Future Prophesies - the Stage is Set (Can Happen Any Day)
The Holy Spirit must be removed before the antichrist can be revealed
We are not appointed to God’s wrath
OTHER RAPTURE TIMING OPTIONS
THE SEVEN JEWISH FEASTS
THE RAPTURE ACCORDING TO THE HARVEST MODEL
RAPTURE POSSIBILITIES (not date-setting)
Perhaps the concept of the rapture is new to you. The Bible tells us in John 14 that Jesus promised to return one day and take us to heaven where we’ll spend all eternity. The Apostle Paul spoke of the rapture in the book of I Thessalonians chapter 4. 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. We believe that day is coming soon.
What is the rapture of the church?
The word rapture does not occur in the Bible. The term comes from a Latin word meaning “a carrying off, a transport, or a snatching away.” The concept of the “carrying off” or the rapture of the church is clearly taught in Scripture.
The rapture of the church is the event in which God “snatches away” all believers from the earth in order to make way for His righteous judgment to be poured out on the earth during the tribulation period. The rapture is described primarily in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50–54. God will resurrect all believers who have died, give them glorified bodies, and take them from the earth, along with all living believers, who will also be given glorified bodies at that time. “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17).
The rapture will involve an instantaneous transformation of our bodies to fit us for eternity. “We know that when he [Christ] appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). The rapture is to be distinguished from the second coming. At the rapture, the Lord comes “in the clouds” to meet us “in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). At the second coming, the Lord descends all the way to the earth to stand on the Mount of Olives, resulting in a great earthquake followed by a defeat of God’s enemies (Zechariah 14:3–4).
The doctrine of the rapture was not taught in the Old Testament, which is why Paul calls it a “mystery” now revealed: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52).
The rapture of the church is a glorious event we should all be longing for. We will finally be free from sin. We will be in God’s presence forever. There is far too much debate over the meaning and scope of the rapture. This is not God’s intent. Rather, the rapture should be a comforting doctrine full of hope; God wants us to “encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
The Rapture - What is it? Who will it affect? When is it most likely to take place?
The Rapture is a glorious event which God has promised to the Church. The promise is that someday very soon, at the blowing of a trumpet and the shout of an archangel, Jesus will appear in the sky and take up His Church, living and dead, to Heaven.
The term “Rapture” comes from a Latin word, “rapio,” that means “to catch up, to snatch away, or to take out.” It is, in turn, a translation of the Greek word, “harpazo.” So, “Rapture” is a Biblical word that comes right out of the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible. The word is found in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. In the New American Standard Version, the English phrase, “caught up,” is used. The same phrase is used in the King James and New International Versions.
A Promise to the Church
The concept of the Rapture was not revealed to the Old Testament prophets because it is a promise to the New Testament Church and not to the saints of God who lived before the establishment of the Church. Jesus will return as a bridegroom for His bride, and that bride consists only of Church Age saints. The saints of Old Testament times will be resurrected at the end of the Tribulation and not at the time of the Rapture of the Church. Daniel reveals this fact in Daniel 12:1-2 where he says that the saints of that age will be resurrected at the end of the “time of distress.”
The first clear mention of the Rapture in Scripture is found in the words of Jesus recorded in John 14:1-4. Jesus said, “I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” The most detailed revelation of the actual events related to the Rapture is given by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. He says that when Jesus appears, the dead in Christ (Church Age saints) will be resurrected and caught up first. Then, those of us who are alive in Christ will be translated “to meet the Lord in the air.”
Paul mentions the Rapture again in 1 Corinthians 15 — his famous chapter on the resurrection of the dead: “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet” (verses 51-52).
Paul’s reference here to being changed is an allusion to the fact that the saints will receive glorified bodies that will be imperishable, immortal, and perfected (1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 50-55 and Isaiah 35:5-6).
To summarize, these passages teach that the shout of an archangel and the blowing of a trumpet will herald the sudden appearance of Jesus in the heavens (1 Thessalonians 4:16). The dead in Christ will be resurrected and rise up to meet the Lord in the sky. Then, those saints who are alive will be “caught up” to the Lord. Paul concludes his description in 1 Thessalonians 4 by encouraging his readers to “comfort one another with these words.”
And truly the Rapture is a comforting thought! Consider the promises contained in the concept of the Rapture. Jesus will bring with Him the spirits of those who have died in Him (1 Thessalonians 4:14). He will resurrect their bodies in a great miracle of re-creation; He will reunite their bodies with their spirits; and He will then glorify their bodies, making them immortal. And those believers who are living will not even taste death. Rather, they will be caught up to the Lord, and in transit, they will be translated from mortal to immortal. All my life I have heard that there are two things no one can avoid: taxes and death. Well, that is not true. According to 1 Thessalonians 4, a whole generation of believers will escape death. Taxes appear to be the only inevitability!
The most controversial aspect of the Rapture is its timing. Some place it at the end of the Tribulation, making it one and the same event as the Second Coming. Others place it in the middle of the Tribulation. Still others believe that it will occur at the beginning of the Tribulation. The reason for these differing viewpoints is that the exact time of the Rapture is not precisely revealed in scripture. It is only inferred. There is, therefore, room for honest differences of opinion, and lines of fellowship should certainly not be drawn over differences regarding this point, even though it is an important point.
Those who place the timing at the end of the Tribulation usually base their argument on two parables in Matthew 13 and on the Lord’s Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24. In Matthew 24 the Lord portrays His gathering of the saints as an event that will take place “immediately after the tribulation of those days” (Matthew 24:29). This certainly sounds like a post-Tribulation Rapture. But it must be kept in mind that the book of Matthew was written to the Jews, and therefore the recording of Jesus’ speech by Matthew has a distinctively Jewish flavor to it as compared to Luke’s record of the same speech.
Note, for example, Matthew’s references to Judea and to Jewish law regarding travel on the Sabbath (Matthew 24:15-20). These are omitted in Luke’s account. Instead, Luke speaks of the saints looking up for deliverance “to escape all these things” when the end time signs “begin to take place” (Luke 21:28, 36). The saints in Matthew are instructed to flee from Judea and hide. The saints in Luke are told to look up for deliverance.
It appears, therefore, that Matthew and Luke are speaking of two different sets of saints. The saints in Matthew’s account are most likely Jews who receive Jesus as their Messiah during the Tribulation. The saints in Luke are those who receive Christ before the Tribulation begins. Most of those who accept the Lord during the Tribulation will be martyred (Revelation 7:9-14). Those who live to the end will be gathered by the angels of the Lord (Matthew 24:31).
The parable of the wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-30) and the parable of the dragnet (Matthew 13:47-50) can be explained in the same way. They refer to a separation of saints and sinners that will take place at the end of the Tribulation. The saints are those who receive Jesus as their Savior during the Tribulation (Gentile and Jew) and who live to the end of that awful period. The Bible clearly teaches that the Rapture is an event that is separate and apart from the Second Coming. The two simply cannot be combined into one event.
There are variations of the mid-Tribulation Rapture concept. The most common is that the Church will be taken out in the exact middle of the Tribulation, at the point in time when the Antichrist is revealed. This concept is based upon a statement in 1 Corinthians 15:52 which says that the Rapture will occur at the blowing of “the last trumpet.” This trumpet is then identified with the seventh trumpet of the trumpet judgments in the book of Revelation. Since the blowing of the seventh trumpet is recorded in Revelation 11, the mid-point of the Tribulation, the conclusion is that the Rapture must occur in the middle of the Tribulation.
But there are two problems with this interpretation. The first is that the last trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15 is blown for believers whereas the seven trumpets of Revelation 8, 9 and 11 are sounded for unbelievers. The Revelation trumpets have no relevance for the Church. The last trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15 is a trumpet for the righteous. The last trumpet for the unrighteous is the one described in Revelation 11.
