You are misleading people about the rapture

I often get attacking e-mails, however, sometimes they even come from other Christians. I want to address one such message I received:

I like your page but you are misleading people with that junk about the pre-tribulation rapture of the church. You are making weak Christians who won't be able to stand up for their faith when the tribulation starts and they are still here.

My response is in Green:

I do believe in the pre-tribulation rapture of the church (body of Christ), however, this is not central to our salvation and therefore is something that I most often try to avoid. When I say it is not central to our salvation, what I mean is that no matter what you believe about the rapture, if you have placed your faith in the atoning work of Christ on the cross, you will go to heaven.

There have been many books written about this debate and I don't want to cover ground that has already been covered. So I will list a couple books that I feel explain what I believe about the rapture of the church:

There are more books out but these are excellent resources.

So what else is there to say? I have one thought that I have not seen anywhere but that I feel shows clearly there will be a pre-tribulation rapture of the Body of Christ. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-8 NIV) Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. {4} He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God. {5} 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. {8} And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.

Notice that Paul says that there is One who holds back the power of the lawless one. Most everyone agrees that the One referred to here is the Holy Spirit. Where does the Holy Spirit reside? Of course in the hearts of each and every true Christian. Now the Holy Spirit has the same attributes as the other two persons of the Godhead, so He is omnipresent also. But think about what the verse is saying; He is holding back the lawless one and will do so until He is taken out of the way. Now since God (including the Holy Spirit) is omnipresent, and will remain so forever, it must mean something different then that He leaves the world. Could it mean, that the people the Holy Spirit is using to restrain the lawless one right now are the Christians in whom He dwells? If God raptured every Christian out of the world today, would not the influence of the Holy Spirit depart also and thereby the restraining of the lawless one?

I think this passage clearly teaches that the church will be raptured out of the world before the lawless one comes to power. Jesus promised us that He would ask the Father to send us a Counselor, who would be with us forever: (John 14:15-17 NIV) "If you love me, you will obey what I command. {16} And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- {17} the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

You can count on what Jesus said, He said the Counselor (Spirit of Truth - the Holy Spirit) would be with us forever. So that means that God will not take away the Holy Spirit from His people during the tribulation, yet the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the way. What other explanation can there be other than we will be taken out of the world before the start of the tribulation? This promise that Jesus made was made to the church, so it would not necessarily apply to those who accept Christ during the tribulation. In fact I tend to believe that during the tribulation God will deal with people much like He did in the old testament, not indwelling every believer at the time of conversion, but coming on them in power when needed. That is not to say that I don't believe the Holy Spirit will help these convert persevere, because I do think He will, otherwise they would not make it.

Now let me address one last point. I have been accused of making weak, flabby Christians who will not be able to withstand the tribulation if they find themselves in the midst of it. I take offense to that line of reasoning. I do believe as I have clearly stated in this article that I think the rapture will be before the tribulation, but I never have said that Christians will not suffer tribulations. To say that teaching a pre-tribulation rapture will make Christians weak is to ignore the many martyrs who give their lives for their faith each day. It also denies the power of the Holy Spirit to counsel us and comfort us and to give us strength. I fervently hope I am right about the rapture but if I am wrong, I trust God to help me and all other faithful Christians to withstand the tribulation.

I watch as our religious freedoms in America are being taken away. I hope and pray that it will stop short of out right persecution, but if it doesn't again I believe God is powerful enough and loves us enough to carry us through. I pray that I nor any member of my family will get cancer, but again I trust God to strengthen us and comfort us in the event of that terrible disease coming into our lives. My point is this, just because a Christian hopes that God will take them out of the world before the 7 year tribulation does not mean that they will not be able to withstand whatever comes their way, be it 'the tribulation' or just personal tribulations. To say that a Christian will fall because of unexpected hardships is to deny the work of the Holy Spirit. That I will not stand still and listen to. Maranatha!!

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