The Pretribulation Rapture
by David J. Stewart
The Bible clearly teaches that the Rapture occurs BEFORE the Tribulation, and the Tribulation occurs BEFORE the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ from Jerusalem.
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” —1st Thessalonians 4:13-18
There is probably not a more controversial doctrine than the Rapture of the Saints in the Bible. First of all, the word “Rapture” is not found in the Bible. Many critics of the Rapture doctrine have stressed this fact over and over. However, the word “Trinity” is not found in the Bible either. Nevertheless, the word “Godhead” most certainly is found in the Bible. I prefer the word “Godhead” for this simple reason.
Nevertheless, I confidently believe that the word “Trinity” does NO injustice to the plain teachings of the Word of God. The word accurately describes the divine nature of God. Howbeit, as I mentioned, I prefer to use the word GODHEAD. Tragically, modern versions of the Bible, such as the damnable New International Version [NIV] have removed this word completely. Interestingly, most of the people using the corrupt NIV adhere to a Postribulation position on the Rapture (i.e., that the Rapture occurs AFTER the Tribulation). Woe unto the Bible corrupters!
I also believe that the word “Rapture” does NO injustice to the Scriptures. The word “Rapture” means “to be caught away.” In the following Scriptures, we read the term "a falling away."
The Greek meaning for this phrase is "a departure." I believe this that this term refers to the departure of the Saints. Some people believe that this term refers to a departure from law and order, i.e., anarchy! These are the folks who believe in a Postribulation Rapture. Of course, this is not the PLAIN teaching of the Bible. Although the anarchy theory sounds very plausible, it is not very practical because history is filled with anarchy, rebellion and lawlessness. In addition, I will show you further Scriptures in a moment that overwhelmingly support the departure of the saints prior to the Tribulation Period (i.e., the 7-year time between the Rapture and the millennial reign of Christ from Jerusalem). So, I could just as easily use the term "falling away" (or the departure), but the term "Rapture" DOES justice to the overwhelming amount of Biblical evidence in support of a Rapture of the saints (i.e., when all the saints shall all be caught up together in the clouds to be with Jesus).
Here is an excellent exegesis of the much debated phrase “falling away” from 2nd Thessalonians 2:2 by Dr. Max D. Younce...
Clearly, the “falling away” (verse 2) refers to “our gathering together unto him” (verse 1).
One of the best statements I ever read was the following statement by Dr. John R. Rice, “The best way to interpret the Bible is not to interpret it at all.” I like that. So often people make the MISTAKE of trying to find things in the Bible that God didn't put there. We are commanded to “search the Scriptures” (John 5:39); however, we must not search for what is not there. It is critically important that we apply wisdom when studying the Bible. How do we do this? By taking the Bible at face value unless it says otherwise. The Book of Revelation does entail much symbolism, but the Bible CLEARLY indicates the meaning. Many false doctrines have been constructed by ignorant and unlearned men who are unskilled at dividing the truth...
How do you “rightly divide“ the Word of God? By cross-referencing the Bible, i.e., comparing Scripture with Scripture. Correct Bible exegesis means to compare one truth to another and never take any Scripture outside of the contextual agreement of all the other Scriptures in the Bible as a whole.
As an example: Mark 16:16 says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Many people (including some preachers) foolishly believe that a person MUST be water baptized to be saved. A quick cross-reference over to 1st Corinthians 1:17 would reveal otherwise. Paul said, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” In believing we are justified IN GOD'S EYES by faith; but in water baptism we are justified IN THE EYES OF MEN by our works. Likewise, Paul speaks of the ROOT of the believer's faith in Romans, being justified IN GOD'S EYES by faith alone (Romans 4:5-6); whereas James speaks of the FRUIT of the believer's faith, being justified by works IN THE EYES OF MEN (James 2:17-24).
John 4:2 says that Jesus didn't water baptize anyone; but His disciples did instead. If baptism were required by God for salvation, do you think Jesus and the Apostle Paul would have left it to someone else? There is no Biblical record of the woman at the well getting water baptized in John chapter 4, nor did Jesus ever tell her to go get water baptized.
The Apostle Paul clearly said that Jesus did NOT send him to baptize anyone. No one in the Old Testament was ever water baptized. The repentant thief on the cross wasn't water baptized. Clearly, water baptism is NOT essential to salvation as some false churches errantly require today. Do you now see the importance of cross-referencing the Bible? I could show you dozens and dozens of such examples of false doctrines which result from failure to compare Scripture with Scripture. So, never base a doctrine upon a a single Scripture passage without taking into consideration the entire scope of the Scriptures. Ask the Holy Spirit of God to guide you...
