The Timing of the Rapture!
by Tony Warren
In many Christian circles there is a popular theological view which states that the Church must somehow be taken out of the world before the Great Tribulation period. Sadly this doctrine has become one of the most predominant views in the Church. This form of theology is the product of spurious dogma that over the years has been taught relentlessly. It is not supported by sound Biblical hermeneutics, but is constantly repeated so that now many Christians actually believe that the scriptures themselves say these things. Clearly they do not! Neither do they imply, nor allude to such things. In truth, this doctrine is a predisposed handling of certain scriptures which say other things, but which Theologians teach to indirectly support this doctrine. If you were to ask these people to give you the exact chapter and verse of scriptures which says that the Church will be taken out of the world before the Great Tribulation period, they couldn't do it. For they are forced to provide other scriptures which they then allege implies it, even though they readily admit it doesn't say it! i.e., it's their own interpretation of the verses, not something that God has actually declared. However, the scriptures are not subject to private or personal interpretation. Interpretations belong to God (Gen. 40:8, 41:16). unfortunately, this very glaring lack of sound hermeneutics doesn't deter those who choose to believe these type doctrines. The age old adage still applies:
"if you repeat an untruth enough times, many will begin to believe it simply by process of indoctrination, and will look upon it as their truths."
This is how all false teachings start. If you say things enough times in a way which on the surface sounds reasonable, or which seems right in their own eyes (proverbs 12:15), there are always people who will believe it, no matter what the scripture actually says. There is not one Theologian who can give you a single solitary verse which actually says these things, nor which unambiguously alludes to them, but somehow to many this is not an important point. However, this is ignoring a most basic fundamental Biblical principle of sound exegesis. That which states that, "Man cannot of himself interpret God's Word, the scriptures interpret scriptures." Which means that we cannot of our own will personally interpret or assign meaning to scripture which God has not assigned to it. If God doesn't say this in some part of the scriptures, or if there is no unambiguous scripture which supports this view, then it's simply not God's interpretation, it's man's own interpretation. Because as righteous Joseph declared, "it is not in me, interpretations belong to God -Gen 40:8, 41:16". Unless God is talking to us through the burning Bush, or from the smoke on the Mountain, then His revelation is in His Holy Word, the Bible, and this is where the interpretation must be found. In the Word of God revealed by the Spirit of truth.
As a practical example, we cannot privately interpret Ezekiel's wheel to be a flying automobile, or that the 7 candlesticks of revelation are 7 great volcanoes in Asia, or that the 10 horns of daniel as collection of utilities which help men put their shoes on. to do so would constitute making private (personal) interpretations. Interpretations belong to God, not Webster's dictionary nor man's own thoughts on a matter!
In this study we will take a careful look at this teaching to see if it is in any way in agreement with the rest of the Bible. Comparing scripture with scripture we shall see if it can possibly be true. If so, then it will be made manifest by the Spirit of God via the Word, and if not, that will be made known as well.
First of all, a brief recognition that there are some Christians who object to the use of the word Rapture. Generally they argue against it because it's not a word that is found in the Bible, or because they have the idea that it pertains to premillennialism or dispensationalism. This is because so many of this Theological viewpoint use this word in their unbiblical doctrines. However, the word Rapture has nothing whatsoever to do with Premillennialism or Dispensationalism. Not only do I see no problem with using this word, I think it perfectly describes what is unquestionably scripture. We should understand that the word Rapture is derived from a Latin term meaning "caught away" and is merely used by Christians to avoid repetitive awkward quoting of an entire verse of scripture each time we reference an the event it describes. So let me be clear that when I use the word Rapture, I am simply speaking about nothing more and nothing less than what the scripture itself define as:when the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and when the dead in Christ shall rise first, and we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we forever be with the Lord.
-1st Thess. 4:17
This is our being caught up (Raptured) together to be with Christ in the air at His Coming. In order to avoid typing or repeating that whole verse every time we refer to this great event, we simplify it by calling this "The Rapture!" So when we use this word Rapture, know that 1st thessalonians chapter 4:17 is what we are referring to. ..Nothing more should be read into it.
The first obvious question about this belief that the Church must be removed before the Tribulation would be, "Why would God want to take the believers out of the world before the great tribulation?" The most common responses are,
- "because God does not want his believers to go through the horrendous Tribulation of that time"
- "He has not appointed the Church to wrath"
- "He has said He would keep us from the hour of temptation."
Let's be the faithful stewards and try/test these reasons by what the Word of God has to say. Does God say that He won't let the believers go through any tribulation, whether Great or Small? The only Biblical answer is, No! It is an absolute fact that God nowhere in scripture says believers will not go through Great Tribulation. So we've established that Biblical fact right from the onset. God never "ever" uses that word tribulation to either say, imply, indicate, or even allude that we won't go through it. On the contrary, when we search the scriptures (correct Biblical hermeneutics), and we examine the places where that word is used, and the event spoken of, we see believers are always there! And if believers are there, that means that the Church is there. Because they are one and the same. God tells us all through scripture that we "will have tribulation" in this world and we will have trial in this world, but we will overcome it because we are in Christ who is our strength. The Word declares "Plainly" that tribulation is in fact normal for the believer, not something that we fear or are expect to be taken out of the world from. Great Tribulation is simply more of what Christians normally have in the world. It's the normal expectation. Many Theologians understand this truth about tribulation and believers, and so they attempt to make an artificial distinction by claiming:"..Yes, True, but in this time, it will be different tribulation, and so God will be merciful and not let us go through that, for he is not going to beat up on His bride".