Another problem with this interpretation is that the passage in Revelation 11 that portrays the sounding of the seventh trumpet is a “flash forward” to the end of the Tribulation. Flash forwards are very common in the book of Revelation. They occur after something terrible is described in order to assure the reader that everything is going to turn out all right when Jesus returns at the end of the Tribulation.
Thus, the eighth and ninth chapters of Revelation, which describe the horrors of the trumpet judgments, are followed immediately by a flash forward in chapter 10 that pictures the return of Jesus in victory at the end of the Tribulation. The mid-Tribulation action resumes in chapter 11 with a description of the killing of the two great prophets of God by the Antichrist. Then, to offset that terrible event, we are presented with another flash forward, beginning with verse 15. The seventh trumpet is sounded and we find ourselves propelled forward to the end of the Tribulation when “the kingdom of the world becomes the kingdom of our Lord.”
The point is that the seventh trumpet of Revelation relates to the end of the Tribulation and not the middle. It is the same trumpet that is referred to in Matthew 24:31, the trumpet that will be blown to announce the Second Coming of Jesus. It is therefore no basis for an argument in behalf of a mid-Tribulation Rapture.
A variation of the mid-Tribulation Rapture is the pre-wrath Rapture concept that places the Rapture at some point in the last quarter of the Tribulation, about five and a half years into the Tribulation. The argument for this view is that the Church is promised protection only from the wrath of God and not the wrath of Man or of Satan. It is then argued that only the Trumpet and Bowl Judgments constitute the wrath of God, and these are placed in the last quarter of the Tribulation, despite the fact that the book of Revelation clearly places the Trumpet Judgments in the first half of the Tribulation. They maintain that the Seal Judgments are the wrath of Man and Satan.
This view disintegrates when you consider the fact that it is Jesus Himself who breaks the seals that launch each of the Seal Judgments recorded in Revelation 6. These judgments occur at the beginning of the Tribulation, and they are referred to as “the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:16). All the judgments of Revelation are clearly superintended by God. That is the reason we are told in Revelation 15:1 that the Bowl Judgments at the end of the Tribulation will finish the wrath of God, not begin His wrath.
The Pre-Tribulation Rapture
I believe the best inference of Scripture is that the Rapture will occur at the beginning of the Tribulation. The most important reason I believe this has to do with the issue of imminence. Over and over in Scripture we are told to watch for the appearing of the Lord. We are told “to be ready” (Matthew 24:44), “to be on the alert” (Matthew 24:42), “to be dressed in readiness” (Luke 12:35), and to “keep your lamps alight” (Luke 12:35). The clear force of these persistent warnings is that Jesus can appear at any moment. Only the pre-Tribulation concept of the Rapture allows for the imminence of the Lord’s appearing for His Church. When the Rapture is placed at any other point in time, the imminence of the Lord’s appearing is destroyed because other prophetic events must happen first.
For example, if the Rapture is going to occur in mid-Tribulation, then why should I live looking for the Lord’s appearing at any moment? I would be looking instead for an Israeli peace treaty, the rebuilding of the Temple, and the revelation of the Antichrist. Then and only then could the Lord appear.
This raises the issue of what we are to be looking for. Nowhere are believers told to watch for the appearance of the Antichrist. On the contrary, we are told to watch for Jesus Christ. In Titus 2:13 Paul says we are to live “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” Likewise, Peter urges us to “fix our hope completely on the grace to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). John completes the apostolic chorus by similarly urging us to “fix our hope on Him” at His appearing (1 John 3:2-3). Only Matthew speaks of watching for the Antichrist (Matthew 24:15), but he is speaking to the Jews living in Israel in the middle of the Tribulation when the Antichrist desecrates the rebuilt Temple.
Another argument in behalf of a pre-Tribulation Rapture has to do with the promises of God to protect the Church from His wrath. As has already been demonstrated, the book of Revelation shows that the wrath of God will be poured out during the entire period of the Tribulation. The Word promises over and over that the Church will be delivered from God’s wrath. Romans 5:9 says that “we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him [Jesus].” 1 Thessalonians 1:10 states that we are waiting “for His Son from heaven… who will deliver us from the wrath to come.” The promise is repeated in 1 Thessalonians 5:9 — “God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Some argue that God could supernaturally protect the Church during the Tribulation. Yes, He could. In fact, He promises to do just that for the 144,000 Jews who will be sealed as bond-servants at the beginning of the Tribulation (Revelation 7:1-8). But God’s promise to the Church during the Tribulation is not one of protection but one of deliverance. Jesus said we would “escape” the horrors of the Tribulation (Luke 21:36). Paul says Jesus is coming to “deliver” us from God’s wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
There are several prophetic types that seem to affirm the concept of deliverance from Tribulation. Take Enoch for example. He was a prophet to the Gentiles who was raptured out of the world before God poured out His wrath in the great flood of Noah’s time. Enoch appears to be a type of the Gentile Church that will be taken out of the world before God pours out His wrath again. If so, then Noah and his family are a type of the Jewish remnant that will be protected through the Tribulation.
Another Old Testament symbolic type which points toward a pre-Tribulation Rapture is the experience of Lot and his family. They were delivered out of Sodom and Gomorrah before those cities were destroyed. The Apostle Peter alludes to both of these examples in his second epistle. He states that if God spared Noah and Lot, then He surely “knows how to rescue the godly from trial and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:4-9).
Another beautiful prophetic type is to be found in the Jewish wedding traditions of Jesus’ time. After the betrothal, the groom would return to his father’s house to prepare a wedding chamber for his bride. He would return for his bride at an unexpected moment, so the bride had to be ready constantly. When he returned, he would take his bride back to his father’s house to the chamber he had prepared. He and his bride would then be sealed in the chamber for seven days. When they emerged, a great wedding feast would be celebrated.
Likewise, Jesus has returned to Heaven to prepare a place for His bride, the Church. When He returns for His bride, He will take her to His Father’s heavenly home. There He will remain with His bride for seven years (the duration of the Tribulation). The period will end with “the marriage supper of the Lamb” described in Revelation 19. Thus the seven days in the wedding chamber point prophetically to the seven years that Jesus and His bride will remain in Heaven during the Tribulation.
Speaking of Revelation, the structure of that book also implies a pre-Tribulation Rapture in a symbolic sense. The first three chapters focus on the Church. Chapter 4 begins with the door of Heaven opening and John being raptured from the Isle of Patmos to the throne of God in Heaven. The Church is not mentioned thereafter until Revelation 19:7-9 when it is portrayed as the “bride of Christ” in Heaven with Jesus celebrating the “marriage supper of the Lamb.” At Revelation 19:11 the door of Heaven opens again, and Jesus emerges riding a white horse on His way to earth, followed by His Church (Revelation 19:14).
The rapture of the Apostle John in Revelation 4 appears to be a symbolic type of the Rapture of the Church. Note that it is initiated by the cry of a voice that sounds like the blowing of a trumpet (Revelation 4:1). Since the Tribulation does not begin until Revelation 6, the rapture of John in Revelation 4 appears to be a symbolic type that points to a pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church.
Some counter this argument by pointing out that although the Church is not mentioned in Revelation during that book’s description of the Tribulation, there is constant mention of “saints” (for example, Revelation 13:7). But that term is not used in the Bible exclusively to refer to members of the Church. Daniel uses it to refer to Old Testament believers who lived long before the Church was established (Daniel 7:18). The saints referred to in the book of Revelation are most likely those people who will be saved during the Tribulation, after the Church has been taken out of the world.
