The following article was sent to me by Grace & Truth Ministries. I've already covered most of the points in the article, however, because it directly answers a post-trib believer, I thought featuring it would be a good way to demonstrate my determination to directly contend for the pre-trib rapture doctrine. The post-trib author's letter has no indent, is not in brackets  , and is black in color. The responding comments are indented, in bracket's, and are blue in color.]
Origin of the Pre-Trib Rapture Theory
The pre-trib rapture theory is not something that God has revealed to us in these last days. Indeed it is a doctrine from demons that has been perpetuated through well-meaning men for the past few generations.
[I don't know how another person can judge what God has or has not revealed to another. In my case, I was non-committal for many years regarding end-time eschatology, and came to a belief in the pre-trib rapture doctrine through the study of God's Word, and I hope my maturing in spiritual discernment.
To begin an article by saying that those who hold to the pretrib rapture are believing a doctrine of demons is an ungracious fear tactic. There is plenty of false doctrine out there which clearly contradicts the Word of God. To describe an opposing view of end time doctrine - which doctrine is relatively complex as Scriptural doctrine is concerned - as being a doctrine of demons, shows a very serious lack of humility. It might also show that the author is of the type who believes only he has the proper understanding of Biblical truth, which is a very dangerous position, if indeed he believes this. The kind of argumentation used to open this article is speculative, emotionally based, and non-profitable.]
There is no known writing existing, or referred to by other writers, of the pre-trib rapture teaching prior to 1830. None of the early Church fathers or anyone else throughout Church history wrote about the saints being raptured before the end-time Great Tribulation. This does not conclusively mean that the theory is false, only that it is a historical fact that this teaching did not exist among the early Christians or the Church fathers or any Christians throughout history until 1830.
[Arguing from history is using something other than the Word of God as your standard. The Word says, "Daniel 12:4 - But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." I could easily argue that revelation over time has in fact increased, but that would be profitless, for then I would be looking to men's history instead of the Word of God. Therefore, the Word does say that "knowledge shall be increased", and the context of that statement is aimed at "to the time of the end" of the fulfillment of the prophesies in Daniel. The statement, "it is a historical fact that this teaching did not exist among the early Christians or the Church fathers or any Christians throughout history until 1830", is one of those statements that only an omniscient being should make. It is merely emotive, allegedly 'historical', yet in reality unsubstantiated speculation.]
Reportedly the origin of the pre-trib rapture teaching was with a fifteen-year-old girl named Margaret MacDonald in the town of Port Glasgow, Scotland. Supposedly in 1830 she had a dream or vision that Christians were raptured just prior to the Great Tribulation. In 1831 or 1832 a Presbyterian pastor in London, England named Edward Irving heard about this dream or vision that Miss MacDonald had and started teaching it to his congregation. These are well-known reports among scholars of eschatology.
These reports concerning the origin of the pre-trib rapture theory may or may not be true.
[So what purpose is furthered by continuing to repeat what might be a lie? Is this author not concerned that he may be perpetuating gossip and slander? Does this author claim to be a "scholar of eschatology"? In addition, what is a Biblical definition of a "scholar"? Perhaps 1 Cor. 1:20 might assist in that endeavor. Is this author giving weight to his argument, which may be false, based on "scholars"? Link to Education-olotry: Are Seminaries Biblical?]
What is well-documented is the fact that John Nelson Darby, the founder of a group known as the Plymouth Brethren, after visiting Miss MacDonald began teaching this new theory.
Later, by 1917, C. I. Scofield had published his improved edition of the Scofield Reference Bible which contained the dispensational pre-tribulation teachings of Darby and others. Soon many Bible Colleges such as Moody Bible Institute and seminaries such as Dallas Theological Seminary became staunch promoters of dispensational theology that included the doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture.
In 1970 Hal Lindsey, who attended Dallas Theological Seminary, popularized this teaching with his book entitled The Late Great Planet Earth. Several million copies have been sold and a movie by the same title was made.
The widespread acceptance of a doctrine does not make it true.
[Nor does the wide spread acceptance of a doctrine make it false e.g. the deity of Jesus Christ.]