Let the Holy Spirit be your guide, and He'll lead you around the minefields of heresy. Of course, you CANNOT have the Holy Spirit to guide you unless you are a born-again believer. If you have never accepted Christ as your personal Saviour, then please do so now. You need HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS!
Having laid the groundwork, I would like to
share with you some thoughts concerning the Rapture. There's so much
garbage (i.e., doctrinal heresy) on the internet today. I am saddened that
America's churches have been so lax in this needy area of preaching the
truth in cyberspace. Far more people are surfing the internet than
attending church these days, and you can't blame them in view of the
apostate condition of Christianity today. Jesus said that the unsaved in
His generation were wiser than the saved, “...for the
children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children
of light” (Luke 16:8). And so it is today. Let us be diligent as
believers in these Last Days—to contend for the Biblical faith, to stand
against the evils of our time, to walk with Jesus and to aggressively go
soulwinning to get people saved.
Plain Evidence Of A Pre-Tribulation Rapture
I can PROVE to you that the Rapture comes BEFORE the Tribulation if you'll just think with me a bit. Let's logic through this for a moment. Let's establish what we all agree upon as professed Christians:
Having established two vital doctrines that we DO agree upon, now read the following popular and often misunderstood Scripture passage about two being in a field, one taken and the other left...
The preceding Bible passage is NOT speaking about the Rapture of the saints; but rather, the separating of the tares from the wheat at the Second Coming of Christ. This truth is evidenced by verses 38-39, likening these unsaved people (tares) with the unsaved who perished in Noah's time. Verse 42 does not refer to Christians by use of the words “your Lord.” Jesus is the Lord of all humanity. Philippians 2:9-11 teaches that every human being will ultimately bow their knee and confess with their tongue that Jesus is Lord, then God will cast the unbelieving into the Lake of Fire forever.
Now here's my point and the PROOF of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture: If the Rapture happens AFTER the 7-year Tribulation period, then the tares will be taken at the same time as the Rapture of the saints, which makes absolutely no sense. If God Raptures the saints at the time of His Second Coming (i.e., a Post-Tribulation Rapture), then what would be the purpose of separating the tares from the wheat? The Bible plainly teaches that the separating of the tares from the wheat is NOT the Rapture. The Rapture is when the saints are “CAUGHT UP” (1st Thessalonians 4:17). In sharp contrast, at the onset of Christ's Millennial reign, God is going to separate the wicked (tares) from the wheat (righteous)...
God is going to remove the wicked! Clearly this passage of Scripture does NOT refer to the Rapture. So why would God Rapture the righteous and then separate the wicked tares from the righteous wheat all at the same time as the Second Coming of Christ? How could this even be possible? So if the Rapture follows the Tribulation, then God would have to remove the righteous and the wicked, so there'd be NO ONE LEFT! Remember the film series called, “LEFT BEHIND?” Well what would be the purpose of Rapturing the saints and leaving the wicked behind if Christ is simultaneously returning to set up His Kingdom? If you think this through, it is so obvious that a Post-Tribulation Rapture is impossible, ridiculous and totally unbiblical. Honestly, the Post-Tribulation crowd are comical and woefully ignorant of the Bible.
Now a Pre-Tribulation Rapture makes perfect
sense, because the unsaved wicked are left behind at the Rapture to suffer
through the 7-year Tribulation which follows. That makes sense! That's
what the Bible teaches! Alex Jones said on his February 1, 2013 show that
“I know deception from the truth... anybody who has discernment would be
freaking out over this” (i.e., a Pre-Tribulation Rapture). If you logic
through the facts that I just gave you from the Bible, you can only
conclude a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. The tares will be separated from the
wheat at the END of the 7-year Tribulation when the Lord returns at the
Second Coming. After the Battle Of Armageddon the tares will be separated
from the wheat. The wheat (righteous) left behind are those people who
will be saved during the Tribulation period. They will enter into the
millennial Kingdom when Christ shall reign from Jerusalem over the entire
Saints Receive A Body Fashioned Like Unto The Lord's
All Christians will be changed at the Rapture (1st Corinthians 15:52). Our sinful earthly bodies will be changed into incorruptible, eternal bodies. What a day that will be! No more neck pain from my herniated disks! We will be changed in less than a second...
The next great prophetic event on God's calendar is the blessed Rapture of the saints from the earth. 1st Corinthians 15:52, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. Philippians 3:20-21, “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
The following Verse is one of my favorites in the whole Bible...
