Friday, 12 March 2010

Pre-Trib Rapture? Not Gonna Happen.

We've been working our way through 1 Thessalonians in our Wednesday night Bible study and have finally come to this controversal passage, referring, many believe, to the Rapture of the Church.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thes 4: 16-17)

Frankly, I have given up using the term, "rapture" because of the baggage I think the term carries, and refer to it as, "the catching up," which is what the Greek word, "harpazo" literally means. There are numerous views among Christians regarding end times, and for our study, the pastor drew up charts on several views regarding the return of Christ, including premillenial, postmillenial, amillenial and preterist. This was a great help, because many Christians, those who are interested in such things, tend to believe that their view is the only reasonable one and give little thought to any other. But in fact, all these views, and others, have been held by various Christians, at various times, over the past two thousand years, and each view has its proponents and its arguments.

Probably the most popular view these days is the premillenial view, but there is still disagreement regarding the actual timing of our being caught up to meet the Lord, in relation to what has come to be known as the, "Tribulation." We see pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib, and pre-wrath positions. The pre-trib seems to be the most popular among many evangelicals and TV and radio preachers and, frankly, I think it is the most dangerous and demonstrably false one. I think it is a dangerous teaching and one terribly misleading to the body of Christ. It is held and promoted by such luminaries as Jack Van Impe, John Hagee, John MacArthur and David Jeremiah, among others, all of whom insist that the church will be taken out of the earth before the one known as the Antichrist comes on to the scene. Why is it so dangerous? Because if, as these men insist, the Antichrist, or man of sin, is not to be revealed until after the rapture, their followers will not be looking for him, expecting themselves to be gone before he does come on the scene and will be unprepared and deceived when he does appear.

Whole books can, and have been, written on this subject, but let me give a couple of passages that, to me, refute this position undeniably. The first is in 2 Thessalonians 2:
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him,... ...for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness[a] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (2 Thes 2: 1a, 3b)

This passage is quite clear that the rapture will not happen until after a period of apostasy (the rebellion) occurs, and the man of lawlessness (the Antichrist) is revealed. In other words, Christians alive on earth during the time of the end will still be here when the Antichrist is revealed.

The second passage is from Matthew 24.

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith...
For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.
Immediately after the distress of those days 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. Mt 24:9-10a; 21; 29-31)

Read the whole chapter Here...
These passages, used by the pre-trib rapture proponents in their analyses of the end-times, actually refute their case, and reinforce the following sequence; persecution, falling away from the faith, tribulation (unequalled from the beginning of the world and never to be equalled again, so must be the Great Tribulation), then lastly, the gathering of the elect.

In my opinion, much of the speculation regarding end-times events is a rather harmless hobby. As seriously as I once took it, not to belittle the subject now, my main focus now is seeking to live a Godly life every day and to be in His will every minute. When Jesus comes, he will come. I am merely trying to show the faulty logic of the pre-trib proponents within their own system. If the Biblical signs claimed by many who study the subject are correct, then those who have been assured that they will not be here when the Antichrist arises, and who are alive during the generation of his coming, are open for a great deception. The false Christ(s) will come before the real one, and they will not be ready.

Take Care


Warren said...

John, this post made me smile. My wife and I have been auditing seminary-level courses for the past six months at a local Bible institute. We like the staff and our fellow students, but there is a strong pre-mill, pre-trib, dispy overtone. The president is a graduate of Master's Seminary (John MacArthur's school) and the staff - along with most of the students - are MacArthur fans. Other eschatalogical views and different theologoical positions, such as covent theology, are routinely trashed without any effort being made to properly understand them.

I would probably walk away in frustration except that it is inspiring to be around a group of people who are serious about their faith and who, in most cases, are studying with the goal of moving into full- or part-time ministry. I'm also reluctant to be too critical of people who are willing to walk the streets in the winter witnessing to unbelievers. Even though we have significant theological differences, they are still my brothers and sisters in Christ. Also, I've been forced to more closely examine the theological positions I hold; which has been a good exercise for me.

John K said...

Glad I could lighten your day, Warren. I was actually expecting an argument from someone on this one.

Don said...

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,but only the Father.