What really matters is not whether some Bible colleges and seminaries teach the pre-tribulation rapture theory, or whether many pastors teach it, or whether many Christians accept it as true; what really matters is what does the Word of God say?
[This is a confusing statement indeed. The author spends the first part of this article trying to provide weight to his arguments by relying upon origin gossip, 'scholars' and popularity, but then says these arguments don't really matter. Why would the author set the foundation and tone of his article on defending the post-trib belief by making arguments that "don't matter"?]
Most Christians in this country are not spiritually ready to go through what 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. And this earth has seen some very bad times. Probably not many Chris-tians 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.
[First, where does the scripture say that the believer is to "spiritually prepare" to endure God's wrath? Sadly, here the author makes the assumption that the pre-trib believer's blessed hope (Titus 2:13) is to escape God's wrath. This could be indicative of those who have not come into a proper understanding of God's grace. I can't speak for others, but my desire is to be with the Lord, to be free from the battle with a sinful nature, and to be free from the persecution of Satan. These are my motivations for wanting to be with the Lord - believing in the blessed hope - not to avoid God's wrath.]
Imminent Return of Christ?
The pre-trib rapture teaching of many church leaders carries with it the doctrine of the imminent return of Christ. This is the belief that Christ could return at any moment, even before you finish reading this sentence.
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).
[There are two fallacies with this argument. First, is it true that because Mary, Jesus' earthly mother, knew that Jesus was the Messiah (Luke 1:35), she would properly carry that truth around in her heart at all times? This she did not do (Luke 2:48), because she was a sinner, like the rest of us. Did Peter live with the truth in John 21:18-19 abiding in his heart at all times? Of all the things Jesus told Peter, he would abide in John 21:18? Again, this argument seems to come from a wrath or fear focused perspective, rather than a hope or grace or promise focused perspective. In fact, Peter did live with the eager expectation of the kingdom of God coming (1 Pet. 4:7, "But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.") Jesus did not say how old was "old", and why would Peter state this ("the end of all things is at hand") if he didn't think that Jesus would return at any moment (Acts 1:6)? The second and greater fallacy with this argument is the following. Even if Peter didn't fully understand the doctrine of the catching away (revealed to Paul in 1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Thess. 4:17), does that mean the doctrine is not true? For example, is the Revelation given to John irrelevant or wrong because Peter did not know it, and thus could not believe it? Of course not - we must look to all of the Word, not just one instrument of the Inspired Writ.]
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.
[How does Paul knowing his calling negate his belief in the imminent return of Jesus? This author knows his calling, yet that does not negate my knowing the Lord could return at any moment. Where does Paul state that he "knew that the rapture would not take place before this ministry was accomplished."? 1 Cor. 7:29-31 says in part, "But I say this brethren, the time is short...for the form of this world is passing away". The context in this passage is of counseling others as to live as if their lives were going to be cut short. Paul's experience in Acts 9:15 occurred quite some time before he wrote 1 Cor. 7:29-31, so isn't it possible that he thought that he had accomplished enough of his calling to be imminently expecting the return of the Lord? Will any of our ministries be significant in comparison to Jesus' ministry as He comes again?]
So, if 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 draweth nigh." These things will happen on the last day of the Great Tribulation.
[This position ignores all the "watch and pray, for you don't know the day, hour or time" passages. It is impossible to reconcile the 'great disasters upon the earth' passages with the 'life as usual, no one knows the day, hour or time' passages, without two events to reconcile them i.e. the rapture before the second coming. I go into this problem of the post-trib position in more detail in my article regarding the Pre-Trib Rapture. In addition, because the Jews who lived before Jesus came did not understand that Messiah would come to the earth twice - the first time as suffering servant, the second as reigning King - means that the two comings of Jesus Christ was wrong?]
Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit of Christ, wrote concerning the rapture, "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).
[Notice verse two is omitted from the above quote. It says, "...not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come." How could the believers at Thessalonica be concerned that the day of Christ had already come at the time Paul wrote to them, if it was necessary that all the signs described in Luke 21:25-28 need first occur? Surely if they believed that the signs in Luke 21:25-28 need to occur BEFORE He comes back, then they need not be concerned, for those signs will be impossible to miss, and they didn't occur at that time.