No one will ever ruin our day again. No more insults, no more gossip, no more bullies, no more mean people, no more rude remarks, no more jealous coworkers. Amen! Let's face it, many people are cold-hearted and insensitive, especially towards tender-hearted people. Tender-hearted people don't mix well with Cold-hearted people. Jesus foretold in Matthew 24:12 of the days when many people would become cold-hearted because of iniquity (Greek, "injustice"). We see this much today. With all the blatant crimes being committed by the U.S. government—the illegal war in Iraq, the theft of trillions-of-dollars of taxpayer money, our nations borders deliberately being unguarded, a Communist president, et cetera—many Americans have become angry, tired and thin-skinned. It's a rat-race in America.
Here is an easy way to remember the rapture as taught by the faithful man of God, Dr. Jack Hyles:
I've never heard it said any simpler than that. Jesus will come again at the Rapture FOR His own (i.e., for all the Saints throughout history). The dead in Christ shall be raised first and then Christians who are alive will be changed. Personally, I do not believe that the entire Rapture will occur in less than a second. I believe that the Bible is teaching that we as INDIVIDUALS will be changed in less than a second. The trumpet, voice of the archangel, raising of the dead first, and then the living, may be a significantly longer time. Howbeit, we know that we WILL BE CHANGED in the twinkling of an eye.
Jude 1:14 says, "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints." The Lord will return with tens-of-thousands of His saints at the Second Coming. This event occurs 7-years AFTER the Rapture of the Saints. In order for us to return WITH the Lord, we have to first be WITH the Lord. This is further evidence of a Pretribulation Rapture.
Again, an easy way to remember this is:
Clearly, we will be with the Lord when he returns at the Second Coming.
It is clear from the following passage of Scripture that the Lord is returning FOR His saints at the Rapture...
In contrast, the Lord will be
returning WITH His own at the end of the Tribulation period, to
reign from Jerusalem as King over the earth (Isaiah 24:23; Micah
4:7). 2nd Thessalonians 2:3 clearly states that there must first
come... "a falling away" before the Antichrist will be revealed. I
believe these words, "a falling away," refer to the Rapture when the
Saints are "caught away" from the earth. If we accept the Word
of God at face value, I cannot see how anyone can conclude anything but
a Pretribulation Rapture.
THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION
Read the Book of Revelation and all the horrible things which are going to happen during the 7-Year Tribulation (Revelation Chapters 6-13). One can only come to the logical conclusion that such events WOULD be a definite giveaway concerning the time when the Lord is going to return. Daniel prophesied concerned an event known as THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION... "And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days" (Daniel 12:11; see also Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14). The Bible teaches that 3 1/2 years of time will follow this blasphemous act by the Antichrist, which means that everyone who understood the Bible would know EXACTLY when Jesus Christ would return. This goes 100% contrary to the plain statement of Jesus in Mark 13:33, "Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is." This is strong evidence in support of a Pretribulation Rapture.
The events prophesied to
occur in the 7-year Tribulation period are extremely SPECIFIC. Yet,
the Bible plainly states repeatedly that the Lord will return as a “thief
in the night” (1st Thessalonians 5:2).
The Postribulation Rapture and Modern Corrupt Bibles
Some of my beliefs concerning the Bible are speculation. The "gap theory" between Genesis 1:1,2 is such an issue. It is not an essential doctrine to one's Christian faith. Likewise, the Rapture issue is NOT a fundamental doctrine necessary to one's salvation. In other words, no one is going to burn in Hell because they believed in a Postribulation Rapture. However, I have noticed that those who adhere to such false doctrines as the Postribulation Rapture, are usually ensnared into the modern corrupt Bible versions. Many of these people are NOT saved; they are merely religious. The modern perversions of the Bible all diminish the deity of Jesus Christ (i.e., that Jesus is Almighty God).
The doctrine of the blood of Jesus is also weakened in the modern versions. As a result, many people are buying into Satanic deceptions concerning Biblical doctrines. Some people (such as Dr. John MacArthur) focus on Christ's death; but reject the efficacy (power) of the literal blood sacrifice of Christ. Others are buying into the LIE of Lordship Salvation (i.e., that a person must forsake their actual sins to be saved). I think it's important to establish the connection between such heresies and the Postribulation Rapture crowd. The common denominator is modern corrupt Bibles. Did you know that JESUS, the name which is above every other name, has been removed in 38 places in the New International Version (NIV). I only trust the good old trustworthy King James Bible.