If Jesus doesn't know, how can we expect that anyone else here on earth would? 50 years ago, I can remember preachers pounding on the pulpit telling us to prepare ourselves.
I have heard quite a resurgence over the last months what with earthquakes, wars, etc. and I remind these folks that NO ONE KNOWS BUT THE FATHER!

I think your goal of living a Godly life is right on. Above all else, if you manage that goal, it won't matter to you when he comes or if he comes in our life time.

Anonymous said...

Just saw a hot Google article exposing David Jeremiah entitled "Thieves' Marketing" that you might enjoy reading. Lord bless. Greg

John K said...

Hi Greg,
Interesting article you mention. One thing about the plagiarism though. (I'm not trying to defend Jeremiah here. As you may have gathered from my post, I think all who so close-mindedly teach the pre-trib rapture are being dishonest with their followers.)
I don't know the whole story of this case, but if you remember the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail and Bloodline of the Holy Grail tried to sue Dan Brown for plagiarism and did not succeed. The argument in law, as I recall, is that if something is represented as fact or 'scientific research,' then the laws of plagiarism do not apply. The authors were caught between a rock and a hard place, because in order to win a decision on plagiarism, they would have to admit that their books were written as fiction, something they obviously didn't declare at the time of writing.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that Greg (above) didn't mention an article on Google etc. titled "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty" which can blow a certain 19th century fantasy clean out of the water! Fascination stuff!

GB Shaw said...

Don: aren't the son and father one god? How can they be one god and have different knowledge?

Redeemed said...

There is a concerted effort to destory the Blessed Hope of the Church and the coming of Christ, the Bridegroom for His Bride and also to erase Israel's significance in the endtime scenario.

Dave MacPherson has been instrumental in this attack on pre-tribulation/dispensational theology. He is a 'Johnny One-note" in that he has a vendetta driven by personal experience.

Corrie ten Boom was a wonderful Christian woman who has a riveting testimony of survival of the Holocaust, but she is not a Bible teacher or versed in eschatology. Unfortunately, she has made statements that have been taken as orthodoxy discounting the pre-trib rapture.

Bible scholars such as H.A. Ironside have commentaries based on a verse-by-verse of the Bible and explain the truth of the Rapture. Clarence Larkin is another. These men dedicated their very lives to the Lord's Word and dispensing truth. They have long since gone to their reward and their works have largely been lost except to those who diligently seek them out.

It would behoove you to at least make an effort to retrieve their works and prayerfully study them in the light of God's Word.

Anti pre-trib folks say it is dangerous, but why is the Blessed Hope dangerous? Rather I think that those who expect to go through the Great Trib are the ones in danger. They are pre-occupied with "preparations" - hunkering down mentality.

I know personally people who are stockpiling food and guns, etc., investing their money in these earthly things rather than investing in the eternal - evangelicm and reaching the lost. This fosters a self-centered attitude and creates fear if one is really honest about what will transpire during the time of the reign of the Anti-Christ and then the outpour of God's wrath.

It is definitely a ploy of the enemy to distract the Church and take away their hope in Christ coming for us. It is NOT escapism, it is trusting God and living for Him and giving all for Him. Obviously the enemy would love to get people sidetracked and worrying about their own future.

I would just exhort to check out these things. Don't be dismayed that false teachers such as Missler, Hagee and others espouse pre-trib. Don't throw the baby out with the bath. False teachers mix truth and error.

John K said...

You have given me an emotional plea, but nothing to address the Scriptures I quoted. I thought my process of argument was fairly plain.
I don't argue against the rapture, or, "catching up," as I prefer to call it. That is entirely Biblical, I think we would agree. And the blessed hope is no less blessed, nor is it any less a hope, if Christians alive in that day are suffering persecution. In fact, it seems to me it would be even more of a hope and a blessing.
and once again, I don't believe Christians will suffer the wrath of God (that has already been poured out on Christ on the cross). But Christians of that day will not escape persecution, and the passage from 2 Thessalonians tells us that God's people will be here on the earth until after the Anitchrist comes to power.
To me, the most reasonable and Biblical timing for the rapture is after the opening of the sixth seal of revelation. That is when the Day of the Lord begins (Rev 6:17), and it is only after this that we see the multitude in white robes who came out of the great tribulation. (7:9-14)

Redeemed said...