The Lord teaches that the NATURE of His coming will be as a thief in the night i.e. totally unexpected (Matt. 24:42-51; Luke 12:35-40). Please contrast the 'thief in the night' picture Jesus draws (un-expectantly, with stealth), against the view of your house being virtually destroyed and He comes while you huddle under the last standing stairwell (post-trib position).]
Paul wrote, "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).
[Yes, a thief comes UNEXPECTEDLY. Notice that it is "the day" that will overtake two kinds of people. The Lord does not liken Himself to the character of a thief, but rather to the manner in which the thief operates - stealthily and unexpectedly. To those who are in darkness, that day will come unexpectedly and bring destruction. Notice the author references 1 Thess. 5:3, but does not quote it. It says, "For when they [the unbelieving world] say, 'Peace and safety!' then sudden destruction comes upon them [NOT "US", the church Paul is writing to], as labor pains upon a pregnant woman [UNEXPECTEDLY]. And they [the objects of God's wrath] shall not escape." For those true believers who make up the bride of Christ [those who walk in the light], the church, the catching away at the beginning of the tribulation will come unexpectedly, and bring the consummation of their salvation and hope (Titus 2:13). Some are alert and eagerly waiting and watching as good stewards who will be rewarded. Others have fallen asleep - some unto loss of rewards (Matt. 25:5, 9-10), some unto apostasy and damnation (Matt. 25:3, 11-13).]
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).
[ Link to www.raptureready.com/rap61.html , and read the section, "The Last Trumpet Argument". To sum up a few of the arguments, first, there are many references to trumpets in the Bible, and there is no clear association - no direct statement - saying the trumpet referred to by Paul is the same as written about by John. There are approximately 62 references to trump or trumpets in the Word of God, for it was a common way to express the bringing attention to some event. Are all 62 usage's prophetically related? Second, Paul wrote the letters to the Corinthians and Thessalonians long before John penned the Revelation. So how could Paul make an association with a truth that was not yet revealed by God? Paul's statement in 1 Cor. 15 and 1 Thess. 5 do not have, as their context, the saints enduring or being sheltered from, the wrath of God.]
The Chronology of the Revelation
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.
[This sounds like the author is claiming special revelation e.g. " It is impossible to understand the chronology of the events of the Great Tribulation without seeing this." This is a plain and dangerous claim to special insight or revelation into God's Word. Contrast this with John's Word, "But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him." (1 John 2:27).]
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.
Not Appointed to Which Wrath?
We are living in times of easy believism, easy credit, easy living, and easy exit for the saints. The 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?
[The Israelites in Egypt are but one of many types in the Old Testament (1 Cor. 10:6-11). One could draw many conclusions from the Old Testament types. One could just as easily point to Lot being taken out of the city of Sodom as a proof type that the Lord will remove His people from the earth before he rains His judgment (Gen. 18:20-19:25). Instead of looking to Old Testament types, a much better idea is to seek to understand the New Testament's teachings regarding Jesus' imminent return.
One more important point. The attempt at an analogy between Egypt and the great tribulation is fallacious. To use modern methods of warfare as an illustration, it is like comparing striking Iraq with precision tomahawk missiles (Egypt) versus striking them with nuclear ICBM's (the great tribulation on the earth). The Lord worked precisely against specific targets in Egypt. He in no way sought to destroy Egypt. Regarding the great tribulation, Jesus says, "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world (this includes Noah's flood!) until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh (no living thing) would be saved; but for the elect's sake (the 144,000 believing Jewish evangelists [Rom. 11:26-29; Rev. 7:3-8] as well as any gentiles saved during the great tribulation) those days shall be shortened." (Matt. 24:21). John's Revelation tells us God will destroy close to half the human population and much of the earth's natural resources (see my article, The Pre-Trib Rapture is the Best Scriptural Conclusion). Thus the analogy of the Israelites in Egypt falls far short of an appropriate analogy.]
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 Gomorra, 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.