An interesting argument in behalf of the pre-Tribulation timing of the Rapture can be found in 2 Thessalonians. The church at Thessalonica was in a turmoil because someone had written them a letter under Paul’s name stating that they had missed the “gathering to the Lord” and were, in fact, living in “the day of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2). Paul attempted to calm them down by reminding them of his teaching that the day of the Lord would not come until after the Antichrist is revealed. He then stated that the Antichrist would not be revealed until a restraining force “is taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-7).
There has been much speculation as to the identity of this restraining force that Paul refers to. Some have identified it as the Holy Spirit. But it cannot be the Holy Spirit because there will be people saved during the Tribulation, and no one can be saved apart from the testimony of the Spirit (John 16:8-11 & 1 John 5:7).
Others have identified the restrainer as human government. It is true that government was ordained by God to restrain evil (Romans 13:1-4). But the governments of the world are in rebellion against God and His Son (Psalm 2), and they are therefore a contributor to the evil that characterizes the world. Furthermore, the Tribulation will not be characterized by a lack of government. Rather, it will feature the first true worldwide government (Revelation 13:7).
In my opinion that leaves only one other candidate for Paul’s restrainer — and that is the Church. It is the Church that serves as the primary restrainer of evil in the world today as it proclaims the Gospel and stands for righteousness. When the Church fails in this mission, evil multiplies, as Paul graphically points out in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Paul says that society in the end times will be characterized by chaos and despair because “men will hold to a form of religion but will deny its power.” When the Church is removed from the world, all hell will literally break loose.
The pre-Tribulation concept of the Rapture has often been condemned as “escapism.” I think this criticism is unjustified. The Bible itself says that Christians are to “comfort one another” with the thought of the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:18). Is it a comfort to think of the Rapture occurring at the end of the world’s worst period of war instead of at the beginning?
Regardless of when the Rapture actually occurs, we need to keep in mind that the Bible teaches that societal conditions are going to grow increasingly worse the closer we get to the Lord’s return. That means Christians will suffer tribulation whether or not they go into the Great Tribulation. And that means all of us had better be preparing ourselves for unprecedented suffering and spiritual warfare.
If you are a Christian, you can do that on a daily basis by putting on “the full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:13), praying at all times in the Spirit that you will be able to stand firm against the attacks of Satan (Ephesians 6:14-18).
If you are not a Christian, your only hope is to reach out in faith and receive the free gift of God’s salvation which He has provided through His Son, Jesus (John 3:16).
The Rapture Under Attack - Prophecy Study By Dr. David R. Reagan
Noah preached for 120 years before the Lord delivered on His promise to destroy the world with water. I’m sure that in the final years before the flood came, he must have been severely mocked as a false prophet and a mad man. But God was faithful to His promise, and Noah was vindicated in the end.
Likewise today, people are scoffing at the promise of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, and they are mocking those who are preaching it. I keep hearing comments like this: “People have been preaching the Lord’s imminent return for a hundred years, and nothing has happened.”
The irony is that this attitude is one of the signs that we are living in the final days of the end times, for the Bible says “that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?'” (2 Peter 3:3-4).
The Common and Frequent Criticisms
Let’s consider for a moment some of the criticisms that are being aimed at the concept of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
1. The concept is not in the Bible. The word, Rapture, is not mentioned anywhere in the Scriptures.
First, there are many biblical concepts and words that are not found in the Bible — like Trinity, Atheism, Divinity, Incarnation, Monotheism, Shekinah Glory, and even the word, Bible.
But the word, Rapture, is found in the Bible — in the Latin version, which was the Bible of the Western world for over 1,000 years (from 400AD to 1517). The word appears in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 where, in English, it says that a day will come when the living and dead in Christ will be “caught up” to meet Him in the sky. In the Latin, the term, “caught up,” is expressed as “rapiemur,” which is a declension of “rapio,” meaning snatch, or grab or abduct.
2. None of the Church Fathers believed in a Rapture that was separate and apart from the Second Coming.
It depends on your definition of “Church Fathers.” All the true Fathers of the Church definitely believed in a Rapture that was distinct from the Second Coming. I’m speaking, of course, of Jesus who taught the Rapture in John 14:1-6; the Apostle Paul who wrote about it in 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15; the Apostle Peter who described the principle of it in 2 Peter 2:4- 9; and the Apostle John who does not mention the Church being on earth during the Tribulation (Revelation 6-18).
The later Church Fathers, who lived between 100 and 400 AD, were nearly all Premillennial in their Eschatology, but none of them seemed to pick up on the teaching of the Rapture. And when the Catholic Church endorsed Augustine’s concept of Amillennialism around 400 AD, all discussion of end time prophecy became taboo. That viewpoint pictured only one return of Jesus at the end of the Church Age.
Thereafter, You either accepted Amillennialism or you were burned at the stake, together with your writings.
3. The concept of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture is too new to be true.
This is exactly what the defenders of Roman Catholicism said to Luther about his biblical concept of “salvation by grace through faith.”
It is true that the concept of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture was not crystalized in its final form until the writings of Englishman John Darby in the early 1800s, but we now have overwhelming proof that the concept was being discussed by Bible prophecy students for over 200 years prior to the time of Darby. (See William C. Watson’s book, Dispensationalism Before Darby, published in 2015.)
But then, how could there be any development of eschatology prior to the Reformation which began in 1517? During the Middle Ages, most people could not read, and even if they could, printed Bibles did not exist, nor were there translations available in the common languages of the people.
Once people obtained printed Bibles in their own languages, they quickly realized that the Amillennial view of the Catholic Church was based upon a spiritualization of the Scriptures. That’s when a revival of the Premillennial view occurred because it is based upon the plain sense meaning of the Bible’s prophecies. And that is also when Bible students began to notice that the Rapture is an event that is separate from the Second Coming.
Nor should the late development of the Pre-Trib Rapture concept be a surprise to anyone because the Scriptures themselves tell us that end time Bible prophecy will not be understood until the time comes for its fulfillment. For example, the prophet Daniel did not understand the end time prophecies that were given to him. And when he complained about this to the Lord, he was told, “these words are concealed and sealed up until the end times” (Daniel 12:9).
Many end time prophecies are being understood today for the first time because their fulfillment depended on either historical developments (like the re-establishment of the state of Israel) or technological inventions (like the atomic bomb and satellite television).
4. The concept of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture originated with a demon-possessed teenage girl in Scotland in the early 1800s who conjured up the idea in a vision.
This is pure myth. The idea comes from the writings of a man named Dave MacPherson who has made a cottage-industry of writing books in which he makes this ridiculous claim.
It is true that there was a teenage girl named Margaret MacDonald who had seizures and visions about the Lord’s return. And it is true that years later, after the concept of a PreTrib Rapture had gained acceptance, her husband claimed that she had originated the idea in one of her visions. But this claim can be disproved quickly and decisively by the fact that there is not even a hint of a Pre-Trib Rapture in any of her recorded visions.
And furthermore, as I have already pointed out, William Watson has proved that the idea of a Pre-Trib Rapture had been circulating among Bible prophecy scholars and writers for 200 years prior to Margaret MacDonald. Also, even if it were true that she mentioned such a concept in one of her visions, it would prove nothing. The test of any biblical doctrine is not who originated it but whether or not it is biblical. And the concept of a Pre-Trib Rapture certainly stands the test of the Scriptures.
5. The Rapture and the Second Coming are a combined event that will take place at the end of the Tribulation when Jesus returns to earth.
How could this be? These two events have nothing in common except that they both focus on Jesus. Consider the radical differences:
At the Rapture, Jesus appears in the heavens, but at the Second Coming he returns to earth.
At the Rapture, Jesus appears for His saints; at the Second Coming. Jesus returns to earth with His saints.