As faithful Christians, the first obvious question is, Where is the scriptural support for the claim that God won't allow His believers to go through Great tribulation? Moreover, where is scriptural support that this tribulation will be different (other than more or greater)? There is no scripture where God says, "I will let my Church go through tribulation, but not if I add the word Great to it?" That is a addendum by those who believe this in doctrine, but not prescribed by the Word. This is nothing more than the rationalizations required to justify believing this theory. There is not one scripture anywhere in which God tells us that He will not let the Church go through Great Tribulation! And the Word of God being our authority, we should not presume to say it either.
Something that we need to understand here is that this Greek word Great [megale] means large in size or big in dimension. For example as we would use it in a sentence like, "A great fire swept through Chicago", or "the tribulation in New York was great". It doesn't mean a new kind of tribulation, it simply delineates there is a greater degree of tribulation.
The way some Theologians speak on this issue, you would think that there is going to be new ways invented to persecute Christians in this time. Not at all! Christians have been persecuted in every imaginable way, and had tribulations which are unthinkable, but God never took them out of the world to avoid it. Great tribulation is used to denote that the tribulation of this period will be more widespread, greater than it has ever been in history. Just as if we say, "Noah was in a Great flood". It doesn't denote there was a new kind of water or flood, it simply denotes that this flood was greater (more water) than all the rest! The flood waters were the same, there was simply "more" of it.
Likewise, that is how the word great is used to describe this period of tribulation. At this time Christ speaks about, there will be much more iniquity abounding and persecution of anyone holding to the truth of scripture. Thus, greater tribulation in the world than ever before. But nowhere does God say Christians won't go through it. On the contrary, indeed the Church is the very ones who are in tribulation and persecuted for the cause of Christ. Just as they have been for centuries.
They have been burned at the stake, Stretched on the rack, Stoned to death, Sawn asunder, fed to the lions, crucified, tortured, and severely beaten. God didn't rapture them because he didn't want them to suffer in this world, He allowed it! Are we better than these who went before us that we won't go through the same? Theologians say these things, but God says, "pick up your cross and follow Me". God says, if they've done it to me, expect that they'll do it to you, for we are not greater than He.
- "Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also".
These are the things God says, not, "..you poor Christians, I'll not let you go through Great Tribulation". That would be the exact opposite of what we see as normative for Christians all throughout scripture. Indeed it is through these persecutions that we learn humility and grow closer to the Lord! Our weakness in tribulation makes us aware of our lack of ability to overcome of ourselves. It highlights our inadequacies cause us to turn our hearts to God, from whence cometh our help. In trial and persecution we come to understand more fully our dependence upon God, to His Glory! Tribulation humbles us and is a blessing in disguise, compelling our dependence on Him. We don't need to be taken out of the world, for Grace is more than adequate.
2nd Corinthians 12:9-10
- "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
- Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong".
Paul understood this concept, for he knew that nothing this world could offer was a defeat. Stephen was dreadfully and brutally stoned to death, and God allowed it. Would Christians in the time of future Great tribulation be killed in a more horrible way, so that God couldn't allow it? There is no scripture to support this. For that is not what is in view for this period. Tribulation in fact is normative for the believers. But don't take my word for it,
- "These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me, ye might have Peace, in the world ye shall have Tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
We've all heard what these Theologians tell us about believers and tribulation, but here is what God Himself tells us about the matter. God didn't promise us peace in the world. On the contrary, He promised us Peace with God, and war with the world. We shall have tribulation in this world, and Christ didn't add a end note of, "unless it is Great tribulation!" That idea is a product of wishful thinking, sensationalism, and humanism.
The unsaved hate us and revile us and persecute us. God isn't going to take us out of the world so we can have peace. As John 16:33 says, our Peace is in Christ and that is all we need! Yes, in the world we shall have tribulation, but He has overcome the world for us. That is precisely why "His Grace is sufficient."
Note that whenever these Theologians allege that we won't be in the great tribulation period, the verse they will give you as (supposed) Biblical support will never "ever" have this actual word Tribulation in it. Mark that down in indelible ink because it is a faithful truth! Whenever they explain about how we won't go through the Tribulation, any verse they give to confirm this, will never actually have the word tribulation in it. ..Amazingly some do not find this curious that God would talk about saving us from the Tribulation, without ever using the word.
But we can readily discern why this is the case. It's Because God never says we won't go through the tribulation, "therefore" they can't give you a verse where he uses the word. Think about that! They will give you a verse and tell you we should interpret it as the Great Tribulation period that Jesus spoke of, or they will give you a verse and tell you God "means" tribulation when He says this, but they can never give you a verse where the actual word is used. That's no small caveat to brush aside. It's a very telling fact when we consider wisely what this means. It means God didn't actually say what they are alleging, they did! By contrast, I have given you an unambiguous verse, direct from scripture that says, "in the world you shall have tribulation." And there was no exception to great tribulation.
Moreover, the very 24th chapter of Matthew which speaks of the Great Tribulation Period clearly illustrates that believers are both there, and they are being warned of Christ how to deal with it!
- "But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
- For then shall be Great Tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be".
