Will There Be A Rapture?

May 6, 2009

 Will there be a rapture? If so, when will it be? There are so many views and doctrines, yet this is one of the most important issues facing the church today.

Let me first say that our fellowship as a body of believers is not concerning the timing of the rapture. Our relationship and closeness with Jesus Christ collectively is the basis for which we call ourselves the body of Christ, the church, brothers and sisters in our Lord.

 That being said, I will attempt to show you that there will not be a “pre-trib” rapture. For those unaware, a pre-trip rapture (short for pre-tribulation) is the theory that prior to Christ’s return and just before any of the end-time tribulations, most of which are laid out in the book of Revelation, that all the true believers in Christ will vanish, disappearing from the earth to be spared from the horrors to come.

 While that is a wonderful idea, and I would most certainly hope to dodge that bullet, it is based on a few misunderstood and misguided Scriptures, taken just slightly out of context. There will be a rapture, also referred to as a vanishing, calling up, a meeting in the air. The question isn’t whether it will happen; it’s a matter of when. Theories mainly include four timelines: 1. pre-trib, happening prior to any tribulation. 2. mid-trib, a rapture in the midst of the terrors to come, sometimes taught as a collective rapture and sometimes as seemingly random vanishings. 3. pre-wrath, after all the tribulations and trials, but just prior to God’s pouring out of His full wrath. 4. and post-trib, a rapture after the trials, test, and tribulations, which the church has experienced and thereby proven their faithfulness to Christ, at least in part. There is evidence to support a post-trib or end-trib rapture.

 Let’s proceed very carefully, setting aside any pre-conceived ideas you may have, whatever side they may be on. Let us look very carefully at Scripture, examining who said it, what was said, and why it was said. I will use a lot of Scripture in its context and in its paragraph form, to assure that it is used and quoted properly.

 In Matthew 24, we read;

  3As He [Jesus] was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

 4And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.

 5“For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.

 6“You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.

 7“For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.

 8“But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.  (vs. 3-8, NASB)

 So we are told, by Jesus, not to let anyone mislead us. That means that we (the church) will be around to be misled. The warning has no merit if there is no one to lead astray.

We are told that “You will be hearing of wars…” Who is “You”? The church; the believers will. We are the ones are not to be frightened by these things. The unbelieving will be frightened, for they do not know Jesus, they have no assurance when they perish. Clearly, the church will see these things. Yet, these things are “merely the beginning”, so let’s find out what happens next. Continuing in Matthew 24:

  9“Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.

 10“At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.

 11“Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.

 12“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.

 13“But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. (vs. 9-13, NASB)

 Remember Jesus’ audience- the believers. Followers of Jesus. What we today call the church or Christians. “They will deliver you to tribulation” How can we be delivered if we are gone in heaven? Hmm. The church must still be here for that part, but maybe it isn’t the tribulation. Jesus continues to describe a coming time when all believers are hated, handed over and killed, if they don’t turn away and follow a false religion. Love is cold, which would help explain the hatred for Christians, who preach a doctrine of love. Also, He makes a point of those who will “endure to the end”, leading us to believe that it will be difficult. He’s speaking of those who survive, both physically and spiritually, the bombardment of killings, hatred, false religions and prophets, and the excessive lawlessness. But “the end” of what? He is still speaking of the end of the tribulation in which we’ll be handed over.  Still, we have not found solid evidence, in Jesus’ words, of anyone whisking away suddenly. So, we continue searching.

  15“Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),

 16then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.

 17“Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house.

 18“Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak.

 19“But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!

 20“But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.

 21“For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.

 22“Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (Matthew 24:15-22)

 Nearly every Biblical scholar agrees that the “Abomination of Desolation” is the, or at least an, Antichrist. Jesus’ audience is still the church, yet He says, “When you see…” Again I ask; how can we see if we are not present? We must therefore still be on earth. At that time, not a moment later, everyone in Judea is told to flee to the mountains. No one may spare even a moment to gather their belongings; they must take flight immediately. He warns of how horrible it will be, especially for pregnant and nursing women, or in winter. Imagine running to a mountain in winter without your extra cloak. Jesus also mentions the Sabbath, so we must assume that the Sabbath day is still honored by His faithful. This may also have to do with the fact that even Jesus had no idea when the last day would be, as He admitted in Mark 13:32.