At the Rapture, Jesus appears as a Deliverer; at the Second Coming He returns as a Warrior.
At the Rapture, Jesus appears in Grace; at the Second Coming, He returns in Wrath.
At the Rapture, Jesus appears as a Bridegroom; at the Second Coming, He return as a King.
These obviously are not the same event. We must conclude, therefore, that the return of Jesus is going to be in two stages: first, the Rapture, and then the Second Coming.
6. If the Rapture is an event separate from the Second Coming, then it will most likely occur sometime during the Tribulation, either in the middle or near the end.
But the Bible teaches that the Rapture is imminent (Matthew 24:36,44 and 25:13), meaning it could occur at any moment. If you place the Rapture anywhere inside the Tribulation, then you render it non-imminent, for there are prophecies that must be fulfilled before it occurs. Furthermore, we are told to live looking for Jesus Christ, not the Antichrist.
Also, keep in mind that believers are promised exemption from the wrath of God. One of those promises is found in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 where it says that believers are waiting “for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.” The promise is repeated in the book of Revelation before it describes the horrors of the Tribulation. You will find that promise in Revelation 3:10 where it says, “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
The seven years of Tribulation which the world is facing is the period of time when God will pour out His wrath, and believers are promised immunity from His wrath. Some of the critics of the Pre-Trib Rapture argue that the Church needs to be cleansed by the suffering of the Tribulation before its members are called to the Lord. This is nonsense. The members of the Lord’s Church have already been cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Another problem with this concept is that it creates a Protestant form of Purgatory. An additional problem is that it pictures the Bridegroom beating up on his Bride for seven years before He marries her!
Other critics argue that the Seal and Trumpet Judgments constitute the wrath of Satan and not God. Therefore, the Church is immune only to the Bowl Judgments that will be poured out at the end of the Tribulation. This argument constitutes a serious challenge to the sovereignty of God — as if Satan is free to do as he pleases. Furthermore, the book of Revelation clearly pictures all the judgments of Revelation as coming from God’s throne, and the Bowl Judgments are referred to as the completion of God’s wrath, not the beginning (Revelation 15:1).
The Bible refers to the Rapture as our “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13). When Paul completes his detailed description of it in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, he concludes by saying, “Comfort one another with these words.” (Verse 18).
At the Lamb & Lion annual Bible conference in 2017, one of our guest speakers, Ron Rhodes, pointed to these comforting words when he demonstrated how ridiculous it is to believe that the Rapture and Second Coming are all one event that will occur at the end of the Tribulation. He pointed out that if this were true, then Paul’s great passage about the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4 would read something like this:
You will go through seven years of God’s wrath. You will also suffer through Satan’s furious wrath. You will experience the agonizing Seal, Trumpet and Bowl Judgments which grow progressively worse and are incredibly painful. And many of you will die horrible deaths as martyrs. Therefore, comfort one another with these words.
What? I don’t think so. Would that encourage and comfort you? It just doesn’t work.
The great American pastor, Adrian Rogers (1931-2005), once said, “The world is growing gloriously dark.” What he meant by that, of course, is that the Bible prophesies that in the end times society will become as immoral and violent as it was in the days of Noah.
We are witnessing the fulfillment of that prophecy before our very eyes today. It is difficult to watch, but at the same time, it is a sure sign that we are living in the season of the Lord’s return. As the world is falling apart, the signs of the times are falling into place. In the midst of the growing darkness, we need hope, and the Bible’s promise of a Pre-Trib Rapture is a great source of that hope.
Rapture Under Attack
Why are churches attacking the doctrine of the Rapture? Find out with guest Jan Markell and Nathan Jones of the Lamb & Lion Ministries evangelism team as they provide their Prophetic Perspectives.
The Rapture Deception (Prophecy Watchers w/ Billy Crone)
In a moment … in the twinkling of an eye … we shall be changed. Yes, the rapture of the church is most certainly the next big event on God’s prophetic calendar. It’s the subject of more confusion and controversy than perhaps any other passage of Scripture in the Bible. If you’re a believer in the pre-tribulation rapture, I’m sure you’ve heard the critics, who take a handful of verses out of context to make a case that the church will enter all or part of the Tribulation. Billy Crone’s research and careful handling of God’s Word will convince you otherwise, clearly separating God’s plan for Israel and His plan for the church. The mystery of the church and the rapture was taught by Jesus, by John and by the Apostle Paul.
Rapture Wars (Prophecy Watchers)
It may surprise you but 80% of Christians don’t believe in a pre-Tribulation rapture. Many are convinced the church will endure the entire 7 year Tribulation. Others teach that Christians will face part of the Tribulation. Still others believe the prophecies of the Bible were all fulfilled in 70 AD, tossing aside the book of Revelation and its end-time prophecies. There are certainly lots of opinions out there. Join Gary Stearman and Mondo Gonzales as they discuss these various opinions and why they often lead to conflict amongst Christians. This is why our ministry exists, to educate and encourage and seek out prophetic truth.
Jan Markell offers a presentation by Pastor Jack Hibbs, Calvary Chapel, Chino Hills, CA, on why we support and defend the pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. This theology is under attack, scorned, and mocked. While believers experience Satan’s and man’s wrath, the Bible is clear, we never experience God’s wrath. The righteous are removed! And our disappearance is imminent.
Until the Last One
Romans 11:25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.
Until The Last One (Untold Legend)
What is the fullness of the Gentiles (Romans 11:25)?
In Romans 11 Paul makes a compelling observation—an affirmation he refers to as a mystery—that a partial hardening has happened until “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25, ESV). The context helps us understand the meaning of the partial hardening and what is the fullness of the Gentiles.
In the first eleven chapters of Romans, Paul catalogs the mercies of God in God’s provision of righteousness through the gospel. First, in Romans 1:1—3:20 Paul considers the universal human need for God’s righteousness, as all are unrighteous and separated from God. Then in Romans 3:21—4:25 Paul lays out how God applied righteousness through faith to all who believe in Jesus, outlining three different and significant types of descendants of Abraham: 1) ethnic Israel (Romans 4:1), 2) believing Gentiles (Romans 4:11), and 3) believing Jews (Romans 4:12). These three sets of descendants of Abraham are especially important for understanding the partial hardening and the fullness of the Gentiles that Paul talks about in Romans 11.
Romans 5—8 discusses the implications of that righteousness applied in freeing believers from the penalty and bondage of sin (Romans 5—7) and assuring them of a present and future of reconciliation and peace with God (Romans 8). At the end of Romans 8 is a powerful affirmation of the believer’s eternal security—God will keep His promises to those who have believed in Jesus Christ, and they will never be separated from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35).
While discussing these mercies of God, Paul seems to anticipate that his readers might wonder why, if God is so faithful to restore those who believe in Jesus, God’s promises of restoration to Israel do not seem to be fulfilled yet. Simply put, if God is faithful, and if His promises to believers are trustworthy, then why is He not keeping His promises to Israel? It is to answer this concern that Paul writes Romans 9—11, as he introduces the ideas of a partial hardening of Israel and the fullness of the Gentiles (Romans 11:25).
In Romans 9 Paul expresses his love for his Jewish brethren (Romans 9:1–5) and recognizes that the covenant promises are to be fulfilled to a specific group of Abraham’s descendants. Paul shows the distinct groups by highlighting God’s choosing of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and affirms that God’s blessing would be for those descendants who believe in the Messiah (Romans 9:33). Salvation would not only be for believing Jews, though, as Gentiles could also call upon the name of the Lord for salvation (Romans 10:12–13). While there are believing Jews and Gentiles, Paul explains that the nation of Israel as a whole has not yet received her Messiah (Romans 10:18—11:10), but they will one day be saved through believing in their Messiah (Romans 11:26).