[The author needs to reference the New Testament teaching that says, " Another purpose will be...in order to clean us up for the return of Christ." It appears "us" is a reference to true believers living today. But the Word says we are clean by the Word Jesus speaks that we believe, not by purgatorial suffering (John 15:3; Eph. 5:26). Again, this appears to be more evidence that the author is someone who lacks understanding into the grace of God. We are saved by grace AND SANCTIFIED by grace - not by works! Acts 20:32 says, "So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified". Eph. 5:26 says, "...that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word..." These verses DO NOT SAY, 'that the saints may be sanctified, or cleaned up, by experiencing the wrath of God, or in works preparing for, or in enduring, the wrath of God.']
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).
[Yes, the believers saved during the great tribulation, after the rapture of the church.]
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 "a 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).
[Yes, the believers saved during the great tribulation, after the rapture of the church. There likely will be many saved, due to the horrendous events taking place upon the earth. Tribulation brings the stubborn human heart to seeking Him, or responding to His grace, and those who seek with all their heart will find mercy. If even one percent of the earth's 3 billion people are saved (half of the current 6 billion people will be killed during the great tribulation - see article, The Pre-Trib Rapture is the Best Scriptural Conclusion), that would be 30 million people - surely a "great multitude" as that term is used in the Scripture.]
Pre-tribulationists 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).
[Yes, those people saved during the tribulation are God's elect - His saints. The word "saint" is used in the Old Testament as well, to denote people whose faith were in the true and living God (Deut. 33:2-3). Those who have placed their faith in Jehovah/Jesus have always been called His saints, and will always be called His saints. This in no way proves the church will go through the tribulation, unless you define those saved during the tribulation as the church, which the Scripture does not do. Since the Scripture does not call them the church (as this post-trib author acknowledges), like it does those saved before the tribulation and after Jesus' ascension, it would be wise to call them the tribulation saints. Just as we refer to the saints before Jesus established His church as the Old Testament saints.
For further interesting distinctions between the tribulation saints and the church, dig into the Word! For example, the tribulation saints are described as being "clothed with white robes" (Rev. 7:9), while the church is described as being "arrayed in fine linen" (Rev. 19:8). Do those word studies for these glorious truth's!]
Persecution & Martyrdom---The N. T. Norm
Persecution and martyrdom is, in fact, 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 repentance and remission of sins (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.
[To all this I say 'amen'.]
Some church leaders teach that believing in an imminent pre-trib rapture will influence Christians to live holy lives.
[In addition to some "church leaders", the Word of God also teaches this: "Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is [1 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thess. 4:17-18]. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." (1 John 3:2-3) And, "And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming." Paul teaches the same principle of being prepared so as not to be ashamed at an unexpected coming, although in this passage (2 Cor. 9:4) he does not tie it to the rapture. Jesus' whole point in the parable of the good steward and the parable of the five virgins is to exhort His disciples to be ready to meet Him at an unexpected time to avoid being ashamed when He comes (Matt. 24:45-51 & 25:1-13).]
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 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).
[Again, there is a somewhat important omission in quoting 2 Pet. 3:11-14, for the context in verse 10 is significant. What is the object of verse 11's "all these things shall be dissolved"? Verse 10 tells us, "...the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with a fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up." Thus verse 11 is referring to the "earth and the works that are in it". Peter's basis for exhortation unto holy living is not fear based on experiencing the wrath of God, but of exhorting the brethren to live for the things of the Spirit - not to store your treasure on earth, because it's all going to burn! Jesus said it this way, "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for food which endures to everlasting life..." (John 6:27) Jesus and Peter are saying we are not to live for the things of this world, nor are we to love the things of this world (1 John 2:15), nor are our works to be of wood, hay or stubble (1 Cor. 3:12).
Then the author again references verse 13 but omits it from his quote. Why? Perhaps because Peter's exhortation in verse 14 applies mainly to the verse directly preceding it, which is verse 13, and which verse says, "Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells". If fear of God's wrath is a motivation for either salvation or sanctification, then what does this author make of the plain statement in Rom. 2:4, which says, "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"?]
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 and remarriage, 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.
[Here, the author makes the fallacious argument of guilt by association. He argues because much of the apostate church in America believes the doctrine of the pre-trib rapture, then the doctrine must be wrong. Well, most of the apostate church says they believe the doctrine of the deity of Jesus Christ, so does that mean that we should reject that doctrine?]
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).
[Again, amen. Those who are true believers in Jesus Christ will suffer persecution, no matter where, or during what time in history that they live.]