Interesting that you would call my response "emotional" simply because I did not list a bunch of Bible references- I would rather think it was heartfelt.

There is always a danger in taking verses out of context and to take a verse or two to debunk what men of God who have dedicated their life to rightly dividing the Word are saying. And I am not talking about TV preachers - I don't give ANY of them credibility. And it should be obvious that the most rabid critic of Pre-trib, MacPherson is not credible.

We are seeing the "falling away" in the Church today and that should be evident to thoses who are discerning. The departure from Biblical truth is astounding. And the scripture has much to say about those who are not looking for the appearing of our Lord.

Personally, I am looking for my Lord, not the Anti-Christ. Christians have always been under persecution in certain areas of the world and in certain times of history - just read Foxe's Book of Martyrs. But Christ will not subject His Bride to a wholesale slaughter globally.

The crux of the problem is the mistake of not proper exegesis of determining the difference between Israel and the Church. Replacement theology makes it impossible to examine the Bible in the proper light. One must be careful to not ascribe verses meant to refer to Israel to the Church. And there seems to be a concerted effort to debunk dispensational theology which is the linch pin in properly understanding the times.

I find it interesting that you pick up on the errors of Hagee, Van Impe and others and yet promote the Alpha Course. I researched this long ago and found it to be unbiblical.

You are correct in that there is room for honest discussion about end time events and we all see through a glass darkly. But it is a worthy study and since the Bible talks so much about it, it must be an important topic and we should not ignore it. I listed a couple of respected Bible teachers of the past who dedicated their lives to rightly dividing the Word. They were humble men. I suggested that you study their works to widen your horizons. But you largely ignored that.

Sorry I have been slow to respond on your blog and this ia a discussion from the past, but I did want to respond.


John K said...

Redeemed, thanks for your response. I must admit my concentration on this subject has waned somewhat, with my focus more on serving the Lord by doing whatever part I can in seeing as many people as possible come to know Him now; hence my appreciation of the Alpha Course. I have been involved with this program for many years, and have seen marvellous results. I have heard others object to it as well, but have not become particularily involved in any great debate defending it. As for it being unbiblical, I don't agree, and that point has never been sufficiently proven to me.

As for end-times, the most persuasive book I have read, and the one from which I have taken many of my views on the subject, is, "The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church," by Marvin Rosenthal. I believe Mr Rosenthal address most completely the entire Biblical case, including those areas I have mentioned that I believe cause hard core pre-trib teachers great problems.

Take Care

Redeemed said...

John, thank you for your response.
I am well familiar with Roselthal and the Pre-wrath concept. A number of years ago a dear friend got all caught up in it. He and his wife at the time had a large family with several quite young children. They felt it necessary to "coach" their children as to what to do when the bad people came for Mom and Dad to kill them for refusing to deny Jesus Christ. This was a lovely Christian family who was torn apart by this concept, a resultant divorce and only one of their children is walking with the Lord. I tried to reason with this brother from the Scriptures about this but he was completely sold out to Rosenthal and Pre-wrath. We have since lost direct communication with them since the family disintegrated.

Yes, our most important calling is to reach the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I am very much involved in evangelism. I believe the time is very short and the door will be closing soon so there is an urgency to reach out while we have the opportunity.

Take care and God bless.

Anonymous said...

Re pretribulationalism, some other challenging articles on Google, Yahoo etc. would include "Pretrib Rapture Secrets," "Roots of Warlike Christian Zionism," "Christ's Return is NOT imminent," "Walvoord Melts Ice," "Pretrib Hypocrisy," "Thomas Ice (Bloopers)," and "Pretrib Rapture Secrecy." Karl

Redeemed said...

Anonymous Karl, are you at all familiar with H.A. Ironside's expository commentaries? If not, I highly recommend them rather than the plethora of articles that you mentioned. He is a serious Bible scholar who has gone to his reward but left a legacy of solid doctrinal teaching.

John K said...