In the meantime, Paul explains that there is a partial hardening of the nation—that many will refuse the Messiah—until the fullness of the Gentiles occurs. Israel’s hardening will continue until the divinely set number of Gentiles are saved: “Some of the people of Israel have hard hearts, but this will last only until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ” (Romans 11:25, NLT).
Paul recognized that Israel’s failure to accept the Messiah when He came offering the kingdom represented blessing for the Gentiles because, instead of setting up that kingdom on earth at that time, Christ died to pay for the sins of all. In so doing, Christ fulfilled the promise God made to Abraham that in Abraham’s seed all the peoples of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:3b). That partial hardening of Israel also represented a shift in focus to the announcement of salvation to the Gentiles. Paul acknowledged himself as an apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13) and sought that many Gentiles would come to know Christ so those promises could be fulfilled and then the Jewish people might return to their Messiah (Romans 11:14–15). Paul alluded to this in 2 Timothy 4:17 when he expressed gratitude for God’s sustaining him so that Paul might fulfill his ministry and that all the Gentiles might hear.
Even though God’s promises to save the nation of Israel are not presently being fulfilled, Paul recognizes that God will keep those promises after the fullness of the Gentiles. Paul seems to be building on the foundation of Daniel 9, in which is revealed a 490-year prophetic timeline after which God will accomplish His covenant blessings for Israel. After the first 483 years of the timeline, the Messiah was cut off (Daniel 9:26a), signaling a shift in the focus away from Israel as Gentiles (Rome) would dominate, and there would be wars and desolation. But one day in the future, the ruler who would be known as the Antichrist would make a seven-year agreement with Israel. That last seven years of the timeline would begin to return the focus back to Israel and would conclude the times of the Gentiles of which Jesus spoke in Luke 21:24.
The fullness of the Gentiles in Romans 11:25 reminds us of God’s global focus (with the universal proclamation of the gospel of salvation) and chronology (with the times of the Gentiles not yet complete). One day, the fullness of the Gentiles will be complete, and God will deliver the nation of Israel. Anyone who might have doubts about God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises can consider these passages as important reminders that God has a detailed plan that He is fulfilling patiently and carefully.
CHILDREN AND THE RAPTURE
There is no definitive answer to the question of whether all children (under the age of accountability) will be taken in the rapture. I've included 2 articles which give support to the two different options. I tend to lean towards the first article - that only the children of righteous parents will be taken- as it was in the days of Noah and Lot. There are certainly good arguments for all children being taken as well. The truth is, we just don't know for sure.
FAQ :: Will my children be raptured?
Many prophetic writers make blanket statements that all children will be raptured. I do not foresee an all-inclusive rapture of every child. However, I do look for the children of Christians to be raptured because of a blessing from their parents’ faith. I recall two situations in the Bible when God blessed people because of an association. The first example is the instance when the Egyptian’s house was blessed because Joseph was his servant (Gen. 39:5) and the other example is when the house of Obededom was blessed because the Ark of the Lord remained on his property for three months (2 Sam. 6:11). The reverse of this is also true. When King David sinned, his whole house was cursed. David’s infant son died and his son Absalom rebelled against him. God himself said that He would visit judgment to the third and fourth generations for those who turn against Him (Ex. 20:5).
Ungodly parents only bring judgment to their children, so can you imagine how unsaved parents will react when they witness the rapture of Christian parents and their children while they and their children remain behind.
The two greatest biblical examples of God’s wrath being poured out on man both involved the saving of the righteous and their children. When Noah got into the ark, his children accompanied him. When Lot left Sodom, his two daughters went with him. In both cases, all of the children who remained behind perished.
Just as you work to financially support your children, your faith in God works to support your children who are under the age of accountability–in other words, until they are able to choose for themselves whom they will follow.
Will all children be Raptured? :: by Terry James
Most always the confutation over the issue of children and the rapture of the church is wrapped around the scripture: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy” (1 Cor. 7:14).
The Character of God
The very character of God, himself, is at the heart of the issues involved in the question that is raised quite often. “What about children and the rapture? Will they stay on earth, or go to be with Christ?” And there is nothing of more profound eternal significance than the individual human being’s consideration of God’s character. The all-importance of that consideration is cocooned within the words of Jesus Christ, himself, at the center of whom God’s great character is made manifest for fallen mankind.
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets” (Matt. 16:13-14).
Jesus’ question was straight from the heart of God. Jesus was God come to the earth in the flesh. Therefore, He, of course, knew what the people were saying about Him. He wanted His disciples to consider the question through spiritual eyes and ears, regarding themselves, individually. His follow-up question asked plainly: “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?” (Matt. 16:15).
The totality of scripture which went before Jesus asked the question, and all scripture that came after He asked the question, encapsulates –attests to—the holy, loving, merciful character of mankind’s Creator. His question is directed not to corporate mankind, however, but to each and every individual who has lived upon earth since He asked it. How each one of us answers that specific question Jesus asked will determine each and every individual’s position in Jesus Christ. The individual answer you and I and every other person give to that specific question Jesus asked will determine where you, I, or any other individual spends eternity. And, make no mistake, each and every person who has or ever will live –and that means from conception onward—will spend eternity in one of two places: either in hell, or in heaven.
The coming into existence of the creature called man, and the fall from walking perfectly with the Creator is a matter for another study. Suffice it to say that a quick perusal of any newspaper or a quick listen to any news story will attest to man’s fallen state. We human beings do not walk a perfect walk. We sin and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). The fact is that we need redemption –we must have reconciliation with God, our Creator, or we remain lost forever. And, keep in mind, the matter is based not upon a corporate or collective relationship, but upon an individual relationship with God. And, this is where the awesome, loving grace – the very character of the Lord God– comes into view. God’s Word says,” The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).
We are each fallen. We need God’s grace gift of salvation. It is an individual need. Each of us must come to repentance for the sin into which we were born because of the fall of our father, Adam. God’s holiness requires blood sacrifice for remission of sin (Heb. 9: 22; 10:18). And, this is why God, himself, in the form of His Son Jesus Christ –the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world– came to die on the cross at Calvary. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).
About each of us –you, me, and every other person—God’s Word says further: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (Jn. 3:18). Remember this verse; it is profoundly important to looking at the matter of children and the rapture of the Church.
Man is born into sin because the first man (Adam) disobeyed or rebelled against his Creator. The human blood line has been, since that time, polluted, contaminated by the horrible thing called sin. Because of Adam’s fall, disease, deterioration, decay, and death entered the world, God’s Word says. God has provided reconciliation with himself for human beings –redemption, through the blood sacrifice of His holy, perfect sacrificial lamb, His Son, Jesus Christ. Now, all can be saved through belief in Jesus as the only way back to God the Creator. Jesus is the way –the only way, truth and life. No one comes to God the Father (the Creator) except through belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, and what He did on the cross at Calvary (read John 14:6). Belief is absolutely essential.
This is the sort of faith Jesus spoke to Thomas about, when Thomas doubted that Jesus had resurrected after the crucifixion. When Thomas saw Jesus stand among the disciples, the Lord, having passed through solid matter to be with them, and Jesus bid Thomas to touch His wounds, Thomas believed, and could but mutter, “My Lord, and My God!”
Jesus then said: “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (Jn 20:29). Jesus, with that statement, was, I’m convinced, looking not only at the disciples who were in that room, but down through time to all who would believe in His death, burial, and resurrection for salvation.
So, “belief” is absolutely essential–the kind of belief that saves, in order to be “born again” (John 3: 3) into God’s eternal family.
The Apostle Paul gave the precise formula required by God for the salvation of the individual soul: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:9-10).
