When I actually began walking with Christ some years ago, He gave me a passion for certain areas of His Word that Christians can sometimes get bogged down in, specifically Creation, prophecy, eternal salvation and the rapture. I don’t believe God is ambiguous in any of these areas and you must believe that in order to come to the correct conclusions.
My feelings on the issue of the rapture is that it’s not something that needs to divide Christians because there is a truth about it we can all know and so I’ve written this to encourage discussion and study.
I have published much about the timing of the rapture and still have more to come, but I want to give a quick rebuttal to 2 objections often raised. I want to ask you a very good question for consideration and I’m also going to provide a definition of the rapture based on what I believe Scripture to be teaching.
The 2 objections:
One of the common arguments is to use 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (and other passages from the 2 books) to show that Scripture teaches a pre-trib rapture. I’m going to compare this passage with Christ’s own words to show you it does not teach a pre-trib rapture scenario. I will also use this all-important passage in defining what the rapture really is and who it is really for.
Another common argument in favor of a pre-trib rapture is that born-again Christians will not suffer God’s wrath, therefore we will be raptured before the Tribulation.
The 2 quick points:
1, Consider that born-again Christians have already escaped God’s judgment through the finished work of Christ on the Cross [John 3:36; Romans 5:8-10; 1 Thessalonians 5:9]. We will never experience God’s wrath. That is the Gospel. Consider that you can’t even participate in the rapture unless you are already saved from God’s wrath. Therefore, the rapture is not a vehicle of salvation from God’s wrath. That’s not it’s purpose.
A born-again Christian is already saved from God’s wrath and so this is not a good argument to use.
So, the issue only becomes where does Scripture place the rapture?
2, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 does not teach a pre-trib rapture because Christ doesn’t teach it. Let us focus on Christ’s own words in the Olivet Discourse. In it, Christ, who has told us everything in advance [Mark 13:23], tells us when the rapture takes place:
“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.
[Matthew 24:29-31 NASB]
Jesus’ own words should settle the matter for us. if Jesus tells us here when it takes place, then the other Scripture people often quote to argue in favor of a pre-trib rapture cannot be correct because we know that the Holy Spirit, the Author of Scripture [2Pe 1:20-21], who teaches us in the Word [John 14:26] cannot contradict Himself [John 16:13] since He is God [Acts 5:3-4]. therefore, multiple interpretations leading to inconsistent conclusions in His Word cannot be true.
Scripture places the rapture immediately after the Tribulation.
Read through 1 Corinthians chapter 15. My question for you to consider is: is Paul teaching about the rapture or the resurrection? This is a bit of a trick question so please spend some time thinking about this.
A definiton of the rapture:
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 defines the rapture for us.
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. [1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NASB]
What’s going on here? The dead in Christ rise first, those who have already passed on. Those who are alive at this time “will be caught up together with them” as they return with Christ. The rapture is defined within the context of the resurrection of the Saints. Therefore, the rapture is the part of the resurrection for those who are alive at the time of Christ’s return to be gathered to Him. Those who are dead in Him are already with Him [1 Thessalonians 4:13-18]. Again, the rapture is only for those who are alive at this time so if you die before Christ returns, you won’t be participating in the rapture but you will, indeed, be resurrected.
The purpose of the resurrection is to give all believers their eternal bodies and the resurrection includes the rapture.
And when does the resurrection take place? It takes place at the end of Revelation in chapter 20 – the end of the Tribulation.
My encouragement to you:
On the right hand side of my home page you will see that one of my ministry’s focus areas is “Heeding Christ’s command to be spiritually prepared by establishing a correct timeline of events for the Last Days.” I am passionate about this because I believe there are many dangers associated with the idea of a Pre-Trib rapture. Despite Christ’s many warnings to watch and be spiritually prepared for the time ahead, a great deal many Christians will not be because they think the Church won’t be here and will end up suffering needlessly during the time of the Tribulation at the hands of Satan and Man.
There’s a great deal more than can be said on this topic and, God-willing, that’s something I’ll tackle at a later date. For now, you are invited to browse through the links on the right-hand side of my home page under “An Examination of the Pre-Trib rapture and the Timeline of the End”. As you do so, I would encourage you to start your investigation with this excellent exercise.