Questions about the rapture

Hey Ralph,

I've been reading some of your aticles about rapture. We are going to be discussing that in our small group bible study. I am new to this topic and I just want to know some facts about pre-tribulation rapture and how are they supported in the bible. I once heard from a pastor that pre-tribulation doesn't make sense because it will mean that there's going to be 2nd and 3rd coming of Christ. One is for rapture and the other one is for the judgement day. According to this pastor, in pre-tribulation teachings, believers would be raptured and won't suffer the wrath of God and for those who are left here on earth they will be given another chance to repent. This is the reason why he doesn't believe it because that means that we in this earth could do whatever we want and do bad things as long as we want because at the end we could still get the last chance to repent anyways and for him it would seem like Jesus sacrifice and death for our sin would have no importance because we can rely on that "last chance" to repent our sin. Why repent and believe in Jesus now if you can do it later anyways, basically. This is all I know (our don't know about rapture). Please tell me what you think about this pastor's point about rapture. God bless and thanks in advance!

Tim

My response is in Green:

I am not sure which articles you read about the rapture discussion on my site, so much of what I have to say might be redundant. I will try to explain what the pre-trib rapture teaching is and I also want to address what your pastor told you.

Let me start with something I think is very important. The pastor, I just realized, he might not have been your pastor; stated that pre-trib teaches that believers will not go through the wrath of God. That is important, because that pastor and I seem to agree on one thing; that is that the tribulation is the wrath of God.

Rev. 15:7 Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, who lives for ever and ever.

We see here that the bowl judgments during the tribulation are the wrath of God being poured out upon the earth. So as I say we seem to agree on this point, where we disagree is whether believers are destined for this wrath or not. Like anything else, it doesn't matter what my opinion is or what this pastor's opinion is, what matters is what God says.

1 Thes. 5:1-11 Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. [2] For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. [3] While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. [4] But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; [5] for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; [6] so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. [7] For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. [8] But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. [9] For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, [10] who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. [11] Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

Now it is important to understand that the Day of the Lord is when God pours out His judgment and wrath on the earth. Paul tells us that will come like a thief in the night. But notice too that he tells us we are not destined for wrath, but rather for salvation. This is one of the main reasons for belief in the pre-trib rapture. We believe that Jesus already took the Father's wrath for us, we have no need and are not destined to experience that wrath ourselves, because of His payment on the cross for our sins. Since we believe that the tribulation is the pouring out of that wrath upon the earth, then we believe we won't be here to experience it.

This pastor on the other hand seems to agree that the tribulation is God pouring out His wrath upon the earth, but that we as believers who are still alive will experience that wrath, so in affect he disagrees and says that at least some believers ARE destined for wrath. Now, maybe I misunderstand his point, but I certainly don't think I do, I have heard this many times stated much the same way.

It seems that one of his major problems with pre-trib rapture teaching is that he thinks it means everyone will have a second chance, and why live for Christ if you can just wait and have the easy way out during the tribulation. Two things, first if he is correct, then why is it Christians who teach the pre-trib rapture? After all if that is the reason I believe it, then why am I not living like the world waiting until my second chance? Sorry, but his point is silly. Second, believe me there won't be any easy way out. He seems to have missed a few things.

I will get to the idea of a second chance in a minute, but first let me show you what happens to people who believe during the tribulation, whether they are believers before the tribulation starts or are converted during the tribulation doesn't matter; what their fate is during the tribulation is what matters:

Rev. 13:15-17 He was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that it could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. [16] He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, [17] so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.

Rev. 6:9-11 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. [10] They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?" [11] Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.

Rev. 20:4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Of course we know the mark is the mark of the beast and anyone who takes it will be lost for eternity. So a believer can't take the mark, and they can't worship the beast, so they can't buy or sell, and they will be killed. Not what I would call the easy way out! So in his opinion, people who were not willing to live a holy life and follow Christ before the tribulation all of a sudden are willing to be martyred or starve to death just to follow Christ? Am I missing something here?