This is what is required to assure salvation for the individual soul. This places the person in God’s family through Christ Jesus–i.e, when the individual believes in the way Paul, through divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, plainly tells us, that person is saved. That is, God no longer looks at the person as fallen, as rebellious, as a sinner, but now looks at the individual through His Son Jesus. God now sees the “believer” through the prism of the shed blood of His precious Son. About that, God’s Word says: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1).
It is obvious beyond any rationale to the contrary that this sort of belief –belief that brings one into the very family of God for all of eternity—must be a belief that requires understanding that Jesus is the way –the ONLY way to such a position in God’s family. And, it is clear, according to God’s Word, that that position is gained through belief in Christ, totally, with no other prescription as antidote to the soul-destroying venom called sin. In other words, each individual’s soul owes his place in God’s family for eternity to what Jesus –alone—has done for that individual.
So, it is the person’s position in Christ –through his or her belief—that God looks at in the matter of whether the individual is “saved.” To come to this “salvation” position, the individual must “believe.” There must be a cognitive decision to achieve the position in Christ that saves the individual’s soul. Remember the Scripture: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (Jn. 3:18).
Position in Jesus Christ
The soul of the individual comes into existence at the moment of conception –the moment the Lord gives that life within the womb. I won’t argue the point. God’s Word says without reservation that life begins at conception. We could go into a study of that truth, but that’s for another time and space. Suffice it to say that God gives the soul at conception, and it becomes more than obvious when studying records of children in the womb. Two examples are Jacob and his twin brother, Esau, struggling within the womb of their mother. Another is the account of John, who would become the baptizer, who recognized the Messiah, Jesus, who was in His mother’s womb when the two women were in the same proximity. Children in the womb are living beings –with God-given souls.
These babies have certain abilities to think, and, in John’s case, certainly, a supernatural understanding about the fact he and his mother were in the presence of God, himself, come to earth in the flesh. However, it is a fact understood by anyone, with any common sense whatever, that a child in the womb, or for the first, formative years of life, are incapable of coming to comprehension of anything like making a decision about where his or her soul will spend eternity. These little ones are sinners every bit as much as any adult human being. The difference is the adult –presuming he or she hasn’t a severe mental incapacitation– can understand and make decisions about things like whether to accept Christ for salvation. These are therefore “accountable” for their belief or lack thereof. The child, whose reasoning powers haven’t reached that conceptual level of functioning, are not yet “accountable” for whether they believe to the point of salvation.
The adult whom the Holy Spirit has called to salvation through Jesus Christ is “accountable” for his or her own soul at the point he or she then accepts or rejects. The child is not called to salvation because he or she hasn’t, at that point in his or her young life, achieved through growth the cognitive ability to make such decisions. These are not “accountable.” The child who hasn’t reached the “age of accountability” has a position in Jesus Christ, the same as the adult who has “believed” unto salvation. If the child were to die before becoming responsible for his or her own decision to accept or reject Christ, that child would go directly into the presence of God, for all eternity.
Remember King David. He put off his robes of mourning for his baby when the son died, because David said that the baby couldn’t come to him, but that he, David, would go to the child. The baby was in heaven with God, for all of eternity, where King David would surely go upon his death. We know this is where David would go, because God called him “a man after my own heart.”
So, the position we, as individuals (not collectively) have in Jesus Christ, is the determining factor –the all-important matter—in considering where you or I –or any person will spend eternity. All children before they reach the age of accountability are positioned securely in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose shed blood is the only remission for the soul-destroying thing called sin.
Rapture a Salvation Issue
The rapture of the Church is a salvation issue. These realities –rapture and salvation–are inexorably linked in God’s great economy. This truth is based upon a vast body of scriptural proof text, but is wrapped up by the Apostle Paul in one particular scripture, I think: “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ…”(1 Thes. 5:9).
Paul, again through divine inspiration, had just gone through the facts surrounding the rapture of believers (the Church). He used the personal pronouns “we,” “us,” “your,” etc., as opposed to “they,” “them,” etc., to separate believers from unbelievers. Believers (Christians of the Church Age) were not, Paul said, appointed to wrath, because they were children of the day (the light found in Christ). The unbelievers were children of the night –the sin-blackened darkness of the fallen realm. Paul prophesied that the day of the Lord will begin like a thief-in-the-night experience. The children of the night would be taken by surprise, but the children of the day (believers) would escape the coming wrath of God, which the day of the Lord will bring upon a rebellious world of earth-dwellers.
This escape from God’s wrath will come, Paul said, through salvation, which is in Christ Jesus. The individual’s position in Christ will provide the escape. This is the same escape foretold by Jesus –through John—in Revelation 3: 10: “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” (Rev. 3:10).
Children below the age of accountability are individual souls within Christ’s salvation –the salvation that keeps the individual believer out of hell, eternally apart from the Creator –out of the time of God’s wrath, which will come upon the whole world of rebellious earth-dwellers –unbelievers. Again, God does not deal with human beings collectively, or corporately, when it comes to salvation of the soul. He, mercifully, deals with us one on one. Jesus asks each of us: “Who do you say that I am?” Unbelievers are those who, individually, have rejected the Holy Spirit’s call to salvation. Each will be left behind at the time of the rapture. Children, like all of lost mankind, are sinners, but those who haven’t reached the age of being able to understand God’s grace gift are not unbelievers. They are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. They are, individually, in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Lamb’s Book of Life
Let us look for a moment at this all-important volume God calls “The Lamb’s Book of Life.” This book is crucial to your and my souls, and to the soul of each and every individual human being who has ever been born –or who has died in the womb, before having a chance to draw a first breath. Here are two relevant scripture passages on that Book.
“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (Rev. 3:5).
“And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither [whatsoever] worketh abomination, or [maketh] a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27).
God’s Word is telling us here that there is a volume in which every human being’s name is written at some point. None whose name isn’t written in this book can enter into God’s holy presence for eternity. The word “Life” in the title of this book is “eternal” life. Every human being who has been conceived in the procreation process has his or her name written in the “Lamb’s Book of Life.”But, there is obviously the chance that one’s name can be blotted out of that book, according to Revelation 3:5. Since it is not possible for one to lose his or her salvation once the person has “believed” in the only begotten Son of God, the term “blot out” in Revelation 3:5 needs to be explained. The meaning becomes clear, when thinking on the fact that each and every individual’s name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The name remains there until the person is shown that he or she is a sinner, and is convicted or called by the Holy Spirit to repent of sin –to “believe” in the Lord Jesus Christ. When the person fully realizes that call, and that Jesus is the ONLY way to reconciliation with God the Father, but refuses or rejects God’s grace gift offer, that name is “blotted out” of the Lamb’s Book of Life. The individual who rejects that grace gift offer of salvation until his or her death will die in sin and spend eternity apart from his or her Creator. That person who has reached the age of accountability for his or her soul will also be left behind, when the Rapture occurs.
The name will be written back in that book when the individual subsequently accepts the Lord Jesus as the Savior of his or her soul. Jesus Christ’s shed blood is the only payment God the Father accepts. But, once a person accepts that free gift from the Lord Jesus, the individual is a member of God’s family–forever.
So, your and my position in Christ is the all-important thing, whether considering going to heaven when we die, or going to heaven at the rapture, when Jesus comes for us to take us to our home, which He, personally, has prepared for each of us, individually. (Read John 14: 1-4.) This is the only collective family gathering that counts in God’s economy, in consideration of the matter of the rapture and Salvation. We will, collectively at the rapture, go home to be in God the Father’s house. Here on earth, our relationship with our earthly parents is tremendously important, of course. But, it is our place in our heavenly family, and in our heavenly home that is absolutely crucial. This is an eternal matter. And, it all relies upon our position in Jesus Christ, not upon our position in our earthly home, or upon the spiritual condition of our parents.