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, A...Jesus...delivered us [past tense] from the wrath to come" (1 Thess. 1:10).
[Amen, they will be kept from His wrath by being taken up to be with Him in the clouds! The author at this point, attempts to make the point that when the Scripture refers to "the wrath to come", it is referring only to the lake of fire. He does so apparently in an attempt to avoid the truth of verses like Rev. 3:10 which plainly say, "Because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth." This author again makes a partial quote of the Scripture. 1 Thess. 1:10 starts with, "And to wait for his Son from heaven...". Sounds to me like an exhortation for the saints to "watch, wait and pray" for the return of Jesus Christ to take us off the earth to heaven, and away from the wrath of God which is to come upon the earth!
In addition, if this post-trib author's statement is true - that "the eternal Lake of Fire which is the wrath to come" - then what is to be made of Rev. 6:15-17, 11:18, 14:19, 15:1, 7; 16:1, 19; 19:15? I'll quote just the first referent, "And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?'" The argument that the "wrath which is to come" is somehow limited to the lake of fire, runs contradictory to the Word of God, and is merely an attempt to support the post-trib rapture against the truth of the Word.]
God Takes His People Through Tribulation
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).
[This author argues, "God takes His people through tribulation rather than delivering them from it". I would ask this author to provide the Scripture that actually teaches this principle. Without that Scriptural truth plainly stated, the Old Testament illustrations could be interpreted either way e.g. as "through tribulation" or "delivering them from tribulation". Many of the events and people in the Old Testament are types, or foreshadows of Jesus Christ and His Story (Rom. 5:14; Col. 2:17). In regard to Noah, the Scripture plainly says, "Now the flood was on the earth forty days. The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth" (Gen. 7:17). Sound familiar? Compare with 1 Thess. 4:17-18, 9. The Lord will catch His bride, the true church, away high above the earth to be spared the destruction His wrath is bringing below on the earth!]
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.
[The author above states, "Tribulation and persecution is not the wrath of God", and yet now he seems to contradict himself by using an example of persecution instead of the wrath of God. This example has nothing to do with the wrath of God against the ungodly. Perhaps more importantly, if this author is arguing that God delivers those who go through persecution, then what about Stephen? (Acts 7:60) Or what about Jesus the Christ Himself? This author will argue he is talking about the "saints" who plainly go through the tribulation, but this has already been dealt with in stating that many will be saved during the tribulation through the preaching of the gospel (Rev. 14:6-7), and these are called the tribulation saints, not the church. The Bridegroom does not send His bride through His wrath in order to prepare her for the wedding ceremony! (Rev. 19:7-9)]
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.
[Again, more confusion between the wrath of God against the unregenerate versus the testing of the saints by allowing tribulation to refine their faith. The gracious Bridegroom Jesus will catch His bride away before He pours out His wrath out around her. Most of those people saved during the tribulation will have to pay for their faith with their life. So post-tribbers are arguing that the Bridegroom allows the enemy to kill His bride before He marries her? Bizarre, and so lacking in the understanding of God and His grace and mercy.]
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.
[Yes He does, but this author just argued that God "takes His people through tribulation", and every example he gave had God's people coming out alive. Yes, God sometimes let's His people suffer and die, and sometimes He delivers them from destruction (all the examples already given from the post-trib author). One example or type from the Old Testament that this post-trib author skipped over is Lot in Sodom. If you liken the city of Sodom to the earth (which is a reasonable analogy given 1 John 5:19), then you have a beautiful type of the rapture! In fact, the later portion of Genesis 18 is all about God's nature in dealing with His saints during the pouring out of His wrath. Abraham, in hearing God is going to destroy Sodom, starts to discuss the Lord's justice with the Lord. He argues, "Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?" (Gen. 18:20-33). The Lord graciously allows Abraham to discuss God's justice with Him. The Lord plainly says, "I will not destroy it for the sake of ten". In other words, the Lord will not destroy a place (His wrath) when it contains those who have faith in Him. God said He was going to destroy Sodom, just as He has said He is going to destroy the earth (Matt. 24:21-22, already discussed above).