 Yet after this revealing of the Abomination of Desolation, “then there will be a great tribulation”, the worst the world has ever or will ever know. So bad will it be, that if God had not cut short the time, no one would be able to last; everyone would die.

Part of the pre-trib rapture theory tends to agree that after the “vanishing” many will become believers, through messages left by others, people who have fallen away, etc. The problem with that here, is that there is no time for people to discover the Truth before the Abomination is revealed. The believers have to flee at once! If they have to leave so fast that they cannot even grab a jacket, how can they watch a video left by people who’ve disappeared, or read the Bible and repent into a relationship with Jesus? This is a big problem in timing. The issue here with mid-trib rapture theory is that Jesus tells us that some believers will endure to the end, a part of the church Jesus calls “the elect.”

 The elect being present represents another issue with timing. If, as some teach, those found to be worthy in God’s sight are whisked away, and those remaining were found deserving of these horrible judgments on the earth, we must ask, “Why would God cut short His own judgment on the wicked, unless some of those present were righteous?” What I mean is this: Since all the believers who are commendable by God’s Book of Life are supposedly gone from the earth; secure in God’s presence, there would be none of that category left. That being said, only those unworthy would be left on the earth. According to pre-tribulation theory, those “left behind” are deserving of the punishments they are about to endure, the outpouring of God’s wrath upon the earth. God, then, in deciding the punishment is righteous. Therefore, the days should not be cut short. The only reason to shorten the time of these disasters and unbelievably bloody wars is because it is not justified over the elect, the church of Jesus Christ, who must still be present at this time.

 But, to be completely fair, let us not judge an entire doctrine by one passage. Let’s look further in Scripture.

  7“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.”

 8It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

 9Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb ‘” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”

 10Then I fell at his feet to worship him But he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:7-10)

 This takes place after all the bowls of wrath are poured out, after the doom, fall, and lament of Babylon. In verse seven, the bride, that is the church, is ready. What does a bride get ready for? A wedding! In this case, we are not told that she is married; only that she is ready. The marriage, that is the union between Christ and the church, has not yet happened. She isn’t yet arrived, because the end has not come. She is given clothes of fine linen, a representation of righteous acts by the saints. For the saints to be clothing the bride at this time must mean that the church is still present to do these acts. The church is “invited” (vs. 9) to the marriage supper. If the supper had already happened, there would not be any more invitation.

  11And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.

 12His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself.

 13He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

 14And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.

 15From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.

 16And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

 17Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in midheaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God,

 18so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.”

 19And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. (Revelation 19:11-19)

 At this time, after the pouring out of wrath, after the fall of Babylon, after the invitation to the supper, comes the blessed return of Christ. After a glorious description we can only imagine, comes the command to assemble (vs. 17). At this point, there are many varying ideas on the meaning. Some believe that they are literal birds, some that they are angels, and others believe that this is a symbol of the saints who wage war alongside Christ. Should it be the latter, it is safe to say that at this point, prior to the battle, yet after the tribulations, we have arrived into the company of Jesus. If not, it may have happened prior, or it may be yet to come.

 4Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

 5The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.

 6Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.  (Revelation 20:4-6)

 Between verses 20 and 21 of chapter nineteen, and the first three verses of chapter 20, Satan is seized and bound into the abyss. Then, in verse four, comes the judgment of those who were beheaded for the sake of Jesus’ testimony; the Christians who were killed in the midst of the tribulation, at the hand of the beast and Antichrist because they stood for God’s Word. Those who refused to take the mark of the beast, and would not worship him also receive judgment. These are the ones who reign with Christ for 1,000 years. When the thousand years has been completed, the other dead arise. We are told that this is “the first resurrection”. All believers will be a part of that resurrection, an will not face the second death, which is hellfire. (See verse 14)

 There is also some controversy over whether or not the thousand years is literal or figurative. However, the length of time as we see it has little bearing on who will be a part of it. But let us look into the glorious return according to Matthew.