Yes, but what about this?
A number of questions about the rapture and children crop up consistently. I thought it good to look at a couple of them.
Why do you believe children will be taken in the rapture, when God hasn’t intervened for them in wars, and other horrible things that have happened to the children throughout the centuries? Why do you think God will keep them out of the tribulation, when millions have died, and continue to die?
These are two different matters entirely. This question involves physical death versus spiritual death (the second death, as the Scripture puts it.) It is the death of the flesh versus the death of the soul of an individual. Sin brought death to the flesh and to the soul (physical and spiritual death), but Christ brings eternal life. That is what I’ve spent the bulk of the article addressing.
Wars and other terrible things on earth indeed take physical life –especially, it seems, the lives of innocent children. Unrepented sin takes the soul in death (eternal separation from the soul-giver –God, the Creator). It is comforting to know –according to God’s Word—that all children who have perished over the millennia have gone directly to be with the Lord. Not one single one of them has died in the eternal sense. Again, these are two separate issues –physical death versus spiritual death. The rapture is in the realm of the spiritual or the eternal sphere.
But, won’t there be children in the tribulation? Jesus says so in His Olivet Discourse.
Yes, the Lord does prophesy there will be children during the time of tribulation. He foretells the following: “And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!” (Matt. 24:19). Notice carefully. Jesus issues a special “woe” for the parents of children in the time of tribulation. But, the Lord specifically gives two ages of children, here: 1) children who are nursing, and 2) children still in the womb. There is absolutely no mention of older children. These children will be those born AFTER the Rapture. And, there will doubtless be millions upon millions born. Sexual debauchery will explode, as the Holy Spirit withdraws from governing the consciences of men and women (read 2 Thess. 2). No doubt, most of these little ones will perish in the horrors of that time. As many as two-thirds of all mankind will die during that period.
Not fair of God, you say? Consider this: Every single child who is born after the rapture will spend eternity with God the Father. None will have reached the age of accountability by the time Jesus Christ brings this decaying, dying world to an end as recorded in Revelation 19:11. For those who are thinking ahead of me, I realize that children who go into the millennium under the age of accountability will have to make the decision to accept Christ for salvation at some point.
As stated in the beginning of the article, God’s very character is at stake in the matter of whether ALL children (below the age of accountability) will go to be with Jesus at the electrifying moment of rapture. What, exactly, is wrapped up in 1 Corinthians 7:14 is a matter for another study. But, this much the overall context of God’s Word, when speaking to salvation matters—plainly, and loudly proclaims. The Bible teaches that the individual’s position in Christ, not his or her position in the physical family here on earth, determines the final disposition of the eternal soul. The rapture is an eternal matter, wrapped up in God’s salvation guarantee. And, it is a guarantee to the individual, not to the corporate –even though the collective will go as the Bride of Christ, the Church.
Every child below the age of accountability –including those in the womb—will go to be with Jesus when He steps out on the clouds of glory and shouts: “Come up here!”
The Holy Spirit Must be Removed Before the Antichrist Can be Revealed (1st Seal) - 1 Thessalonians 2:3
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10 Luke 21:34-36 2 Peter 2:4-9
Revelation 3:10 Ephesians 5:3-7 Romans 1:18-23 Colossians 3:1-11
Romans 5:8-9 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 Luke 3:7-9 Isaiah 26:20-21
1 Corinthians 15:22-25 Comparison Table
Sacrifice of Isaac – Genesis 22:19
Joseph took a Gentile bride before the 7 year famine – Genesis 41:45-54
As in the days of Noah – Luke 17:26-30, Genesis 6:1-12, Jude 1:6, 2 Peter 2:4-9
Enoch was raptured before the flood (at Pentecost) – Genesis 5:24, Hebrews 11:5-6, Comparison table
As in the days of Lot – Luke 17:26-30, Genesis 19:4-5, Jude 1:7
Lot was taken out of Sodom and Gomorrah before it was destroyed – Genesis 19:15-26, 2 Peter 2:4-9
Elijah was raptured before the destruction of Israel (850ish BC)
Daniel absent during the 7x hotter fiery furnace – Daniel 2:48-49, Daniel 3:15-25, Zechariah 13:8-9, Comparison table
Jewish Wedding (Marriage covenant) – Comparison table
When Will the Rapture Happen in Relation to the Tribulation
The timing of the rapture in relation to the tribulation is one of the most controversial issues in the church today. The three primary views are pre-tribulational (the rapture occurs before the tribulation), mid-tribulational (the rapture occurs at or near the mid-point of the tribulation), and post-tribulational (the rapture occurs at the end of the tribulation). A fourth view, commonly known as pre-wrath, is a slight modification of the mid-tribulational position.
First, it is important to recognize the purpose of the tribulation. According to Daniel 9:27, there is a seventieth “seven” (seven years) that is still yet to come. Daniel’s entire prophecy of the seventy sevens (Daniel 9:20-27) is speaking of the nation of Israel. It is a time period in which God focuses His attention especially on Israel. The seventieth seven, the tribulation, must also be a time when God deals specifically with Israel. While this does not necessarily indicate that the church could not also be present, it does bring into question why the church would need to be on the earth during that time.
The primary Scripture passage on the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. It states that all living believers, along with all believers who have died, will meet the Lord Jesus in the air and will be with Him forever. The rapture is God’s removing of His people from the earth. A few verses later, in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, Paul says, “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The book of Revelation, which deals primarily with the time period of the tribulation, is a prophetic message of how God will pour out His wrath upon the earth during the tribulation. It seems inconsistent for God to promise believers that they will not suffer wrath and then leave them on the earth to suffer through the wrath of the tribulation. The fact that God promises to deliver Christians from wrath shortly after promising to remove His people from the earth seems to link those two events together.
Another crucial passage on the timing of the rapture is Revelation 3:10, in which Christ promises to deliver believers from the “hour of trial” that is going to come upon the earth. This could mean two things. Either Christ will protect believers in the midst of the trials, or He will deliver believers out of the trials. Both are valid meanings of the Greek word translated “from.” However, it is important to recognize what believers are promised to be kept from. It is not just the trial, but the “hour” of trial. Christ is promising to keep believers from the very time period that contains the trials, namely the tribulation. The purpose of the tribulation, the purpose of the rapture, the meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:9, and the interpretation of Revelation 3:10 all give clear support to the pre-tribulational position. If the Bible is interpreted literally and consistently, the pre-tribulational position is the most biblically-based interpretation.
THE HOLY SPIRIT MUST BE REMOVED (RAPTURE) BEFORE THE ANTICHRIST CAN BE REVEALED (1st SEAL)
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 – The Great Apostasy
2Th 2:1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away [physical departure] comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Andy Woods – The Falling Away
Woods, Andy. The Falling Away: Spiritual Departure or Physical Rapture?: A Second Look at 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Dispensational Publishing House. Kindle Edition.
“I believe that what is being spoken of here is not a spiritual departure but rather a physical departure, which would be a great source of evidence favoring the pretribulational view. What I would like to present are ten reasons why I believe that the physical or spatial understanding of apostasia in Second Thessalonians 2:3a is the correct interpretation, and why the spiritual departure view is an inadequate interpretation.”
10 reasons why the Falling Away refers to a physical departure instead of a spiritual departure
There have always been Doctrinal departures
2 Thessalonians was an early letter
The definite article before the noun apostasia
The noun apostasia can refer to a physical departure
The verb aphistēmi can refer to a physical departure
The extended context favors a physical departure interpretation of apostasia
The immediate context favors a physical departure interpretation of apostasia
2 Thessalonians 2:3a is part of a review course
Early Bible translations favor the physical departure view
The physical departure view is held by credible scholars
1599 Geneva Bible translation of 2Th 2:3 – Changed by the Catholic Church to the spiritual falling away
2Th 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [speaking of the tribulation] shall not come, except there come a departing first, and that that man of sin be disclosed, even the son of perdition.