Followers of the King James Bible have no problem believing in a Pretribulation rapture. It's the people who are using the poisoned and watered down "versions" that can't seem to get their doctrines straight. If you have the wrong Bible, then you are never going to fully find your way to the Truth of God's Word. Jesus said in John 4:24 that God MUST be worshipped in spirit and truth. So if you don't have the truth you are doomed.
Followers of modern bibles are messed up
doctrinally and lack the PASSION for the Bible that King James-loving
Christians possess. I triple-dog dare you to find an NIV-toting
Christian who can quote verse-after-verse from memory, word perfect.
I've only seen that with the King James crowd.
A Postribulation Rapture is Illogical
Reason with me here for a moment. The Bible clearly teaches that there will be a judgment for all believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:10). The Bible also teaches that there will be the Marriage Supper of the Lamb for all believers (Revelation 19:9). Ok, if the Rapture isn't going to happen until AFTER the Tribulation, then when do these events occur? It's common sense.
A Post-Tribulation Rapture theory creates a serious dilemma in that there
will be no time for the Judgment Seat of Christ nor the Marriage Supper of
the Lamb. Thus, the Bible clearly teaches that the Rapture must occur BEFORE
the Tribulation; and the Tribulation must occur BEFORE the Millennial reign of
Christ from Jerusalem.
What about a “Split Rapture”?
Though I greatly admire him, pastor J. Vernon McGee believed in a "split rapture." Pastor McGee was a Presbyterian minister for many decades, faithfully serving the Lord. Nevertheless, there is no such teaching of a "split rapture" found in the Bible. Pastor McGee taught that ONLY the New Testament saints would be raptured at the beginning of the Tribulation, and then the Old Testament saints would be raptured after the Tribulation. Again, I find no such teaching in the Bible. We are taught in 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 that the "dead in Christ" would be raised first. Well, the Old Testament saints are all dead (except Enoch and Elijah who apparently never died a physical death). They will more than likely be the two prophets slain in Revelation. Hebrews 9:27 declares that all men must die... "It is appointed unto men once to die."
Thus, Old Testament saints will be raised up at the Rapture when Jesus returns FOR His own before the Tribulation. There is no reason to believe that Old Testament saints will be raised up at a different resurrection than New Testament saints. Revelation 20:6 plainly states... "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power..." The FIRST resurrection is for all believers. The SECOND resurrection is only for the unsaved, the wicked (Revelation 20:11-15).
There is nothing Biblical about a split Rapture theory.
The following Scripture speaks of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ...
This will be at the Second Coming when Jesus returns WITH His saints and angels to fight the Battle of Armageddon in the valley of Megiddo (in Palestine). This is in sharp contrast to all the other Scriptures about the trumpet, the voice of the archangel, being changed in the twinkling of an eye and meeting in the clouds. Clearly we are looking at two separate events here; namely, the Rapture versus the Second Coming. A Postribulation position places BOTH events as happening simultaneously. This is illogical.
If the Postribulation theory holds true, then the Judgment Seat of Christ, Marriage Supper of the Lamb, Battle of Armageddon, Judgment of the Nations, and other prophecies would all have to occur simultaneously, which makes no sense at all. Why would believers be Raptured into the clouds to meet with the Lord just to turn around and come right back to the earth? It makes much more sense to accept the Bible as literal, and conclude that the Rapture of the Church will occur 7-years prior to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to the earth.
At the Second Coming Jesus will return to put down the
Antichrist, judge the nations, and then establish His Millennial Kingdom
to reign upon the earth
for 1,000 years. What a time that will be!!! It is clear to me, and I
think to any honest Bible student, that the events surrounding the
Rapture versus the Second Coming are so distinct and varied that it
would be impossible to conclude anything other than a Pretribulation
THE CHURCH MUST BE REMOVED FROM THE WORLD
According to 2nd Thessalonians 2:6-9, the Antichrist will not be revealed until the Church (i.e., the light of this world; Matthew 5:14, "Ye are the light of the world...") is removed...
Although there is controversy as to what the words "he who now letteth will let" means, I think the obvious interpretation is clear. In Matthew 5:14 Jesus plainly taught that believers are "the light of the world." Jesus is the Light (John 8:12) and it is Christ in our heart that shines in this dark and dreary world of sin and hate. Without Christians preaching the Word and fighting against sin, this world would quickly plunder into unimaginable wickedness. In order for the Antichrist to complete his New World Order, i.e., a Global Godless Totalitarian Communist Police State, led by Satan himself, the Church must be removed from the world.