  29“But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

 30“And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.

 31“And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31)

Jesus continues to instruct us on sign in the sky immediately after the tribulation. The sun is darker, the moon is not visible and the stars fall. In verse thirty, He continues with, “And then,” showing the timeline continues from there. After the tribulation and after these signs, the sign of the Son of Man appears, and He is seen by every tribe on earth coming in the clouds of the sky. What He does next is both remarkable and forever permanently altering. He sends the angels to blast a trumpet and to “GATHER TOGETHER His elect” from the four winds and from the sky.

This is a very important piece here. The four winds are representative of the earth, like the four corners, or north, south, east and west. This means, along with “one end of the sky to the other”, that Jesus will, at His return, call all believers of both the earth and those in heaven. This is the first thing that Jesus has mentioned that sounds anything remotely like a rapture. This is the first place He mentions gathering up His elect, the church; and this is after all the events and signs of the tribulation. At that time, and no sooner, Jesus will gather up believers from the earth, those who have survived the terrible tribulation faithfully, as well as those who have died and are in heaven. This is the call of the trumpet of Jesus Christ, and, according to Jesus Himself, it occurs after the signs, after the tribulation, and after the darkening of the sun and moon and falling of stars!

 Well, this tends to offend a lot of people who have decided to believe in a pre-tribulation rapture. So, to be completely fair, let’s look at other Scriptures pertaining to the end times.

  1Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him,

 2that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

 3Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,

 4who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4)

The first thing we are told in this passage is a warning, not to be shaken or disturbed. Now, the church of Thessalonica had apparently received false documents, or there was a fear that such a thing would happen. So Paul encouraged them to beware and be aware of any information that came their way, so they would carefully consider the doctrine before just accepting it. Then he gives us a huge clue as to the timing of the return of the Lord. “For it will not come unless the apostasy comes first.” We can be sure of one of two things: Either this passage is wrong and we should discount it; and therefore we can’t trust anything else of Paul’s, if he’s a false teacher. Or, just possibly, Paul knew what he was saying and the return of Jesus won’t be until after the sign of a great renunciation of Christ.

A very powerful but small word follows; one that is easily overlooked: “and.” So the apostasy will happen before Christ returns, and so will the revelation of the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction, who we call the Antichrist. Paul gives a few details of what this man of destruction will do, and in doing so he gives us a real understanding of who he is. Verse four serves mainly to reveal this evil man to us, and there is more of a narrative in verses seven through ten. Again, we should ask, “Why would we need to be told these things if we won’t experience them?”

We now have another set of Scriptures telling us that the Lord will not return for us until after a great abandonment of believers and the disclosure of the Antichrist. But, let’s continue to search the Scriptures.

 51Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,

 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

Another easily misread verse. I have heard countless times the phrase “twinkling of an eye” used from this verse in favor of a pre-trib rapture, but what follows shows us a different timeline. “At the last trumpet…” Well, if it’s the last trumpet, the other trumpets must have sounded by then. Every other judgment has come already, then, at this last trumpet, we will be changed, the dead will be made imperishable!

 1Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you.

 2For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.

 3While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.

 4But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief;

 5for you are all sons of light and sons of day We are not of night nor of darkness;

 6so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-6)

One of the largest arguments for the pre-trib rapture is that there are verses depicting a suddenness by which we depart. While the theme of “suddenly” is certainly in the end-time verses; no one can argue that reasonably; the verses are most often used out of their full context. Here, in verse two, we read that the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, and in verse three, Paul even uses the word “suddenly”. The day will come as a thief in the night, but to whom? To everyone, or just certain people? Perhaps it simply means that it’ll sort of “sneak up” on us, the way Christmas does, or our birthdays.  Verse three begins with “While they,” which means not you. While they, the unbelieving, the worldly, the lost, are talking about peace and safety, the destruction will come upon them suddenly, and they will not escape.