When is it that the translators changed the noun apostasy from departure or departing to falling away in the later translations?
Dr. Thomas Ice offers the following explanation:
Most scholars say that no one knows the reason for the translation shift. However, a plausible theory has been put forth by Martin Butalla in his Master of Theology thesis produced at Dallas Theology Seminary in 1998. It appears that the Catholic translation into English from Jerome’s Latin Vulgate known as the Rheims Bible (1576) was the first to break the translation trend. “Apostasia was revised from ‘the departure’ to ‘the Protestant Revolt,’” explains Butalla. “Revolution is the terminology still in use today when Catholicism teaches the history of the Protestant Reformation. Under this guise, apostasia would refer to a departure of Protestants from the Catholic Church.” The Catholic translators appear eager to engage in polemics against the Reformation by even allowing it to impact Bible translation.
Thus, the shift from a physical to a spiritual understanding of apostasia in Second Thessalonians 2:3a in the Roman Catholic Rheims Bible English translation appears to have been theologically rather than exegetically motivated.
The campaign now with a dying Catholic church in these last days is come back home.
Furthermore, in 1611 the King James translators translated apostasia in Second Thessalonians 2:3a with the expression, “falling away.” This is perhaps the second time that we begin to see a spiritual departure understanding of this verse enter an English translation. Why did the King James translators translate it as a spiritual departure when virtually everybody else, going back to Jerome, thought it was speaking of a physical departure? The answer most likely lies in the fact the KJV translation was created in the wake of the Protestant Reformation. Consequently, the translators wanted to apply the verse to the Roman Catholic Church, which represented a “falling away” from the truth. Thus, the translators of both the Rheims Bible and the KJV errantly embraced the theological interpretation “falling way” in lieu of the longstanding exegetical interpretation “departing” that had been faithfully handed down to them. Most modern translations follow the pattern established by the King James Version.
What difference does it really make if Second Thessalonians 2:3a is speaking of a spiritual departure or a physical departure?
A physical departure translation confirms a pre-tribulation rapture
The reason it matters is because there has been for over at least the last century a vigorous debate amongst those who believe in a future Tribulation period and subsequent kingdom, concerning the question, “When the rapture will take place relative to the coming Tribulation period?”
Pre-tribulationalists believe that the rapture takes place before the Tribulation period begins.
Mid-tribulationalists believe that the rapture is going to take place in the middle of the tribulation period.
Post-tribulationalists believe that the rapture will take place at the end of the tribulation period.
Prewrath rapturists contend that the rapture will take place at some point in the second half of the Tribulation period.
If verse 3a, is talking about a physical departure and not a spiritual departure, then the debate concerning when the rapture will transpire is all but over.
Paul says, “…that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first” (2 Thess. 2:3a).
The word translated “first” is the Greek adjective prōton, which means “first of all.”
If a physical departure must first transpire before the Day of the Lord can even begin, then it becomes a decisive victory for pretribulationalism. Thus, how one interprets Second Thessalonians 2:3a is of grave consequence to the longstanding debate concerning the timing of the rapture.
WE ARE NOT APPOINTED TO GOD'S WRATH
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 – The Day of the Lord
1Th 5:1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
Isaiah 26:20-21 – Take Refuge from the Coming Judgment
Is 26:20 Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you;
Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past.
21 For behold, the Lord comes out of His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity;
The earth will also disclose her blood, And will no more cover her slain.
1 Thessalonians 1:8-10 – Their Good Example
1Th 1:8 For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. 9 For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
Luke 21:34-36 – The Importance of Watching
Lk 21:34 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
We are worthy only because of what Jesus did for us on the cross of Calvary. We have to believe that He has paid our debts and we have gained righteousness through His sacrifice for us.
2 Peter 2:4-9 – Doom of False Teachers
2Pe 2:4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; 6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; 7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— 9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,
The word translated temptations is the same word translated as trial in Rev 3:10
Revelation 3:10 – The Faithful Church [Philadelphia]
Rev 3:10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
Ephesians 5:3-7 – Walk in Love
Ep 5:3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.
Romans 1:18-23 – God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness
Ro 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
Colossians 3:1-11 – Not Carnality but Christ
Col 3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. 8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
Romans 5:8-9 – Christ in Our Place
Ro 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 – The Comfort of Christ’s Coming
1Th 4:16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
The belief that the rapture happens after, or in the middle of, the tribulation is anything but comforting because it means believers must endure unbelievable agony before they are taken to heaven.
Luke 3:7-9 – John Preaches to the People
Lk 3:7 Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance
THE RAPTURE AND SECOND COMING ARE DIFFERENT EVENTS
1 Corinthians 15:22-25 – The Last Enemy Destroyed
1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.
The Bible must see the Rapture and the Second Coming as separate events, because when the verses are compared they describe two very different scenarios:
What would be the point of Rapturing the Church after the Tribulation, anyway? The Lord returns to establish His kingdom on earth, so why pull out all the Christians before He can do so? If they are all changed at the end of the Tribulation, then who, exactly, is left for Him to rule over? Since the Rapture and Second Coming clearly are different events that do not occur at the same time, this would rule out a Post-Tribulation Rapture scenario.
What is the difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming?
The rapture and the second coming of Christ are often confused. Sometimes it is difficult to determine whether a scripture verse is referring to the rapture or the second coming. However, in studying end-times Bible prophecy, it is very important to differentiate between the two.
The rapture is when Jesus Christ returns to remove the church (all believers in Christ) from the earth. The rapture is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-54. Believers who have died will have their bodies resurrected and, along with believers who are still living, will meet the Lord in the air. This will all occur in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye. The second coming is when Jesus returns to defeat the Antichrist, destroy evil, and establish His millennial kingdom. The second coming is described in Revelation 19:11-16.
The important differences between the rapture and second coming are as follows:
1) At the rapture, believers meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). At the second coming, believers return with the Lord to the earth (Revelation 19:14).
2) The second coming occurs after the great and terrible tribulation (Revelation chapters 6–19). The rapture occurs before the tribulation (1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 3:10).
3) The rapture is the removal of believers from the earth as an act of deliverance (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, 5:9). The second coming includes the removal of unbelievers as an act of judgment (Matthew 24:40-41).
4) The rapture will be secret and instant (1 Corinthians 15:50-54). The second coming will be visible to all (Revelation 1:7; Matthew 24:29-30).
5) The second coming of Christ will not occur until after certain other end-times events take place (2 Thessalonians 2:4; Matthew 24:15-30; Revelation chapters 6–18). The rapture is imminent; it could take place at any moment (Titus 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54).
Why is it important to keep the rapture and the second coming distinct?
1) If the rapture and the second coming are the same event, believers will have to go through the tribulation (1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 3:10).
2) If the rapture and the second coming are the same event, the return of Christ is not imminent—there are many things which must occur before He can return (Matthew 24:4-30).
3) In describing the tribulation period, Revelation chapters 6–19 nowhere mentions the church. During the tribulation—also called “the time of trouble for Jacob” (Jeremiah 30:7)—God will again turn His primary attention to Israel (Romans 11:17-31).
The rapture and second coming are similar but separate events. Both involve Jesus returning. Both are end-times events. However, it is crucially important to recognize the differences. In summary, the rapture is the return of Christ in the clouds to remove all believers from the earth before the time of God’s wrath. The second coming is the return of Christ to the earth to bring the tribulation to an end and to defeat the Antichrist and his evil world empire.