Christ is talking to the Church throughout this narrative, and he says "Pray ye" (indicating that the Church are still here during this Great tribulation period), and telling them that they are to flee to the mountains. How can Christ's people (The Church) flee to the mountains if they are not here?
So who is right, God's Word or these theologians? Will believers have tribulation in the world as God says, or will God take them all out of the world so they won't have great tribulation? According to what scripture declares about this great tribulation and persecution, and the people who will be trying to deceive them (believers) at the time, they will be there. That indeed is why Christ is warning the Church here. So it comes down to the same age old question. Are we going to believe man's tradition, or believe what God's Word says?
The fact is, this tactic of making an artificial distinction between tribulation, and Great tribulation (as different persecution where God won't allow us to be persecuted this way), does a great disservice to the great Christians who went before us. The logic is extremely flawed. Tribulation is tribulation. Whether great, or small it's still the same thing. The word does not change, only the amount changes as a mathematical equation. In other words, the difference between Tribulation, and Great Tribulation, is the amount of it. It's not a completely different thing, its been qualified! The rationalizing of this is a diversion from the contradictions and lack of biblical support manifested in this whole theory. It's only different (as God's description of it demonstrates), in that there is simply a greater amount of it. We can make it simple. We simply define Tribulation, then we define Great Tribulation.
- a time of persecution, hatred, offences, revilings, betrayal, and affliction.
- a time of great persecution, great hatred, great offences, great revilings, great betrayals, and great afflictions.
Where is the mystery? It is very simply a time when tribulation is multiplied greatly.
More than that, all we have to do is look where the Great Tribulation is spoken about in scripture and we see clearly that believers are still in the world. Unlike those who teach the theory of a pre-tribulation rapture, "we" can look at the places where the actual word Tribulation is found and get our understanding direct from these scriptures. That's the way to come to real truth. By comparing scripture with scripture that we know what God says. For example, speaking of the Great Tribulation (and talking to believers) Jesus says:
- "Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for My name's sake"
Sounds very consistent with what Jesus said before doesn't it? In the world, ye shall have Tribulation. Note that these are Christians. i.e., People who are being afflicted for Christ's name sake. Carefully note the language, "hated for the name of Christ!" It's the Church who takes the name of Christ, we are the Christ-ians! It's Christians who are hated because of the name of Christ. Not Non-Christians, but the body of Christ. The Church! In the literal, that verse says:
"..being hated by all the nations because of the name of Me!"
These believers are being hated because of the name of Christ. i.e., they are Christians. We are either with Christ or against Him, there is no in between. And those hated for Christ's name are quite "obviously" here during this tribulation.
- "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be Saved."
No one is going to be Saved but Christians. If there are those here who will endure this Great Tribulation for Christ name sake (Christians), and be Saved, then obviously the body of Christ is still on the earth when this is happening. As Paul asks in the Corinthians, "Is Christ Divided?" And the answer of course is, No! There is only one body who takes the name of Christ and that is the Church of Christ. And we see here that it is still here at this time, being persecuted, reviled, and hated, because of His name!
Moreover, if God doesn't want his bride to go through this horrible tribulation, then what are these believers that Jesus is talking about doing going through the Great tribulation for Christ's sake? It makes no sense because it is man's private interpretation and not biblically validated. It's man's wrested or twisted Theology! God is not going to take His people out of the world because He doesn't want them to go through this horrible tribulation, and then turn right around and have a whole other group of His people go through that very same Tribulation. That is just plain ridiculous! Unsound exegesis which is contradictory to all that God has written. God is not the author of confusion, man is.
- "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the End come!"
Who is this preaching the gospel to all nations if the Church has been taken out of the world? This is the Church's job! That's what Acts chapter one tells us is our commission! To be a witness unto all nations in the name of Christ. It's one of the very last things Jesus told the Church before He ascended back to heaven,
- "..and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth."
Now, if Matthew 24:14 is not the Church, are we to assume that the Church failed in its commission to do this? Perish the thought! No, they did not fail, because they are here in the tribulation and they are the ones doing the witnessing and being reviled and persecuted because of it. And when their testimony is finished, God says, "..and then shall the end come." It's totally consistent with verse 31 which declares, immediately "after" the tribulation Christ will return and gather the chosen. The gospel is preached "by the Church" to all the world, then there is a short period of Great tribulation as Satan is loosed (Rev. 20), and then the end will come. It only becomes clouded when Theologians go to the scriptures with preconceived ideas about a Pre-tribulation Rapture. Then they of necessity make God's Word uncertain and confused so that their own word will appear to stand. But in order for the Church to be preaching the gospel to the whole world at this time, it has to be here in the world. There are not two separate bodies of Christ! Christ is not Divided!
- "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.
- Then if any man say unto you, Lo here is Christ, or there, believe it not."
We are still here, and there are false prophets and false Christs' abounding, trying to deceive us. And God warns us, follow them not! Don't Believe them! So why would God warn the Church if the Church was not present at this time? Of course the truth is, He wouldn't! He warns the Church not to be deceived because they are still here. They are those commanded to Watch!
If we were to listen to all the voices telling us that we would be taken out of the world before this Great Tribulation occurs, we'd have to ignore great blocks of scripture altogether. Not once or twice, but continually and consistently. But many seem to have no conscience in doing just that. It's just amazing what man will believe without one shred of Biblical validation that it is true. And it's because he is indoctrinated or just too dependent upon others to check it out in the scriptures for himself. How can someone say to the Church, Lo here is Christ, or lo there is Christ (trying to deceive them), if the Church isn't even there? How could it almost deceive even the very chosen (elect) if that were possible, if the very chosen are not here? The Chosen are the believers, Chosen from the foundation of the world.