In verse four, Paul contrasts “them” with “But you, brethren,” and points out that since we know the truth, that day shall not overtake us as a thief. He points out that we are not of the darkness, the ignorance of the world, but we who believe are in the truth and light of Christ Jesus. Then in verse six, another conundrum: He tells the brethren to be alert and sober. Remember that the entire context of this passage is in the day of the Lord. Why, then, would we need to be alert and sober if we aren’t going to be here to be overtaken? Apparently, we will be here when some, who are unbelieving, are swept over by the sudden devastation. Let’s look at another of the commonly misrepresented verses:

40“Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.

 41“Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. (Matthew 24:40-41)

This is one of the most- if not the most- commonly used passages to depict a rapture. The belief is that the one who disappears is being taken up to heaven to be with Jesus until His return, while the unbeliever is left to endure the tribulations. Well, if you look at just these two verses that would be very believable, but let’s look at what precedes and follows this selection.

36“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

 37“For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.

 38“For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,

 39and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.

 40“Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left.

 41“Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.

 42“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. (Matthew 24:36-42)

This puts a different spin on things. Verse 36 tells us that even Jesus Himself does not know the day or hour; only the Father knows. The days to come are likened to the utter destruction of Noah’s day. In that time everyone had 100 years to repent, but they did not, and they would not believe Noah of the coming doom. As a result everyone on earth died, save for Noah and his family. In the same way, everyone will ignore the prophecies, ignore the signs, ignore the Bible, and they will carry on with their lives as normal, eating, drinking, marrying, etc. Suddenly, a massive flood the likes of which the world had never see, nor has seen since, swept over everything, annihilating everything and killing them all. In that instant, they understood Noah’s warning, but it was too late. When we compare this to what is said here, the story is quite diverse from the pre-trib teaching. Nowhere in this passage does it say that the believer will be swept up and spared, but we know from Genesis that the wicked were wiped out. With that in mind, lets read the passage in this manner:

For as in those days before the flood they (the wicked) were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, … and they (the wicked) did not understand until the flood came and took them (the wicked) all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there will be two men in the field; one (the wicked) will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one (the wicked) will be taken and one will be left. (Matthew 24:38-41)

Jesus is comparing the two, so we should not assume it to be an entirely new idea. It will be as it was in Noah’s day, not completely different, or Jesus wouldn’t have made the comparison. In Noah’s day the wicked were taken by wrath. In the Lord’s day the wicked will be taken by wrath.

 1“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.

 2“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.

 3“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:1-3)

Here again Jesus talks about His return. We are told that He is preparing a place for us; heaven. Jesus promises to return for us, that the church may be received unto Him, that we may be together. No matter when you believe this will happen, one thing is certain: it will be magnificent. Yet, no timing is offered here, just that it will happen sometime. But we do know this: Jesus receives us to Himself when He returns. If we read other places in Scripture, we know that He comes at the end of the tribulations, so we could conclude from this passage that we, the church, will be gathered together with Jesus Christ at His final return, which leaves us collectively on earth until that time.

Another of the commonly misinterpreted verses comes out of Revelation 4:1, in which we are told that the church is called to, “come up hither” (KJV). This is once again taken entirely out of context. Much of the prophecies in the book of Revelation are figurative metaphors, such as the woman clothed with the sun (Rev. 12:1); however this verse is not a metaphor. It is John’s explanation of how he came to know what was to follow in the next nineteen chapters. Here it is in the full context (in NASB):

  After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” (Revelation 4:1)

 The phrase is actually John being called up to see heaven and the prophetic events to take place so that he could write them for the church. (And aren’t you glad he did?!) There is absolutely nothing about this verse that relates the phrase to the church being called away then, now, or in the future.

Another out of context argument is that the word church is not present in the book of Revelation after Chapter three; therefore the church must not be present on the earth. This is an absurd argument.

There are eleven books of the New Testament (NASB) which do not contain the word church. So, should we ignore those books? Surely not. Even though the word church is not present, we know full well that the church is the intended audience. Advocates of the pre-trib rapture say that the word is gone from the text until after the resurrection. This is true typographically, but the church is certainly implicit in the text from Revelation 1 to Revelation 22.