At the Rapture, the Body of Christ
(i.e., the Church) will be "caught away" from this world. At that time, the
Antichrist will have NO OPPOSITION from people like me with websites
exposing Satanism and every other form of debauchery. When the Church
is gone, the Devil is
going to have a heyday. Christians are
a monkey-wrench for the New World Order. We really mess things up
for them. We will never accept homosexuality,
same-sex marriage, abortion, microchip implants, Communism, witchcraft,
et cetera. We
will not accept the Devil. The world follows Satan because they are
his children. But we as Christians are a peculiar bunch,
zealous about good works, and follow only the LORD JESUS CHRIST. We are a big obstacle for the
Order. The true Church is like a fierce pitbull guarding watch
against lies, evil and the Devil. God is going to remove us from the world
as part of His divine sovereign plan, so the Tribulation can happen,
when Israel will be purged in preparation to receive her King and the
inhabitants of the earth will be judged for their wickedness.
Further Evidence of a Pretribulation Rapture
God will NOT allow the Church to go through the Tribulation Period. It will be a time of atrocities as the world has never known! God wouldn't destroy the wicked in Noah's day until Noah and his family were all safely aboard the ark. Not one drop of rain fell until Noah and his family were on the ark, and God had shut the door. Afterwards, the rains fell and the wicked were utterly destroyed. The same is true of Lot and his family. Although Lot was a backslidden believer, he was nevertheless a "just man," a righteous man (2nd Peter 2:7,8). We read in Genesis 19:22, "Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither." These words were spoken by the angel whom God had sent to reign down fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrah. No judgment could fall upon Sodom, until Lot and his family were removed. Likewise, the Church will be Translated (Raptured) away from this sin-cursed world before the Tribulation.
The "word of my patience" in Revelation 3:10 is the Word of God. Here we have God's promise that because we have kept HIS WORD concerning salvation, i.e., because we have OBEYED the Gospel, He will keep us "from the hour of temptation" (i.e., the Tribulation Period). This seven-year period of tribulation is referred to in the Old Testament as The Time of Jacob's Trouble in Jeremiah 30:7-11...
It will be when the Church is removed from the
earth (i.e., after the Rapture) that God will again recognize the nation Israel in a special covenant
relationship with Himself. During the Great Tribulation, a remnant out of
Israel will repent and turn to their Messiah. They will become His
witnesses (Revelation 7:3-8). Thus, the time of Jacob's trouble will
cause many Israelites to turn to the God of the Bible. We read in Matthew 24:14 concerning the Tribulation Period, "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." We read in
Revelation 7:4 who the 144,000 are going to be ... "And I heard the number
of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four
thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel." The
144,000 will be Jewish soulwinners! These are the preachers spoken of in
Matthew 24:14. They will win multitudes of lost sinners to the Lord
(Revelation 7:9). As a result, many of them will be martyred (Revelation
THE ENDS OF DAYS
The first 3 1/2 years of the tribulation are going to be a time of peace, when the False Prophet and the Antichrist will greatly influence the masses using signs and lying wonders (2nd Thessalonians 2:9). 2nd Thessalonians 2:10 tells us that the masses of the earth will eagerly follow the Antichrist because they loved not the truth that they might be saved... "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." The world will worship the Beast, the wicked Devil himself, just as they do innumerable Rock stars today. The Antichrist will very likely be a musical Rock star prior to his ascension to power.
As mentioned earlier, halfway through the Tribulation Period the Antichrist will commit what the Bible terms "The Abomination of Desolation" (Matthew 24:15). The Antichrist will claim to be god and require worship from his followers. At this point will begin what the Bible terms, GREAT TRIBULATION... "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21).
The last 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation will be a time of woe that this world has never known... "Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it" (Jeremiah 30:7). A meteorite will strike the earth... "And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter [poison]" (Revelation 8:11). One-third of all forests and crops will burn (Revelation 8:7). The oceans and rivers will be turned to blood (Revelation 8:8; 16:4). The waters will be poisoned, the forests will be burned, bloodthirsty creatures from Hell (perhaps genetic mutants; Revelation 9:1-11) will torment mankind... "And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months" (Revelation 9:10). The blood from war will flow up to the horse's bridles (Revelation 14:20). Billions of people will be killed. This is what will happen in the Great Tribulation. Woe unto them!
I've shared a little prophecy with you here. If you really want to learn more about this subject, go online and buy the book "Bible Prophecy" by Oliver B. Greene. It is a masterpiece.
Don't ever let anyone shake your faith in the simple and plain teachings of the Bible. God said what He meant and meant what He said. The Bible teaches a Pretribulation Rapture.