1st Peter 2:9
- "But ye are a Chosen generation, a royal Priesthood, an Holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praise of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light:"
Note the word Chosen there. It's the exact same word as you read in Matthew chapter 24. Elect and Chosen are the exact same word. If you want God's definition of the elect, read God's Word rather than listen to the traditions of men. On the old testament side of the cross, the Old Testament Congregation primarily were the chosen, and on the New Testament side of the cross, the New Testament congregation are the Chosen! We are the Elect (Eph. 1:4, Romans 9:11) that the false Christs' will be trying to deceive, but who they cannot deceive, because we are the Children of God who endure to the end. They will deceive the unfaithful of the Churches, but not the Elect.
Again, how is it that these Theologians say the Church is raptured, and yet no one on earth knows that Christ had come (secret rapture) and taken them? Are we to believe that Christ will come and gather the elect and no one will notice, or that they'll notice, but go about their business as usual? That quite frankly is Ludicrous!
God says the rapture is with the Sound of a great trumpet and the Lord descending with a Shout and the voice of the Chief Messenger! Without conscience man teaches that, "No, Christ comes in secret (as a thief in the night) so the world doesn't notice the Church is gone". It's not only unbiblical, it's anti-biblical. The verses that speaks about Christ coming as a thief in the night is signifying how the unbelievers won't expect anything until they see Christ in the air. It doesn't mean they won't see Him come and take the Church. In other words, it means the end catches them unawares! But this is just another example of how some Theologians use scripture carelessly and without mandate. He comes as a thief in the night to the unsaved because they're not "Watching" as the believers are. But the true believers is not caught off guard like the unbelievers. He doesn't come as a thief to us! And that contradicts this teaching. But again, don't take my word for it..
1st Thessalonians 5:2
- "For yourselves know perfectly that the Day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
1st Thessalonians 5:4
- "but ye brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a Thief.
It's the "day of the Lord", The Day of Judgment, and notice they are both here. The Church as well as the unrighteous. For the unsaved, that Day overtakes them as a thief in the night because they live in darkness they won't see it coming. The judgment of God will come on them quickly as they are subject to the wrath of God. But notice God says that Day shall not overtake us as a thief. Why not? Because we are the Children of light. We see and we're ready! As Jesus says in Matthew 24, we're Watching! Read that chapter carefully. It's one day, the day of Judgment, and the day of deliverance. That Day is the day of the Rapture of God's Church, and of God's wrath upon the wicked.
1st Thessalonians 5:9
- "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain Salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ."
That day will be a day of wrath for the unsaved, but we have been spared from it "by the blood of Christ". We are not appointed to wrath and judgment in the lake of fire as the unsaved are. There is absolutely no question that this wrath of God is the judgment at the end of the world. We see all through scripture the same consistency.
2nd Peter 3:10
- "But the DAY of the Lord will come as a Thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."
Does that (coming as a thief) sound like a secret coming to you?
...He that hath ears to hear, let him hear!
How do most of these Theologians get past all these verses which are contradictory to their doctrines? They usually "ignore" them or pretend that they aren't there. Others attempt to explain that, "they don't really mean exactly what they say". Still others wrest the scriptures and twist them until they conform to their own ideas. But to the faithful it is clear that the coming as a thief in the night refers to Christ's second advent at the "last" day, the end of the world. All of scripture uniformally confirm this.
- "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
- And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with Power and great glory."
We see that immediately after the tribulation Christ will return (and verse 43 illustrates it's as a thief and the unrighteous are not watching), and that is when the Chosen will be raptured. Curiously, many Theologians say that the rapture is when Christ comes as a thief in the night. However, when they get to Matthew 24 they claim that this chapter speaking of Him coming as a thief, is not the rapture? ..it becomes like Alice in wonderland getting curious-er and curious-er.
Matthew 24 says Christ will return, and verse 31 says, with the sound of a trumpet Christ will send his angels and gather the elect (remember God's definition of the elect) from the four winds of heaven. We'll all be gathered together in the air to be with the Lord. So here we have the Word of God telling us the rapture is after the Tribulation, and we have man telling us it is before. Nowhere does the Word of God say the rapture is before the Tribulation. On the contrary, it illustrates immediately after. I didn't say it, God's Word said that the Chosen were raised here immediately after the tribulation of those days. And it's with the sound of the Trumpet, not in secret. Christ will appear on the clouds and send his angels to gather his chosen from the four winds. Written clearly there in Matthew 24:29-31. This is the rapture, and is exactly what's spoken of again in,
1st Thessalonians 4:16
- "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a Shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the Trumpet 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: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
Compare scripture with scripture, Matthew with 1st Thessalonians, and the picture is clear when and how the Rapture occurs. And again note, it is with a shout and sounding trumpet, not secret! To think that the Lord will take the Church out first (before tribulation) is to ignore both content and context of matthew 24. Scripture is in agreement only with "a last day" rapture.
Another telling passage is the parable of the tares. All parables are given by inspiration of God for our learning, and there is a valuable lesson in this one concerning how we will be left in this world.