The last time I checked the Christian Church was still made up of saints. (See Ephesians 4:12) The word, saints occurs 13 times (in NASB, ESV & KJV; 14 times in AMP, NKJV, & Darby’s Translation) between Revelation 4 and Revelation 21. That being said, we must conclude that the church, specifically named by their sainthood, or sanctification in Christ, is present in the end-time periods described in those chapters of Revelation.

 9And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

 10And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them.

 11They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)

 In looking for an example of a rapture, many have turned to Jesus’ ascension. Some say that He was showing us how we will just go up one day. What we need to remember though, is that Jesus died first, and then was raised from death, before His ascension. Not only that, but when we look at this passage, there is nothing listed about it being either an example for us or the way we will go up. In fact, the two men, believed to be angels, tell us that Jesus will come back in the same manner as they watched Him go. If anything, this passage points to the church waiting for His return on earth. The Lord’s re-descension is reaffirmed in the next passage:

 16For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

 17Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

 There are some big clues hidden in this selection. First, we are told that the Lord will descend with a shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God. This will not be a quiet sneaky return; it will be loud and powerful. At this point, some argue that the Lord comes back as a thief, silent and sly. The reference to this is in the context of suddenly and without warning, as we talked about in describing 1 Thessalonians 5:2. We are next told that the dead in Christ will rise first. This phrase has many translations, but the most likely is that it refers to all the saints who have “passed on” prior to this point are given their new bodies (as promised in 1 Corinthians 15:49 and 1 John 3:2) and return alongside Jesus. Then those who remain on the earth are caught up together with them in the clouds, meeting Jesus in the air. We aren’t meeting Him directly in heaven, but in the air and clouds of our earth. From this point on, all believers will be with the Lord forever. There is nothing here to point to us whisking away prior to this event. Instead, it points to our having two alternatives: 1. die before this event “the dead in Christ will rise first”, or 2. Remain until this event “we who are alive and remain”. We will either be with Him already, by our bodies dying on earth, or we will be here for Jesus’ return, having gone through the tribulations described in the book of Revelation.

20For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;

 21who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. (Philippians 3:20-21)

 Scripture refers to waiting for the return of Jesus. If we aren’t to do so, but be raptured beforehand, this verse might say, “For our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await our arrival there to meet Jesus,” but that isn’t what it says. It says that we are waiting for Him here. Then He will transform our bodies into that wonderful eternal spirit-body that we will have forever. We are waiting on His return so that He will transform us into the unending embodiment with which we can be ceaselessly in His presence.

 Let’s stop and ask ourselves, “Why do we even study the End Times?” What is the great significance? We study the End Times because the generation in which the Lord returns is the most written about generation in Scripture. Over 100 chapters in the Bible have the End Times as their main theme. Scripture gives significant divine information about the End Times. Jesus spoke more about the last generation of natural history than the generation that He was born in. Why? To prepare the Bride to be victorious in love and power during the most dramatic time in world history. What a wonderful thing for Jesus to see His church stand for Him in the midst of the most desperate, treacherous and perilous time that will ever be. Jesus will be proud of His faithful.

We do not know the exact day because Jesus said that no one knows the day or the hour. However, Scripture requires those in the generation the Lord returns, to know the prophetic signs and to respond appropriately. We will be able to see these signs and know the season is near.

 Now learn this parable from the fig tree: Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. (Matthew 24:32–33)

Jesus and Paul emphasized the know-ability of the prophetic signs of the End Times (Matthew 24:32–34; Luke 21:25–29; 1 Thessalonians 5:1–6; 2 Thessalonians 2:1–11).

25“There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves,

 26men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.

 27“Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory.

 28“But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:25–28)

 

1Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 4But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; 5for you are all sons of light and sons of day… 6so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2, 4-6)

 God promised to give prophetic signs in the generation that the Lord returns as an expression of His mercy, so people may make the necessary preparations for what is coming. These prophetic signs serve the Church like a weather station that signals trouble before it comes, so people can prepare and save lives.