Now let me get to the idea of a second chance for those who refused Christ before the tribulation:

2 Thes. 2:9-12 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, [10] and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. [11] For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie [12] and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

Wouldn't you agree that this passage is speaking about those who refused to believe the truth and be saved, who knew the truth but rejected it before the tribulation started? Sure sounds like it to me, and God says He will make them believe the lie, so that they will be condemned. The point I am trying to make is that there will be no second chance. Now we do know that there are martyrs coming out of the tribulation and people saved during this time. We just read above about the martyrs souls under the altar. We also see this:

Rev. 7:9-14 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. [10] And they cried out in a loud voice:

    "Salvation belongs to our God,
    who sits on the throne,
    and to the Lamb."
 
[11] All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, [12] saying:

    "Amen!
    Praise and glory
    and wisdom and thanks and honor
    and power and strength
    be to our God for ever and ever.
    Amen!"
 
    [13] Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes--who are they, and where did they come from?"
    [14] I answered, "Sir, you know."
    And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Now this pastor, I guess would say that all these people are the present believers on the earth before the tribulation starts, but I don't think you can say that. We also see this:

Rev. 14:6-7 Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth--to every nation, tribe, language and people. [7] He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water."

Notice that this angel is preaching the gospel to the people on the earth. Now if there is no chance to be saved during the tribulation it makes no sense for this to happen. So who are these people who are saved if not people who have a second chance? Well it could be people born during the tribulation, or who were too young to understand the gospel before the tribulation. Or it could be people who never heard or never understood the gospel before, but I don't think it is people who decided not to believe until they got their second chance.

Okay, let me address one other thing this pastor seemed to have a problem with. He said if the pre-trib rapture was true that would mean the Christ returned either 2 or 3 times. You know one reason that the Jews reject Jesus is because they can't believe that He is coming twice, once as a suffering servant (already happend) and once as a conquering King (yet to happen). They believe that the Messiah will come once and only be a conquering King. So they reject Jesus. So even if the pre-trib rapture isn't true, Christ is coming a second time. So I fail to see what his problem is with two comings? But what about 3 comings? Well I guess you could have a problem with that, but why? We know He is coming twice so is three times so surprising? I don't think so.

I don't think this pastor would disagree with the idea of a rapture, just a pre-trib rapture. But just in case, let me show you why people believe in a rapture:

Matthew 24:36-44 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. [37] As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. [38] For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; [39] and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. [40] Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. [41] Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
    [42] "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. [43] But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. [44] So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Look at verse 40; 'one will be taken and the other left...' We believe this is a picture of the rapture. And this:

1 Thes. 4:16-17 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. [17] 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.

This too is the rapture. Neither one of these passages show that the rapture is before, during or after the tribulation, except under one circumstance. Jesus and Paul both tell us that the event will happen when no one is expecting it and that no one knows exactly when it will happen. However, we do know when the tribulation starts, when the anti-christ signs the peace treaty and we know that the tribulation is seven years long. We even know to the day that at the mid point of the tribulation the anti-christ will violate the peace treaty. So if the rapture happens at the mid-point of the tribulation, once the tribulation starts we could know when the rapture is going to happen, and the same is true if it happens at the end of the tribulation. So for that reason, many think it will happen at some point before the tribulation starts.

Other reasons people believe in the pre-trib rapture is this:

2 Thes. 2:5-7 Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? [6] And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. [7] For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.

Of course this is speaking about the Holy Spirit. We believe that during the tribulation the Holy Spirit will go back to being the way He was in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, He came upon people, but did not indwell in their hearts. It was at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came and begain to indwell in the hearts of believers. He leads us in all truth and He guides us. He also uses us to help restrain evil, although we often don't do as good a job as we should. But for Him to be removed, what would happen to us? We have been promised that He will never leave us, so how can He be removed as the restraining force and yet remain in our hearts and we remain on the earth? Or will He just quit telling us to resist evil? I can't believe that. The only answer I see is that we will also be taken out of the world.

There is more, but I think I covered it elsewhere and this is getting pretty long as it is.

I hope that helps.

Ralph

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