The Parable (Matthew 13) is that there are wheat and tares sown in a field. The wheat is the believers and the tares are the unbelievers. The field is the world and the harvest is at the end of the world. That's how God (not I) interprets the parable. So it was said, "Shall we take the tares out of the world so they won't hurt the wheat". God said No! He wanted the tares and the wheat to remain "together" in the field until the end of the world (Which He said is the harvest), and then the separation would occur. Note carefully, God didn't say, I want to take the tares out so they won't hurt the wheat, nor the wheat out of the world because He doesn't want the tares to hurt them, He says leave them both there until the end of the world when the separation would occur. Clearly, without ambiguity, we see in this that both believer and unbeliever will remain in the world "together" until the end of the world. Then the tares will be burned in the Furnace, and the wheat gathered into God's barn. This parable teaches us that the separation is at the end of the world, and not before.
One reason given by some Theologians for the belief that the Church won't go through the tribulation period is based on a misinterpretation of verses such as:
1st Thessalonians 5:9
- "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain Salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ."
Carefully note, the word Tribulation is never mentioned here (as usual), yet it is read "into" this verse by these Theologians. The most common teaching method is to read the verse quickly, and then declare, "..you see, the Lord has not appointed us to go through the wrath of the tribulation."
....Wait! That's Not what it says!
This is the slight of hand method of interpretation, or simply put, subterfuge. Frankly, it's deceitful handling of the scriptures where people hope you listen to them, rather than read the actual text. It's to make something appear to say things that it really doesn't say. God has a perfectly good word translated tribulation and it is not the word "Wrath." If God wanted to say He hath not appointed us to go through the wrath of the great tribulation, He most certainly would have said it. ..He didn't! God doesn't need man to add his private interpretations or additions to His Word.
It goes without saying that the Lord has not appointed the Church to wrath! But the wrath is the wrath of God's final judgment for sin. When the unsaved stand before God, they will feel the wrath of God as they are Judged. That's the wrath that we are not appointed to, not the tribulation period. They might have a leg to stand on if the verse indeed said, "we are not appointed to Tribulation," but it doesn't. And do you know why it doesn't? Because God is not the author of confusion, and He's already said that in the world we shall have Tribulation! Being appointed to wrath, and going through the tribulation are two entirely different things. For example, here is what is meant by the Church (believers) not appointed to the wrath of God.
- "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on Him."
You see, this is the wrath of God that the Church is not appointed to. It's the coming judgment of the unbeliever. Of course we are not appointed to this. But that does not say we are not appointed to go through the Tribulation. In fact, we can see this clearly explained right there in the very verses of Thessalonians that these Theologians use to try and support this theory.
1st Thessalonians 1:9
- "For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."
There we have solid Biblical proof that Christ has "Already" delivered us from the wrath to come by the cross. Because the wrath to come is the Judgment of God for our sins, not the Great Tribulation period. Christ didn't go to the cross to deliver us from the tribulation period (in the world we shall have Tribulation), He went to deliver us from the wrath of God that would come upon us for our sins. And this verse shows that conclusively.
Another verse that is often used to make the claim that the Church won't go through the tribulation, is Revelation 3:10. But once again note carefully (as usual) the word tribulation is "Nowhere" to be found in that verse. It is again "read into" the verse by those predisposed to do so.
Revelation 3:10...the hour of temptation to come on the world /|\ | NOTE: Does Not Say TribulationThey read this, and then they declare, "this is talking about the Great Tribulation Period!" But again, it says nothing about a Great Tribulation Period, and this verse applies to us all throughout time. It spoke to the Church in Philadelphia (over 2000 years ago) which has been faithful, and it says God will keep them from the hour of temptation. Was that Church in Philadelphia under any danger of going through the Great tribulation period? No, not at all, and yet this message was to them, as well as us! Because we keep the Word, we are all kept from the hour of trial or temptation, because God keeps us from falling in time of trial. But that in no way equates to the Church being "taken out of the world" to avoid any tribulation. This is where the problem lies. These theologians assume that the wording "kept from" means taken out of the World. It does not, it never has, and we can see this by comparing scripture with scripture.
First of all, the word temptation there is the Greek word [peirasmos], meaning "Trial or Testing" and is never translated Tribulation. They are two entirely different words. The word Tribulation is [thlipsis] meaning "Persecution or Affliction", and is never translated temptation. We cannot simply take the word temptation or trial (which is used liberally throughout the scriptures) and make the claim that it is the Great Tribulation period. This would be personal interpretation, a sloppy and unsound handling of the scriptures. Temptations or trial "can" be by evil or deceivings, but that does not give licence to say that where this word is found, it means the Great Tribulation period. If that were true, we'd have all sorts of verses made ridiculous by the use of that word.
- "Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown."
Note again they use this verse an an attempt to prove that the Church is not here, and yet we see the language of the earth being "tried" and those who overcome in this time of trial being made a pillar in God's Temple. He who overcomes is he who is in Christ. But their theory is that the Church isn't even here during this temptation (trial) in order to be tried. It is confusion! By the context we know believers are obviously here, and where two believers are gathered together in Christ's name, Christ is in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20). I.e, that is the Church! So again, the bible illustrates that the Church is still here. They are the ones being "tried" to see if they will remain faithful in the face of the false teachings and Apostasy, and be a part of God's Temple.
