adhere to the dispensationalist pre-tribulation rapture theory, some people are bold and cold enough to suggest that those who do not support it are lacking in their love for God. First, they cite the above verses describing what any true child of God feels about the rapture: longing. Those in Christ long for the appearing of our Lord and Savior. We hunger to be with Him forever and ever, and to know the closeness with Him we lack until that day.

The ugly way they use this is to say that anyone longing for His appearing will want it to be as soon as possible. That must mean, then, that those who do not adhere to the pre-tribulation rapture lack this longing and are not truly His child. Take it one more step and you can then reject anything and everything they say, including insight into Scripture proving the pre-trib rapture to be false.

The “rapture longing” proof for the pre-tribulation rapture is perhaps the most despicable of them all.

More to read in the series:  (full list coming soon)

Imminency

Rescue

Longing

Wrath

Introduction


End Time Delusions: The Rapture, the Antichrist, Israel, and the End of the World

It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine): How to stop worrying and learn to love these End Times

Intoxicated with Babylon: The Seduction of God’s People in the Last Days

Pre-trib Rapture? Yes, the church will be caught up to be with the Lord forever, but the timing is unclear to some.

A look at the pre-trib rapture: Why take it up now?

Over many years while under the ministry of many preachers, teachers, and laymen in the church, I heard every possible defense of the pre-tribulaton or pre-trib rapture view of the church in the last day. Growing up in a small holiness church in central Ohio, the consensus was that the pre-trib timing of the rapture was certain. No dissenting view was ever heard.

As a young person, I did not question my elders’ understanding of the Scriptures. I believed and wanted to always believe that the rapture of the church came before the Great Tribulation. Christians would be spirited away (quite literally) into the heavens, kept safe from all the horrors about to come upon the earth in that day.

I believed that for the first score and four years of my life. Then one day, troubled with the lack of support for that belief in the Holy Bible, I asked our pastor about it. He referred me to the very passages that had troubled me with no explanation of the text, only an assurance that this is what it has to mean.

There was no chance of finding someone in my church to talk about this with an objective view toward the Scriptures. On some of my early and naive attempts, the mere thought of being on the earth during the Great Tribulation brought some of them to tears. It just wasn’t worth putting loved ones through that when I was not sure myself.

Fortunately, the Internet soon came along and I was able to begin searching for what people all around the world were saying. Not only did I discover there is absolutely no biblical support to the pre-trib rapture theory but also the dispensational view of the Holy Bible was lacking proof. Every single tenet, foundation, and proof for any defense I had ever heard for the pre-tribulation rapture went ‘poof!’ right before my eyes as I read the text.

As the Holy Spirit is opening more and more hearts, minds, and eyes to the truth on this matter, the remaining supporters of it are being more forceful than ever in proclaiming their defense of the pre-tribulation rapture. Some are getting down-right mean toward those who pray for them to see the truth on the matter, accusing us of having no interest in prophecy and not longing for the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

That attitude may be an indication of the Holy Spirit dealing with hearts or it may be a sign of clinging to a comfortable deception that tickles itching ears. I was that way once — who wouldn’t rather believe you’re going to be taken away to be with the Lord before the world falls apart than face the truth that we need to prepared to stand true and minister as it does?

Views on Revelation and the rapture

Let’s quickly review the most prominent views of the Book of Revelation and the rapture.

The pre-trib (as in, tribulation, referring to the Great Tribulation) view of the rapture (aka the return of Christ Jesus for His church) is popular among dispensationalists. They claim that it happens so that the church is not on the earth at the time of the Great Tribulation. One reason given for this having to be so is that we are to be spared from God’s wrath, as promised. Another such reason is that it permits God to deal exclusively with the Jewish people for the last seven years of the age.

The pre-trib timing of the rapture is one perspective held among a vast number of views of what will take place during the end times according to those holding to a futurist interpretation of the events described in the Book of Revelation (that’s singular, by the way).

The futurist view stands in contrast to the preterist, historicist, and idealist views of the Revelation. To quickly review:

  • Preterists generally believes everything in the Book of Revelation was fulfilled by 70 A.D.;
  • Historicists propose that it covers all of church history from the first apostles to the return of Christ;
  • Idealists believe it is an allegory explaining the spiritual struggle between God and the satan from beginning to end; and,
  • Futurists tend to believe that all of the Revelation is describing events yet future.

Folks believing the events are mostly past or allegory may not have the same divisions as we who see the end of days as a future event in real time. I’m sure there are exceptions, but most historicists I know believe the rapture comes after the Great Tribulation and hold to the amillennial viewpoint.

As a futurist, you can hold any of many different perspective on the text as well as any combination of those perspectives, those these generally center on three basic concepts: The rapture, the millennium, and dispensationalism. The last one divides most futurists into two camps.

  • If you hold to the dispensationalist view of the Holy Bible, you are almost certainly an adherent to the pre-trib rapture. That’s because dispensationalism does not make sense without it.
  • If you reject dispensationlism, you can see things clearly.
John Wesley on dispensations after grace.
Those holding to the Wesleyan tradition in one hand and dispensationalism in the other might be unaware of his expressed belief on the matter, such as this quote from one of John Wesley’s sermons.

Why bother?

I have heard people who grew up in the same little church as I did say, as an adult without Christ, that they will know it is time to get ready when the rapture happens. Not only is that bad thinking because we never know when our own personal ‘rapture’ will occur but it sets up those around those people to not be trusted when the last days turn out as they will (with the church still here). Let’s say Bill believed everything his aunt Sally told him about the Bible since he was a little boy in that little country church and one thing she’s always taught him is that the rapture happens before the Great Tribulation.

Bill hasn’t been to church in years, has no relationship with the Lord at all, but has it in his mind to make things right when aunt Sally and other Christians he knows are raptured. If Bill and Sally are fortunate to remain alive until that day, what does Sally tell Bill? That she was wrong and here is what’s happening now. Will Bill believe she is right this time? Without seeing the rapture happen, will he be provoked to find faith at all?

And then, there is the readiness of the church. I won’t accuse that those who hold to these beliefs are all going to fall should they be alive at the end times, but if we think (in the USA) that religious persecution has come to our land today, well, we haven’t seen anything yet. We must be prepared to lose all, plain and simple. Material goods, people we love, freedoms, rights, up to our very lives. The Holy Spirit will give us what to say and what to pray, so we don’t need to rehearse speeches or memorize prayers, but we need to be ready for that day all the same.

Easy to follow

This will not be one of those over-your-head articles that throw so many intricate details at you that the big picture gets missed. It’s easy to follow and understand. I promise.

No particular order

I think that’s enough of an introduction. When you are ready to begin the first installment of this series, click where you’d like to begin. There in no particular order.

More to read in the series:  (full list coming soon)

Imminency

Rescue

Longing

Wrath

Introduction

More . . .


End Time Delusions: The Rapture, the Antichrist, Israel, and the End of the World

It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine): How to stop worrying and learn to love these End Times

Intoxicated with Babylon: The Seduction of God’s People in the Last Days