 And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God …and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. (Revelation 20:4-5)

We know that the time will come when Christians will be hated with a passion like never before. We know that it will be a terrible time and very many will be deceived by the false prophet, and the Antichrist. Christians will be beheaded for the sake of their testimony of faith in Christ as well as their, and anyone else’s, refusal to take the mark of the beast. I cannot imagine that in a time of such distinct separation, hatred, and prejudice that anyone from the other side would say, “Hey, those hater Christians who are against everyone else’s views are being beheaded and persecuted. They can’t buy or sell anything and the punishment for being one is death. I think I’ll stop hating them and convert.” I cannot imagine such an event happening when all the true believers have been wiped off the face of the planet prior to any real distress.

Another reference to the unleashing of Christian persecution is found in Revelation 14:19-20, which tell us that the blood of the believers will flow “up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.” That’s a lot of blood to come from only converts during a time of extreme hate for the faith. Do you really think that many unbelievers would become believers without preaching and outreach from the church? Is that kind of conversion seen today even with church resources available? No, it isn’t.

In the selection above, we are also told that the beheaded believers will be brought to life to reign with Christ first, then the rest of the dead come to life. And that is the “first resurrection”. Not the second, third, etc. Also, there is no mention of a category of believers that did not die and were raptured. No, only the dead before, and the dead because of the tribulation. The very first resurrection, according to Scripture in the book of Revelation, is after the tribulation.

 Neither Daniel 2 nor 7, both of which contain prophetic visions which render historical sketches of the Gentiles from the time of the Roman Empire to the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, give any indication of a pre-trib rapture, or secret catching away of the church before the tribulation. In fact, the following seems to be quite contrary:

21“I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them 22until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom. (Daniel 7:21-22)

The horn is a representation of the Antichrist who takes power of the kingdoms of the earth. In Daniel’s vision, he sees that this horn wages war against the saints until the return of the Ancient of Days, or Jesus Christ, also called the Holy One. The Antichrist combats Christian church all the way until Jesus comes in glory to give the kingdom to His Church. Nowhere in Daniel’s prophetic visions is there mention of any disappearance, vanishing, rapturing, etc. of the saints. All indications point to our being here in order to be confronted by the evil powers that rule the land prior to Jesus’ arrival.

If we are really honest, there is just no evidence to support a pre-tribulation rapture. It would be a great thing to know that we won’t have to endure the trials to come, but we must stop teaching these false ideas. Our hope to be whisked away cannot be sound doctrine with this much contrary Scriptural evidence. This is a dangerous doctrine for a few reasons. People believing that they will not endure tribulations are not going to be prepared for what is to come. Consider the mark of the beast, from Revelation 13:16-18. Anyone who takes it is in the Devil’s hands, yet we are warned to be cautious and able to discern the mark. If a believer is under the impression that he will not be around for the true mark of the beast, he will accept the mark, thinking, “This can’t be the mark; I won’t be around for that.” Many will accept the false prophet as true and from God, and become deceived with false teaching. Many will be lead astray by the beast because they won’t deem him to be the real deal. Part of Satan’s plan is to make people believe he isn’t real. For those that know he is, he must make them think that he is someone else, even someone great. He will be hailed as a hero, savior, messiah and a champion. Paul warns in his letters to Timothy:

 1But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron… (1 Timothy 4:1-2)

3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

With warnings so vivid and so stern, we must consider the possibility that some of these doctrines and theories could’ve crept into our theology. We can tell that the season is near, that times are drawing near. Things are intensifying all over the world. It is very possible that this theory that we needn’t be concerned about our tomorrows at all is a lie. We will be here. We, the church, will endure ever-increasing hardships, persecutions, and sufferings. We will be insulted for our faith, jailed for our faith, beaten for our faith, and even killed for our faith in Christ Jesus. Many are already undergoing such harsh treatment today. We must reaffirm all doctrine with in-context Scripture, no matter who is teaching that doctrine. Any teacher is able to be sought by Satan, and we will not know until it is too late. Do not be fooled with fancy words and tickled ears. In all things, we must, MUST, return to the unadulterated Word of God for solid wholesome Truth, praying fervently for the Lord Himself to show us what it is we need to see.

…looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,” (Titus 2:13)

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15 Responses to “Will There Be A Rapture?”

  1. Sutton Kinter Says:

    One of the most consistant and well reasoned article that I have ever read regarding this subject. A pleasure to have read it, and a provoker of thought for having read it.

  2. Will Says:

    Excellent blog that you have. Wondering if you have read a shocking article entitled “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty.” I saw it not long ago on the “Powered by Christ Ministries” site. Lord bless. Will

  3. justinlessard Says:

    I have not yet, but I will be sure to check it out soon. Thanks.

  4. matt Says:

    Hey I think this blog is really interesting 🙂


  5. […] Will There Be A Rapture? […]

  6. justinlessard Says:

    Matt: My apologies for the delay in approving your message. Somehow it was filtered as spam.

  7. flee the wrath Says:

    Hi Justin, Good article, well researched. Shame that so many mainstream preachers haven’t taken the time you’ve taken to think and write about this issue.
    I was thinking as I read your article that if the day of the Lord is as a “thief in the night” to unbelievers, as the scriptures clearly teach, then should there have been a rapture of the church before this time, I got a funny feeling someone may have noticed and realized that indeed the Day of the Lord was at hand.
    For the multitudes to be caught unawares and continuing to live as it were, in the day of Noah, there cannot be such a significant sign.
    Cheers,
    Tim

  8. Miki Ivezic Says:

    Hello Justin! The post-trib theory, as you quite clearly and sensibly explained, is common sense when read literally thru the power of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for sharing. Have you ever heard of Tim McHyde -escape all these things.com-? He’s a post-trib ascriber and he reads these prophecy passages pretty straight forward. Let me know what you think! God bless you and yours!!

  9. internet elias Says:

    Justin, just found your blog. The ‘rapture’ post caught my eye. I’m totally delighted at the content. I expected it was just another ‘rapture’ post. Many have accepted the pre-trib rapture doctrine because it doesn’t require anything of them….no fellowship with God, no holiness, no ‘searching the scripture to see whether these things be true.’ Sometimes…I have opportunity to share the beginnings of the doctrine in Scotland with fourteen-year-old Ms. McDonald. She had a dream while she was dileriously ill. She said Jesus told her his coming would be in two phases. Others kept grabbing hold of her shared experience and kept turning it into what they felt it meant…..lastly John Darby. The dream was correct. Jesus does come in two phases…the First Coming to bear the past sins of the world…..the Second Coming …’without sin unto salvation.’ Those like yourself who allow the Holy Spirit to ‘teach’ what God meant by what He said….will come to the correct conclusions. Scriptures must be spiritually discerned. But here in my rural south home, the vast majority stand firm on the Rapture before the tribulation. They proudly say, “Only the Jews will go through the tribulation.” I always wonder, “Hey, those twelve tribles of Israel (especially the ten lost tribes)have offspring the world over. How do you know you’re not descended from those descendents of Abraham…those who are as many as the sand of the sea?

    But, bottom line….scripture is CLEAR when one rightly divides the Word. And, hey, we are seeing it happen. Times are changing at breakneck speed. But, ‘let not your heart be troubled.’ And, ‘the battle is the Lord’s.’ Count it all joy!

    internetelias.wordpress.com

    Thanks again. Your post is totally refreshing. Wisdom is always appreciated.

  10. Rapturenj Says:

    Revelation 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee (from) the (hour (Greek, hora- season) of (temptation (Greek, peirasmos- adversity or tribulation) which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

    The word (From) in Greek is as “out of” (Greek word, ek) Strong’s Number: 1537 out of, away from.

    2 Timothy 4:18
    And (the Lord shall deliver me (from) every) evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. AMEN.