This message to the Church of Philadelphia (2000 years ago) was a promise to them, and it is a promise to the Church today as well. It's a promise to all of us no matter if we lived at 33 A.D. or today. If we keep God's Word, He will deliver us out of the hour of trial. It doesn't matter whether it's in the hour of temptations today, yesterday, 500 years ago, or 1000 years ago. The promise remains un-abrogated. God promises to deliver the Church out of trial if they keep His word is the prayer we pray every day.
- "And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: for thine is the Kingdom"
The word Temptation there is the same word [peirasmos]. We are praying here for the same thing God is promising the believers in that Church at Philadelphia in Revelation 3. The Promise is that in trial, testing, or temptation (all are the same Greek Word), we'll be delivered out of the temptation, out of the evil of judgment. We pray not to be taken "out of the world", but that God will "deliver" us out of this temptation. In other words, bring us safely out of a time of temptation, or trial. In Contrast to the world, when the world is tried by evil, it falls headlong into it. It's deceived by it like a bird snared in a trap, and it is not delivered out of it. Our prayer is that we will not be brought into this trap of temptation, but delivered out of it. The Lord's prayer. That's the temptation or trial that Revelation 3 says we are keep from the hour of. When the time of trial or tempting comes upon the world, the Lord's prayer we pray is that, God will Keep us from it. Not from the world, but from the temptation in the world. And to be sure, "God will see to it.."
1st Corinthians 10:13
- "There is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with that temptation also make a way to escape that you may be able to bear it."
There it is again, the time of temptation (same word, peirasmos) that God will keep "The Church" from who keeps His Word patiently. Note that God says it will never be greater than we can bear. That's an Important Point! There is No Temptation taken the Church which is Greater than we can bear, and that logically, Biblically and Rationally would include the temptation that is spoken of in revelation chapter 3. That is to say, if God's Word is True! So why are these people talking about the temptation of Revelation 3 that is so bad and uncommon that we have to be taken out of the world to be kept from? ..Good Question! Look at that scripture above. It says, when the temptation comes, God provides a way of "Escape" out of it. That's not what I said, that's what God said! And notice carefully, it's out of the temptation, but not out of the world. though it uses the word escape, it is clearly not from the world, but from snare of this evil. And that's what Revelation is saying. He'll keep us from the hour of temptation. He'll make a way of escape out of it, but nowhere does it say, allude or imply that it will be by taking us out of the world!
Notice also the verse clearly says there isn't "any" temptation taken the Church but is common to man. That's nothing to be ignored as if it is insignificant in this issue. Consider what it says humbly and with understanding. God is telling us that there is,
"no temptation on this earth but that is common to man, and that He will with that temptation make a way for us to escape it".
And God further defines that "escape" as "being able to bear it!" So be not deceived by words like escape and kept from temptation. There is no temptation too great for the Church to bear that God will take it out of the world. God says there isn't any temptation greater than that He will provide a way to escape "that" we'll be able to bear it.
By contrast, the Pre-tribulation Rapture theorists claim, "look at revelation 3, it's temptation so great, that the Lord will take His Church out of the world". But God never said it, and it blatantly contradicts all that He has said. Because it is man's humanistic logic and reasoning, and not God's Word. We're going to escape the hour of temptation all right, but it will be as God defines it, not man! God will provide that we shall endure (matt. 24:13) to the end. He will provide a way of escape, that we will be able to bear it. Jesus taught this lesson of endurance when He spoke of the parable of the sower, that the seeds that fell on rocky soil were those who would not endure?
- "...and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of Temptation fall away."
This is the same word [peirasmos]. These are those who were not really Saved. These are those who hear the Word, but have no root in themselves (Christ is the Root), and so they are not kept by God to escape the hour or time of temptation or trial, and they fall away. They have no Saving faith to patiently keep the Word of God. But with true belief there is the keeping of God's Word, and when the time of temptation comes (whenever it comes), there is a way of escape made, that we are able to "endure" or bear up under it. Whether this Church in Philadelphia, or our Church today, we are kept from the hour of temptation. Not plucked out of the world, but escape out of the temptations in the world. That's what we just read in 1st Corinthians 10:13. And that is why revelation 3 says it's "those who keep the Word of His patience." That's the key. Those who keep the Word patiently in the face of this temptation (testing) will endure. God will provide a way of escape, that we are able to endure in tribulation, or in Great Tribulation. AMEN! It's not unlike what we read in:
1st Samuel 26:24
- "And, behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the LORD, and let him deliver me out of all tribulation".
Does that verse mean that this was a prayer that God would take him out of the world? No, it's a prayer that when all tribulation comes, God will make a way for him to escape it. Just like the verse we read in 1st Corinthians chapter 10. It's the exact same principle.
If we are going to listen to what God says, we have to compare scripture with scripture in surrender to what it says, not what our teachers told us about this. In doing so, it becomes abundantly clear that God has promised to deliver us from the hour or [hora] time of temptation, by keeping us when we are tried. Not delivering us out of the world, but by keeping us in time of Trial that we do not fall. This is a fundamental principle of Christianity which seems to have gotten lost somewhere in these changing times. There is no reason to be delivered out of the world. We are here for a reason, and that reason is to spread the gospel, and that mission is not complete for us until the "Last" day. Our prayer is to "...bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil". It is not to "..take us out of the world of temptation". It's not OUR prayer, and it's not our Lord's Prayer for us..
- "I pray Not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."