Hello Redeemed,
I'm sorry about your acquaintance's experience but frankly, I don't think you can blame Rosenthal's book for their woes. One could have had the same response to the Left Behind series. Over-reaction, it seems, is sometimes an unfortunate human trait.
I have not read Ironsides' material, but how does he handle the points in my original post? Or does he address them at all? One can make a case for a pre-trib rapture, as many do, if one simply ignores Scriptural passages that give that position difficulty.
Take Care

Redeemed said...

John, it may not have been Rosenthal per se, but the mentality and mindset of fear that it causes.

Anyone who perceives that they will have to go through the reign of the AC or be on earth when God's wrath is unleashed can't help but have their focus on what is going on in the world instead of in the heavenlies. That is just common sense deduction.

That is why Christians are stocking up on arms and ammo, gold and food. That is an earthly hunker down mindset.

Ironside addresses all of the Word of God and is an expository teacher. I think you would find his take on things from a biblical perspective interesting if not enlightening.

He was not pushing a point, but rather addressing biblical issues.
He deserves at least a hearing but so few check out his works. You won't find them on the Christian book shelves. Some are online and others are available for purchase from certain dealers online.

He didn't write a book on the Rapture per se, but addressed the topic as it arises in the various commentaries on the various books of the Bible.

God bless.

John K said...

"...the mentality and mindset of fear that it causes..." is completely beside the point. What matters is what is true. If Rosenthal is right (and I believe he is) then an isolated case of overreaction is irrelevant. I tried to Google Ironside's view on end times, and didn't have much success, but5 one of the sites it led me to was this one which actually supports my own contention, tht the Day of the Lord begins, and therefore the rapture occurs, after the opening of the 6th seal of Revelation.
If you can direct me to somewhere where Ironside addresses my points in the origianl post, I would love to read them.
Take Care

Redeemed said...

Some of Ironside's commentaries are out of print and public domain.
Here is a link to his teachings on Revelation.

Here is another that I found - I was hoping to find 1 & 2 Thessalonians but it is still apparently in print.

Let me know your thoughts after you have had a chance to look these over.

Anonymous said...

Just saw "Pretrib Rapture Pride" on Google and would like to see your reaction to it. Lord bless.

Anonymous said...

CALLING ALL CHRISTIAN WOMEN - Tired of the war on women? Ready to flex your beautiful muscles? You can show your power after you Google "The Male-Dominated Pretrib Rapture Cabal" (on Joe Ortiz's blog dated Mar. 6)!

[saw above item on the web. Jim]

Irv said...

/ Right on, John. If you like allegory, you'll like this item I saw recently on the web. /


by Dave MacPherson

In a recent dream of mine I saw things that even John Bunyan didn't dream about in his "Pilgrim's Progress."

I was walking down a remote dirt road and came by an old store with a sign that said "Second Coming Store - Established in 1830."

I opened the door and spotted the elderly owner standing next to shelves covered with many bottles filled with liquids.

"What are you selling?" I asked.

"Second Coming perfume," he said.

He quickly explained: "Our first and most popular perfume is called 'Rapture.' It doesn't have much substance but smells better than our other perfumes."

"How was 'Rapture' invented?," I asked.

He responded: "Well, the 'gather' in Matt. 24:31 was 'borrowed' in 1830 and when it was quietly transferred to a pretrib setting it became much more fragrant and 'Rapture' became its new name."

I also noticed the other bottled perfumes.

Evidently reading my mind, he explained that after "Rapture" came out in 1830, other perfumers realized they'd have to stretch forward other ingredients found in other parts of the Olivet Discourse in order to make "Rapture" even more acceptable.

His other "Rapture"-supporting perfumes were in bottles labeled "Unknown Day & Hour," "One Taken & the Other Left," "Thief in the Night," and "His Elect" (Olivet Discourse "elect" was originally "Church" but later changed to "Israel").

I wondered why the store owner didn't have some other Olivet Discourse perfumes like "Sun & Moon Darkening," "Falling Heavenly Stars," "Sudden Destruction," and "Jerusalem Touchdown" which could also be placed in a pretrib setting.

He said: "I could never sell the four perfumes you just mentioned!"

I asked: "Why not? They're in the same Discourse."

He blushed and said: "Folks would smell a rat!"

Well, I finally woke up from my dream. If you think my dream was just a dream, then you are dreaming!