So, keeping with the reasoning in this passage in Genesis, God will not destroy the earth while His righteous (His Bride) are 'in the city' if you will (2 Thess. 2:7, "he" in verse 7 refers to the Holy Spirit's work through His church). And even as the Lord took Lot out of Sodom (the city), so the Lord will take His Bride out of the earth with the pre-trib rapture. God's angels said to Lot, "Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city" (Gen. 19:15). God told Lot to "arise", even as He tells us to watch and pray and be faithful so that we may be delivered from the days of His wrath (Rev. 3:10). The text continues, "...the LORD being merciful to him (that is Lot), and they (the angels) brought him out and set him outside the city." (Gen. 19:16). The post-trib author says, "God takes His people through tribulation rather than delivering them from it." Yet here in this story of Lot, we have perhaps the closest analogy to the rapture. This story is much better than the other illustrations given by the post-trib author, since this story deals specifically with God's wrath on the ungodly and how He deals with His people when He is going to pour out His wrath. And what is the conclusion? God DOES deliver His people from it! The text says, "they (the angels, the Lord's servants) brought him out and set him outside the city." In other words, he was delivered from experiencing God's wrath. The passage goes on to say that they "escaped" experiencing God's wrath, another good synonym with "delivered" (Gen. 19:22). Lot was brought out, even as the church, Jesus' bride shall be brought out from experiencing God's wrath and delivered to her Bridegroom!
Far better than arguing Old Testament illustrations, the New Testament Scripture clearly teaches that in the case of Jesus' second coming, He is going to take His bride out of the way of His wrath (Luke 21:36; 1 Thess. 1:10 & 5:9; Rev. 3:10). Those who foolishly rejected the Son will, by their unbelief, subject themselves to both the wrath of God and the persecution of Satan. Many will be saved, thereby becoming tribulation saints, at which time they will move themselves out from under the wrath of God, and into the persecution of Satan. Many will be martyred during the tribulation for resisting Satan (Rev. 13:15) due to their testimony of Jesus (Rev. 7:9, 20:4b).]
Beloved, let no man deceive you. 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.
[Indeed, beloved, let no man deceive you. Counterfeit "Christians", whose lives are marked by compromise and un-holiness, will miss being caught up to be with the glorious Bridegroom Jesus. Instead, they will have to experience the wrath of God upon the earth, and most will have to pay for their faith - if they choose to repent and really believe - with their life.
Some closing comments:
The good news is if you are a true believer, and yet you hold to the post-trib view, you are still heading for heaven. However, you miss abiding in the glorious, living hope of seeing your Lord at any moment. It is difficult enough for us to live a zealous, holy life for the Lord, without the belief that the Lord could show up at any minute to take us Home. To not have the exhortation and motivation to live for each day as it were the last, will all the more place a damper on our zealousness for the Lord.
The post-trib author who wrote this article is Harry Bethel. He has two sites on the Internet: www.bethelministries.com and www.lastdaysministry.com When I sent him this article, he responded that I had a "contentious spirit", and he said, "I have nothing more to say to you about the Pre-Trib rapture issue". This is very unfortunate. Pride remains one of our greatest enemies, and those of us who are called to teach the Word of God should endeavor to teach sound doctrine in humility. We must avoid pride and fear tactics. Brother Bethel uses such tactics in the opening of his article when he says, "Indeed it [the pre-trib rapture] is a doctrine from demons that has been perpetuated through well-meaning men for the past few generations."
I consider brother Harry just that, a brother in the Lord, and I don't hold against him the fact that he believes a post-trib doctrine.
I am very concerned about two things. The first is the fear and wrath orientation he has, and his associated mis-understanding of the grace of God. The worst error he states in the whole article is, "Another purpose [of the tribulation] will be the persecution of the saints during the Great Tribulation in order to clean us up for the return of Christ." This statement betrays a deep misunderstanding of the both the character of God, as well as the Biblical doctrine of justification and sanctification by God's grace. This is nothing short of a romanist view of the need of purgatorial suffering in order to complete the work of Christ, which by deduction, is apparently insufficient in this view.
The second, is his consistent omission of verses that he references - which verses go contrary to what he is trying to argue.
I pray he will correct his errors in this article, so that I may remove this rebuke.]
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