I ask you plainly, how much clearer can it get? Christ's prayer is not that we'll be delivered from the world of evil, but kept from it. And just as kept from evil doesn't mean we are delivered out of a world of evil, neither does kept from the hour of temptation mean we are delivered out of a world of temptation. We are tried by it! God knows what he wants for us, and He's said it. But don't take my word for it (Because you shouldn't) Compare Revelation 3:11 with James 1:11 and see if we are delivered from the world in order to get the crown, or if we are delivered in time of trial "in" the world. Compare these things carefully, and let the Holy Spirit of God reveal truth.
- "Blessed is the man that endureth Temptation: for when he is Tried, he shall receive the Crown of Life, which the Lord hath promised to them that Love Him."
Look at that Verse carefully It speaks of being tried, it speaks of being tried in the time of temptation. It speaks of being tried in time of temptation, and enduring! It speaks of those blessed who being tried in time of temptation and enduring, receive a crown of life. Compare that with the Revelation chapter 3 verse. That's the same promise he has given here to the Church of Philadelphia, and to us, and to all who keep His Word patiently.
- "Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I will also keep thee from the hour of Temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to Try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy Crown."
We will never fall or become apostate, we are safe that no man can take our crown as we endure (hold that fast) and keep the Word patiently. We endure the temptation when we are "tried," and God promises the faithful of the Church Philadelphia from 2000 years ago, to now, he will keep them from this hour of trial and temptation that shall come upon all the world, if they keep the Word patiently.
Again note: God says, "Hold fast that no one takes their crown". He's talking to the Church there! If they were going to be taken out of the world at this time, no one could take their crown because they'd be in heaven in this time of temptation. So obviously, they are not taken out of the world, but are in the midst of those trying to take their crown by falsehoods and deception. Just like James clearly says, Blessed is he who "endures Temptation" for when He is tried he receives a crown of life. The crown is the Kingdom and everlasting Life. No question but that they are here and must endure that no one take the crown promised them who endure.
It continues: God says, Because you keep My word.. That's what we're trying to get across here. The Church is kept from temptation because they keep the Word of God's patience, or in the Literal, "The Word of endurance of God." In other words, to endure in the Word of God patiently. There is nothing here or anywhere else that says one single word about the Church being raptured before the tribulation. Just because this verse says, "Because we keep the word of God's patience, God will keep us from the hour of temptation," does not mean that we can arbitrarily re-interpret that to read, "We won't go through the Great tribulation period." God simply does not say that. ..Man does.
Yes, the Church will be raptured. But it will be the time that God says, not man. It will not be before the Great Tribulation, it will be immediately after. The Last day of the world is when Jesus will return. And as we saw in the parable of the tares, it will be to raise up both the Believers to everlasting life, and the unbelievers to judgment. The last day, not a minute before. But again, don't take my word for it. Get it from the source:
- "And this is the Father's will which hath sent Me, that all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at The Last Day!"
- "And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the son and believeth on Him may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at The Last Day!"
- "No man can come to Me except the Father which hath sent Me draw him; and I will raise him up at The Last Day!"
- "Whoso eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at The Last Day!"
- "Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at The Last Day!"
And God makes it plain that not only the resurrection is on The last day, but also the Judgment of the unjust is also on the last day. This is totally consistent with sound biblical theology, and contradicted by Premillennial Pre-tribulation Rapture theories.
- "He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in The Last Day!"
In a court of law, I think they'd call that an open and shut case. As we see above in the quotes, both the judgment, and the Resurrection will come on the very same "Last Day." Not 7 years before the the last day, and not 7 years before the Word of the Lord will judge men, but God says they both occur at the same time. At the Last Day! Totally consistent with what God said about the wheat and the tares. Totally consistent with what God says in Matthew 24, about immediately after the tribulation. Totally consistent will all of scripture. Man can retort, "..but which Last day?" But God is not mocked!
Likewise, God says both the Resurrection and the Judgment is also at the "Last Trumpet". uniformally consistent because it's the truth of God's Word rather than premillennial tradition.
1st Corinthians 15:52
- "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at The Last Trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
Seriously, could God have made it any Clearer? And yet, the unrighteous take God's clear scripture and twist it and turn it until it bears no resemblance to what God has actually said. I've had Theologians tell me, God really didn't mean the last trumpet, He really meant "next to the last". Why would they do this to scripture? The answer is, because God's Word of this last trumpet being the Rapture conflicts with their tradition and man's word that the Matthew 24 trumpet actually occurs "after" this rapture Trumpet! i.e., in their warped Theology, the rapture cannot be at the "last" trumpet because there is a trumpet in matthew 24 which they "claim" is not the rapture of the Church after the Great tribulation.
Frankly, what they are doing is tossing God's Word behind their back, and seating their teachers as the authority of God. Their understanding of the Matthew 24 trumpet is that it takes place "after" the rapture trumpet in 1st Corinthians. And so (believe it or not), they actually claim the trumpet God said was the Last, is not really the last at all. In this, they deny God's Word! And deceiving themselves, they wipe their mouths and protest, "..What evil hath we done?" It's the age old story that began in the garden of Eden with the serpent's question of "..hath God said?"