    Kind Regards,

  11. Tim Says:

    Jhn 17:15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of (1537) the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from (1537) the evil.

    In the context of the above scripture we see the very same word (1537) being used to speak of preservation, of being kept from, out of the way of evil.

    It does not speak of being “removed from the earth” in fact Christ makes it plain, “I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world”

    The biblical precedent for removal of Gods people from the earth before the time of tribulation is a modern phenomenon, it has little biblical foundation. More akin to wishful thinking on the part of a lukewarm church.

    http://fleethewrath.wordpress.com/2008/11/10/persecution-or-rapture/

  12. live it out Says:

    “There are so many views and doctrines, yet this is one of the most important issues facing the church today.”

    If Jesus didn’t address it, it’s probably not one of the most important issues facing the church today. Instead, how about we focus on making disciples and reaching the lost? Sure, it’s not as sensational and exciting, but it’s what Jesus called us to do in his final words to the world.

  13. justinlessard Says:

    Truly, making disciples of all nations is what Jesus ultimately calls us to. Evangelizing is key to getting souls saved. In that, we agree completely. But the fact that Jesus didn’t address rapture or lack thereof is a key issue- and here’s why: thousands, if not millions, of churches across the US, UK, and now the globe, are teaching this doctrine. The fact that trusted and once-trusted Bible scholars are peddling this theory makes it one of today’s most important issues. And yes, it plays into evangelism. I have heard a great many evangelists, on TV, radio and in person, telling their listeners that soon all the Christians are going to disappear without a warning, and if they miss it then its too late for them. The bottom line is that we are all going to have to face some tribulation. (By we I mean the Christians who are present on the earth during the Tribulation). Another of the reasons it is so key is this- When the antichrist comes forth in power, and he will, millions of pre-tribbers will believe that he must be a prophet of God, and turn to evangelizing his doctrinal interpretations. The reason is simple: In their thinking, if he were the real antichrist, they wouldn’t be here. What a shock it will be! Don’t believe it’ll happen? Look at how droves of so-called believers followed Obama. They literally worshipped him (and some still do!) How much easier a man who is fully influenced by Satanic power! No matter what background you come from on this issue, prepare yourself. Even if the Lord calls you home long before these events, at least you were safe and ready.

  14. deb Says:

    “and he will, millions of pre-tribbers will believe that he must be a prophet of God, and turn to evangelizing his doctrinal interpretations.”

    …..you’re kidding if you really believe this. You really think Christians indwelt by The Holy Spirit and fully aware of The Word of God would be so misled to follow the antichrist….that’s taking your theory A BIT too far and it obviously hopes you feel better about your conclusions. Whether people believe in pre/post rapture, what does it matter if they do not truly have a relationship with Christ and aren’t indwelt by The Holy Spirit. What does it matter if they aren’t growing in The Lord and walking in obedience and surrender to Him?

    I believe in Pre-Trip rapture and whether it’s actually post-trib rapture, I don’t believe for a second that I or any TRUE Child of God would do anything but CONTINUE to rely on The Holy Spirit and be held onto by The Lord Jesus Christ who said none that the Father have given Him will be snatched out of The Father’s hand. The Word of God has said, we can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us and He alone that knows all things has equipped us through His Holy Spirit for whatever is to come. Jesus Christ is ALWAYS our rock, our hope, our strength, our advocate and our King. Whether there is a pre or post rapture, anyone in Christ is prepared for what’s to come because GOD HIMSELF who knows all things is in us and forever with us.

    That’s all I gotta say about this ridiculous pre/post trib divide that is becoming scary and divisive in the church. It’s just sad to see now…

  15. justinlessard Says:

    thanks for the point of view! All points are welcome. Side note: your key phrase, which you cleverly put in all CAPS, is “TRUE child of God”. Millions are merely sheep, following the masses. Those who are TRULY living by the Spirit of God will of course not be deceived, but SO many will. Those who are simply casual cozy Christians will be in for a rude awakening. This is why we are warned of a great falling away, of false teachings, of the goat/sheep comparison where so many say, “But I did all these things in Your Name…”


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