If the Matthew 24:31 trumpet, is the last Trumpet (as Pre-Tribulation Rapture theorists rightly confess), then it is abundantly clear that both the rapture and the judgment is on the last day. For clearly 1st Cor. 15:52 tells us that the Rapture is at the "Last Trumpet." That means, there "Cannot" be a trumpet after that one. And Matthew 24:29 clearly tells us this is immediately "after the Tribulation". ..Case Closed right? Not for the indoctrinated! For they will not receive the love of the truth of God's Word, but will wrest these scriptures in order to cling to the false teachings of man that the rapture is not at the Last Day, and the matthew 24 Last trumpet is after the Corinthians last trumpet. They cling to the tradition of their Church teachers as if it were their security blanket. But this Contradiction is self evident!
This is the difference between those who keep God's Word faithfully, and those who have no conscience and will change the Word of God to fit their doctrines or theology. They condemn catholics for this error, and then drink from the same troth. They make their teachers the authority over God's word, therefore anything that God says must be viewed in light of what their Church teaches, when it should be vice versa. Often that means that scripture must be manipulated in order to conform to their views. It's a matter of the will of man verses surrender to the will of God. After all (they reason), their teachers can't be wrong, so God must not have meant what He said. They've been taught that the trumpet in Matthew is the last one, and that the rapture has already taken place before this, so they will not receive the scriptures about the last trumpet in 1st Corinthians being the Rapture and the last trumpet. Oh, they won't use the words "God is wrong," but they in practice make that statement none-the-less. They do this by simply ignoring His Word about the Rapture at the last Trumpet! And when faithful Christians bear testimony to this obvious contradiction, they retort that this is merely "just their interpretation" and not what God said. Man's Word that was taught them becomes more precious to them than God's actual Word, evidenced by their holding onto it, instead of forsaking it for what God said.
Not one Christian can give you one scripture that says we won't go through the tribulation. We can give scripture after scripture which says we will have tribulation in the world, and near the end there will be the Greatest Tribulation, and we will be right there in the midst of it. We have given scripture that shows that the wrath that we are not appointed to, has nothing to do with going through a certain period. It is God's Wrath upon the unrighteous. His judgment for their sin. No scripture has been given to show the "last" day is not the last day. No scripture is given to show the "last" Trumpet, is the next to the last trumpet. No scripture has been given to show that the Wheat comes out of the field and the tares remain in the field for many years thereafter. So the question is, shall we believe the Words of the Bible, or the words of men. That's always been the question, and how we answer it may determine our spiritual well being. Because it is a good indicator of just who our authority is. If the Word of God is your authority, then you serve God. If the word of man is your authority, then you serve man. But you cannot serve two masters. If we serve the lawless man (man forsaking God's laws), it's for sure that we're not serving God, no matter what we call ourselves.
Dispensational Premillennialism is a popular doctrine in our day, and these people don't take kindly to the witness against it. But it's not a question of how many people will revile you, or call you a false prophet, or hate you, or gainsay. The only question worth anything here is, "is this truly what God says, or is it all man made?" Did it truly come from God's Book, or is someone's personal ideas and the manipulation of it? Did they use slight of hand, or did they quote from the scripture Word for Word? Is this doctrine of pre-tribulation rapture substantiated in scripture, or is it a house built upon straw and earth that will fall when tried by the Word? Remember this, "when your foundation is the Word of God, then you know you've built on something solid." When your foundation is the word of men, you don't know what you've got, and when the winds blow (Rev 7:1-2) you will find yourself where you don't want to be. And it very well may not be as inconsequential as much of the Church might think.
...He that hath ears to hear let him hear.
You cannot be deceived by Satan if you keep the word of God. And you know the difference because one is verifiable in scripture, and the other is based on assumption, subjection, traditions, slight of hand, subterfuge, and private interpretation. Try or test your teachers! Because the unfaithful ones all have one thing in common. They never reconcile or consider "all" of scripture, because they can't! For God's word doesn't contradict God's Word. So they will Ignore one verse, in favor of their pet verse. I.e., ask them about one verse, and instead of answering you about that verse, they'll write back, "what about this other verse.." You see, they won't reconcile the two verses because they don't really want the truth. They want to be justified! There is one thing we can know for sure, and that is that any two verses that "seem" to contradict each other, must be reconciled in order for us to come to truth. They're both true, so let no teacher use one to make the other null and void! That's the first rule of sound Biblical Hermeneutics. You cannot use one verse to nullify another. If you're going to follow one verse, and throw the other out the window, then it's a sure recipe for being Seduced/Deceived by Satan.
Many have, and will fall in the hour of temptation that tries the world because they refuse to receive the Love of truth. But by the strength of our merciful God, some will keep the Word of God patiently, and these are who God will Keep from the time of temptation (Trial), and no one will take their crown. They will escape out of temptations, for God has given them eyes to see it, ears to hear it, the strength to bear up under it, and the wisdom to escape it..
The Great Tribulation period will come upon the world, as judgment and a trial of our faith. And when things seem their darkest, the Lord will return on the clouds of Glory. Immediately after this Tribulation! And He will gather together His Elect Children of God, from among the tares, (one taken, the other left) and all the world shall behold His Glory. And the wicked shall be judged. All on one day, the Last day, at the Last Trumpet, immediately after the Tribulation. If we follow scripture carefully, there can be no question but that "The Timing of the Rapture" is at the Last day. At the second advent of the lord Jesus Christ!
"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith
unto the Churches;..." -Revelation 2:7
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Copyright ©1993 Tony Warren
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